United States Patent 3724322

An umbilical connector for missiles, comprising a plug-and-socket assembly f the quick-disconnect type. The plug is carried by the missile, and has prongs which are withdrawn from the socket in the direction of missile movement when the latter is launched. Upon such prong withdrawal, the socket, which is spring-loaded, retracts into the launcher housing, where it is protected from missile exhaust gases. It may be repositioned manually after each operation for use in subsequent launchings.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
89/1.814, 439/131, 439/153
International Classes:
F41F3/055; (IPC1-7): F41F3/04
Field of Search:
339/45R,34 89
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3518613MISSILE UMBILICAL CABLE1970-06-30Alpert
3193790Umbilical connector1965-07-06Boyle et al.
3120784Booster contactor1964-02-11Magers et al.

Primary Examiner:
Engle, Samuel W.
I claim

1. A quick disconnect umbilical connector assembly for a rocket-powered missile supported by a launcher prior to firing, said assembly comprising:


The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the Government of the United States of America for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalties thereon or therefor.


The design of many missiles is such that the pins or prongs of the umbilical connector used in launching form an angle with the longitudinal axis of the missile. Hence, the initial forward movement of the missile imposes a twisting or shearing force on such pins, which is often severe enough to preclude their use in a subsequent operation. In addition, as the missile nozzle passes the open pin receptacles of the connector socket, the exhaust gases are received directly on the exposed electrical terminals and have a highly corrosive effect thereon. Occasionally this condition remains undetected, and can result in a serious malfunction or even an abort of some later launch in which the damaged socket is inadvertently utilized. It is consequently important that the male and female portions of the umbilical connector separate cleanly and be capable of immediate re-use without time-consuming inspection and/or maintenance.


The disclosed concept eliminates the problems present in known umbilical connectors for missiles through the use of a plug-and-socket assembly in which the pins or prongs are insertable in, or withdrawable from, their respective receptacles in a direction parallel to that in which the missile moves upon launching. This provides a clean separation with no twisting or shearing forces being developed on these parts. As a further feature, the invention provides for the retraction of the socket portion of the connector into the launcher housing as soon as the plug pins are withdrawn, thus protecting the socket from the corrosive effects of the missile exhaust gases and permitting its re-use during subsequent launching operations.


One object of the present invention, therefore, is to provide an improved umbilical connector for missiles.

Another object of the invention is to provide an umbilical connector in the form of a plug and socket that separate cleanly and without any strain or distortion when the missile is launched.

A further object of the invention is to provide for the protection of the socket portion of an umbilical connector from exhaust gases during a missile launch.

A still further object of the invention is to provide for the automatic retraction of the socket portion of a missile umbilical connector during launch (this feature will provide unlimited reusable cycles), and to further provide for the subsequent manual extension of such socket portion into operating position in preparation for the launching of another missile.

Other objects, advantages and novel features of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein:


FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a missile umbilical connector assembly designed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view of FIG. 1 taken along the line 2--2, and showing the connector in its extended and mated condition;

FIG. 3 is a view similar to FIG. 2 but showing the connector plug and socket portions separated from one another and the socket portion retracted;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the socket portion of the invention connector assembly taken along line 4--4 of FIG. 2 showing the two pin receptacles; and

FIG. 5 is a top view of the manually-operated connector repositioning mechanism shown in FIG. 1 taken along the line 5--5.


In the drawings there is shown one form of the invention umbilical connect and disconnect assembly associated with a missile 10. The latter is supported in firing position from a rail-supporting launcher framework 12 of known design by a pair of forward and aft shoes located near the forward and aft ends of the missile. Only one of these shoes is relevant to the present concept, however, and hence the remaining shoe has been omitted from the drawings for the sake of clarity. The one shown includes a bracket attached to missile 10, such bracket having a pair of support arms 14-16 the upper ends of which have inwardly-projecting fingers 18 riding in grooves 20 formed in a launch rail 22 secured to the under side of the launcher framework 12 by bolts 24. The launcher framework 12 in cross-section (FIG. 1) has essentially the configuration of a quadrilateral, with the grooves 20 of rail 22 extending parallel to the longitudinal axis of missile 10. Rail 22 has a centrally-formed axial cut-out portion 26 designed to receive the invention connector, as will become apparent from the following description of FIGS. 2 and 3 wherein such connector is set forth in detail.

To facilitate an understanding of the manner in which the disclosed connector operated, the assembly has first been set forth in FIG. 2 in its closed circuit condition. In such condition, a plug 28 carried by missile 10 has its pins or prongs 30 inserted in the pin receptacles 32 of a socket 34 forming an extension of a plunger 36 projecting downwardly through an opening 38 formed in both the launcher structure 12 and the rail 22 so as to lie at right angles to the axis of missile 10, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3. As will later appear, plunger 36 is designed for limited vertical movement between its operating position as shown in FIG. 2 and its retracted position as shown in FIG. 3. This movement is brought about by a coil spring 40 disposed between a retainer end cap 42 on member 36 and a cover plate 44 overlying the inner surface of the launcher framework 12. In use, spring 40 is biased to open position (FIG. 3) and is maintained under tension as long as the components have their relative positions as shown in FIG. 2 with the pins 30 of plug 28 inserted in the receptacles 32 of socket 34.

The plug 28 has a tubular body 46 which engages electrical output conductors (not shown) of missile 10. It remains attached to missile 10 during launch, plug 28 moving through the cut-out portion 26 of rail 22 as the fingers 18 ride in grooves 20. It will be noted that pins or prongs 30 (see FIG. 3) extend in a direction parallel to the direction of missile movement during launch, or, in FIG. 3, toward the left of the drawing as represented by the arrow 48. Prior to such movement, the pin receptacles 32 mate with the pins 30, FIG. 4 showing such receptacles turned 90° to their position in FIGS. 2 and 3. A cable 50 carries a conductor 52 to one of the contacts 32, the other contact being grounded or otherwise connected to the member 36 as shown in FIG. 4. Electrical signals may thus be conveyed over conductor 52 to control the operation of missile 10 during the launching operation when the assembly is in the condition as shown in FIG. 2.

In describing a complete cycle of operation of the invention connector, it will be assumed that the missile 10 is in readiness for launching, or, in other words, that the various components are in the relative positions shown in FIG. 2 of the drawings. As such, plug 28 is inserted in socket 34, and electrical signals may be transmitted to or from the missile 10 through conductor 52.

Spring 40 is compressed, and the tubular member 36 is maintained in position against the tension of such spring by the presence of the pins or prongs 30 in their respective receptacles 32 of socket 34.

Upon initiation of launch, the missile 10 moves in the direction of arrow 48, pulling the prongs 30 out of socket 34 (see FIG. 3). Immediately, spring 40 causes plunger 36 to rise, drawing socket 34 upwardly to the position shown in FIG. 3. An obturator disc 54 carried on the lower face of socket 34 closes the opening 38 and precludes the entry into such opening of hot, corrosive gases from the missile propulsion nozzle as it passes by such point. The socket receptacles 32 are thus protected from corrosion due to impingement of such gases thereon. The position to which the plunger 36 rises is indicated in FIG. 1 of the drawings by the broken line 56.

A manually-operable lever 58 is pivoted at 60, one end 62 of this lever contacting the cap 42. When the other end 64 of this lever is forced upwardly by an operator during missile loading on the guide rails lever end 62 exerts a force on cap 42 to depress the latter to its original position of FIG. 2 wherein the socket 34 is again in position to receive the pins 30 of another plug-carrying missile. Thus a large number of successive missile launchings may be carried out in which the same socket 34 is repeatedly used. The plugs 28 are of course lost but are simple in design and readily expendable.

FIG. 5 shows a top view of the manually-operable lever assembly the operation of which is described above. The lever is supported on a bracket 66 attached by bolts 68 to the launcher framework 12.

It will now be recognized that

a. the retracting mechanism controlled by spring 40 prevents corrosive gases from the missile exhaust from reaching the pin receptacles 32, greatly increasing the repetitive firing reliability of the socket by eliminating contact resistance caused by such gases,

b. the destructive angular separating action of conventional plug-and-socket connectors is not present, since separation occurs in the direction of missile movement,

c. only minor structural changes are required in standard launching designs, thus reducing cost of utilizing the present concept to a minimum, and

d. one-step manual actuation of lever 58 restores the socket assembly to position for mating with each successive missile.

Although in the particular embodiment of the invention set forth above the plug 28 has been described as being carried by the missile 10, and the socket 34 as forming an extension of plunger 36, the relative positioning of these elements can optionally be reversed so that the socket is carried by the missile while the plug is selectively retractable into the opening 38. The basic operating characteristics of the assembly remain as before.

Obviously many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in the light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.