Atlas E (SM-65E, CGM-16E)

All inertial guidance system replace the radio-inertial system.  Missile deployed singly with one control center per missile. - “Coffin” had roof at ground level, giving about 25 psi protection against overpressure from nuclear attack.

Photos - Right, site construction, Below, an Atlas E Site

Atlas E Units

576th Strategic Missile Squadron  (SMS), Vandenberg AFB, California - Two sites, coffins, activated April 1958, closed April 1966, later opened in other roles.

567th SMS, Fairchild AFB, Washington -  Nine sites, one coffin each, activated April 1960, closed June 1965.

548th SMS, Forbes AFB, Kansas -  Nine site, one coffin each, activated, July 1960, closed March 1965.

566th SMS, Warren AFB, Wyoming -  Nine sites, one coffin each, activated, October 1960, closed March 1965.

Combat Crews

Crews included two officers and three enlisted members, a missile maintenance, ballistic missile analysis, and power production technician.  Crews were on alert for 24 hours, with a new crew departing the main base each morning to replace the crew on duty.    Standard crew uniform was the one piece white coveralls.


Two Atlas E squadron were free standing units assigned to a bomb wing at the host base.  Most maintenance was internal, part of the Chief of Maintenance part of the squadron, which included specialists in all aspects required to maintain the missile, the site, the electronics and the reentry vehicle.  There were several hundred members of each squadron, with about 55 combat crews and a significant number of missile maintenance, missile facility, power production, missile electronics and other enlisted technicians in the unit.  In most cases, the propellant technicians, nuclear weapons technicians and real property installed equipment technicians were part of the host bomb wing.  The Warren squadron was part of the 389th Strategic Missile Wing.

Launch Countdown

After completing the classified emergency war order checklists, the crew would open the coffin roof, erect the missile and load LOX and RP-1.  Once the propellants were fully loaded, the launch sequence could be initiated.  The inertially guided missile could be launched in about 15 minutes.

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