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Project Wizard was for a planned Cold War "supersonic missile capable of reaching 500,000 feet altitude".[1] The University of Michigan’s Aeronautical Research Center (MARC) was contracted in April 1946, and the program was also concerned with the radar systems and command and control networks needed to support attacks that would be timed in minutes.[citation needed]

Advocated as the "Top Defense Missile" in 1957 by the USAF,[2] the service in early 1959 instead determined the Wizard missile was not cost effective[3] (the Army's Zeus intercepted a test ICBM on July 19, 1964, and evolved into the SAFEGUARD ABM system—operational 1975-6.)


On 20 June 1945 the Army Ground Forces Equipment review listed the requirement for "High velocity guided missiles…capable of…destroying missiles of the V-­2 type, should be developed at the earliest practicable date".[4] In July 1945 the Signal Corps started basic research into two radar systems for ABM use.[5] In January 1946 the Army Ground Forces (AGF) commader established a requirement for a study program on the V-2 problem and in early February, the Joint Committee on New Weapons and Equipment restated the antimissile requirement in its report on a Proposed National Program for Guided Missiles.[5] By 1 April Secretary of War had signed off on an ABM, and at the end of May the the Stilwell Board "established a requirement for a guided missile" with a 100,000 yard range.[5]

The Michigan Aeronautical Research Center (MARC) contract of 1946 was under the designation "MX-794"[6][not in citation given] ("out of which grew Wizard").[7]


In the summer of 1947 the Wizard missile project became a long-term study of $1,000,000 a year.[4] A major part of the Wizard efforts concerned the overall system design needed to successfully attack missiles in flight,[opinion] and BMEWS (GOR on November 7, 1957) was "designed to go with the active portion of the WIZARD system"[8]

To address this requirement, the Wizard program created the Air Defense Integration System,[not in citation given] a computerized command, control, and coordination system for efficient direction of both manned interceptors and missile defenses.[4]

The planned Wizard missile was based on a missile design of 60 feet (18 m) long and 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter, with a range of 550 miles (890 km).[9] with speeds of 4,000 to 5,000 mph with a 50 percent kill probability against a V-2.[10] In Spring 1947 the Thumper missile program determed[11] "it would be five to ten years, AMC estimated, before the necessary long-range ground radar, long-range and highly accurate guidance systems and long-range radar seekers could be developed for the test support of any [Wizard] anti-missile missile".[12]

Merge with GAPA[]

In January 1950 the USAF asked Boeing and MARC to consider merging the GAPA and Wizard projects. By June the teams' design was for a Mach 3 winged missile to intercept aircraft at 80,000 feet (24,000 m) up to 200 miles (320 km) away (CIM-10 Bomarc[13] contracted May 17, 1957, for production.) The 1959 "Missile Master Plan" later included both the Army Nike Hercules and USAF BOMARC for SAM air defense.[14] With the announcement[when?] of the Nike II (designated Nike Zeus on 15 November 1956), the USAF funded new ABM teams (Convair & RCA, Lockheed &Raytheon, and Douglas Aircraft & Bell Aircraft) that proposed missile systems[specify]

between 1955 and 1958 (the USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for R&D stated that the Bell/Douglas design was "almost identical" to Nike Zeus.)[15] 

On 16 January 1958 Defense Secretary McElroy redirected Wizard solely to radar research[16][verification needed] in a "directive halting the WIZARD program", two months after which "the Air Force appealed [since] the Army's ZEUS did not have the growth potential to handle possible enemy evasion decoy and countermeasure tactics" (by early 1959, the USAF position was that Wizard was not cost effective.)[3][need quotation to verify]


  1. Leonard 2010, pp. 113.
  2. "Wizard Reported Pushed as Top Defense Missile". October 22, 1957.  (cited by Yanarella p. 242)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Adams, Benson D. (1971). Ballistic Missile Defense. New York: American Elsevier Publishing. pp. 29, 33.  (cited by Leonard p. 113)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Leonard 2010, p. 114.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Chronological History of Army Activities in the Missile/Satellite Field, 1943–1958". Department of the Army. 17 September 1958. p. 181.  (cited by Leonard p. 114-117)
  6. Leonard 2010, p. 91.
  7. "title tbd". American Aviation Publications, Incorporated. 1958. 
  8. 1958 NORAD/CONAD Historical Summary, Jan-Jun
  9. Leonard 2010, p. 96.
  10. Schaffel 1991, p. 315.
  11. Baucom 1989 p. 8 (citing Adams p. 17, which has "General Electric Company's [Thumper] report concluded that defense was beyond the scope of contemporary technology})
  12. McMullen, R. F. (15 Feb 80). History of Air Defense Weapons 1946–1962 (Report). Historical Division, Office of information, HQ ADC. p. 49. 
  13. Leonard 2010, p. 107.
  14. "To Congress Today: Missile Master Plan is Readied" (Google News Archive). June 12, 1959.,1893666. Retrieved 2011-09-20.  (Windsor Daily Star article: Peek Slated At Missile Master Plan Retrieved 2011-09-28)
  15. Yanarella 2010, p. 33.
  16. Kaplan 2006, p. 7.

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