"Father John" (Honest John Variant)

lowga

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One of the less known variants of the Honest John free-flight missile was the "Father John" which was developed to lift a heavier payload. It featured the main JATO rocket motor, and six or eight smaller rocket motors strapped outside of the main motor for more lift.

I've been attempting to research this variant for some time through archives at White Sands, The Smithsonian, and the Redstone Arsenal. Today, I received a reply from The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. At this time, their operations are severely impacted by COVID-19--as are all the archives that I've contacted. They apologized for the delays, and explained that they had located a photograph of the Father John variant but were unable to access high-resolution scanning services currently.

Attached was a photocopy of the photograph, and instructions on how to obtain a better version when operations are restored.

I've scanned the photocopy and done my best to enhance it in Photoshop. It's attached here for those who are curious about this variant of America's first nuclear-capable missile. It would make a great looking model or scale project.
 

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lowga

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“History of the Basic (M31) Honest John System 1950-1964
by Mary T. Cagle


- At the request of the Atomic Energy Committee, in February 1952, the Redstone Arsenal imitated a project for the fabrication and flight test of five model 1236FF rockets to provide an overcast of the XW-7 warhead components. Patterned after the Navy’s “Big Stoop,’ the proposed vehicle consisted essentially of a 2-stage rocket fitted with an oversized set of fins and a Sandia telemetering warhead. A formal cost proposal was submitted in early April 1952.

Less than a month later, the AEC dropped the 1236FF model in favor of another design proposed by the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory. The alternative vehicle, known as the Father John, used the standard 1236F rocket in conjunction with supplemental Decon rockets strapped to the motor body to provide additional thrust.

The Douglas Aircraft Company began a design study on the Father John in June 1952, and later converted 10 standard 1236F rockets for use in the test program.

The AEC supplied $160,000 for initial work on Father John, together with an expenditure order of $2,338 to cover engineering costs.

The first two over-acceleration tests of the XW-7 warhead components took place on January 15 and March 25, 1953 at White Sands. Father John Round 1 had six Decon rockets, as compared to the eight Decon rockets on Round 2.

(The photograph shows Round 1 with six Decon Rockets). The purpose was to evaluate performance of components of the warhead under different rates of thrust. Personnel of the Sandia Corporation indicated that the test objectives were successfully met with both flights.

The test crew fired the resining Father John rounds later in 1953 and 1954.

In mid-December, 1954, the US Army Chief of Ordinance authorized the Redstone Arsenal to procure an initial supply of XM57 Adaption Kits for the Honest John Atomic warheads. By the end of the month, about 65 percent of those kits had been delivered.
 

Ez2cDave

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Les,

Since they "photocopied" the original, things are greatly limited, resolution-wise.

Hopefully, a high-resolution scan will be made available by them, in the near future !

Dave F.
 

Ez2cDave

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The alternative vehicle, known as the Father John, used the standard 1236F rocket in conjunction with supplemental Decon rockets strapped to the motor body to provide additional thrust.

The first two over-acceleration tests of the XW-7 warhead components took place on January 15 and March 25, 1953 at White Sands. Father John Round 1 had six Decon rockets, as compared to the eight Decon rockets on Round 2.

(The photograph shows Round 1 with six Decon Rockets). The purpose was to evaluate performance of components of the warhead under different rates of thrust. Personnel of the Sandia Corporation indicated that the test objectives were successfully met with both flights.

Les,

Hmm . . . "Decon" rockets ?

I wonder if that was a "typo" and they meant to say "Deacon" rockets ? ( The Deacon is only 6.25" in diameter ).

Dave F.

38017958024_c2691b04c3_c - BW - ADJ - Large.jpg
 
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lowga

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Typo on my end sorry. Yes, the six inch diameter Deacon rockets are the one used. In Mary's text, she provides no other model numbers or nomenclature which is unusual for her writing style. It is referred to several times but always as 'Deacon.'

Searching the reports that I have from White Sands, I see no mention of air starts--so I believe that all the motors were ignited on the ground at liftoff. Launches from the test launcher stand only.

Would this make a great scale model or what?
 

Mugs914

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Absolutely!! I had never heard of this version of the HJ before you posted, Always fun to see something new... even though its old!

I would assume that all motors would be fired together (as opposed to some being air-started) since the test was to check for high gee boost tolerance of the warhead. Kick it with everything ya got!
 

lowga

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I agree with you sir. Since the purpose of the flight was to "stress test" atomic warhead components under high "G", a ground start makes the most sense. Also given that they increased the number of Deacon motors from six to eight. All that supports a test effort to deliver maximum G loading.

It tooks months to track down Mary Cagle's books on both the M31 and M50 Honest John missiles. Both contained little gems of new information like this variant. They open up modeling opportunities.

Boyce Aerospace was kind enough to design "Demi John" plates in 3D to fit the three most popular sizes of the Honest John--including their 24mm version. I have a 3/4 finished Demi-John model on the workbench now.

After Bama Blastoff in October, I plan to turn my attention to trying to model the "Father John" as well. You can never have too many HoJos.
 

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Mugs914

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Is that sketch done to accurate scale Dave?

I have a four 13mm Nike booster that I built MANY moons ago that would make a pretty good start for a Nike/HoJo!
 

Ez2cDave

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Is that sketch done to accurate scale Dave?

I have a four 13mm Nike booster that I built MANY moons ago that would make a pretty good start for a Nike/HoJo!


Hi, Mike !

No, that was done "by eyeball" . . . HOWEVER, I have all the data necessary to build a "true scale" model of the "NIKE-HOJO" !

If there is interest, I will start a new thread, complete with all data to create it !

Dave F.
 

Ez2cDave

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Looks like it might be pretty close to correct for a BT-50 Ho/Jo sustaner...

Mike,

The diameter for a Nike booster is 16.44".
The diameter for an Honest John is 23.00"( above the Boat Tail ).

So, if your Nike boosters are BT-5 ( .541" ), the scale factor is .0329075" ( 1 : 30.38817 Scale ).

Based on that, the Honest John should be .7568734" ( BT-20 is .743" diameter ).

Dave
 

rharshberger

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Mike,

The diameter for a Nike booster is 16.44".
The diameter for an Honest John is 23.00"( above the Boat Tail ).

So, if your Nike boosters are BT-5 ( .541" ), the scale factor is .0329075" ( 1 : 30.38817 Scale ).

Based on that, the Honest John should be .7568734" ( BT-20 is .743" diameter ).

Dave
Its fantasy scale so BT20 or 50 etc is close enough!
 
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