This is the Nike-Ajax, the U.S.'s first operational surface-to-air missile. Nike batteries were stationed at many major cities throughout the country, and it was the U.S.'s primary defensive weapon throughout the early Cold War. The radar-guided Nike-Ajax could range up to 25 miles. The missile had an operational altitude of 10-12 miles and reached a speed of 1,500 miles per hour.
Development of the Nike-Ajax began in 1945 and it became operational in 1953. Production ceased in 1958 for the transition to the newer, more powerful all-solid-fuel Nike-Hercules missile. This object was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1974 from the National Armed Forces Museum Advisory Board.
Transferred from the National Armed Forces Museum Advisory Board (NAFMB).