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History of Missile Bases

Atlas E raising up

Atlas missile 25-D rises to a vertical position 
and begins a test flight on 22 April 1960.

Atlas Ds – the first Atlas missiles to become operational--were stored in unprotected, above-ground horizontal launchers. Later models of the Atlas were better protected.

Atlas Es – were stored in semi-hardened horizontal launchers, and

Atlas Fs – were stored in hardened vertical silos.

In 1957 the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik; the first satellite ever to orbit the earth... 
Fears of a “missile-gap” motivated the U.S. military-industrial complex to design and construct numerous nuclear missile base sites.  The Atlas nuclear-tipped rocket was housed in 3 different configurations: Atlas–D, Atlas-E, and Atlas-F.  The massive Titan-1 sites completed the first generation of ICBMs.  This missile technology was new and the structures were large to house the equipment necessary to facilitate a space launch.  And these U.S. weapons systems were certain to be targeted by Soviet missiles, so they had to be protected from nuclear blast. Hardened bunkers were also constructed to assure the survival of communications connections during a nuclear war scenario.  Millions of dollars were spent on each of these structures to assure their strength and survivability against nuclear attack.  Over the years these first generation sites have been decommissioned as other improved systems replaced them.  Some of these historic fortified structures are now available for sale.

These de-commissioned nuclear sites are in limited supply.  No more structures of this type are currently being built.  The missile sites de-commissioned after 1965 are being imploded to conform to international treaties.  These are rare and collectible real estate offerings.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is mandated through the F.U.D.S. (Formerly Used Defense Sites) program to collect environmental data and remediate any problems on these first generations sites, giving owners information and protection as to any residual contamination issues. 

We currently have several properties available for purchase. We have plans and videos on the Atlas-E, Atlas-FTitan I, and Communications Bunker properties available below. Click here for an overview of the various properties for sale.


missile on a truck

          missile upright

 

An Atlas D Missile being transported by truck. 

 

Missile raised at an Atlas F site. 

 

 crew
 control panels

  

Military Launch Control staff

 

 

The Launch Control Center (LCC)


 computer room of missile base
missile site tunnel, original useage 

 

The Launch Control Center (LCC)

 

Military personel walk through a missile base tunnel.

 

 barrack  atlas F

 

Two 40' x 100' Quonset huts like this were at all first generation sites.

 

This photo is from the original Atlas-E site that Ed Peden later reclaimed to be Subterra.

 missile launching, aerial view  ground view of missile launch

  

An aerial view of a missile being launched

 

A view from the ground of the missile launching.  This one flew off track and had to be destroyed in air.  These images are from the fascinating video called: 20th Century Castles.  Click here to order this informative video.

 

   
Atlas-E missile sites     Atlas E
 construction of an atlas e The Atlas-E "coffin launchers" became active in 1961, then de-commissioned in 1965. These were semi-hardened, not as strong as the deeper silo sites; they were designed to withstand a 1 megaton air-burst from a distance of 1.6 miles.  Only 27 Atlas E sites were built, each at a (structure only) cost of $3.3 million in 1960’s dollars. 

General Layout and Features
The Atlas-E base consists of two main underground structures connected by a 120 ft. long tunnel. Heavy concrete construction with 18" thick ceilings and walls with a 3 ft. layer of earth covering all structures make heating and cooling easy, as well as providing ample protection from storms etc.   App.1500 sq. ft of floor-space with minimal stairs; the only of our structures with drive-in access.  The Atlas E is the most highly desired for retrofit use.


 

  

An Atlas E site under construction.

 

 
missile erect in an atlas e   

Launch Control Building
The main structure is 54 ft. by 90 ft. (4,900+ sq. ft. floor-space) with 15 feet ceiling heights, completely underground with escape hatch and an equipment "plug" that can be removed and replaced with a skylight. Air ventilation shafts and a sewage sump are designed in.  Various floor-plans can be adopted for home or office use.
 

Launch Service Building
The Launch Service Building is actually a set of 3 major rooms:
The Launch Service equipment area is accessed by the tunnel from the Launch Control Building, It is 45 ft. wide by 104 ft. long and 14-1/2 ft. ceilings, with drains and 2 escape hatches. The Missile Bay lies to the east, and it has outside drive-in access through a 47 ton blast door, which is 20 ft. wide and 18 ft. high. The Missile Bay itself is 20 to 30 ft. wide, 100 ft. long, and 20 ft. high. The "ceiling" is actually a sliding metal door which opened to raise and fire the Atlas-E missile.  To the back of the Missile Bay is the missile exhaust flame pit.  The farthest east room in the Launch Service Building is the Liquid Oxygen Room, where liquid oxygen, necessary for the Atlas-E fuel combustion, was stored and managed.  This room is 18 ft. wide, 72 ft. long, and 10 ft. high. Several specialized smaller rooms are found throughout the Launch Service Building

Missile in upright position at an Atlas E site.

 

 

   
 atlas F Launch Service Building
The Launch Service Building is actually a set of 3 major rooms:
The Launch Service equipment area is accessed by the tunnel from the Launch Control Building, It is 45 ft. wide by 104 ft. long and 14-1/2 ft. ceilings, with drains and 2 escape hatches. The Missile Bay lies to the east, and it has outside drive-in access through a 47 ton blast door, which is 20 ft. wide and 18 ft. high. The Missile Bay itself is 20 to 30 ft. wide, 100 ft. long, and 20 ft. high. The "ceiling" is actually a sliding metal door which opened to raise and fire the Atlas-E missile.  To the back of the Missile Bay is the missile exhaust flame pit.  The farthest east room in the Launch Service Building is the Liquid Oxygen Room, where liquid oxygen, necessary for the Atlas-E fuel combustion, was stored and managed.  This room is 18 ft. wide, 72 ft. long, and 10 ft. high. Several specialized smaller rooms are found throughout the Launch Service Building.

 

 

Land
The acreage varies with these sites, from 15 to 30 acres. Most sites have water wells.  The sites had an 8 ft. security fence around the inner 10 acres or so. This fence remains on most of these sites.  An antenna silo, 29 ft. deep and 8 ft. diameter exists on the grounds.  Two concrete (quonset) pads, 40 ft. by 100 ft., with footings exist onsite.  The missile bay overhead door is approximately 40 ft. by 105 ft. Many sites include a 1200 ft. grass airstrip. 

 

   
 Atlas-F missile sites  
 atlas f model

The Atlas-F missile sites were activated in 1961, and after a short operational period, were decommissioned in 1965. These sites were the first of the "super hardened" missile silos, built to withstand a 200 pound per square inch blast. Atlas F (structure only)  construction costs range from 14 -18 million each in 1960’s dollars. 

Missile Silo
The missile silo is a huge structure 52 ft. inside diameter and approximately 176 feet deep. Access is from a 40 foot tunnel with 3 blast doors leading from the LCC.  The Missile Silo has 2 overhead 90 ton doors that can often be reopened.  There were originally 7 floor levels inside the silo, however app, 2/3 of the F silos have been salvaged out and only bare walls remain.  Multiple levels could be rebuilt in the silo.  A deck built in the silo would provide almost 2,000 sq. ft. of floor-space. 

 

 

 

 

atlas F drawing

Land
Land sizes with the Atlas-F series vary greatly, due to post-government division. The minimum typical acreage is 5 acres, although some are still deeded with the original 10-22 acres the government used. Originally, the inner 5 acres of these sites were surrounded by a 8 ft. barbed wire topped chain-link security fence. This fence remains on some sites. There are two concrete (quonset) pads 40 ft. by 100 ft. on each site.  An antenna silo, 8 ft. diameter and 29 ft deep, remains in the ground on each site.

   

 

 

One man's version of an Atlas F

 Atlas F rehab in adironback ny

 

This image is one man's dream of a retro-fit for an Atlas F structure. It is concept only, and not built yet.

 

 

 

Above is an artist' rendering of an actual Atlas F site that has been converetd into a luxury home.
Click here to see more photos of this lovely property that is now, also, for sale.

 

   

titan 1 missile raised


NIKE Missile Bases

(Excerpts from “Rings of Supersonic Steel” by Mark L. Morgan and Mark A. Berhow)

History:

The NIKE-Ajax system was developed by ARADCOM (Army Air Defense Command) in the early 1950’s as a surface-to-air defense system (SAM) that would take out incoming missiles or aircraft. It was the first supersonic surface-to-air missile system to become operational in the free world. NIKE missile bases were built in a circular pattern around key government, industrial, transportation and military locations, with larger areas having more missile bases around them. Continuous testing throughout the 1950’s would lead to the NIKE-Hercules missile and conversion of Ajax sites to Hercules sites. These missiles would have a minimum range of over 75 miles, an effective ceiling of 100,000 feet, and a top speed of Mach III. However, ARADCOM was a large, and rather ineffective operation that faced a rapidly evolving weapons environment.  A gradual decrease in NIKE deployment began in 1967, and by 1975 with the SALT II Treaty, ARADCOM itself was deactivated.

 

General Layout:

A typical NIKE base is generally divided into three areas (see below). These three components were often located on separate parcels of land, although the most common configuration saw the IFC and Administrative areas co-located. The IFC was at least 1000 yards away from the launch area for missile control and tracking reasons, but still in direct line of sight. Sites were built depending on the local conditions and geography. The land around these facilities can be anywhere from 9-21 acres, depending on layout.

  • Integrated Fire Control (IFC) area – contained the radars and radar equipment, the battery control assembly, the computer assembly, early warning plotting board, event recorder and switchboard cabinet. This area also housed the electrical generating equipment which supplied 400-cycle power to operate the entire system. There was also a maintenance facility and spare parts storage, all enclosed by high, barbed-wire-topped chain link fencing. 
  • Missile Launch Facility – this is a self-contained installation capable of independent action. Launch area configuration was two or three underground magazines, each with an elevator for raising the missile to the above-ground launch rails. Each magazine incorporated a missile storage bay with launcher, loading racks, crew shelter, launching section control panel, ventilation equipment, test equipment hydraulic controls and the elevator. The approximate size of each underground launch area is 5,000 square feet. Usually there are three of these launch areas per site; there are a few double sites.
  • Administrative area – contained the barracks, mess hall, recreational facilities and offices.

Construction Methods:

NIKE era buildings were built to standard Corps of Engineers design:  usually cinderblock with flat roofs, depending on location. Most of the underground structures and roofs were not “hardened,” although there were a few strategically located sites built with hardened roofs.

A Titan I missile emerges

from its silo at Vandenberg's Operational System Test Facility in 1960. 
The Titan I was stored and fueled in a hardened underground silo, but an elevator had to lift it out of the silo before it could be launched. The entire launch sequence took about 15 minutes. Ultimately, the Titan I was deployed in 54 such silo-lift launchers divided among seven operational sites. All became operational in 1962, and all were inactivated in 1965.
 

Titan 1 plans                           

The Titan I missile sites were active from 1961 to 1965.  These sites were the largest and most hardened of the first generation ICBM bases.   3 missiles were housed in separate silos all interconnected by an elaborate tunnel system.  These bases were to be used as our last deterrent and were capable of supporting 150 personnel for 30 days in a nuclear war scenario.  Only 18 of these were built, costing in the $170,000,000 range each (1960’s dollars).  Very impressive historic cold war relics.

Structures
Estimated 50,000 sq. ft. total floor-space.  Engineering on the scale of the pyramids. These are massive structures that housed  three full sized missiles (each in their own silo), an antenna silo and almost a mile of underground tunnels.

Entry Portal
Open to surface  65 feet deep, 40 feet in diameter.  Large utility elevator (inoperable) with surrounding stairs.

 

 

 

titan plans

 

 


Launch Control Dome
100 ft. diameter at base, 70 ft. diameter upper level, 35 ft. center height.  Numerous rooms: kitchen, bathroom sleeping quarters, communications room, launch control room.

Power Dome
130 ft. diameter at base, second story mezzanine 100 ft. diameter around portion of room, 50 ft. center height.  Contained 4 diesel generators to power all systems and  massive air handling and filtration system.

 

 

antenna silo, titan 1

Silo Areas
The three separate missile silo areas each consist of three basic structures. Each silo itself is 156 ft. deep with 2 heavy doors to surface.  Each equipment terminal is 60 feet in diameter with 4 floors with (inoperable) elevator, a total of 40 ft. depth. Each propellant terminal is 37 ft. in diameter, 37 feet high. Tunnels interconnect the silo to supporting structures.  Each of the three silo areas are sequestered from the rest of the complex with heavy blast doors.

Antenna Silos
Originally held round radar antenna. 67 feet deep. 27 feet in diameter.

 

 

titan tunnel

Tunnel System
Extensive tunnel system with hundreds of feet of various tunnels ranging from small diameter ducts to 15 foot diameter causeway. Most personnel tunnels are 40 feet below ground level.

 

 

titan above ground

Land
Typically 40 to 60 acres. Several roadways lead to various locations on the site. Titan I sites were originally surrounded by 8 ft. high barbed wire topped chain link security fence.  High capacity water wells found on most sites.

 

 

 

Communications Bunkers     

As a Special Note  
Communications Bunkers are some of the best cold war structures we have seen.

communication bunker                                              

History
In the 1960’s a system of underground nuclear-hardened telephone booster stations were built to assure uninterrupted communications in the event of nuclear attack.  The systems used copper bundle phone lines and now the newer fiber-optic lines made the facilities obsolete.  These sites were closed in the mid 1990’s and are in better condition than many of the missile sites unused since the ‘60’s. 

 

 

 communications bunker interior  

Structures
These are large underground structures ranging in size from 6,000 sq. ft. to 55,000 sq. ft. of floor-space.  (Most structures have approximately 8,200 sq. ft. floor-space).  The average construction cost (in 1960’s dollars) was $4 million.  The structures typically have 2 ft. thick concrete walls and ceilings, with 4 ft. of earth over.  High 16 ft. ceilings are common.  Sites were set up with cooling and exhaust for duel electric generators.  Big generators often remain.  3 phase electrical service, an electric hoist, sewage ejector pumps, sump pumps, heaters, air conditioning, dehumidification are usually in place and functional.  Heavy blast doors, a decontamination shower,  escape exit, and elaborate air filtration systems with shut-down are all in place.  Because of their more recent release and much remaining functional equipment, these are some of the best cold war structures we have ever offered.    

 

 

 observation tower

Land 
These sites range in size from 5 to 15 acres.  Some sites have high chain-link fencing, paved parking, water wells, 10,000 gallon stainless steel water storage tanks, and functional sewage disposal systems.

  

 

 

 
 Titan II sitesminuteman destruction            

The Titan II was the second generation ICMB system. It served the airforce from the mid 60's to the mid 80's. The Air Force issued direction to deactivate Titan II missiles on 30 April 1982. The 55 operational missiles were removed from their silos during 1982-1987 and placed into storage for possible conversion to space launch vehicles.

Under the terms of the 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union, this country was barred from increasing the number of strategic missiles in its operational inventory. If it wished to maintain its strategic position vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, therefore, it had to do so by improving the quality of its missiles rather than by increasing the quantity. With this objective in view, an advanced development program was started in late 1973 to define the technology and design concepts for a new strategic missile called Missile X. A great deal of effort was devoted to studying alternate basing concepts for this missile, including air-mobile and ground mobile concepts.

 

 

Minuteman Missile sites

minuteman drawing diagram

 

The Minuteman was the first US intercontinental ballistic missile to use solid rather than liquid fuel. It possessed all the virtues of the Titan II, and its use of solid fuel gave it two additional advantages--greater simplicity and economy. The first Minuteman flight test missile was launched in February 1961, and the first group of Minuteman missiles was turned over to the Strategic Air Command at the end of 1962. By the end of 1965, Minuteman missiles had been deployed at four bases in the north central United States, and the older, less efficient, and less economical Atlas and Titan I missiles had been retired from the active inventory. The Minuteman, along with the Titan II, became the mainstay of the nation's strategic missile force. Together with SAC's manned bombers and the Navy's Polaris/Poseidon missile-launching submarines, these missiles formed the triad of strategic deterrent forces that were maintained on day-to-day alert to counter any hostile nuclear attack on the US or its allies.

Just as the Atlas and the Titan I had been replaced by the Titan II and the Minuteman, the original Minuteman was itself replaced by the more advanced Minuteman II and Minuteman III. The Minuteman II incorporated a new, larger second stage, improved guidance, greater range and payload capacity, and greater resistance to the effects of nuclear blasts. The Minuteman III, for its part, possessed an improved third stage, employed more penetration aids to counter anti-ballistic missile defense systems, and was equipped with up to three independently targetable warheads. By the end of 1975, 450 Minuteman II's and 550 Minuteman III's were in place and ready for operation at six bases in the north central United States.

As the Minuteman systems are decommissioned, they are being imploded and buried.  Deed restrictions often limit digging into the destroyed structures.We find these sites of no retrofit use.

Copyright © 20th Century Castles, LLC   Eskridge, KS
info@missilebases.com