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Button-Honor Roll

North American Aviation


Missile Division
Downey, California
Where The Hound Dog Was Born


The Downey division pioneered advances in missile technology that became the cornerstone of America's rocket industry.  The Downey plant  produced the GAM-77 (AGM-28 Hound Dog Missile) Hound-Dog, an air-to-surface nuclear missile carried under the wings of B-52 bombers.

The Downey U.S. Air Force Plant 16/North American Aviation, Inc., occupied the same Downey land that E.M. Smith had bought in the 1920s to found an air field and aviation company, and which Vultee made great during the World War II years.

The project, the Hound Dog Air-to-Ground Missile Program, was to aid the mighty U.S. fleet of B-52s hit targets while remaining at a relatively safe distance. It used much of the tracking technology already developed for the Navaho Missile.

July 1957: Proposal for GAM-77 Hound Dog is submitted to Air Force.   The contract was awarded North American in Oct 1958, two and a half years after the Strategic Air Command had realized its need. 

The Hound Dog was the mainstay of the company through the early 1960s, turning out
missiles to arm SAC's 29 B-52 squadrons. Production ceased in 1963.

A Brief Account of the Beginning of the Hounddog (GAM 77) Program
By: Ellis Katz

I joined the Missile Division of North American Aviation at Downy in May of 55 assigned to the Preliminary Design Section under Bill Parker.  Reporting to Bill was Bob Wilson for Design and Bernie Chew for Operations.  My background at the time was aerodynamics and missile design. I was identified as a “Responsible Engineer” under Gordon Olson and George Jeffs.  As an RE, I was to lead project teams on projects to which I was assigned. 

The following is my best recollection of the events of late summer and fall of ’57, which culminated in the Hounddog program.

 In the summer of ’57, the North American Navaho program was abruptly canceled.  The cancellation was a result of the successes of the Atlas ballistic missile program; the Navaho 3000 mile ramjet cruise missile was not deemed competitive for the mission.

Shortly after the cancellation (within weeks), the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, (I think his name was Ford), invited North American to come up with a design for a ”lightweight air-to-surface missile”.  It was to be carried by the B-52 with a weight of not more than 12,500 lb. fully armed and fueled.  We were told it was a ”hurry-up” project and that the concept had to be back in Washington within a week.

I was assigned the project under Jeffs and recall working the weekend with a team (including Lou layout designer ever, Norm Ryker for structures, Bobby Crawford [later Johnson] for aerodynamics, Fred Ethridge for propulsion and others) to evolve a design that might be acceptable.  We based the configuration on the X-10/G-38 canard type to carry over as much data as had been complied on the Navaho program. 

As I recall, Bob Wilson and Bill Parker carried the concept back to the Pentagon and later returned with smiles.

By that time we came to know we were in a competition with Chance Vought who had an air-to-surface adaptation of their Regulus Navy ship-board launched missile.  Of course, we didn’t know then that the ”dice were loaded” for us as consolation for our loss of the Navaho program [this view was shared by many of us but not officially noted].

Although the general configuration of the first design was pretty much a scaled-down X-10, there were some significant configuration issues.  Lou Walkover resolved the first issue: how to arrange the internal components (guidance & control, APU, etc) of the bird so that it could be readily maintained while slung under the 52’s wing.   Lou immediately came up with the design that used a cantilevered ”I-beam” projected from a forward bulkhead; all components would be mounted on both sides of the beam and easily accessible once the nose ”cowling” was removed.  Although there was some issue about the guidance system (pure inertial vs a star-tracker system), we had no trouble settling on Autonetics inertial system. 

The major issue was the choice of the turbojet engine.  General Electric had come up with the small J-85 engine (I think it had been developed to power small commercial jets), which, in a two-engine configuration would be just sufficient to drive the bird to Mach 2.0 with the engines placed on either side of the after-body.  GE had the test data to prove its case and we quickly (too quickly as it turned out) focused on that configuration.  In fact, we had models made for publicity, which featured that configuration.  However, Pratt & Whitney came to us proposing that we use their recently developed J-52 engine.  The advantage of the non-afterburning J-52 was that a single engine might do the job.....but the test data did not prove that it  would be adequate.  So we sent P&W back to the showers.  They came back with more data but still we were unconvinced.  By late September, the competition was nearing a close and, as the project leader, I (and others) did not want any ”changes” made at that time.  How naive I was.....P&W went to the Air Force and the Air Force came to us and with test data still wet on the paper, the J-52 became the power plant.  Of course, as it turns out, that was the right choice.

I recall Joe Berrer (Joe was president of the Missile Division at the time; not sure of the spelling of his last name) retuning from Inglewood where he had met with Dutch Kindleberger and Lee Atwood regarding the contract award and telling us that it had been decided to name the GAM-77 as "Hounddog".  At the time Elvis was "King" and his musical fame carried over to our bird.

With the award of the contract and the beginning of the production program, Martin Boe was named Chief Engineer and Sandy Falbaum as Assistant Chief Engineer.  I think that Dale Myers may have been named Program Manager.  Being an advanced concept/preliminary-design type, I retuned to Preliminary Design.

Hounddog was a highly successful program and an important revenue source for North American in the post-Navaho period.  Most important, it kept a very talented cadre of engineers together for the eventual competition and development of the Apollo/Saturn programs.

The Downy Plant and Beyond

Dennis Kelley
Hound Dog Engineer


Mike Pickett
Hound Dog Engineer

Excerpts from a Book By: Mike Pickett

The Hound-Dog missiles were built in the HUGE (1 million square foot) building next door to mine...formerly the Chance Vultee aircraft building where they built WWII fighter aircraft. Quite often I would go over and wander about to see the missiles being put together. We had a missile test facility on the old runway, behind security locks, and I'd spend countless hours running my programs on the system and checking to make them perfect.

I became an expert on programming the electronic check of the Hound-Dog missile and the B-52 G&N system. My programs would check out the Bomb-Nav package, missile-tie in converter, astro-tracker (yes, the Hound Dog missile had access to a star tracker mounted in the B-52 pylon..the Kollsman star tracker was so sensitive it could track a star 10 degrees from the sun in daylight...) navigator panels with all their position servo displays, all the relays in the Hound-Dog, right to the spooky "Arm Warhead" and "Fuse" relays, and all the diodes, analog to digital and digital to analog devices in the systems. I also worked on programs to check the astro-tracker in the missile pylon, and a first-time-ever program that checked the the commutator contacts in an PIGA (accelerometer) for lead and lag failures.

At one point, I worked with my friends Dick Mueller and Phil Williams on a program called CEL (Combat Evaluation Launch). We ran flight tests on our various programs out of bases across the nation...the B-52 would fly, and the missile would pretend to launch, all the while gathering telemetry on its ability to do its job. There were something like
1300 launches a month going on during that period.

    Some of the launches were live, down the AMR (Atlantic Missile Range). I liked to use one of those launches in my Math classes to exemplify the problems with a lost  sign in an arithmetic process. I won't mention his name but Ray ______ accidentally changed a sign in the Cross Track equations and a Hound Dog turned around and went the wrong direction. It created some problems for us. It occurred the week I was getting married and we had to work over 100 hours to find all the problems.........


Nov 3, 1961
GAM-77 Autonavigation Software Engineering Team
Dennis Kelley is 2nd from left along with Chuck Adams.

Photos coutesy of: Dennis Kelley, NAA Engineer

History Notes

1957 - The Autonetics Division was formed. (Inertial Guidance System Developement)

Dec 16, 1960 - The Missile Division becomes the Space and Information System Division.

Sep 22, 1967 - NAA becomes North American Rockwell Corp.


Flight Test Team No. 2


Members of Flight Test Team No. 2 and others in front of R & D Missile No. 007 at Eglin AFB, November 1959.  John McHaffie is shown standing in the second row, third from left.  Don L. Butler center, front row.  Other test team members include R. Burkhart, J. McKenna, and C. Hannon.   Sal Spina and company aircrew personnel Al Coutret and Ben Boykin in flight suits are kneeling in front row.

North American Tech Reps

Photograph 8





Bergstrom AFB

Baggs, Peter (Pete)

Loring AFB

Bailey, Barry C.


Bates, Horace C. (Ted)

Ramey AFB


Travis AFB

Brewer, Richard D.

Walker AFB

Butler, Lavere B.

K.I. Sawyer AFB

Cade, Ernest W. (Bill)

Wright-Patterson AFB

Cavenaugh, William R. (Bill)

Walker AFB

Collins, Joseph B. (Joe)

Chanute AFB

Colunga, Rafael (Ralph)


Cutter, James O. (Jim)

Chanute AFB

Czarnecki, George G.

Mather AFB

Davis, Allen H. (Al)

Wright-Patterson AFB

DeWitt, Charles F.

WS131B (Bomb Nav)

Domnick, Joseph R. (Joe)


Di Giovanni, Marsi

Ramey AFB

Donaldson, Wallace S. (Lee)

Travis AFB

Dossett, Hugh. H.

Wurtsmith AFB, Minot AFB

Emmick, John T.

Eglin AFB

Edwards, Andrew J


Escarcega, E. (Ed)


Exline, George E.

Altus AFB

Fata, John C.


Finney, Edward (Ed)

Loring AFB

Frank, Daniel (Dan)

Wright-Patterson AFB

Furlow, Reginald W. (Bob)

Eglin AFB, Minot AFB

Gerson, Arnold


Glass, James C.


Giles, Richard V.


Hamel, Al M.


Hemsley, Clyde D.

Chanute AFB

Hiene, Ernest


Hill, Louis L. (Lou)

Ramey AFB

Holdridge, George L. (Larry)

Dow AFB 

Holly, Earl A.

Blythville AFB

Holobaugh, Olaf (Ole)

Griffis AFB, SAC Hqts

Hrico, George J


Hunt, Richard S.

Westover AFB

Hyatt, Gilbert (Gil)

Travis AFB

Jerkey, Arthur M. (Art)

Columbus AFB

Johnson, Ernest B

Beale AFB

Johnson, Raymond A. (Ray)

Chanute AFB

Johnson, Wallace A. (Wally)

Columbus AFB

Jones, Joseph R. (Joe)

Altus AFB

Jordan, William

Columbus AFB

Kay, Harold A.

Walker AFB 

Kapin, Gerald H.


Kleinberg, Marvin (Marv)

Griffis AFB

Kuklinski, A. V.


Lanza, Frank J.

Loring AFB

Lawrence, H. H. (Tex)


Lien, Donald R

Minot AFB

Livingstone, Reid

Travis AFB, Seymour Johnson AFB

Llorente, David

Griffiss AFB - 8th AF - 15th AF

McHaffie, John C

Dow AFB, Wright-Patterson AFB

McLallen, Harre M.

Wurtsmith AFB

McNew, Donald E. (Don)

Eglin AFB

Maloski, Robert R. (Bob)

Robins AFB

Mayer, Harold P.

Eglin AFB

Moreta, Edward A.

Travis AFB

Moore, Gilbert R. (Gil)


Moore, William E. (Bill)

Columbus AFB

Makamura, George


Owen, Ralph D.

Homestead AFB

Patterson, Frank M. (Pat)

Eglin AFB

Peregrine, H.C.

Minot AFB

Poling, Glenn

Seymour-Johnson AFB

Potts, Jack R.

Seymour-Johnson AFB


Bergstrom AFB

Reed, Alan J. (Al)

Walker AFB

Rice, Donald H. (Don)

Blytheville AFB

Roan, John

Columbus AFB Wurtsmith AFB

Robinson, William L. (Robbie)

Robins AFB

Sandham, Robert E. (Bob)

Mather AFB

Schoellerman, Stanley (Stan)


Schroeder, Ralph E.

Barksdale AFB

Seremak, Mitchell A.


Severs, Wayne R.

Chanute AFB

Shaper, Norvin H.


Shearer, William T. (Bill)


Shifflett, Stan

Columbus AFB

Shoytush, Joseph (Joe)

Chanute AFB

Simpson, Clayton B. (Clay)

Wright-Patterson AFB

Sommers, L. Stanton (Stan)

Barksdale AFB

Southward, Carl W. - Deceased

Columbus AFB

Stokes, James (Jim)

Minot AFB

Stokesberry, Dan S.

Edwards AFB

Southern, Vestal


Sullivan, George V. (Sully)


Surprise, Mickie R.


Todd,  William J. (Bill)

Beale AFB

Turner, Charles C.


Van Blarcom, John P.

Barksdale AFB

Van Ess, Duane C.

Beale AFB

Voit, John J.

Altus AFB

Weimar, Arthur (Art)

Barksdale AFB

Weir, High C.,

Mather AFB

Weismose, John H.


Weiss, Wm. M. (Bill)


Wilmoth, Robert R. (Bob)

Columbus AFB

Wolfe, Gordon S. (Gordy)

Wurtsmith AFB

Wood, Raymond A. (Ray)

Griffis AFB

Yeager, Jack J.

Robins AFB



Label for GAM-77 Missile Division, North American Aviation, Inc.  Courtesy of Ken Clymer

Memories, Thoughts and More

Recollection of the Past
By: David Llorente
NAA Tech Rep

One note of particular interest, I and many others that went on to be reps with various bases were part of the engineering contingent of the company flight test program at Eglin.  Such as one such flight test team as this picture depicts.


The two chaps in flying suits at the bottom row, Alex Coutret
and Ben Boykin, were the first to launch the Hound Dog Missle,
the first one being a dummy ballistic drop at one of the Eglin
bomb ranges.  Alex and Ben later launched a real one down range.

As a note of trivia but still haunting many of his friends, the 2nd from the left in the front is Sal Spina, an engineer who was later killed in the takeoff of a American Airlines DC10 at Chicago when the engine came off.

I might add that later the SOTE or Systems Operational Test Evaluation unit was formed with the SAC Wing at Eglin - - we were under the command of Lt. Col. William Wilborn who was one really great friend and big Hound Dog supporter.  I wonder where he might be now.  We had our own B52 and crew comprised of AF types versus the civilian crew we had with our company flight test program.  This B52 was commanded by Capt. MacDonald with a Captain Davis from APGC overlooking us.

Do You Remember?

NAALighter1960A memento of Autonetics in the 1960's


Hound Dog Chases Rabbit, Catches Same
By: Phil Brand

I was hired at Eglin just as the Hound Dog program began, around 1959. The only position left was mail boy, and I wanted to always work for the company that built the P-51, so I took it there in King Hangar.  I got to know everyone there as the mail boy, so soon a guy named Charlie Ackerman in communications , took me in, as he was from Arkansas, and I was from Mississippi, we could speak the same language.  Charlie put me in the meter room with John Hall, so soon I was into calibration of all the gages and instruments used by Techs on the Hound Dog.
    Not long after that Robert "Bob" Weaver noticed me and saw I had my Commercial Pilots license, I was 22 and had 2 years college at LSU in Baton Rouge. Bob Weaver sent me to Downey to Data Reduction for a couple of weeks and I became a Data Reduction, so when the B-52 landed I was there to gather the tapes of the flight, and got with the hydraulic or any system that wanted to get a playback for a particular event, a problem, or launch  of the Hound Dog during it's flight.  We had a telemeter trailer microwave at the King Hangar and of course down range on the AMR.  We ran a few here at the EGTR  (Eglin Range 800 square miles of Gulf and Land. I learned to read the time code generator that had the time on the oscillographs, and took the Missile Operators notes and the GMT time and the curves plotted on each instrument and we could find out what voltages were spiking , pressures, all the that was going on.  Then I mailed the tapes to Downey from Eglin ASAP.
     I knew the Pilots,  a guy name Nunally flew our White F-100 company  chase plane.  He and a photographer would chase the Hound Dog at launch for a few minutes, then the Dog would pull ahead.
    We launched one at White Sands, New Mexico, a low level radar pitch integrator terrain following. Well it was doing fine till it came to a cliff drop off. It was flying great low level, just above the ground, when it went over this cliff, it commanded it to pitch down, by the time the radar altimeter figured
out to pull out and level off again, the Pratt and Whitney engine just barely sucked in some of that New Mexico desert,  Well it killed a jack rabbit.  So we used the headline :Hound Dog Kills Rabbit.

A Few Memories I Remember
By: Wes Horen

I worked for North American in Downey and Tulsa on the WS-131B program for 10 years in the Logistics and Supply Support areas. Me and four or five other guys finally closed out the program for North American Rockwell.  All the people that had worked on the Hound Dog were transferred to the Apollo program.

     The Inertial Guidance System by Autonetics was taken directly from their (SINS) ships inertial guidance system. Most of it was manufactured right across the street from the Downey plant. I remember in the early days of going down to the assembly line and stealing (requisitioning) parts to send out to the Air Force.

     In the manufacturing area we didn't have much interface with the Air Force other for spare parts support with mainly OCAMA. Although we did listen one time to a  test at White Sands. When the Hound Dog was dropped we could hear the altitude call-outs. Every thousand feet it dropped, we figured our jobs were dropping at about the same rate. When it finally leveled out  everyone cheered.

     We had a small radar test range by the plant in Tulsa. The techs said that the only part of the missile that reflected radar was the inlet. When RAM/REAR was installed it had hardly no reflection. That same material was later used on the sails of nuclear subs..
     The Engineers could tweak the bird to 50 feet over water or level ground. Or so they said. I was always under the impression that it carried a lot more then a 5 megaton  warhead. The NTI package weighted  1,723 pounds package.

     Working on the project was great fun., but just for very rare instances we never really heard about its life in the Air Force and after the project I never heard anything about it.

A Blast of Facts From The Past
By: Earl Pollard

Out of the blue some weird notion led me to look up the GAM-77 on Google. I opened the "North American Aviation Missile Division, Downey, California Where The Hound Dog Was Born". Just so you know- I organized, staffed and managed the GAM-77 Field Service program. My department went from 3 field engineers to 120 personnel at 17 SAC bases. I had tech reps, on the spot maintenance teams, mobile training units (MTU's) and SAC combat crew rated personnel who actually flew combat training missions with SAC flight crews. The SOTE contractor team personnel were under the Field Service organization because the project was intended to demonstrate operational maintenance capabilities of the bird and maintenance/ personel'systems interfaces.
     The first  SAC combat crew trained and qualified field engineer was Chuck De Witt, a ex Navy enlisted pilot.  One of the best things to happen in the program was to get a tech rep into the SAC combat Crew Training Program and have him qualify as a flight crew member. Not many times a company can get a tech rep aboard a operational B-52 on a training mission.

     The NAA GAM-77 field engineering activity started about 12-9-57. The same people who had been working field service planning on the SM64 picked up the GAM-77. About 11-2-58 we started field operations. By 11-13-60 the GAM program was about at it's peak. As Chief of Field Service I left the program on 5-8-61 and moved over to the Apollo Project
     Note: You show a piece of the Rep's News. My crew designed, wrote and published, Vol 6, No. 6 June 24, 1964.

Final Edition of the NAA Rep's News
Jun 24, 1964



    This will be the final issue of the Rep's News.
For almost six years now the Rep's News has been distributing technical information to all personnel directly associated with Weapon System 131B. The publication has served faithfully in its small, but important roll in transmitting knowledge, incentive and humor throughout the program. Through publications like the Rep's News a great multitude of people can be made to feel a sense of responsibility to the single collective effort. Adoption of Snoopy as the AGM-28 Hound Dog Missile (GAM- 77) symbol has permitted considerable use of humor and has given life to the "aluminum flying machine" It is hoped that discontinuance of this publication will not distort the ever-pleasant expression on Snoopy' snoot!

    Along with the Rep's News, other activities sponsored by WS-13lB Field Engineering must now be terminated or transferred.  The "Operation and Maintenance Incentive Plan (missile model awards for suggestions)" program is hereby discontinued. The Award for "Shack" and "GAM Slam Club'" programs are now transferred to the NAA field service representative presently assigned to Headquarters SAC, Mr. Olaf Holobaugh. He will be responsible for the distribution of the models and certificates associated with these particular programs. Each Numbered Air Force Headquarters will be advised by SAC as to the correspondence necessary in the event that an individual becomes eligible for an award or certificate.

    Many thanks for your participation in these activities and for the cooperation given all assigned NAA field service representatives and AGE installation team members during these past six years.


WS131B Logistics and Field Engineering:
Chief: J.W. Osterboudt
Editor: S.W. Schoellerman

The Earl Pollard Memoires
A Foot In The Mouth

I paid a visit to Loring AFB at the time the base was preparing facilities for the Houndog. Frank Lanza was our resident rep.The morning after a great Italian dinner at his home he picked me up at the city owned hotel in Caribou and we drove to the base. The missile buildings were complete and the connecting road ways were done. After inspecting the situation I concluded that the sitting of the facilities was very marginal and possibly did not
meet GAM specs. I.e. road slope angles and heading etc. Frank took me to the CO's office.  During our meeting I mentioned my concerns and suggested the person responsible for laying out the site was at fault. The Col. looked me in the eye and said "I sited the buildings." Oh well!!

I'd Like To File A Missing Persons Report

I paid a visit to Ted Bates the tech rep at Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico. When the base received their GAM's, an OSMT(On The Spot Maintenance Team) would be sent to the base to help the maintenance personnel get familiar with the bird. Some time later when the team had arrived. Ted called me to report a team member had disappeared. A search of the island found the guy in a town jail up in the interior mountains. The charge was drunk and disorderly.
Ted bailed the guy and as I remember restricted him to the base.

Who Told You To Do That ?

The field service group at the Missile Division also included systems training.On the GAM-77 the training equipment design activity was also part of field service. The design activity was headed by John McIntyre. John also interfaced with the manufacturing shop that built the training aids he designed.   As usual engineering orders were used to get the work done. The  vehicle and ground support equipment design activity was  headed by Martin Boe and Sandy Falbaum.   To streamline the training equipment program I started issuing my own engineering orders because John's design group had nothing to do with other hardware. After about two weeks Martin and Sandy became aware I was issuing engineering orders. This was totally unacceptable to them and Dale Myers. That was the end of our organization streamlining.

I Helped Build the Dogs!

I worked on the assembly of the GAM-77 in Downey CA.  I was a leadman of Product inspection under Bill Ahern who was the Manager of Product inspection across the field at Flight Test and Check Out. I remember when the Navaho program was cancelled I was an inspector in the area where the main tank was spot welded and assembled.  Antonio C. Lira, 15451 Columbia Lane, Huntington Beach CA 92647, Phone: 714-903-9896, Email:

Any NAA Engineers or Technicians from Downey, who were associated with the Hound Dog program, that may have photos, data or information they would like to contribute to this page, I sure would appreciate it.

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