The Nuclear-Capable Nike Hercules Missile

The Nuclear-Capable Nike Hercules Missile | Frontline Videos

YouTube / Air Zoo


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The folks at Air Zoo are in possession of the Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile at their Flight Discovery Center. These Nikes could carry a nuclear warhead and were designed to destroy high-altitude supersonic targets.

The rusty red part is the missile’s four booster packs, clustered together from the earlier Nike Ajax. Below the boosters would have been its big fins that would come off to keep the missile on track.

Meanwhile, the massive piece of metal on its left – called the upper stage, would go on top of the booster pack. The frame’s large delta wings and control surfaces allowed the missile to reach the target precisely. Finally, the warhead would be on top of the upper stage – which could either be nuclear or high-explosive. 

The Hercules had a range of around 90 miles and flew at speeds over Mach 4. It was later replaced by the MIM-104 Patriot in the 1980s, which offered better performance, mobility, and accuracy.


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