These cruise missiles had to be fired from a B-52 in flight
When you think about cruise missiles, you may think of the AGM-86, a missile used by the United States Air Force on B-52 Stratofortress bombers, or the AS-15, which is launched from Russian Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers. These missiles were popular in the 70s, but there was an earlier, similar missile in the United States’ arsenal, and it was nothing but a Hound Dog.
Believe it or not, the AGM-28 “Hound Dog” was actually named after Elvis Presley’s hit song, according to the Boeing website. The missile was intended to allow the B-52 to strike at the Soviet Union from a distance when it entered service in 1959. Its development was prescient. Just a year later, a Lockheed U-2 was shot down by an SA-2 Guideline, demonstrating that Soviet surface-to-air missiles were a serious threat. The pilot of the stricken U-2, Francis Gary Powers, was captured by the Soviets. It was exceedingly clear that the U.S. needed a way to deliver destruction from distance.
Designation-Systems.net notes that the Hound Dog could hit targets over 700 miles away with a 1.1 megaton W28 thermonuclear warhead. A B-52 could carry two AGM-28s, which could go over twice the speed of sound. The missile could be programmed to fly as high as 56,000 feet or as low as 200 feet. The Hound Dog could even make a “dogleg” attack (turning to hit a target from an unexpected direction) on a target.
Funnily enough, the Hound Dog was powered the Pratt and Whitney J52, a jet engine that was used on two sub-sonic attack jets. This J52, though, was “souped up” to run at maximum power in order to reach the missile’s top speed. Its lifespan was all of six hours, but since it was only intended to fly for less than a half hour, that was a worthwhile sacrifice.
Plans to fit the Hound Dog with a terrain comparison guidance system, like those on the AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile or the BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile, didn’t come to fruition. The Hound Dog retired in 1978, replaced by more modern offerings.
Learn more about this “one-hit wonder” missile by watching the video below.