Jan 182012

The gallery above reproduces an October 1949 report outlining the uses and requirements for the Supersonic Naval Ordnance Research Track (Project SNORT), a facility proposed for the Naval Ordnance Test Station located at Inyokern, California. This would be a straight railway 11 miles long, on which rocket-propelled vehicles would carry various kinds of test items at speeds reaching into the supersonic. On this track, built to precision standards, highly instrumented, and having all necessary auxiliary facilities, many types of tests connected with national defense development and research programs would be conducted.

Typical proposed tests in Bureau of Ordnance fields are described in the report, including tests of guided missiles, aircraft damage, ballistics of guns and rockets, fuze developments, and aircraft ordnance components. Other defense agencies were invited to submit inquiries and proposed requirements for test programs in their fields. In the preparation of detailed plans and specifications for the facility, consideration would be given to the test requirements of other agencies as well as to those of BuOrd.

The report established the initial requirements for the design of the Supersonic Naval Ordnance Research Track, a facility for the dynamic testing of ordnance, particularly aviation ordnance equipment. The report brought the potentialities of the facility to the attention of prospective users, including agencies and contractors of all branches of the Armed Services, and invited all interested organizations to submit inquiries and suggest requirements.

The proposed facility would be one of the major facilities of the U. S. Naval Ordnance Test Station. It would be a highly versatile tool for testing and research, capable of transporting test items at sustained supersonic velocities, with intact recovery. The initial requirements presented in the report were resolved principally from projects then assigned (or pending) at the Naval Ordnance Test Station.

From all the titles previously used for the project, the name “Supersonic Naval Ordnance Research Track” was selected, together with the shorter term “Project SNORT,” a name composed of the initials of the formal title. To view the report in depth, please click through the gallery above, which features numerous artist’s impressions and schematics of proposed test vehicles, several of which are quite interesting.

The Supersonic Naval Ordnance Research Track was ultimately built, with the first sled run occurring on November 18, 1953. It has since provided decades of valuable test data on everything from rockets and missiles to aircrew ejection systems. For more information on the birth of Project SNORT, check out the China Lake Museum of Armament and Technology website.

All images from NARA Archives II, College Park, MD, RG 18

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