Thor (SM-75)

Intermediate range ballistic missile, 1,500 mile range.   Single stage, inertially guided, liquid fueled (LOX and RP-1), 65 foot long missile.  Built by Douglas Aircraft  Thor continued as a space launch vehicle for anti-satellite mission and satellite launches under the 10th and 24th Aerospace Defense Squadrons (ADS) at Vandenberg AFB, CA and Johnston Island in the Pacific.  Basis for the Delta launch vehicle family.

Deployment and Basing - Operated and maintained jointly by AF and Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel in England.   Deployed in complexes of three missiles each, stored horizontally and launched vertically.  SAC activated the 705th SMW at Lakenheath RAF Station to monitor Thor deployment and provide assistance to the RAF.  Wing deactivated and functions assigned to 7th Air Division.  SAC personnel called Authentication Officers from 99th MMS maintained control of the nuclear warheads until execution.

Thor on alert at four locations from June1959 to mid-1963.  Each squadron had five complexes, three missile per complex,  77th RAF SMS at Feltwell, 97th RAF SMS at Hemswell, 98th RAF SMS at Driffield and 144th RAF SMS at North Luffenbaum.

Launch Crew

One USAF Authentication Officer worked with the RAF crew

RAF Crew included 1 Launch Control Offcer, One Launch Control Console Operator (a warrant officer), three missile maintenance technicians, 1 Thor electrical worker, 1 cook, 4 RAF Police and one dog handler/policeman.

Project Emily, Thor IRBM and the RAF, by John Boyes, is an excellent history

Jupiter (SM-78)

Developed by the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Alabama with the Chrysler Corporation.  Transferred to the AF when decision was made in 1958 to place medium range missiles under AF instead of Army.  Single stage, inertially guided, liquid fueled (LOX and RP-1), 60 foot long missile with 1,500 mile range.

Operated and maintained jointly by US and host nation NATO forces, with SAC personnel keeping control of the warheads until execution.   AF, Italian and Turkish personnel were trained at Redstone for Jupiter operations and maintenance.

Deployment and Basing

Two squadrons, called NATO I, based at Giola del Colle, Italy, opened April 1961, closed April 1963

One squadron, NATO II, at Cigli Air Base, Izmir, Turkey, opened March 1962, closed April 1963

Three missiles to a complex, with five complexes per Squadron.  Stored vertically, with a shelter around the missile for environmental protection.

Mailing address:

PO Box 652

Johnstown, Colorado 80534 

The Association of Air Force Missileers is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 

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