The PGM-11 Redstone was the first large American ballistic missile. A short-range surface-to-surface rocket, it was in active service with the U.S. Army in West Germany from June 1958 to June 1964 as part of NATO's Cold War defense of Western Europe. It was also the first missile to launch a live nuclear bomb, detonated in a 1958 Pacific Ocean weapons test.
A direct descendant of the German V-2 rocket, the missile was the foundation for the Redstone rocket family, It was developed by team of predominantly German rocket engineers relocated to the United States after World War II as part of Operation Paperclip. Redstone's prime contractor was the Chrysler Corporation.
A product of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama under the leadership of Wernher von Braun, Redstone was designed as a surface-to-surface missile for the U.S. Army. It was named for the arsenal on April 8, 1952, which traced its name to the region's red rocks and soil. Chrysler was awarded the prime production contract and began missile and support equipment production in 1952 at the newly-renamed Michigan Ordnance Missile Plant in Warren, Michigan. The Navy-owned facility was previously known as the Naval Industrial Reserve Aircraft Plant used for jet engine production. Following the cancellation of a planned Navy jet engine program, the facility was made available to the Chrysler Corporation for missile production. Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation Company provided the rocket engines; Ford Instrument Company, division of Sperry Rand Corporation, produced the guidance and control systems; and Reynolds Metals Company fabricated fuselage assemblies as subcontractors to Chrysler. On 28 January, 1954, Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team launched Redstone missile No. 2 from Cape Canaveral, FL.