for Submariners

by Hamilton 1:1 Communications, LLC

52 Regulus I (SSG) Conversion program
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Regulus I (SSG) Conversion (1952)

Shortly after WWII, as the Cold War with the Soviet Union intensified, both sides had been quick to take advantage of captured German V-1 and V-2 technology from World War II. So, they begin development of both guided and ballistic missiles for tactical and strategic use, with the U.S. Army initially taking the lead in the United States. Not to be out-done, the U.S. Navy converted two World War II fleet boats, USS Carbonero (SS-337) and USS Cusk (SS-348) to carry a U.S. variant of the German V-1 pulse-jet missile, known as the Loon, first launched at sea in February 1947. Loon’s nominal range under command guidance was approximately 50 nautical miles, but using a second submarine as a relay, it could be effective out to 135 nautical miles, with a reported Circular Error Probable (CEP) of 6,000 yards.

Eventually, five submarines were fitted to carry and launch Regulus also, and they became the principal deterrent force.

The Regulus I missile itself was essentially a small turbojet aircraft, 42 feet long, with a wingspan of 21 feet. Gross launch weight was just under seven tons, including a ton of fuel, and its Allison J33-A-14 engine could propel the missile to Mach 0.91 (about 550 knots). Regulus was launched from an inclined ramp, later trainable, and it required two 3,300 pound-thrust Jet Assisted Take-Off (JATO) units to get up to speed. The weapon was command-guided, initially out to the radar horizon by superimposing steering commands onto the launch platform’s tracking radar waveform, and then by using a relay submarine nearer the target to track and steer the missile to the final aim point. Either a 40-50 kiloton nuclear warhead or a 1-2 megaton thermonuclear device could be carried.

USS Tunny (SSG-282) was the first submarine to carry Regulus. Please click on the link below to watch a Missile launch:

USS Tunny (SSG-282) Gato Class

USS Tunny (SSG-282) Regulus I

The Tunny keel was laid down, 10 November 1941, at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, CA.; Launched, 30 June 1942; Commissioned USS Tunny (SS-282), 1 September 1942.

On 27 June 1945, USS Tunny discontinued the vigil of her 9th WWII combat patrol; proceeded via the Kuril Islands and Midway Island; and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 6 July. The submarine then made her way back to the west coast. Tunny was decommissioned on 13 December 1945 and placed in the Mare Island Group, 19th Fleet.

Communist aggression in Korea placed new demands on the resources of the Navy and led to Tunny's being placed in commission, in reserve, on 28 February 1952. She saw no service at this time, however, and was decommissioned in April 1952. On 6 March 1953, she was placed in commission for the third time. Converted to carry guided missiles, she was reclassified with (SSG-282) and served as a Regulus missile submarine for nearly 12 years.

For the first four of those years, she operated out of Port Huenneme, contributing to the development of the Regulus missile system. Except for a short period of type training, Tunny engaged entirely in the launching and guidance of Regulus missiles for purposes of missile evaluation in the development of the system. In 1957, she shifted her base of operations to Hawaii where she conducted deterrent patrols and fired exercise missiles.

For further information: Regulus Missile Launch

Boats Converted:

USS Tunny (SS-282) Gato




312' length
27' 4” Beam
1,525 tons Surfaced Displacement
2,400 tons Submerged Displacement
3,430 SHP Diesels, 2 Shafts
2,740 SHP Electric Motors, 2 Shafts
84 crew


6 x 21” TT Bow
4 x 21” TT Stern
2 x Regulus I Missiles (Hangar)