Joined: Oct 2005
Location: Idaho Falls. ID. USA
Questor visits an Atlas F Nuclear Missile Silo
Hello fellow ADVriders.
I’ve been to a place that I want to share with you all.
But first a bit of history, to set the scene.
In 1960, the Cold War was a reality. Complete nuclear annihilation was a daily possibility. The US military began to build Atlas F Missiles and “super hardened” missile launch facilities to protect them, at the cost of 18 million each in 1961 dollars. Children were taught to “duck and cover” under their desks for their protection.
My generation grew up with the knowledge that we could be vaporized by an Enemy “Nuke” at any time. It was part of society, and almost daily conversation. I remember movies like Dr. Strangelove, Red Dawn, The Next Day, A Boy and His Dog, and other movies of nuclear apocalypse.
So I guess, in the back of my mind, I have always fantasized about the idea of living in a restored Missile Silo. I’m not super social, and the idea of just “closing the blast doors” and being alone for a week or two is appealing – so long as I can have my high speed Internet connection.
I had known of these Cold War Silos for a while, and began doing research.
It turns out there is a “ring” of 12 Silos around Plattsburg Air Force Base.
It also turns out that one has been restored and converted to a private residence.
The person who owns it actually lives in Australia, so I made contact with him via E-mail, and made arrangements to visit him the next time he was in the US at his Silo.
I mean how could I not!
By the end of 1962, the US Strategic Air Commend had deployed squadrons all over the US. Each of the three missile variants, the Atlas D, E, and F series, were based in progressively more secure launchers. For example, the three Atlas D squadrons, two near F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming and one at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, were based in above-ground launchers that provided blast protection against overpressures of only 5 pounds-per-square-inch (psi).
In comparison the Atlas E squadrons at Fairchild AFB, Washington; Forbes AFB, Kansas; and F.E. Warren were also deployed horizontally, but the majority of the launcher was buried underground. These launchers were designed to withstand overpressures of 25 psi. The six Atlas F squadrons based near Shilling AFB, Kansas; Lincoln AFB, Nebraska; Altus AFB, Oklahoma; Dyess AFB, Texas; Walker AFB, New Mexico; and Plattsburgh AFB, New York were the first ICBMs to be stored vertically in "super hardened" underground silos.
The Atlas-F was deployed in a 175 foot deep underground missile silo that were "hardened" against all but a direct nuclear hit. Made of steel reinforced concrete and ring beams, these concrete cylinders would hold a metal cradle that would be suspended from a suspension system, to protect the whole “cradle” from vibration in case of a nuclear attack. These “cradles” would house the entire missile and the machines needed to fuel and fire it. Each silo had its own Launch and Control Center, which was likewise suspended. An Atlas F site could take an over pressure of 100 psi and lateral ground movement of 1 foot, and survive all but a direct nuclear hit.
Construction began on the site in Lewis NY, known as Boquett 556-5 in June 1960. Throughout the next year, hundreds of workers dug the 12,174-foot-deep, 54-foot-wide holes into the solid rock.
The first missile arrived in April 1962, and the silos were declared operational in December.
More to come...
Questor screwed with this post 10-22-2007 at 05:52 AM