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:

Inventory Number


Credit Line

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

Country of Origin

United States of America


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)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

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


CRAFT-Missiles & Rockets

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