|R-3A Conjectural - Conjectural drawing of the R-3A. The actual configuration has never been released, but it seems to have been a conical body as recommended by Groettrup equipped with an R-2 engine. This configuration would lead directly to the R-7 ICBM and N1 superbooster|
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So much new technology was involved for the R-3 that it was deemed necessary to build an R-3A intermediate experimental rocket, based on the R-2. This would be flown to test new construction methods, guidance systems, and high energy propellants. The R-3A was specified in 1949 to have a 900 to 1000 km range with a payload of 1530 kg; an unfuelled mass of 4100 kg; 20,500 kg of propellants; and a lift-off thrust of 40 tonnes. The R-3A could also serve as a prototype for a more modest IRBM. Flight tests of the R-3A were scheduled for October 1951.
The R-3 itself was cancelled when difficulties were encountered in engine development and the decision was made to proceed directly to the R-7 ICBM. During its development the range of the R-3A had settled on 935 km with only a 500 kg payload. It was cancelled in October 1951 without ever flying, with the technology being applied to the R-5 and R-11 missiles. The Russians have been very reluctant to reveal the configuration of the R-3A. It seems likely that it was actually a subscale version of Groettrup's G-4 design, and formed the technical basis for both the R-7 ICBM and N1 super launch vehicle.
Payload: 500 kg. to a: 935 km range trajectory. Liftoff Thrust: 40,000 kgf. Total Mass: 23,400 kg.
The NTS (Scientific-Technical Soviet) of NII-88 met in plenary session and subjected Korolev's proposal to withering criticism. The G-4 was found to be superior. After heated discussion, the Soviet approved further development of technology for the R-3, but not the missile itself. The decisions were: an R-3A technology demonstrator would be built and flown under Project N-1 (probably to prove G-4 concepts). Under Project N-2 both the RD-110 and D-2 engines would proceed into development test in order to prove Lox/Kerosene propellant technology. Packet rocket and lightweight structure research for use in an ICBM would continue under project N-3 / T-1. Winged intercontinental cruise missile studies would continue under project N-3 / T-2. Neither the G-4 or R-3 ended up in production, but the design concepts of the G-4 led directly to Korolev's R-7 ICBM (essentially a cluster of G-4's or R-3A's) and the N1 superbooster. Work on the G-4 continued through 1952.
The R-3 3000 km range missile and R-3A subscale technology demonstrator were cancelled. As a replacement work was to start on the R-5 and R-11. The missiles originated as Theme N-2 of the R-3 project. This was an alternate approach to delivering nuclear warheads on West European targets - road-mobile or sub-launched missiles of shorter range with lighter warheads that could be launched from forward areas and reach enemy targets.