Several years ago, I tried to do what Yenne has attempted, to gather up information on missiles and cross-references of designation systems from various disparate sources but eventually gave up in frustration when I found that Blaugher and Parsch had already done it. So, as a former Missileer, I was quite excited when "U.S. Guided Missiles" was announced last March (2012) as a pre-order. That it took nine months from announcement to delivery (in mid-December), and included one cancellation (by Amazon) of my order along the way is an indication of the literature swamp that Mr. Yenne found himself swimming through in to deliver a readable product on time and within a reasonable cost.
Missiles are funny things. Most have a shelf life of years but a service /flight life measured in minutes or seconds. By and large ( except for some target or Recon drones) they fly one sortie and that's it. Likewise , their "neither fish nor fowl" status has dogged and obscured how the services have viewed them and designated them. not counting WWII designations , there have been four or so attempts to categorize them, in 1947,1951,1955 and 1963. The alphabet soup of letters ( XSSAM-A-1, RTV-N-7, CIM-10,etc.) and the multiple designations early missiles had during their service life ( ex: ,B-75,XSM-75A, PGM-17A Thor ) just added to the general confusion.
Mr Yenne's text deals primarily with those 174 airframes and devices that have had the "M for Missile" designation applied to them in the 1963 revision, and only references the birds of the 1947, 1951 and 1955 designations (that didn't make the 1963 cut) in separate Appendices and Addenda. While this gives a definite structure to the text , it also imposes a limitation that removes any claim to a "definitive reference guide" as the title suggests. Several (20 - 30) of the Missiles reviewed are not provided with any picture, all have only brief specifications , while even the most thorough type review ( the B-65/SM-65/CGM-16/HGM-16 Atlas) only get six pages which includes 10 pictures (including 3 full page pictures) . With three exceptions ( in a separate "Selected Classic Guided Missiles" chapter) ,the earliest US Missiles ( those that did not recieve an "M" designation in 1963) -are only mentioned by name in three appendices or mentioned in passing in chapter One. If you are looking for a more in-depth history of the Atlas, Thor, Nike, Viking, Navajo, Titan, U.S. V-2 trials, or others you would be better served by finding the fine individual published monographs or histories elsewhere ( but since they are not listed in the bibliography , you are on your own to find them).
Being familiar with the Titan II (B-68B/SM-68B/LGM-25C) system I checked the entry for Missile designation 25. I was disappointed to see that the short-lived Titan I (B-68A/SM-68A/HGM-25A) got short shrift (4 paragraphs) , the much longer-lived Titan II even less (two paragraphs) ,that all photos were of the Titan II, and that he mentioned SAC having "56 LGM-25As and 59 CGM-25Cs" ! No and No! He even got the peak number of Titan IIs on Alert wrong ( he claims "63 in 1967" , which is tough to do with only 54 operational sites and one test Site, each with one silo and one bird. While it sounds like nit-picking , finding these clangers makes me wonder what else he got wrong in systems that I didn't know that much about. In another chapter ,on the XSSM-A-1/B-61/TM-61/MGM-1 Matador) the three photos show three totally different versions (Wing placement & tail design), calls two of them YQB-61, and offers no explanation of the changes made or why.
Mr. Yenne's Bibliography was disappointingly brief, with only 29 text entries, 12 of them authored by Yenne, and mentions a number of Industry periodicals without giving specifics as to why they were included . He does provide a list of 26 websites, (including Parsh's very inclusive designation guide) but since print volumes have a much longer working life than websites ,I wonder how long those sites will be up and/or accessible.
That having been said, this text is the best attempt of several in recent memory to put one's arms around the subject of U.S. Missiles, guided and otherwise. It's not definitive, has a lot of gaps, and some incorrect information; but the list and review of the more recent M-designated missiles is the best that I have yet found. I would regard this text as printed as more of a work in progress than a definitive reference. Still, at $34.95 , it is relatively good value for money, and better than any earlier attempts. But the "Definitive Reference " I was hoping for is still to be written