Originally designated the SM-80, WS-133, later designated the LGM-30.   Development began in 1955, calling for a small, three stage solid fueled missile. Originally planned to use inertial guidance and carry a single warhead.  53 foot 6 inch long, weighing 60,000 pounds, with first stage thrust of 210,000 pounds, range of 6,300 nautical miles.

Deployed - Four configurations, Minuteman I, Minuteman II, Minuteman Modernized, Minuteman III, with several modifications of each. A mobile version mounted on the Minuteman train was planned and tested  but cancelled in 1961.

Today - Minuteman III is operational today at three locations, with 450 launch facilities. 400 are kept on alert and 50 periodically rotated through major depot level maintenance.

First Flights

15 September 1959 - First tethered flight of a modified missile with partially fueled first stage and dummy upper stages

1 February 1961 - First launch of a Minuteman I A from Cape Canaveral

17 Novermber 1961 - First silo launch of a Minuteman I from Cape Canaveral

11 April 1963 - First Minuteman I A launch from Vandenberg AFB

24 May 1963 - First Minuteman I B launch from Vandenberg AFB

29 February 1964 - First ripple launch of two Mintueman I A from Vandenberg AFB

24 September 1964 - First launch of a Minuteman II from Cape Canaveral

1 March 1965 - Only successful launch of a modified Minuteman from an opertional base, when “Project Long LIfe” Minuteman I flew for seven seconds in the 68 SMS at Ellsworth. Later attempts at Grand Forks were unsuccessful due to shutdowns due to safety equipment

18 August 1965 - First launch of a Minuteman II from Vandenberg AFB

24 February 1966 - First salvo launch of two Minuteman I A from Vandenberg AFB

17 April 1967 - First Minuteman launch using the Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS)

16 August 1968 - First launch of a Minuteman III from Cape Canaveral

1970 - First Minuteman III launch from Vandenberg AFB

24 October 1974 - Launch of a Minuteman from an airborne C-5A

Basing - Basing and configurations finalized at 1,000 Minuteman silos in six missile wings for a total of 20 operations squadrons, each with 50 missiles and 5 launch control facilities  The missiles in each squadron were scattered over several thousand square miles, with each launch control center (LCC) primarily responsible to 10 launch facilities (LF). Hardening of LFs and LCCs was basically designed for a 1,000 psi overpressure, and each wing after the first had improvements made as construction progressed.

Wings were designated in sequence during construction, and were originally called Strategic Missile Wings (SMW). There is a page for each wing that will cover later designations. The link on each wing leads you to that page.  Wings are listed in order of activation and with the original designation.

341st SMW, Malmstrom AFB, Montana, Wing I

44th SMW, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. Wing II

455th SMW, Minot AFB, North Dakota, Wing III

351st SMW, Whiteman AFB, Missouri, Wing IV

90th SMW, Francis E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, Wing V

321st SMW, Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, Wing VI

Launch facilities and launch control facilities for all configuratins built at Vandenberg AFB, as part of the 394th SMS, for operational test flights.


- Construction of 1,000 Lfs and 50 LCFs at six bases was, like that for the earlier systems, an enormous task. - Construction began on the first site at Malmstrom AFB, MT, home of the 341 SMW, the first Minuteman wing, on 16 March 1961, and the last silo was completed, also at Malmstrom, in the 20th and last Minuteman squadron, on 26 October 1966.

For More Detail on these Subjects, Click on each title.

Combat Crews



The Minuteman Countdown

The Missile

Mailing address:

PO Box 652

Johnstown, Colorado 80534 

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