The revolutionary Raduga P-15 Termit (Western code-name, SS-N-2 "Styx") was the first successful anti-ship cruise missile to achieve operational service. It was not the first such weapon, but previous missiles of this type such as the P-1 Strelka (SS-N-1 "Scrubber") were short-lived in service.
This missile had an unlikely origin as an attempt to produce a compact fighter aircraft, in the form of the Yakovlev Yak-1000, which first flew in 1951. This aircraft was characterized by a cropped delta wing, an all-flying tail with both vertical and horizontal stabilizers that were also of a cropped delta shape, and a cigar-like fuselage. Though it was quite fast (attaining an airspeed of Mach 1.7 for the first time in a manned flight), its fragile undercarriage design was ultimately its undoing, and the sole example was written-off after a mere taxiing mishap.
In the late 1950s, the design of the Yak-1000 later caught the attention of the MKB Raduga design bureau, who were tasked with developing an anti-ship missile of similar in size and performance, in order to defeat the numerous large warships then operated throughout the Western Bloc. A team under Alexander Yakovlevich Bereznyak (a co-designer of the Bereznyak-Isayev BI-1 rocket interceptor during World War 2) adapted to the design of the Yak-1000 into a radar guided missile with a different air inlet system and stabilizers, and an active radar homing guidance system (i.e., the seeker head emits its own radio waves, and homes-in on a reflection consistent with a proper target).
In testing, the P-15 demonstrated the ability to virtually demolish small warships, but it proved less effective than anticipated against the larger vessels it was mainly intended to defeat. For example, the incomplete Stalingrad battlecruiser herself was one of the target ships used for the P-15, and had the unique advantage of being indefinitely reusable; much to the surprise of the Soviet government, the Stalingrad was never significantly damaged, despite being pounded by over 100 direct hits from missiles of all types (including many P-15s) from 1956 to 1960.
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