Atlas Missile Silo
This web site is dedicated to the Atlas series of missile sites which were constructed in the early 1960's and put into service by the United States Air Force and the Strategic Air Command during the Cold War. The sites remained active until the Spring of 1965. The Atlas missile system project was given the weapons system designation of SM-65 by the Air Force. Because of the emergence of space and missile technology during the mid and late 1950's, the Atlas project eventually became the number one priority in the entire country as it attained "national priority" status. This made the Atlas program the single most important project in the United States at that time and no expense was spared in getting the system deployed and operational. In total, there were six different models of the Atlas rocket. They were designated the Atlas A, B, C, D, E and F. The first three were for prototyping and development and were never deployed as production ICBM's. There were three different styles of operational Atlas missile complexes built. They were designated as type D, E and F. There were 8 Atlas D, 27 Atlas E and 72 Atlas F operational missile complexes built. They were controlled by 10 different Air Force bases located throughout the United States. Each Air Force base was assigned a Strategic Missile Squadron which supported the missile complexes that had been constructed near that particular base. F.E Warren AFB was unique in that it had two Atlas D squadrons and one Atlas E squadron assigned. Most of the bases involved were located in the central states, however, some sites were constructed in New York and Washington State. There were also several sites located at Vandenburg AFB in California, however, they were prototype complexes built as "test" versions of the operational sites to be constructed elsewhere around the country. The service life of the Atlas ICBM was short lived and varied from 3 to 5 years depending on the model. The volatile nature of liquid fueled rockets made the Atlas complexes a challenge to manage and maintain. There were several accidents which caused the complete loss and closure of the site involved. Advancements in solid fuel rocket technology made the Atlas liquid fueled missile obsolete and by mid-1965 all of the Atlas missile sites had been decommissioned and closed. The Atlas rocket was removed from the sites and stored by the Air Force at Norton AFB which was located east of Los Angeles. They were later used by the Air Force and NASA as satellite and research and development launch vehicles. Equipment that the Air Force deemed classified or re-useable elsewhere was removed. Several of the power generators were sent to Vietnam and used to provide electrical power for U. S. bases during the Vietnam war. Most of the land properties were then returned to previous land owners or given to a local government entity. Many of the properties would wind up in the hands of the local school districts, some of which are still owned by that school district to this day. One of the Atlas E complexes located in Kansas was turned into a high school by the district it was given to. Many of the Atlas missile properties have been sold to private owners and a few of them either have been or are currently being renovated into underground homes. This type of unique home has been featured in many newspaper, magazine and TV reports all over the world. If you have an interest in owning one of these sites, you can view currently available properties here.
This web site has been broken down into six major sections. The first three are dedicated to each of the three styles of operational Atlas missile complexes - Atlas D, Atlas E and Atlas F. The fourth section is dedicated to the 576th SMS which was based at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The missile sites at Vandenberg are varied and unique and therefore have been grouped together in their own section. The fifth section contains information concerning atmospheric nuclear testing done by the United States during the 1950's and early 1960's. The sixth section contains information concerning the Civil Defense program which was established in 1941. Click on one of the links below to learn more about that particular section of the web site. This site is a work in process, so please check back frequently for updates and new material. If you should have any photos, documents, or other items or information that you would be willing to share or contribute to this site, please feel free to contact us. We are actively compiling as much Atlas missile system information as possible and are always on the lookout for new additions. This site is intended to present as much factual information as possible about the Atlas series first generation ICBM Missile System. If you see something that you believe is inaccurate, please don't hesitate to contact us. This site is intended to relay factual information and constructive criticism is gladly accepted. You may also visit our Links page for other interesting sites including missile related web sites as well as Squadron specific sites.
This web site is
dedicated to everyone who worked on or served in the SM-65 Atlas ICBM program.
Without their dedication to the national defense of the United States, the
freedoms we enjoy today would not be possible.
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