The "shock and awe" of today's preferred weapons-cruise missiles, precision weapons, and unmanned aerial vehicles-did not debut in Operation Iraqi Freedom, or even in the 1991 Gulf War. Despite the fact it laid the groundwork for modern warfare more than six decades ago, an experimental missile conceived by visionary naval officers and manufactured in part by piano and bicycle makers has remained unsung. Here, a TDR-1 is missing its cockpit glass and landing gear, clearly on a one-way trip.
Since the 1991 Gulf War, the Tomahawk land-attack missile has been embraced as the epitome of accuracy, low risk, long range, and high yield-a modern wonder weapon. Few of its proponents realize, however, that its combat role germinated early in the 20th century, and its ancestor, the first U.S. cruise missile, engaged in combat against Japan during World War II.