Missile Type: Air to Air
Collection Ref: 1997/0182/O
The Red Top Air-to-Air Missile was originally called Firestreak IV. However, it so radically improved Firestreak’s capabilities, that a new name was more appropriate.
The requirement for Red Top in late 1956, was to improve the Infra-Red seeker head to such an extent that a target aircraft could be engaged successfully from almost any direction. To incorporate the new Infra-Red head a major redesign of the missile body was required. The new motor also increased the missile speed to Mach 3 at burnout and as a result the control surfaces were also redesigned.
Development of Red Top was rapid and it entered service in 1964 with Lightning Squadrons. The Lightning’s tail was enlarged to counter the effects of carrying a much larger missile than the Firestreak.