Nike-Ajax Missile


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Rockets and Missiles exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

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.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Transferred from the National Armed Forces Museum Advisory Board (NAFMB).


Bottom section, magnesium; nozzle protective retainer, steel; lower tank, steel; two upper tanks, probably aluminum; overall, aluminum; propellant and other piping along much of length of this section of missile, aluminum; fins, non-ferrous, possibly magnesium or aluminum; fin corner protectors, red plastic.


Overall: 20 ft. 1 in. long x 5 ft. 3 in. wing span (612.14 x 160.02cm)

Country of Origin

United States of America


CRAFT-Missiles & Rockets

Inventory Number


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