Artillery / Surface to surface missiles / MGR-1 Honest John

MGR-1 Honest John

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Tactical missile

  • ORIGIN
    United States

  • NICKNAMES
    Artillery Rocket XM31 (development designation)

  • DESIGNED
    1951 - 1953

  • DESIGNER
    Redstone Arsenal

  • PRODUCTION
    1953 - 1965

  • PRODUCERS
    United States

  • QUANTITY
    About 7.000 Honest John rockets produced.

  • UNIT COST
    Unknown

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Low production and maintenance costs
    Simple and easy to operate
    Nuclear and conventional warheads available
    Good mobility on roads
    Much reduced accuracy in bad weather
    Limited accuracy in early model
    Low rate of fire
    Limited all terrain mobility

Introduction

The Honest John is an early Cold War era surface to surface missile of US origin. It was developed in the early 1950's as a nuclear-armed artillery rocket. Later on conventional and chemical warhead were introduced as well. The Honest John was replaced as a field artillery tactical missile by the more accurate and longer range MGM-52 Lance. Due to its simplicity the Honest John enjoyed a long service life.

Design

The Honest John is an unguided artillery rocket oversized ogive warhead section at the front and four large wings at the rear. It is launched by carefully aiming the launch rail at the correct direction and inclination. The Honest John is both fin and spin stabilized and follows a ballistic trajectile.

Firepower

The Honest John was armed with a W7 nuclear warhead with variable yield up to 20 kt. Later on the W31 nuclear warhead with preset 2/10/30 kt yield was used. A 680 kg unitary HE warhead and Sarin bomblet warhead were also available. The M-31 rocket has a 5.5 km miminum range and 24.8 km maximum range. Accuracy was considered poor compared to tube artillery. The improved M-50 rocket doubled the range and improved the CEP to 230 meters.

Mobility

The Honest John is transported on a truck based transporter, erector, launcher (TEL). A single rocket is carried on a long launch rail. Two types of truck mounted launchers were used, both based on the M139 5-ton truck. This provides the Honest John with a reasonable off road capability and good mobility on roads.

Users

The main operator of the Honest John was the United States army. The Honest John was also operated by many US allies in Europe and Asia, in both nuclear and non-nuclear versions. In US service the Honest John was used until 1985. Non-nuclear models were used by various nations until the late 1990's.

Variants

MGR-1 Honest John rockets

MGR-1A: Original Honest John rocket. Also known as the M-31 rocket. Fitted with W7 or W31 nuclear warhead, unitary HE warhead or Sarin gas bomblet warhead.
MGR-1B: Improved Honest John rocket. Also known as the M-50 rocket. Has a much improved range due to more powerful rocket engine, lower weight and smaller wings.

TypeSurface to surface missile
Diameter0.58 m body, 0.76 m warhead, 2.60 m wingspan
Length8.31 m
Weight2.640 kg
GuidanceUnguided, ballistic flight, fin and spin stabilized
WarheadW7 variable yield up to 20 kt nuclear warhead, W31 2/10/30 kt warhead, 680 kg unitary HE warhead, Sarin bomblet warhead
PropulsionHercules Powder Company X-202 rocket motor, 402 kN thrust
Speed?
Range5.5 km minimum, 24.8 km maximum
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-
TypeSurface to surface missile
Diameter0.58 m body, 0.76 m warhead, 1.40 m wingspan
Length7.58 m
Weight1.965 kg
GuidanceUnguided, ballistic flight, fin and spin stabilized
WarheadW7 variable yield up to 20 kt nuclear warhead, W31 2/10/30 kt warhead, 680 kg unitary HE warhead, Sarin bomblet warhead
PropulsionThiokol composite propellant solid rocket motor, 670 kN thrust
Speed?
Rangeover 48 km maximum
Altitude-
Engagement envelope-
Remarks-

Honest John launch vehicles

M289: Early launcher based on M139D truck. Launch rail is raised by A-frame.
M386: Improved launch vehicle, also based on M139 truck. Launch rail is mounted on turntable.
M33: Launch trailer towed by truck. Was hardly used in operational units.

  • Specifications:
  • M289
TypeLaunch vehicle
Crew2 (driver, assistant)
Length12.91 m (incl launch rail)
Width3.05 m
Height3.83 m (with empty launch rail)
Ground clearance0.33 m
Weight18.9 t empty, 21.6 t combat load
Ground pressure?
WheelbaseWheeled chassis, 6x6, 14.00 x20 tires
Turn radius32 m
EngineContinental Red Seal R 6602 6-cylinder liquid cooled petrol, 196 hp at 2.800 rpm
Power ratio9.1 hp/t
TransmissionManual, 5 forward, 1 reverse
Speed95 km/h on road
Fuel?
Range260 km
Wall?
Trench?
Gradient43% gradient
Fording0.8 m
ArmorNo
NBC equipmentNo
Night visionNo
SmokeNo
Remarks-
ArmamentMGR-1 Honest John rocket (1)
Weapon1MGR-1 Honest John rocket on launch rail
Weapon2-
Weapon3-
Weapon4-
Weapon5-
Weapon6-

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