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Thor (SM-75)

Thor was an Intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM)with a 1,500 mile range.  Built by Douglas Aircraft, it was a single stage, inertially guided, liquid fueled (LOX and RP-1), 65 foot long missile.  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.  It was the basis for the Delta launch vehicle family.

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

Thor was on alert at four locations from June 1959 to mid-1963 - 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)

Jupiter was developed by the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Alabama with the Chrysler Corporation.  The program was transferred to the Air Force when the decision was made in 1958 to place medium range missiles under AF instead of Army.  Jupiter was a single stage, inertially guided, liquid fueled (LOX and RP-1), 60 foot long missile with a range of 1,500 miles.

The missile system was 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, were based at Giola del Colle, Italy from April 1961 to April 1963.

One squadron, called NATO II, was based at Cigli Air Base, Izmir, Turkey,  from March 1962 to April 1963.

There were three missiles to a complex, with five complexes per Squadron.  The missiles were stored vertically, with a shelter around the missile for environmental protection.

Mailing address:

P.O. Box 1767

Monument, CO 80132


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