Atlas F   

The SM-65 Atlas F Missile System

 
     
 
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Atlas F

Welcome to the Atlas F section of the 556th Strategic Missile Squadron. The 556th SMS was activated at two different times using two different missile systems.  The SM-65 or Atlas F weapon system was based at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in Plattsburgh, New York from 1962 thru 1965. There were 12 sites built in a ring around Plattsburgh. Ten of the silo complexes were in New York and two were located in Vermont.  These sites were manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year during the time the Squadron was active. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, all 556th sites were at a high level of alert and were ready to launch the Atlas missile should it have become necessary. The squadron was armed with the SM-65 weapon system, more commonly know as the Atlas. The 556th was an Atlas F unit which meant the missile was housed in a "silo launcher" style complex. The missile was kept in a vertical position at all times. In order to launch, two 75-ton overhead doors were opened and the "bird" was lifted out of the silo. The Atlas ICBM required RP1 and Liquid Oxygen for powering the rocket engines.  The RP1 fuel was kept on board the missile at all times during alert.  As the missile was lifted out of the silo the Liquid Oxygen fuel was added after which it would then be made ready for launch.  This is one reason that the response time of the Atlas F system was quicker than that of the Atlas D and E systems.  The picture to the left shows an Atlas F during the lift process.  The picture on the right is a missile in the ready to launch position.  The Atlas F used an Avco Mark IV re-entry vehicle which carried a type W-38 warhead with a thermonuclear yield of approximately 3.8 million tons of TNT. This yield is approximately 253 times that of the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The Atlas had a range of about 6,000 miles. Developed by General Dynamics, the Atlas weapons system became a national priority during which no expense was spared in the development, testing and implementation of this first generation ICBM system. The Atlas rocket was also used by NASA during the early days of manned space travel and was the booster used to put John Glenn into Earth orbit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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