S-75 Dvina | HistoryNet MENU
The S-75’s SM-63-1 launcher could be transported on four wheels, rotated 360 degrees and usually launched the missile at 60 degrees. The SAM’s chief nemeses were the “Wild Weasels,” various U.S. fighters equipped with missiles designed to lock onto and destroy the S-75’s RSNA-75M control radar.

S-75 Dvina

By Jon Guttman
8/30/2018 • Military History, MH Tools

Length: 35 feet
Booster diameter: 26 inches
Weight: 5,040 pounds
Engine thrust
     Sustainer motor: 6,834 pounds
     Booster rocket: Up to 110,000 pounds
Maximum speed: Mach 3
Maximum/minimum effective range: 18 miles/5 miles
Maximum/minimum effective altitude: 82,000 feet/1,500 feet

Like many weapons used during the Vietnam War, the Soviet-made S-75 Dvina (NATO reporting name SA-2 Guideline) surface-to-air missile was a Cold War design adapted for nonnuclear warfare. Conceived in 1953 by the Almaz design bureau under Boris Bunkin, the missile was designed by rocket scientist Pyotr Grushin, tested in 1955 and put it into service in 1957. It drew first blood on Oct. 7, 1959, when five S-75 batteries of the People’s Republic of China fired on a Martin RB-57D Canberra spy plane of the Republic of China Air Force, downing it and killing Taiwanese pilot Capt. Ying-Chin Wang. The S-75’s subsequent victims included a Lockheed U-2C spy plane piloted by U.S. Air Force Capt. Francis Gary Powers (who ejected over Russia, was captured and later exchanged for a Soviet spy), on May 1, 1960, and a U-2F piloted by U.S. Air Force Maj. Rudolph Anderson (who died over Cuba when shrapnel from an S-75 punctured his pressure suit at 72,000 feet), on Oct. 27, 1962, amid the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In April 1965 the first S-75s deployed to North Vietnam, whose military used them to destroy a U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II on July 24. Pilot Maj. Richard P. Keirn bailed out but was captured, spending the next 2,760 days in captivity. From that point on the SA-2 was an integral part of North Vietnam’s integrated air defenses. MH

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