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Submitted on
February 15, 2007
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57 (who?)
Screamin' Demon by turbofanatic Screamin' Demon by turbofanatic
Officially known as the Thunderbolt III, this missile was more commonly known as the Screamin' Demon.

Designed in the days preceding the collapse of the Soviet Union the Thunderbolt was designed to lay waste to the Russian countryside without the need for explosive or nuclear weapons. The lack of such weapons made it possible to build (and theoretically use) such a weapon without breaking any specific weapons treaty.

The Thunderbolt was essentially a massive airbreathing rocket with a sharp tipped nose. It used the air rammed into its intakes to feed a combustion chamber powered by liquid hydrogen. Smaller rockets were used to propel the thunderbolt up to speed, and stored liquid oxygen was used to power it when it did not have the speed to force enough air into the engine.

The Thunderbolt carried no usual weapons. It's only means of attack were it's sharp wedge shaped nose and blinding speed. At velocities approaching Mach 3.5 (3.5 times the speed of sound) and flying low enough above the ground, the Thunderbolt produced shock waves of immense power.

These waves shattered glass, tore apart wood framed houses, deafened people miles away, and animal tests suggested it could kill people standing under the flight path via internal hemorrhaging.

Thirteen Thunderbolt missiles were built, but the project was canceled in 1997 by Senator Perkins who called the missile "A despicable weapon that preys upon noncombatants and provides no real military asset other than terror."

The program was quietly scuttled until 2009 when the remaining 11 missiles were rebuilt with cameras, smoother noses, and improved stealthiness to serve as reconnaissance aircraft. Their speed proved to be essential to the information gathered during the wars in Columbia in the 2010's and were never even detected. Even their sonic booms were quieted by coke-bottle body shaping and smoother noses.

The picture below depicts one of the earlier Thunderbolts on a performance test above the Atlantic ocean.

You know what's funny? I just really wanted to draw clouds. Anyways, the above is made up, though it is very informed by science and history. I also really had a hankering for crazy realistic weaponry. Gotta put my supersonic flow classes to use!

Photoshop CS2, 6 hours
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Phaedeaux Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
Drop "SLAM missile" into Wikipedia.  The Supersonic Low - Altitude Missile was a real project in the 1950s.  A flying nightmare that would have cruised at Mach eight, low enough to evade search radar, carrying sixteen one-megaton bombs along a programmed route.  The power to go that fast at low altitude came from a nuclear ramjet built around an unshielded ceramic-core reactor that ran white-hot.  After delivering its last warhead, the missile would dive on a final target with its load of hellishly radioactive fission products.  A prototype engine was actually built and tested, using a supply of compressed air to simulate ram air.  The project died when it became obvious that long-range ballistic missiles could get the job done more sanely (if one can use "sane" in the context of a strategy named MAD).  The terrain-comparison radar guidance system survived to become the basis for the first modern cruise missiles.  The project also taught the contractors a lot about radiation-hardening electronics and machinery.  Wikipedia gives no details of how one would launch the thing.  The final assembly of the reactor would have to have been either automatic or by remote control, and the launch site and the whole flight path would be heavily contaminated by the fission products in the exhaust.
zaku1986 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is very interesting weapon concept. But yeah, it is more useful as a reconnaissance vehicle than a missile.
MarcosBuLLiTT Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2010
looks like the Black Bird(X-men plane)
nikolay Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2009
Sounds like it was rebuilt into something like the NASA/Boeing X-43 and X-51 scramjet
lazarusmumble Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2007
Ooh, tasty.
atomicfiction Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2007
Rockets and weapons and such are so evocative and terrifying on so many levels, and this image is no exception. Excellent work.~
turbofanatic Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you very much, I enjoy reading about Cold War weaponry far too much :)
atomicfiction Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2007
I can tell- but honestly the cold war has a whole lot of interesting things to research so I certainly can't fault you!
IndiozinhoAzul Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
your pictures are amazing
nemo-ramjet Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2007
This could still work as a reasonable hard target penetrator... or could it?
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