A Rocket Engine Inside Another Rocket Engine – The Lance Missile

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The MGM-52 Lance Missile is a short range ballistic missile developed for the US Army in the 1960’s and deployed from 1972-1992. One of the most fascinating things about the missile is the engine design which places the sustainer engine inside the booster engine, leading to a pair of concentric nozzles that looks like no other rocker engine out there.

  1. winioj

    I remember from my young days of space aficenado living in estern block… There was a simillar engine combination used in one od soviet SAM’s or Sounding Rockets… (not sure now)

  2. bcubed72

    Gee, I never knew you could clip parts IRL before!

  3. Ahmad Salah

    This seems like something I will do in ksp

  4. Dave Messenger

    As a kid living in West German in the 1980s, I remember the British Army 50 Missle Regiment operated lance missiles.

  5. Greg Ewing

    Always the best internet images! I was at a museum in Belgium and in the corner with no plate or description were some old V2 rocket chamber parts! Everyone else there thought I was a bit mad with how excited I was to see this.

  6. Chuck Hammock

    Thanks Scott. Consider adding “pointers” or “markers” to the video indicating/highlighting you topics of note, as you describe the videos/photos you harvested/rebroadcast. Keep up you great work!!! Chuck Hammock, PE

  7. Jim Donegan

    From one Scot to another, I did have to laugh at “pish-ston”! :)

  8. David Wood

    Scott, you’re a treasure. Thanks so much and keep ‘em coming!

  9. David Beal

    Yes, definitely learned a bit from this one.

  10. Bill Kerr

    It’s hard for me to picture how thrust vectoring would work effectively on a spin stabilized rocket.
    EDIT: Oops! I should read the comments before posting.

  11. Don Ochetti

    So I found one of these missiles, coming here to see how it works.

  12. confuseatronica

    making a heat engine?
    got some other part of the machine that gets hot?
    put the hot bits in the other hot bits = more hot more pies


  13. technik27

    All I can see when I look at this is: Aerospike

  14. dxxPacmanxxb

    when you move one part inside another part in ksp

  15. Kevin Norris

    The outer booster engine looks only a few steps away from being a sort of aerospike engine. Very interesting and unusual configuration.

  16. MeMad Max

    Thats kinda cool, I wouldn’t mind using this concept in a third stage.

  17. Hicham Mohsen

    Great episode as usual. Why not use arrows to parts while talking about them so we can follow easily.

  18. Bertolucci B

    Super interesting!
    Actually happen to have served my (at that time mandatory) military service in Germany in exactly such a Lance unit (RakArtBtl in Flensburg) in 1989-90. We were told that we would have driven to the north of Denmark and shot at passing Soviet ship convois. With nuclear short range weapons *shudder* – woe to you if the wind blows into the wrong direction… 😳🥵
    Fortunately, this horror of a unit got dismantled shortly after in 1992.

  19. Observatore

    6:20 Scott can you please talk about fuel management in space? Like how to get it into the intake and use of pressurized gas fed engines

  20. J H

    I’m familiar with TVC, I usually see it on rockets that use gimbaling for active stabilization, but I’m not too familiar with TVC on a flight vehicle that’s _spin stabilized,_ that seems like it would be very complicated.
    *PS:* Great video! Thanks for putting all the effort into the research and production time, very interesting.

  21. BOB Joatmon

    Scott, have you ever considered a show on Amateur Rocketry? I used to build and fly fairly large rockets (6″+ in diameter and 7 to 10 feet long) and there are thousands who do so every month here in the USA. Note that we always had to get FAA approval to launch these class of rockets because you wouldn’t want to hit an airliner, right?
    I mostly used sugar + an oxidizer but was also experimenting with butyl rubber calk + oxidizer or epoxy + oxidizer solid propellants. You build your own nozzles, cases and bulkheads to so it’s quite a technical hobby.
    Makes the Homeland Security people crazy though, some of our rockets could Cary a 10 pound payload to 40,000 feet. (Obviously if turned horizontal and launched at a target it would be very destructive so I get their concerns about the hobby.)
    We had to put tracking and data systems in do we could record the flights and also recover our rockets. Believe me, if you spent 200 hours building it it was not something you wanted to shoot and forget… Your team piles into a vehicle and chases it because depending on the wind it could drift miles before it landed – actually lots of fun!
    You recovered it and changed engines and launched it again!

  22. zapfanzapfan

    My first thought was that it was some kind of aerospike nozzle :-) Very interesting little nugget there!

  23. Tomasz Durlej

    I was some time thinking about possibility of using coaxial engine as wall for aerospike engine.

  24. Redd Tekk

    Awesome, neat facts about how we tried alot of different engine configurations, super cool Info and thx for the effort

  25. astro bob

    This is actually interesting concept for a multi altitude rocket or maybe a 2 mod engine like the Saber.

  26. Vampira

    This was actualy a genuinly clever design, i am suprised it did not became more used.

  27. Three Random Words

    5:02 and 5:38 looks like a neglected bathroom at a strip club.

  28. Aubrey Freeman

    When you miss a Scott Manley video because you were watching the lunar lander announcement.
    *visible confusion*

  29. Jared Peterson

    You mentioned it briefly, but can you do a video on the systems rockets use to light their engines in space

  30. Madis Jõgi

    This is ablative cone aerospike where the spike is also and engine..
    This is freaking awesome

  31. Limi V

    I lost you in that cross section of the missile, this really called for arrows to point out the part you’re talking about instead of you giving vague descriptions

  32. Tim O' Callaghan

    Lance Missile: The Oddity Odyssey

  33. WolfPeste

    “Meme thrust chamber”?

  34. Timothy Fargo

    Looks like a truncated aerospike inside an atmospheric bell nozzle. Cool!

  35. Troy Rubert

    damn that’s is one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in a while. I wish I could have been in the bullpen with those engineers.

  36. Benoit-Pierre DEMAINE

    9:08 whiskey tango !!! 🙃 never took time to dig those.words :)

  37. Sorin Nicu

    I wonder if that cutaway has some kind of FOUO release regime…

  38. paradigm respawn

    15 second non-opt-out ads are a crime against the economy.
    When will they ever learn capitalism?

  39. keith moore

    always thought the lance was a solid fueled missile like the minuteman!

  40. Nathan Lewis

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, when you’re too polite to even say the letters WTF.

  41. Carlos Xavier Soto

    Hi Scott, I have a question: How does the plumbing work for rocket engines with thrust vectoring? Does the last leg of the fuel and oxidizer lines coming from the tanks have to be replaced with flexible hoses? It doesn’t seem this should be possible at the pressures you describe.. On the other hand, I don’t see how engine gimbaling can be done if these lines are fixed.. And if only the nozzle is gimbaled, how is a seal maintained at the junction with the rest of the engine?

  42. Papi Uuhmelmehahay

    I remember seeing these in Germany when I was young.

  43. Cameron Robbins

    Hey Scott, Thank you, I’ve seen a model of this engine been trying to find out what it was used for.

  44. Spud Eleven

    “Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot”…LoL. Thanks for another fascinating story, Scott. I knew nothing about this one other than its name. I think it was lost in the shadow of the Pershing II. Never seen an engine design like that before.

  45. jimmbbo

    Interesting video…
    Somehow the concept of “close to the target” in a nuclear missile is a bit of understatement.

  46. PJ Lawrence

    0:10 So does the NSA guy who watches my search history.

  47. thomasfholland

    Thank you Scott for bringing back an old memory. My dad worked on this and already had a model of it and the launch vehicle back in 1970(?) He never talked about this.

  48. Record_Needle

    I love my country. Where else would you see something so absurd?

  49. JackSpeed 439

    I initially thought “what rubbish”. However in the end the missile served for 20 years and even then served the development of the patriot system. So the lance seems to be quite a successful missile.

  50. Brandon Burr

    Now that you brought up patriot missles, I think a episode needs to be done on these. Thanks scott😀

  51. Andrew

    The best not clickbait clickbait I’ve ever clicked on lol

  52. EricssonB

    I have enjoyed this little look into an oddity in rocketry.

  53. Dragonlancer

    technology developed in the 1960’s continues to blow my mind.

  54. Helium Road

    “If you find a missile like this, please don’t try firing it, it will probably explode in your face.”

    Got it, thanks. I’ll remember that next time I’m wandering around in the woods or digging through my mom’s garage. ;-)

  55. Darren Marsh

    8:50 That building seems unimpressed.

  56. Pestis Primus

    “if you find a missle like this, please dont fire it” like that things going to be laying around in your garage :)

  57. Graham Baxter

    I honestly thought someone had tried solving the cooling issues with aerospikes by putting a gas nozzle in the middle when I first saw the cutaway.
    Still a really neat way to get a pseudo-two stage rocket in a compact package!

  58. Ratzfourtyfour

    Scott: Whisky Tango Foxtrott
    YT algorithm: Y’all heard something?

  59. Just Some Bigfoot With Internet Access

    This reminded me of that old vine where the guy was like “It’s a water mallon… Inside a water mallon”

  60. Kevin Alm

    Your comment about a nuclear missile going off course being a bad thing reminded me of a humorous saying I read many years ago. Supposedly, American military planners would complain that ” European towns are only a kiloton apart”. Towns/villages in Europe were laid out during a time when most people walked from town to town, while by the time of the settlement of the US, most people used horses, hence the difference in spacing.

  61. Doc Huard

    These replaced the MGR-1 Honest John missle, which was really little more than a big bottle rocket. You might do a vid on some of the first military deployed rockets. Some if them were pretty interesting.

  62. Milo B

    When will you run out of fantastic content and new and novel things for my endless entertainment. Best Person/Channel on YouTube Hands-down

  63. oraz

    The auto-generated English captions are really accurate considering it’s a Scottish guy using technical language. Pretty impressive.

  64. zombielinkinpark

    SR71’s J58 engine is also an example of engine inside the engine. J58 combined turbojet and ramjet which allowing SR71 flying from 0 to March 3.3 cruising.

  65. Marco Tedaldi

    Somehow this arrangement reminds me of aerospike designs if there wasn’t an engine bell around…

  66. Edwin Robert

    5:43 Ugh now i have to stop myself from firing that missile i found in my garden

  67. Maldus Alver

    5:42, “If you find a (nuclear) missile like this, please don’t fire it.”
    Words of wisdom from Scott Manley.

  68. Alessandro Bianchi

    Sometimes reality is more kerbal than ksp

  69. Erik S

    “If you ever find an old ICBM laying around, don’t try launching it”

    Not many channels have an audience where that needs to be said.

    Interesting design to be sure.

  70. Allen Natian

    “Yo dawg I heard you like rockets so we put a rocket in a rocket so you can rock it while you rock it.

  71. Sean McDonough

    8:04 – On the other hand, given the quantity of nukes that would be flying around on both sides in Germany in the event of an actual war, a few off-course nuclear missiles probably wouldn’t have destroyed anything that wouldn’t have been nuked anyways.

  72. Hopelessand Forlorn

    Another great advantage to using toxic, flesh-eating fuels is that it is easy to trace leaks back to source. Only rarely did techs have to resort to touch, smell, taste method.

  73. Junk Mail

    Whisky-Tango-Foxtrot….. Wow, I’m 71, never heard it said so concisely. Am so impressed. And so simple minded. Thanks Scott.

  74. petlahk

    “Nitric Acid does not corrode stainless steel… or so we thought.”

  75. Al T

    finally figured out what he means when he says “whiskey tango foxtrot”

  76. Ivan Batinic

    I can’t help but run the tapes in my head through the decade of engineering to make this work. It’s loaded with uniqueness; the question becomes how much of this was bolted-on to make it work? Alternatively, perhaps it is exactly as originally designed, but each new trick took its toll — so perhaps the real question is did each functionally new aspect (vectoring with only valves, ramming the prop/Ox with pistons, ablatable combustion, spin-up thrusters, etc.) force a serialized approach, or did the team grow to address everything in parallel? If I were to guess, I’d say the spin-up thrusters were bolted-on, and the original design engineers could not address everything in parallel. Very cool! Thank you for this gem of engineering!

  77. Scott Gleason

    That ‘solid gas generator’ looks an awful lot like a solid rocket motor…
    A rocket to power the rocket so you can rocket while you rocket!

  78. Dylan Davies

    0:11 that happened to me recently when I came across “meteor burst communication”

    Sending radio signals over the horizon, by waiting for a meteor shower and reflecting the signal from the trails of plasma made by the falling meteors 0_o

  79. Voneschenbach

    I was a 13N/Lance Missile Crewmember in the late 80s/early 90s! Where I first heard about UDMH and IRFNA lol. I was in Flensburg, Germany when the nukes were flown out after the fall of the Soviet Union and Einheit. The former special weapons site is now a bio-digester facility for cow manure, a much more worthy use.

  80. Andrew Gates

    and now, a concentric engine in KSP…

  81. Rob De Vos

    Oh great, when I served in the Dutch army I was one of those low skilled soldier! Our unit with 3 launchers even went to Crete to fire one, the best performing team was allowed to fire a real one, we lost so I saw the firing the winners were in a bunker about 60 m from the side of the rocket, the only safe place in a huge circle around it.

  82. Lazurkri

    God the Cold War was a breeding ground for all sorts of weird ass weapons designs wasn’t it?

  83. Malthe Høj-Sunesen

    Fun fact about the Lance missile:

    Denmark had and has a strict nuclear weapons not allowed policy. However, the Soviet attack plans would entail an attack on Denmark as one the first places since Denmark is sort of a plug in the passage from the Baltic to the Atlantic.

    Now, Denmark had a lot of Honest John missiles and launchers. It was understood in the government and military that the missile would never be used for anything in a war as they were far too imprecise. The launchers however were able to launch Lance missiles. And that is the reason that other commenters has served at bases just south of the German-Danish border with Lance missiles. It is a stupid tactical location for German uses; but in case the Soviet invaded Denmark the location would be ideal.

  84. Vekh Gaming

    “If you find this don’t shoot is since its probably gonna explode”
    So give it to someone I don’t like and tell them to fire it, got it.

  85. zoperxplex

    The Lance missile was an oddball missile for its time. It was a liquid fuel rocket at a time when most tactical ballistic missiles in the United States had switched to solid fuels.

  86. Kingyan Incorporated

    Whisky Tango Foxtrot is that engine design

  87. ilRosewood

    “Please don’t try to launch…” Important safety tip Scott, thank you. Everyone got that?

  88. CMDR Jengazi

    This is like part clipping in KSP

  89. Jack Zimmerman

    The Turducken of Rocket Science

  90. mikedelhoo

    A moral of the story: don’t complain about being put out to pasture, it could be worse – your second career could be getting used for target practice.

  91. Daytonationz

    lance missile means rocket launcher in french, how convenient

  92. John73 John

    “If you find a missile like this, please don’t try firing it”.
    So are you implicitly giving us permission to fire all those other non-corroded missiles we find lying around?

  93. Justas Draskinis

    **slaps roof of a rocket engine** you can fit so many rockets in this bad boye

  94. TheEnd IsNear

    “fly safe”
    … video about nuclear warhead rocket

  95. PerfectTangent

    Accidentally had my volume all the way up: HELLO IT’S SCOTT MANLEY HERE

    super manly indeed

  96. Randall Anderson

    Brings back memories. I was part of a Lance missile crew in the early ’70s. But when I re-enlisted I was able to get into Computer repair, so I didn’t get to go to Germany and play field games with this system. I did get to go to White Sands Missile range and do a live fire of one of these.
    If you want to see a bigger rocket system, check out the Pershing Missile system.

  97. Dan Severns

    Maybe too nerdy and low interest, but I would like to see a detailed presentation of how the umbilical disconnects work as a rocket is being launched.

  98. Kenneth Ord

    Thrust vectoring on a spin stabilized rocket? The vectoring would have to be pulsed and timed with the rocket orientation. Was this possible in the late 60s?
    Edit: It was and was gyro commanded during the boost phase. See

  99. Ben Sawyer

    “Does this engine use a bell nozzle or an aerospike?”

  100. Dave Lewthwaite

    Scott Manley: “If you find a missile like this, please don’t try firing it.”
    Jebediah Kerman: “Oh *now* you’re worried about safety.”

Comments are closed.