Return to Home Page

Frequently Asked Questions
Folklore Corrected

New information is generally placed close to this point.

How many (in total) Hercules missiles were built/put in service? - added Nov 2019
former Nike Hercules crewman
Answer from Greg Brown a docent as SF-88
Per the Book,
"Last Line of Defense - Nike Missile sites in Illinois", Page 84

Over 25,000, of which 2650 were exported under the foreign military sales program. 1764 under the military aid program

Greg Brown

What is a "Chief Enlisted Advisor"? - added June 2019
Sean Swart
... my grandfather ...
I do understand from his record, with a MOS of 16H5H that he was a instructor at the USAAD school, It does say he was the Chief Enlisted Advisor, so I was wondering if you knew what that exactly meant. Any information would be greatly appreciated.I do understand from his record, with a MOS of 16H5H that he was a instructor at the USAAD school, It does say he was the Chief Enlisted Advisor, so I was wondering if you knew what that exactly meant. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
OK, so this is not a Frequently Asked Question ;-)

U. S. Army Ring ? - added Nov 2018
Cor Willemse
Dear Ed Thelen,
    I am Dutch, living in The Netherlands. From 1959 till 1961 I served in the Netherlands Royal Airforce and in April 1961 spend 10 days at Fort McGreggor were my squadron launched 3 Nike Hercules missiles. I noted that some colleagues wore an army ring and I have always regretted not having obtained one.
    I am trying to find out what kind of army ring the military wore at that time. It could have been the common US Army ring but maybe it was a special one. Red stone, blue stone? There are so many different kinds.
    Via Ebay and Amazon rings can still be bought but I do not know which ring to order.
    Could you advise me? I would appreciate it.
Kind regards,
Cor Willemse

What is AGI (inspection??) - added Sept 2015
Answer from Ed Dowd
AGI is Annual general Inspection. If you flunked it, your career as a battalion commander or Battery Commander was over. You would be relieved. So, it was important to the Officers. Interestingly, as a member of the Brigade AGI prep inspection team, I flunked the entire 6/44th S-! function. After about three of these inspections, the CO turned to the General, and said:"He has flunked every one of my batteries, why don't you just send him down here to fix it all."

That is how I got there about a month later and 60 days before the AGI. The battalion passed with an 'excellent" overall with only one battery receiving less than that.

What is this Nike Part?? - added Aug 2015

Ron Parshall < NikeMSL @ juno . com > , one of the pre-2003 restoration crew, has been collecting Nike parts on e-bay. He thinks this part might be from the major retrofit of Nike systems about 1974 (mostly overseas) where the 4 bay Nike analog computer was replaced by a less than one bay militarized PDP-11. Please tell both of us :-))

... anyone has any info on those generators. - added June 2015
from Larry Vellema < larryandclara @ yahoo . com >
I was on a Nike Site at Thule ,Greenland May1963 to May 1964.I was at a Control Site and also a Launch Site. Was a generator operator at both sites. I am wondering if you or anyone else has any info on those generators.. They where guite large 300 kw. Hard to get any info. on them. The big ones were at the launch site where we had no commercial power. All I remember they were very large and noisy. Would appreciate hearing from you.

There is only a tiny amount at:
- - IFC area
- - Launcher area

Folklore corrected - Launcher Area Death Radius
A little background - early in the Nike Ajax program - an accident at a temporary site at Ft. Mead, Maryland. " ... Sgt. Stanley C. Kozak of Allentown, Pa was standing seven feet away during the "gun" drill. ... He suffered "minor burns." ... The runaway missile took off from a temporary emplacement ... "

YouTube - Hercules missile launch at NAMFI (about 1:25 after the start of the video) Note that the smoke and fumes barely cover the adjacent missile maybe 60 feet to this side of the firing launcher.

"Burn area around launcher, 300 feet." - ???
I don't know what this means - certainly we don't want to launch a Nike from the middle of the trees in a tinder dry California forest.

If nothing else, the guard shack at the inner fence of SF-88 is about 100 feet from the elevator launcher. The guard dog kennel seems less than 300 feet (100 yards) from the elevator launcher.

"High noise level 150 DB. (135 will kill), must be 1000 yds. away." - ???
Guards and guard dogs are active during "Hot Status" and "Red Alert" and not removed from the launcher area between the inner and outer fence during potential missile firings. At least I have never a document stating removal.

The Visitor viewing area for viewing Nike launches at NAMFI in Crete is about 800 yards from the launchers.
For a description of the sound level at that distance

Folklore corrected - Nike flight goes higher (NOT) than 100,000 feet then dives onto target aircraft - May 2014
Notice: This section does not discuss the Hercules Surface-to-Surface mission.

TM 9-1440-250-10/2Overall System Description - Nike-Hercules and Improved Nike-Hercules Air Defense Guided Missile System - December 1960
This is a plot of a Nike intercepting a target flying at 52,000 feet.
The Hercules flew for over 120 seconds, intercept range about 70 miles.
The vertical scale is altitude in feet. (max 100,000 feet)
    The left trace is the Nike missile, the right is the target.
The horizonal scale is computed time to intercept, in seconds.
    The middle is time zero, intercept.
from TM9-1400-250-10/2 page 36, Manual

Note that even at this long range, the missile did not rise above the aircraft.
Simulations of attacking an aircraft at 52,000 feet at an intercept range of 90 miles show the missile does not fly over 60,000 feet.
Lower and shorter intercepts cause lower flights.

Here are some actual intercept traces from Earl Close.

TM9-5000-3 - Nike I Computer - SAM Problem Analysis, ... - 4.5 MBytes provides practical analysis of the Nike Ajax (and Hercules) Surface-to-Air mission.
Included are:

  • Military Spherical Coordinates, (radar slant range, azimuth, elevation)
  • Rectangular Coordinates ( position & velocity, - used in the computer)
  • Resolution of Vectors (missile gyro and flight coordinates, for missile steering)
  • Intercept Point Solver (current missile and target intercept point)
  • Ballistic Circuits & Constant time circles (Figure 19)
  • Skirting Turn (to avoid flying over the Missile Tracking Radar)
  • Comparison of Trajectories ( 0.0g, 0.5g, 1.0g lift trajectories, 0.5 g used - page 64)
  • ... and much more

Folklore corrected - By the time a launched Nike has reached the end of the launcher, it is (NOT) supersonic - May 2014
Please forgive the "English" - now American - units. Going Metric is slow -

The speed of sound in 70 F air = 1128 ft/sec from here

The acceleration of gravity "g" at the earth's surface is (about) approximately 32.2 ft/sec/sec
The published launch (boost) acceleration of a Nike Ajax or Hercules is 25 * g = 805 ft/(s^2) = a

The general formula of distance traveled "S" during time "t" under uniform acceleration (high school physics) is
S = v0 * t + 1/2 * a * t2
where v0 is the initial velocity

Since velocity at start is zero we have
S = 1/2*a*t2

More high school physics
v = a * t
t = v/a
since we have both the desired velocity (the speed of sound) and acceleration, lets compute t
t = 1128/805 = 1.401 seconds to reach the speed of sound

Substituting in to get the distance traveled to reach the speed of sound
S = 1/2 * a * t2
S = 0.5 * 805 * 1.4012 = 790.3 feet (altitude since launch is nearly vertical)

Conclusion, the Nike is about 800 feet high when it reaches the local speed of sound.

Aren't Vacuum Tubes too unreliable? - added April 7, 2013
I've (Ed Thelen) been docenting again at SF-88 :-))
and of course open the computer cabinet doors to WOW the folks with all the vacuum tubes ;-))

Of course, young folks have heard stories, and older folks remember their vacuum tube TV failing, aand taking their maybe 27 TV tubes to the drug store to test 'em and buy a new one for a failed one - maybe every six months.

There is often a quizzical look when I say that tube failures in a Nike system were infrequent, maybe one in two or three weeks, and there were thousands of tubes, almost all required for satisfactory system performance.

So I tell them that there are many ways to make a vacuum tube more reliable

  1. Special, more careful manufacture and final inspection/testing
    - the tubes we used (mostly) seemed to have JAN numbers -

  2. "Burn-in" - operating new equipment ( such as vacuum tubes ) for a while and placing the tested survivors into service.
    - Many ( electronic, vacuum tubes ) devices display(ed) a "bath-tub" failure curve over time - many early failures for one edge of the bathtub, and a slower rising failure rate towards the end of the expected service life.
    - I don't know if the tubes we used were "burnt-it".

  3. Run them gently - well with-in maximum ratings of grid and anode voltages and power
    - Nike IFC designers were Western Electric, the manufacturing arm of AT&T.
    - AT&T was in the business of reliability, outages cost them cash.

  4. Don't turn them ON or OFF much. Temperature cycling is not good for most things.
    - Nike IFC vans tended to be turned on or off with deliberation - do we really want to ??
    - there is a tale of maintenance problems of the old ENIAC for a while after it was moved to Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1947. The people there complained of frequent vacuum tube failures "every time we turn it on in the morning". The people at Moore School where is had been used for a year or so were horrified - "You turn it OFF ???? ". The people at Moore School kept it on 24/7/365 -

Highest Nike intercept
Carl Durling - Feb 16, 2013
Hi Ed
I was reviewing the following document, and as you can see on page 50 (last paragraph below) there was a successful shoot of a Nike Herc above 100k feet, that is 20 miles.
That calculates as 105,600 feet. The Herc was capable of even higher altitude depending on distance to and speed of target.

Historic American Engineering Record
Western Regional Office
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
San Francisco, California 94102

HAER No. CA-56
Page 50

1958 A Nike-Hercules missile engaged and destroyed a Navy-developed Pogo-Hi target at an altitude of 20 miles and a HAWK missile was successfully fired at a QX-5 missile target, both at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Carl Durling

Nike Site Staffing? - Dec 17, 2012
The USAF Radar Station Veterans (R S V) news group has had considerable Nike comment for the past few weeks. It started with someone suggesting that since we were all brothers under the skin - or something like that - that Nike folk, even though Army, were friendly and on the same mission ;-))

OK, someone reminded the group of the inane Army motto "If it flies, it dies". But that protest quietly went away -

Were there 200 people on a Nike base as was typical of an Air Force radar station??

No - here is one un-official TO&E - and here is the Wikipedia entry for TO&E ;-))

The following entry is from Digest Number 5398 , dated today

Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:18 am (PST) . Posted by: "H B" halb1937

> I think you forgot the two platoon leaders (Lt/s); one IFC and one LCA platoon leader.

No I didn't. That's all we had, the T O and E called for them, (platoon leaders) but we didn't have them. Just the Captain, 1st Lt. and the 4 Warrants, as I said, we were almost always understrength until late 1960. Our two Commissioned and two IFC Warrants performed Battery Control Officer (BCO) duties. The four Warrants and the Exec performed the OD duties, one night a week and one weekend day every two weeks, but this varied according to how they worked it out.

There was a lot of horse trading going on with the duty rosters for BCO and OD, our Commander didn't care one way or the other as long as it was published and called in to Battalion two hours before the end of duty hours. The four Fire Control types rotated the on call BCO duties and tried to make their OD and on call nights coincide.

Our Officers also had Battalion duties in addition to their Battery duties so they were a pretty busy lot. One Warrant from each area was designated as Platoon Leader and, of course, all had numerous and sundry additional duties, like laundry officer, mess officer, etc. etc. Pay officer was kind of a floater that no body wanted so it usually went to the lowest ranking Warrant.

For Annual Service Practice we were always augmented which invariably led to problems, I never went with them, not that I could have helped, but I would have liked to have seen the firings.

Brian Devine suggests -
Resurrect Nike for Turkey defense? - Dec 6,2012
Ed Thelen suggests:
It is good to remember that Nike was designed to fight
     "high flying (jet) bombers" - the threat of 60 years ago -
These were slower by a factor of 4 or more
    than the current regional and intercontinental missiles.
   A) Rotating acquisition radars
   B) and missiles that are launched straight up
have too slow a reaction time to be reasonably effective :-((( 
   C) Techie advances have yielded the Patriot system
          - faster reaction time
          - more missiles in the air concurrently
          - fewer people
          - easier to move
          - likely less expensive per system and missile
                 (in constant dollars, not inflated dollars)

I think/hope we could
   manufacture 10 nice new, relatively modern Patriot batteries
in about the same time, and expense
   as resurrect and re-qualify 10 historic Nike batteries 
         - say from Italy ??
         - hardly anything restorable in the U.S.
             SF-88 is an incomplete mish-mash
               with all computer cables cut - 
               no TTR, no TRR, MTR has no guts -
               most Nike missiles in US destroyed - all incomplete -
for more comment

Missile Flight Path
- Did the Nike actually go to 100,000 feet then dive down on the target? - NO !! - April 30, 2012
NO !!

For several very good reasons!

  • Excessive "Time of Flight" - remember, the Nike system could only launch and guide one missile at a time - viewed as a disadvantage if several enemy targets.
  • The air is very thin at 100,000 feet - aircraft and missiles can only make feeble steering correction. Even the U-2, with its very wide wings, was limited to about 80,000 feet.
As per Determining when to end the 7 g dive ( around 27,000 feet altitude ) the flight path was a 1/2 g "semi-ballistic" path for minimum flight time and minimum drag.

For further details of the 1/2 g flight path, see page 64 of TM9-5000-3 (4.5 MBytes).

Could a traveling Mobile Nike Hercules get ready to fire in 1 hour? - April 2012
From: "George Wallot" < >


We are having a discussion, mostly conjecture, about how fast the mobile Nike Hercules or Improved Herc sytems could be moved and made operatonal. I have been told by a person who had personal experience with this who claimed they could fire within 1 hour from the order to stop moving and prepare to fire.

Do you know anything for certain on this version of the Herc and Improved Herc?


George Wallot
Admin, Nike Missile Veterans and Friends on Facebook

Short answer from Ed Thelen - "NO"
but that has never stopped me before ;-))
   What a lovely start to a never ending argument !!   

Fortunately I am blessed with almost total ignorance
  on mobile Nike operations - that may be a help? ;-))

My sole experience was setting up a Nike Ajax IFC near downtown Chicago.
   We were "ready" in two or three weeks.
And the tracking radars had to be re-leveled several times a day
    until the disturbed earth for the radar mounds settled a bit.
Because of my near total ignorance of Hercules solid fuel missiles,
  and operations,
I dare not to talk about the mobile launcher operations.

First we need "the tactical situation" ;-))

Was the mobile "column" driving along some random road 
   when "Blazing Skies" went up,
and folks had to scurry off road to find someplace to set up where
  a) the missiles are sufficiently far away from the Missile Tracking Radar (MTR)?
  b) with a good line of site from launchers to MTR.
  c) a reasonable place for radars, launchers
      like not on a mountain side or swamp or plowed field or in town -
     with nice reasonably level, hard, stable, ground for the radar footings, ...
  d) fence cutters and guards to fend off irate locals whose land is being overrun.


  d) The IFC folks are in a good radar place
   and the Launcher folks
   just happen to be ideally located
          as defined by a) b) c) above

Dreaming on, lets assume d) above 
and (of course) that
   e) the officers and men are all present, trained, rested, organized,
        and have practiced rapid re-assembly and alignment
        of a Nike Herc site, - several times -
      - and the cable reels are all marked and
        easily available from the proper trucks and ...
   f) we use a radio link to inform the Launcher area of
        missile select, gyro azimuth, launch ...
      rather than the usual inter-area cable -

Everything really ideal, including daylight, dry weather,
   not too windy, no distractions, ...
   and the likely threat direction chosen to minimize  ...
   and a useful booster disposal area selected,
     ideally not the IFC  ;-))

Lets presume we want to be accurate
  - probably travel on the road has disturbed bore-sighting
     and we need to get the test/alignment mast up,
     and the TTR and MTR radars bore sighted.
   - someone determines some agreed upon "North", 
      accurate to say 10 degrees so that coordination with
      friendly forces and radars is practical

It is easy to imagine that in the IFC, 
getting the test mast up and running and connected to the RC van ...
is on a critical path to getting the antennas bore-sighted.

Of course this all presumes the generators are purring
  happily early and connected to the vans
  and warming up the LOPAR thyratron, etc, etc, etc, ...

I bet to be successful, there isn't one idle body in the battery !!
  Even the cooks and Battery Commander are risking blisters.

So - the above is made from almost total ignorance -

Anybody got any real life experience ;-))
  Please at least CC me at so I can spread the word :-))

from Charles Carter - April 4, 2012
My personal experience with the Nike Hercules system was limited to the 1963 Ė 1965 which began a few months after the deployment of the 2nd Missile Battalion off the 52nd ADA from Ft. Bliss to south Florida in October 1962.

My ETS was prior to March 1970 when the 2nd of the 52nd became a Strategic Army Forces (STRAF) unit under the United States Readiness Command's reaction forces. This meant that it took on a second mission: to be trained and ready to deploy to any hot spot in the world. This meant the units were co-located in south Florida and in Texas. The south Florida batteries would rotate their time at McGregor Range for rapid deployment training in the desert while the other three batteries covered the skies of south Florida.

What I have stated is based on my personal conversation with Colonel Robert Stevens, former Battalion Commander of the 2nd of the 52nd 1974-1976. I have copied Colonel Stevens in my reply with hopes he can shed more light on the question at hand.
I have recently revamped my website and hope you will visit

I have attached some pics of the movement and training exercise from Florida to Texas. I recently discovered them in files at the Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, PA. I also discovered an interesting coincidence while there last October. The director of the facility was a former ADA officer stationed in south Florida, Conrad Crane who was a Platoon Leader at B Battery 75-76 and a Battery Executive Officer at C Battery 1976-1977.


from Bob Stevens - former CO 2/52 ADA
[The set-up task] would be the second half of the 11-hour ordeal.
There is no way anybody could go from on-the-road to ready-to-fire in one hour.

Bob Stevens

To:,,,,,, JimWhitaker@Charter.Net

Well, here's my 2 cents worth on the subject:

There is no way that any Nike system, even the most basic Ajax could go from a march-order status to being emplaced and operational in one hour.

It seems to me that our goal was to be able to CSMO (close station/march order), move a short distance, and setup in a new location, in about 11 hours. That is to go from being up and running in one location to being up and running in a new location. And that would take a well-led, experienced crew.

Just think about how long it would take to get the missiles off the launchers and onto their trailers, disassemble the rails and launchers, load the rails on a truck, march-order the launchers (to include getting them up and onto their bogeys) -- and that's probably one of the easier of many sets of steps in the whole process. And how long just to recover and load all of the cabling (inter-area and intra-area)? Etc, etc, etc!! And then to get it all back down on the ground, set-up, and made operational.

One hour?!?

Bob Stevens
former CO 2/52 ADA

Charles Carter forwarded the following from Carl Durling
In June 1962, during a training exercise, C Battery 2nd of the 52nd, deployed to the desert near Ft. Bliss set up a complete battery, including missiles and radar, and completed a readiness test firing in approximately 14 hours. One of those participants who was a MTR operator stated, "We performed the normal tests of the missiles that would be done as part of a real firing. From the time we were alerted to go, to the time of the completed readiness test, took about 14 hours. This included travel time to the test area."

Carl Durling, C-2-52, 1962

Where was the actual missile launch initiated? - Jan 2012
background info
from C M

Hi Ed, After reading through a ton of Nike base materials, I really can't find the answer to (or understand) a very basic aspect. Where was the actual missile launch initiated? Imagine it's as simple as pushing a button and the missile is launched... is that done in the Launch Control Trailer? Or is the button pushed in the IFC, info then goes through the Launch Control trailer, and voila? Any insight is appreciated. Thanks!

Two answers ;-))
- normal - wire link to Launcher Area is intact
- problem - wire link to Launcher Area is broken

Normally - the launch switch (under that cute red cover in the Battery Control Van in the IFC area) is operated is operated by the Battery Control Officer. The electrical signal travels to the missile
- via the cable connecting the IFC and the Launch Control (trailer or underground room)
- and hence to the missile (along with the angle of the Predicted Intercept Point)

Problem - however, if that cable is non-functional, the angle of the Predicted Intercept Point and the fire command are sent to the Launcher Area via phone and/or radio.

The above does not include any of the precautions involved if a nuke is to be launched.

Nuclear Accident Possible? - Dec 2011
This is a small subset of a much larger question.
This is also way out of my area of expertise !! :-((
Those who know please correct/enhance my guesses :-))
Subject: Question about a what if Nike Nuclear accident
From: "George Wallot" < >


I was knowledgeable of some of the details of a near nuclear accident when I was in the Army and have wondered for years what would have been the consequences if the worse case scenario had happened.

In 1964 I was in Anchorage Alaska when the worst USA earthquake of 9.2 magnitude lasting 6 minutes occurred. A double firing battery had 2 above ground launchers containing 5 nukes each that were severely damaged with rocket fuel exposed, skins broken, and gyros spinning. Fortunately, the team of brave men that neutralized the threat was able to avoid setting it off though it took 72 hours to complete. Those men would never be the same again.
> Those men would never be the same again.

Why do you say that? Unless otherwise informed, I bet they got less radiation than a medical CAT scan.

If all that TNT would have gone off, I believe that it would have scattered people and nuclear materials all over the surrounding area. What hazards and danger to people would that have likely caused? Would this have been another Chernobyl? Something else? I have been told that a nuclear explosion was unlikely but all the TNT would surely have sent a cloud of Uranium into the air. What is your take on this situation?
> If all that TNT would have gone off, ...
Well - try something modern, with more energy, say C-4 -
TNT was marginal even in WWII, just cheap and easily cast into bombs.

> I believe that it would have scattered people and nuclear materials all over the surrounding area.
Nuclear weapons have been ( accidentally ) dropped from flying aircraft - with no radioactive release. That would be a much greater shock than just falling off a launcher and getting bounced about.

If you donít know the answer could you forward this email to someone that would?
Actually out of my area, anyone really know?

George Wallot, Nike Ordnance Track Radar Teck, 1962-65
637 Via Santa Paulo, Vista, CA 92081, 760-466-7609

Apathy and unawareness about what we did - Nov 2011
Dear Ed,

I am a Nike vet - (61st Arty Group - Milwaukee) and I'm a bit concerned about the lack of knowledge by the public about what we did and why.

I was at the VA Clinic in Oak Lawn, IL Thursday, and the nurse, (an Air Force Veteran) had never heard of the Nike program and sites, even though her family lived in the Jackson Park area of Chicago, where one of the sites was located.

I realize that as a 'Cold War' vet, I never heard a shot fired in anger, but I think that what we did prevented a lot of shots being fired. While we were not involved in the really dirty, bloody situations such as WWII, Korea, 'Nam and the Middle East, we still gave up a part of our lives, in the hope that we were preventing more of the same.

The VA clinic was handing out 'thank you' notes and drawings from school-children in the area. I am going to respond to one of these, since the child, a fifth-grader included her name and school.

Are you finding the same apathy and unawareness as I see? Let me know.

Thomas M. Smith
10504 S. Claremont
Chicago IL 60643

Ed replies:
> Are you finding the same apathy and unawareness as I see?

Yes, of course - but I am more philosophical ( apathetic? ) about it :-|

I figure that folks are extremely busy trying to get enough facts to live for today and tomorrow.
- and catch a girl/boy friend and a little pot of money to start life.

As a person interested in history,
- there are vast parts of history I would not like to see repeated.
- - Napoleonic wars, plagues, starvations, ...
and hope that if people are aware of what lead up to them, they might try to avoid them.

But the pressures of the present are so urgent,
folks have little inclination to worry about lessons the past might teach :-((

In the more recent past, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam, ...
have attained absolute power :-((
and have been involved with the slaughter
of a lot of folks deemed "enemies of the people" :-((

Their definition of "enemies of the people" differ from mine !!!

I do not even like to see the Chicago style of government spread over the U.S.

People on the ground? - Sept 2011
Joyce Lave wrote:

Hi - I lived by a Nike site in Commerce Mi in the 60's. If they had fired one of the missiles, would the impact killed people on the ground in the surrounding area? I saw a TV special once that said it would, but I don't remember details. Thanks

Four aspects -
I can handle two or three
  1. During peace time, Nikes were fired only at test ranges - away from folks.
  2. The missile was boosted to altitude and speed by a booster, which separated from the missile.
    During site layout, the "booster disposal area", where the boosters would land, was given careful consideration -
    - like into Lake Michigan in my case, or say a (wheat?) field for others
  3. " ... impact killed people on the ground??"
    These were antiaircraft weapons ( a later option could attack ground targets ).
    The goal was to explode as close to the aircraft target as possible, like maybe 10 yards.

    Now, "what goes up must come down" :-|
    The falling aircraft, and falling missile debris will land somewhere -
    - To quote someone, "War is hell" :-((
    The above risk may be considered less than if a nuclear bomber dropped its load on its intended target (in my case Chicago)

    I viewed some Nike Hercules launches in Crete.
    One of the launched missiles did not respond to commands,
    - and exploded about a mile high, almost over our heads.
    story here

  4. Tf the warhead was nuclear, there was a minimum altitude at which it could "burst".
    I have no data ( after my time )
    - but I am not eager to have a low powered nuke go off over my head.

Ed Thelen

What Nike I and Nike B are from Tim Coslet Feb 16, 2011
Nike 1

"56th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigades conferred with BTL's staff to obtain technical advice relating to the "planning and layout of NIKE 1 installations."9"
- refers to what will be called Nike Ajax


Nike B
- 4th paragraph
- Preliminary Design Studies
- TABLE 2--(U) Proposed Launching & Handling Equipment for NIKE Battery
- "*As stated earlier, the second-generation NIKE system was known as the NIKE B until November 1956, when it was renamed the NIKE HERCULES"

Thrust Limiter? - Unanswered Question - Feb 6, 2010
Here are some extractions from one of my TM?s.
Its seems that information about the thrust limiter is, well limited.

By the way, what is the exact function of the motor start delay timer?
All I know is that it delays the start of the sustainer motor by 9,1/4 seconds. So this helps the missile to turn to lower altitude faster, ok?
But why is there a need for the thrust limiter anyway?

Kind regards, Michael Keller, Germany.


Missile Serial Numbers 10206 through 11935

Table III. Assembly of Nike-Hercules Antiaircraft Missile M6 for Missile Electrical Checkout
Step 1 Operation aa. Remove thrust limiter shipping strap from thrust limiter ring assembly and install retaining bolts.

Table VIII. Missile electrical Checkout Using Assembly Area Missile Test Set 9025326
Step 16 Motor start delay timer relay check....
Step 17 Check of thrust limiter squibs and associated circuits.
Operation c. Set SQUIB SELECTOR switch to
THRUST SPOILER 1 and depress
SENSITIVITY pushbutton.

Table XV. Joining Procedure for Missile Body and Rocket Motor Cluster
Step 3 Operation h. Remove the rear roll ring ring and check for
proper seating of the thrust limiter.
Installation Bolt Accessory attaching hardware Mean torque
Thrust limiter ring assembly to 583750 Washer 502245 120 in-lb rear body section

Preventive Maintenance Volume 129, page 12 said:
"...taking out the timer and leaving it out - once it goes bad. After all, it's only used for low altitude firing missions - something the Herc doesn't have any longer."

Ed Thelen here - Oh Michael - you are talking to an Ajax IFC guy -
My guess is the motor start delay is to reduce the radius of the initial dive, reducing the "dead zone" -

Can some Herc Missile guy help us???

Nike Follow On - after Hercules and some ABM


Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2010 00:25:06 I do have a little info on the proposed Sentinel ABM site in nearby Massachusetts. Wasn't the Spartan middle used at the Sentinel site a Zeus derivative? Appreciate the feedback.

from Thomas Page < >

The site near Boston was indeed a part of Sentinel which was to have defended population centers / cities. As I understand, the Spartan & Sprint interceptors were to have been used. However, a large number people in cities like Boston and Seattle protested loudly: "Not in my backyard!" So the concept was changed from protecting population centers / cities to protecting our ICBM sites, and was renamed Safeguard. One Safeguard complex (the one near Grand Forks AFB, ND) became fully operational in 1975 before being shut down just months later when the entire Safeguard program was cancelled.

The Perimeter Acquisition Radar (PAR) site for Boston is now a large hole in the ground filled with water (the actual excavation for the radar building) in what is now a public park on Sharpners Pond Road in North Andover, MA. The Missile Site Radar (MSR) and the primary missile field itself were to have been at Camp Curtis Guild in Reading, MA (near the existing Nike missile launch facility, B-03L). We have some information on our website, To find any particular site, from the menu on the far left side of our web site, click on "Radar Sites." When the search window comes up, enter any part of the name (for example, "Boston"), state, or squadron number; then click on [SEARCH FOR SITE]. When the search result comes up, click on the hyperlink. When the site web page comes up, scroll down, and click on the information hyperlink desired (for example, "Photographs" or "Recent photos").

Re Nike Missile site BR-17, if you go to and select Milford, CT, you can see aerial images of the Nike missile launch site and IFC site in the years 1960 and 1966 when the Nike facilities were still extant. By the way, John, nice recent photos on your website, http://coldwar-

-- Tom Page

Cofounder & Historian, The Online Air-Defense Radar Museum


From: Date: Fri, Dec 17, 2010 9:15 am To: ...

The answer to the missile part of the question is yes, Spartan was the final gasp of the Nike program.

After Nike Hercules, the next missile system developed under the Nike program was Nike Zeus, designed to be a missile interceptor weapon. It came in two designs, Zeus A and Zeus B. This system was ultimately shelved after a lot of testing, but the Zeus B missile was then revamped into Nike X, a new program with a phased array radar system, that was then renamed Spartan and was to be deployed as part of Sentinal (the "city" system) and actually deployed in Safeguard (the SAC defense system).

What was the name of the mascot of the Army's Air Defense Artillery program?
Thomas Page asked (as a trivia question) ;-))
What was the name of the mascot of the Army's Air Defense Artillery program?
What was its motto, and why?

Doyle Piland (volunteer historian at White Sands Missile Range Museum) responds:

Mascot = Oozlefinch
Motto = If it flies..... it dies
The why should be obvious. Of course it was of a boast, which wasn't always true.

People don't believe we could 'do it' - knock aircraft out of the sky, reliably

From: Jim Butler < jbutler at Brocade dot COM >  
Date: Wed, May 26, 2010  
To: < >
> Thanks again for the work you?ve done regarding Herc?s.  
> I?ve been involved in ?high-tech? for almost 40yrs now, 
>     and when I tell people what that system was capable of, 
>       they don?t believe it.
> Jim

"they don't  believe it."    Verrry true  !!
    Maybe I should start a page 
       "We could in fact 'do it',
          and here is how/why."

    Complete with system error estimates -
     and frequent tests to assure we were with-in the error estimates.

    Unfortunately, I don't have the filter skills
    to estimate the time lag through the 
    analog smoothing filters in the computer -

    The whole game of rough tracking vs.
       averaging because of missile dynamics
       is subject to a lot of guess work -

    But folks are used to a lot of hand waving
       from sales and political folks -
    And they might not be too fussy -
      and we have the "proof in the pudding" 
        with a lot of broken drones   ;-))

     And folks just can't believe
        a) Vacuum tubes were that reliable
             not pushed hard, very conservative usage
        b) That many checking features were built in
               and checked regularly
        c) The system could hold together,
              end to end,
            for more than a few minutes,
              much less days!!

     Ya know - I'm having trouble convincing my self -
         many of us remember all the junk 
           we bought and buy
         - the plastic that cracks in a year -
         - and the American made cars 
             before the Japanese scared the pants off Detroit

    Yeah - that page would be a REAL challenge-
       ya got any ideas ??

Ed Thelen 

Women in Nike sites
Subject: ADA Brochure
From: "Chuck Zellers"  
Date: Wed, May 26, 2010  
To: < >

> Hi Ed:
> Just looking at some entries on your website 
> and found a graphic "3 page folder" of a recruitment ad:). 
> The ad states in part about men *and* women as part of a Nike site 
> (or it alludes to it)! 
> Hummm, don't remember any women as "side kicks";) 
>   Just thought it was funny

Life is  truly amazing !!!

About a year ago, I got my Nike listing form back
   with a woman's name,
      being at some site in Germany.

Not that people seem to be fakes much -
   maybe once per couple of years -
   ( this web site is not the government offering free money ;-)
but I had never heard of women in U.S. "combat" situations.
So I asked for clarification -

   Did I get the Fist-Of-Death  !!!
    Similar to "Alice" in the "Dilbert" column.

I run a couple of web sites that attract e-mail,
    maybe 15 relevant e-mails/day
    and life is pleasant and informative
       about 99.5 percent of the time ;-)) 
The exceptions are quite exceptional :-|

I did some checking around 
   - and much to my surprise -
apparently there were a few women in Nike "combat" roles
    at a few sites in Germany in the 1970s 
      see CPT Cheek

From: Jeremy Farrant 
> Hi Ed, this is Jeremy Farrant again. 
> Thank you for responding to my first email. The info is really going to be helpful. 
> Anyway, I have another question. 

> From you website, the picture of the Battery control area 
> the radars are connected to the computer system 
> and would the computer system be in a mobile trailer 
> or in a permanent building? 

The computer system was in the Battery Control trailer -

> We are going to be moving dirt around and we are trying 
> to get some info on what might be in the ground. 
> Was the power for the radars ran underground also 
> or above ground like today's power poles? 

The basic idea was that this air defense system was trailer transportable.
Move quickly to a point that needed defending -
Even the launchers had trailers  -

After the Nike Ajax system was to be deployed near civilians 
in the U.S., there was the realization that there were rules about
explosives near civilians - and the missiles were stored in
the underground magazines in many cases.

Away from civilian housing and kids, say at SAC bases,
the entire system, including missiles, was above ground.

In general, all cables, except for inter-area cable,
   which are usually buried for physical protection, 
were on or slightly above the ground 
to reduce the possibility of moisture getting in through 
weak points in the rubber and degrading things.

The inter area cables could include
   a) the cable from the BC van to the launcher area
   b) often the cable from the RC van to the radar test mast.
I bet a nice lunch that those are the only cables, if any,
   left in ground that you are interested in  ;-))

In the Chicago area where I was, small flat topped hills, say 6 feet high,
were made to place the view of the radars above local obstructions 
(such as people and steel fences) as easily as possible -
Later, especially in the Nike Hercules retrofits,
taller concrete towers were installed to get the radars even higher -

But the general game plan was mobility -
   defending some point today, 
   maybe somewhere else next week.

An exception could be the concrete area of the U.S. underground magazines -
I suspect many of the cables were layed under the tar and never pulled out -
(SF-88 is short of launcher cables, and has more than enough IFC cables.)

> Thank you again in advance. I will probably have more questions later. 
> Thank you 
> Jeremy Farrant

Nike Missile Paint
From: Chuck Zellers
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I'm trying to find information and pictures regarding all the paint variations for Nike Hercules and Ajax missiles. I've seen OD, white and red boosters. White, red and OD missiles. I want to confirm whether or not if the booster was also painted black.


Chuck Zellers

I'm sorry -

What is underneath the paint is so fascinating

that I totally ignore the visible exterior :-((

I have the unverified impression that it is up to the local commanders what if anything to put on the missiles.

I have only two paint tales

  1. Our best scrounge "found" some five gallon cans of puke green paint that we slopped onto everything other than antennas. We were in a Chicago park, and wanted to blend in.

  2. There was the tale that some poor 2nd loui wanted the antennas to stand tall - and got some unauthorized paint for the M-33 acquisition radar.

    The radar immediately became non-functional - it couldn't "see" a thing. It turned out that the new paint was radar opaque.

    It is tough to win 'em all, sometimes ya can't seem to win just one. :-((

Cheers ;-))
Ed Thelen

Anyone got better ideas or stories?

Dosimeters near warheads?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bernd Milmert" 

Sent: Monday, June 18, 2007 4:21 AM
Subject: Greetings from a german 225 and questions 2 questions about XL Warheads ...

> The following text with an Internet spoke translation program written !
> Hello Ed,
> Greetings from Germany, read, which is old you in the meantime over 70 
> years, and still questions answer, thanks.

     still fun :-))

> I was German 225 in Burbach (2. /22), of 75 - 87. Once one exchanged 
> nearly the entire team of the American soldiers. Soldiers of the new 
> team said us, which you were allowed to be only one hour in the storage 
> hall with the XL Warheads. Was there for it a reason, and/or where one 
> can reread something?

I was with the previous (not nuclear capability) Nike called Ajax
   and know very little about the nuclear rules later.

Maybe you could ask
    Rod VanAusdall

> In each atomic power plant, and/or in each hospital in the radiology 
> the personnel carries jet dosimeters, why of the XL Warheads became 
> and/or install no jet dosimeters carried, within the range? (e.g. 
> directly on the suction pipe of the guidance below the XL Warheads for 
> daily examination?)

I don't know anything about whether dosimeters were carried by
   soldiers near, but not working on warheads.

I can only guess -
From about 1972 to 1988 I worked for Measurex which did paper
process control.  We used rather powerful nuclear gauges which
could form beams of radiation and could really hurt you.

When we went near those things we wore film type 
    dosimeter rings on the hands and badges on the body -
    - you could get your hands into bad places that would not
        be bad for the rest of your body -
    - the gauges used electrically controlled shutters to be rather safe,
           but shutters could be opened by accident,
           and a shutter could stick open if bad problems
These dosimeters would be collected (and new ones issued) every month.   
   The films would be developed and examined for exposure.  

My guess to the story you heard -
    a) most dosimeters don't respond well to neutrons
    b) most resting unopened warheads are not very radioactive
          and radiate in all directions, don't form beams
    c) if they don't form beams, one place is about as radioactive
            as another near a warhead, and time of exposure
             is a reasonable estimate of total exposure

Something like the above -

Ed Thelen

> Bernd

Rod VanAusdall responded with:
No reason and no rule for more than an hour with XL warheads. No reason to monitor on site at battery level.

Note that in the early days of the "prime" (read nuclear) warheads there was a requirement to run a test with the T 290A tester we called it a "sniffer" , immediately after opening the warhead can and for the tester, (had a warning bell on it) to remain active and sampling, during the mating operations. This tester was discontinued (late 50s early 60s) because the test was unwarranted by any risk..

Probably the the only warhead that warranted monitoring of ambient air was the W7 which preceded the W 31. I never saw a W7 on site, but have seen them in storage, and there was good reason to monitor them, but nothing subsequent as far sites are continued. There are, of course, procedures for monitoring nuclear weapons in long storage. I doubt if any W7 s exist now.

PS I did the the tests at Bikini in 1946 and only a few of us wore dosimeters. We clicked very hot on the way to Pearl Harbor after the two A Tests (one above and one below sea surface)and abandoned the ship to scrap (I guess). If Bikini didn`t get you nothing will (in the way of tests).

Glad to see you are still going strong.

Keep up good work,
Rod van Ausdall

Acquisition Radar Vertical Dead Zone?
From: George Bean
To: Tom Page & Gene McManus @

>I am trying to understand the vertical beam width of a radar antenna 
>verses the vertical coverage area and what is done to minimize the blind 
>spot above the site. For instance the specifications for the HIPAR radar 
>system, as shown on your site, state that the elevation beam width is 
>1.3-7.1 degrees and the vertical coverage is 0-60 degrees. Obviously the 
>narrow beam of a radar antenna is swept in a 360 degree circle to 
>provide complete horizontal coverage but I haven't been able to find any 
>similar explanation for the vertical coverage. I haven't personally 
>observed or seen documentation to indicate that a radar antenna sweeps 
>vertically to complete its vertical coverage so I don't understand how a 
>beam width of a few degrees covers as much as 60 degrees of elevation. 
>Even if the antenna is covering the full 60 degrees of elevation, it 
>would seem that the blind spot above the antenna would be quite large, 
>better than a one mile radius at an altitude of 10,000 feet. I realize 
>that when tracking a hostile intruding aircraft, if it hasn't been dealt 
>with by the time it gets within a mile you might as well kiss your ass 
>good bye. In the case of air traffic surveillance radar though, an area 
>two miles in diameter is a large blind spot. 
>Thank you for taking the time to review my message. I would appreciate 
>any insights you can share with me regarding vertical coverage and 
>minimizing the blind spot or any resources you can point me toward. 

Tom Page responded
If the incoming bombers were directly over the radar site, then it would have been way too late! The blind spot was irrelevant.

(Of course, adjacent radar sites would have been able to "see" the aircraft.)

Still, the idea was to blast them out of the sky well before the bombers reached their targets.

and I [Ed Thelen] just had to pop off with:

OK - the up-to-date pro has responded -
    and is of course operationally (practical) correct.

But heck - lets play with the questions a bit,
   its fun  ;-))

a) A bit of practical presentation "theory"
   Lets say that you "see" an aircraft (missile whatever)
    at an elevation angle of 89.99 degrees 
      and slant range of 52,800 ft.

   Your PPI scope will (rightly) show the target at 10 miles
      range - and give the operator no clue that the target
      is right over head - *not* at say 1,000 feet over the
      next town.

   This distortion at short ranges can be confusing :-))

   (Some acquisition radars (including Nike LOPAR and looks
      like HIPAR) can change the elevation of their main beam
     by mechanical or electronic means 
       - but the actual elevation information
         is more like "high" "medium" "low" 
       - lets not get into that.) 

b) If the radar operator has the MTI (Moving Target Indicator)
   turned OFF, the target at 10 miles slant range may well
   be lost in the ground clutter - maybe a blessing ;-))

b+) The FAA usually does not usually "skin track" but depends on
    a transponder in the cooperating "target". This greatly
    extends the range of accessing transponders over "skin tracking".
      In this case, the  receiver is not tuned to the 
    transmitted frequency, but the frequency of the 
    responding transponders - and no or very little
    ground clutter is observed - and the FAA operator
    is also confused about the actual ground position
    of the transponder.

b++)   ain't this fun!?!  Except the transponder may well
    return altitude information and aircraft ID with its return signal.
    And in theory (I don't know about practice) the signal
    processing equipment driving the FAA operator's scope
    could paint the transponder on the actual ground location :-))

c) the "blind spot" above the site is likely not as blind
     as first considered.  Consider the famous "radar equation"
     where the detectable range of a target is a function
     of the 1/4th power (forth root) of the transmitted signal power -

     Assume the radar can see a uniformly reflective target at
      128 miles when the main lobe is pointed at it
          - a reasonable range -
     Now - not all the power goes where the radar antenna
      designer wanted it to go - laws of nature or whatever
     Lets say that 4096th of the main beam's power intensity goes straight up -
       I would guess that to be very reasonable.
     That radar would be able to see our theoretical uniformly
        reflecting target at 16 miles (straight up)
     (And I suspect our real target is a heck of a lot more
        reflective belly to the radar than nose to the radar!)

     Conclusion - I bet the normal acquisition radar "sees"
      airplane type objects in the stratosphere straight overhead 
         - ain't that interesting!!

Ah gee - I think I've worked this poor thing to death.
   Hope I didn't screw up the numbers and assumptions too much.

Further resources? 
  Well - Merrill L. Skolnik has written a series of 
          radar systems books that are highly regarded.
        Older editions are reasonably priced, and this kind of 
          stuff hasn't changed much in 50 years.
        There is more current real fun radar stuff
          synthetic aperture, side scan mapping, ...

Oh yes - "Introduction to Airborne Radar (Aerospace & Radar Systems)"
    by George W. Stimson will knock your socks off !!
      (and so will the price.)

  Ed Thelen

Long thin line defense?
From: "Tackies" < >

> Great web site you created. I have a question, how
> come the sites were not located along the beaches and
> the Canadian boarder? Seems to me the time the
> Russians got close to the major cities it was going to
> be to late anyway, so way not head them off over the
> oceans?

Ah yes - strategic placement, defense in depth, etc.

The above is not my strength, but I will give it a try, based upon reading various books.

At best life is a series of compromises between dreams and reality - and in spite of liberal quips, military forces are never given "a blank check". They, like all other life forms, have constraints.

Most professionals favor "defense in depth" as opposed to say the "Great Wall" of China, (it failed utterly, local corruption opened the gates) and French Maginot line ( - never tested - the Nazis just went around it, why bother). The North American air defense in the cold war was definitely in depth.

  1. Very long range radars,
    - placed far north, (the DEW line - Distant Early Warning) strove for early detection of Soviet aircraft coming over the polar regions from mainland Russia.
    - placed on "Texas Towers" on the continental shelf off the Atlantic coast.
  2. Fighter planes ready to respond to radar warnings. It is remarkably difficult for an Air Force to destroy ALL of the attackers in the confusion of battle.
    The SAGE system was involved -
    The Air Force also fielded some sites of the BOMARC antiaircraft missile that had a range of say 400 miles
  3. The Nike systems defended "point" targets and depended on the Air Force to largely destroy/break-up Soviet aircraft formations, as in 2) above. The Nike Hercules had a range of about 100 miles, but each battery could only guide 1 Nike at a time -
There were about 200 Nike batteries in the U.S.

Now - lets spread those 200 Nike batteries along a northern line - say the U.S. Canadian border for better weather and easier supplies (about 2600 miles) and up and down the east and west coasts (about 1300 miles each)

That totals about 5200 miles. Say we place the Nike sites along that length say 26 miles apart to allow a little over lap to allow for temporarily defective equipment at a few sites.

That would be (oddly) about 200 Nike sites. What do we have? We have a rather brittle defense - If I were Soviet "high command" I would have my bombers fly in a stream over one site until it ran out of missiles - then smile all the way to where ever. They had overrun one or two Nike sites, and could then roam at will.

If I were the Soviet "high command", I would have also arrange for some serious problems at that point (a liberal riot, a couple of mortars, a few "hunters") and probably not loose an aircraft to Nike fire. Lets not even consider the Soviets flying low to the ground at that point and being extremely difficult to track.

A defense "in depth" gives up distance but usually gains resilience. Russian history has great examples of defense in depth. Napoleon in 1812 and Hitler in 1942 got beaten by the various forces of the Russian "in depth" situation. Not exactly similar, but something to consider.

> Patrick Duffy

Ed Thelen

What is the meaning of say AN/FSQ for example?
Peter G Capek asked
"What did AN/FSQ stand for?"

Thomas E. Page responded
also see and MIL-STD-196E.pdf.


Converting Nike to Multiple Target and Multiple Missile capability?
"Anonymous" wished that Nike Hercules could be converted to Patriot like capability of attacking multiple targets at one time.
I, Ed Thelen, responded:
I have thought about this and cannot solve the following problems, that were solved using the Patriot style of system.
  1. The Nike Target Tracking Radar can give the position of only one target at a time.
  2. The Nike Missile Tracking Radar can give the position of only one missile at a time.
  3. The analog computer used could only track one target and one missile at a time.
(The post 1974 Nike digital computer could be made faster and reprogrammed to handle multiple targets and missiles at one time.)

The Patriot system solves problems a) and b) above by using a less precise phased array radar to rapidly switch beam positions to give an approximate position of multiple targets and multiple Patriot missiles.

Patriot solves the problem of less precise angular tracking by using radar type receiving equipment in the missile.

The Patriot missile has radar receiving equipment and returns target angle position,

*as observed by the Patriot missile*,
to the on-the-ground Patriot computer for monitoring and steering commands.

This scheme corrects for the much less precise angular tracking by the Patriot phased array radar.

So, with simpler, much faster, less precise ground radar, a phased array radar that changes pointing in microseconds and a more complicated missile, but "easy" with today's technology,

  1. not capable of very precise angle tracking,
    - but plenty good as the range gets shorter,
    - where it is really needed -
  2. and high bandwidth bi-directional communication between the missile and the ground station
the Patriot system can guide several missiles to several targets at the same time, with the same or better precision as the Nike can guide one missile to one target.

A side benefit of this is the capability to engage a larger number of aircraft with out the need to resort to atomic weapons to destroy them with one weapon as was driving the Nike Hercules.

In other words, the multiple missile capability of the Patriot reduces/eliminates the need for atomic warheads in the same defensive tactical situation. :-)) This:

  • eliminates a challenging atomic security problem with attendant more people, dogs, hazards, ...
  • eliminates the need for multiple safeguards to prevent atomic bursts near the ground
  • eliminates considerable queasiness of the troops manning the equipment, neighbors, governments, ...
The above multiple simultaneous missile guidance, coupled with the much smaller, lighter equipment and much reduced staffing, makes the Patriot much more attractive than the 50 year old technology of Nike Hercules.

Best Regards

Ed Thelen

What about "Ionizing Radiation"? - ?NATO Document?

(added March 3, 2004)) - Well, it appears that the alleged report was so boring that no one, not even the hysteria prone organizations nor legal beagles/jackals, seem to have posted it. Jonas is hoping for a copy in a week or two or ...

Jonas pointed out a German government "Radar Commission Report"
dated July 02, 2003. There appears to be no English translation on-line, and no multi-linguals that I know wanted to translate the 200 page document.

Jonas showed me an English translation of the "Executive Summary" of the the above document. . The alleged "Executive Summary" that was rather non-committal, phrases like "insufficient information" ... but he requested that I not post it because it was not an authorized translation.

So I inadvertently started a tempest in a teapot. - Sorry -
I am removing the easy visibility of Jonas's message until he produces some relevant information that I can share.

-- text "deleted" -- see above --

By "ionizing radiation" I presume that you mean "x-rays", part of the family of "electromagnetic waves" which include radio, TV, radar, heat lamp rays, visible light, and ultra-violet.
Visible light can produce chemical changes in some materials such as photographic film, retina, ...
- many more materials (and skin and DNA) are affected by ultraviolet light,
- and x-rays affect even more materials.

-- text "deleted" --

My knowledge is limited to Nike, and my direct knowledge ended in 1957.

All of the U.S. Nike sites (except facing Cuba, and in Alaska) were closed before or during 1974 ( four years before your document). (Many sites had closed before 1974 because of reduced bomber threat vs. ICBM threat, budgetary, manpower, etc.)

I have no info about non-Nike. People at "Online Air Defense Radar Museum"

- say Tom Page - -
are very knowledgeable about some of the equipment you are interested in.

I left the Army in 1957, and have no knowledge of the above shielding document. I would be delighted to view a copy of the document when you get it, and likely post it on my web site.

Some power klystrons operate at or above 100,000 volts, and at significant currents (amps). These have always been constructed with shielding. See HIPAR klystrom. See accident note below.

There are of course low power (milliwatt/microwatt) klystrons that operate at say 200 volts with no particular shields or radiation. (just a variation of regular (old fashioned) vacuum tubes - valves to the Brits. :-)

The magnetrons and thyratrons we played with worked at about 18,000 volts, less energy per photon than your color TV, and pretty much self shielding - the glass was rather thick for vacuum and physical reasons.

A technical point - electrons hitting a heavy metal at somewhat over 100 volts produces photons above far ultraviolet, in the range called x-rays. The saving grace is that the low energy x-rays (lets call them soft x -rays) are easily absorbed by almost any thin material. Above say 30,000 volts, the x-rays have sufficient penetrating power so that many/most get through the usual glass enclosure - and can indeed cause serious damage to biological things - including people. Your doctor's x-ray machine operates in the 70,000 volt range (and with a tungsten target which helps shift the spectoral range higher), and is dangerous.

Another thing most people don't know are the conditions of usage.

  1. An x-ray tube is designed to maximize the x-radiation. The electrons are emitted from a cathode and intended to strike the heavy metal anode at high speed (full energy). That is the way the high energy x-rays are produced relatively efficiently (say 2%).

  2. Oddly, the electrons in a TV CRT tube are supposed to do the same thing, but instead of hitting a tungsten anode, the electrons strike things like phosphors, shadow masks, glass, ... (getting steered to make a picture). Color TV tubes usually operate at about 27,000 volts, and measurable, but hopefully biologically insignificant x-rays do in fact get through the glass.

  3. In tubes for other purposes, (except TV tubes) the electrons are supposed to do some other useful work before striking the anode, and in doing useful work, are slowed down somewhat. An alternative view is that the anode voltage is reduced by the arrival of the electrons and that transforms energy.

  4. In magnetrons, even though they may operate in the 15,000 volt range between the cathode and anode, the electrons give up most of their energy to generate microwave radiation, and mostly hit the anode at say 30% of the operating voltage. At the start of the pulse, before the oscillations are properly started, the impact speeds are much higher and X-Rays of energy of the operating voltage are produced. (Still largely absorbed by the structure of the magnetron.)

  5. Thyratrons work as switches, open circuit in the Nike system was about 15,000 volts, but at zero current there would be zero x-rays. They do their work by suddenly (on electrical command) shorting and acting as an arc - very high current but at about 60 volts. (The rest of the voltage is impressed on circuits leading to the magnetron or what ever.) These tubes are minimal x-ray emitters, I doubt that you could measure them above the normal background activity.

  6. In later years (1960s) other surveillance radars such (as the HIPAR) were added to Nike sites. HIPAR had a shielded power klystron. The hazards were well known and trained for.
For a sense of history, visit This site includes items such as
In 1920, the "American Roentgen Ray Society (AEES) established a standing committee for radiation protection.

1960 (Mar 8) Niagara Falls, NY (Lockport Air Force Base), 9 persons exposed to radiation from a radar klystron tube. 6 over 25 rem (up to 1200 rad localized).

I can't find the Lockport incident report on the web now, but 3 of the technicians were fighting an intermittent problem and (against instructions printed on the klystron) removed part of the shielding so that they could view its operation better :-((

-- text "deleted" --

Thomas Page adds

Indeed high-power radar and radio transmitter tubes were shielded with lead (Pb) lining on the insides of the cabinets that covered all lines of sight. High-current amplifying devices where high-energy electrons come into contact with metal typically produce characteristic x-rays as by-products. Air Force health physicists (or radiological protection officers, RPO's) inspected the equipment periodically to ensure the shielding was still in-place and was being effective. I would guess the Army, Navy, Marines, etc. did the same. I myself never saw any cases of violations where I was assigned.

What about the survivability of web sites with historical information?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Harrington, David B. (Contractor) (DSCR)
To: '' 

> Ed; 

> ... I became interested with the issue of long term survivability 
> of the historical information you, and others like yourself, 
> have amassed. I'd hate to see it lost, as some researcher 100 years 
> from now might want information. And you have a trove of information. 
> But even some of your links disappear into the void of 'Error 404'. 

> I don't claim to have an answer, but have you considered this issue? 

Indeed I have !!

Disappearing links is a major maintenance problem for sites such as mine
with lots of links -   I sometimes make a local copy (probably illegal as all
get out) of particularly useful parts of web sites.  I used to
ask newspapers for permission to copy - but none ever responded -
so I probably court a felony charge for snapshoting their transient stuff.

Google does it - and they aren't in the slammer yet -

(And if you think this is a problem - try to get permission to
 make a copy of a degrading tape of software for long defunct computer.
 Attorneys do not make a living by saying "Yes", 
  they make a living by saying "Hell NO !!! We will sue".)

As you may have noticed I am hosting the 40 megabyte John McGrath
web site that he - let lapse - 

There is also Brewster Kahle "Internet Archive" 
located in San Francisco that has the goal of archiving
the Internet - apparently reasonably successful  
(sites that serve up data from programs triggered by user requests 
   - like Amazon - are not fully covered.)

Of course nothing guarantees the survivability of "Internet Archive"
and someone has to know what to search for, and I presume other factors.

In part, the reason that I claim no copyright on material found 
on my site is so that folks wishing to use or store the material
will not feel threatened.

Thanks for the question
    Ed Thelen

> Dave Harrington. 

Would you like pictures of Nike site ???
----- Original Message ----- 
 From: "Dave Padgitt" 

> Ed,
> I stumbled on your website and was so intrigued by all 
> of the Nike missile site information that I went and 
> visited what remains of the one nearest my home (C-72).  

> I took some digital images and if you're interested, 
> I'd be happy to send them to you (approx 3 mbytes).
> Dave
Glad you enjoyed -
but images of decomposing anything,
- farm houses on the prarie
- buildings, people, ...
kind of depress me -
SF-88 is the place to be ;-))

Then why do I do what I do ??

I have no clue

Thanks but no thanks :-))

I'm living in Crazyfornia,
probably the correct place for me.

AH - I have just posted your info onto
Hope that is OK :-))
Ed Thelen

Legal? and Safe?
From some "innocent"? person - 8/1/2003
> Hi Ed.  
> I know someone that started a storage company 
> in the Nike Missile site in 
>     [location deleted to protect the probably guilty].  
> Is this legal or safe to do in your opinion?  
> Please post in your forum for others to answer as well.
>   Thanks.

I have given your request considerable thought -
even wrote tirades about 
as interpreted by ever bigger government
and ever more greedy attorneys and silly juries.

However, there is a slicker excuse -

I doubt that the readers of this web site
are very interested in the current versions
of legal and safe.

So I respectfully decline to do as you suggest.

  "Legal" - I emit CO2, H2O, and other pollutants -
      and I do that secretly - every few seconds -
        with out a license - a breathing license - yet.
  "Safe" - can you name anything or anybody that is safe?
     - safe from anything - towards everything
        - my loving Golden Retriever has teeth
        - the mouse in my hand can be thrown, 
           it does not yet carry a warning label
               "do not eat or swallow this mouse"
                 in all of the earthly languages -

   Ed Thelen

Source for AN/TPS-1x information?
From Jerry Kline

In all my surfing, I have yet to come across any accounts of the marvelous little radar affectionately called "TIPSY." As an OJT operator trained at Ft. Bliss, Texas in 1960, we upgraded to the AN/TPS-1G that summer before shipping out to Korea in late November. Do you have any sources of information regarding this piece of electronic wizardry?

Comment by Ed Thelen

Actually, surfing/browsing is lots of fun, but not very efficient when looking for one thing - use a search engine such as - very powerful -
typing in
to GOOGLE, I got 17 good hits including
(look about 3/4 down the page )

For an earlier version, the "B", see

Bendix AN/TPS-1B Search Radar
within the web site Radomes, Inc. :-))

When I was at Ft. Bliss trainning, we were near lots of "TIPSY-Dogs" - AN/TPS-1D - with the big dark green painted antennas - that looked hunchbacked - pipe framing with chicken wire inbetween - and the little shack that I never got into :-((

They looked so rugged and competent - just a comfortable look - but Nike was slicker and much more complicated and interesting -

Missile Master

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steve Maloney" 

> Ed,
> ... were all Nike batteries in communication 
> with Missile Master sites? 

Certainly not at the beginning!!

I worked in Chicago in the mid 1950s,
   a) Missile Master hadn't been developed
   b) we were barely connected to anything.
Likely later on ...

> Is there a list of Missile Master sites somewhere?

Not that I know of -
   Probably a good "next task" for me -

And there there was BIRDIE - a lower cost system
that (I think) had the same job for smaller defense

> Photos?


Thanks much
   Ed Thelen 

Deploy Nike systems again?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 9:06 PM
Subject: Nike web site:

Hello again Ed. You may recall my interest in refitting a Nike site with some new stuff to active status. Like many Nike vets, you were a bit cool on the prospect which is fine though I disagreed. With today's deteriorating situation re N. Korea, has your view changed?

We need to get something going I think. Any vet interest in selling such an idea to D.C? I realize any system would be imperfect esp. on short notice and patched from older junk. But many vets say it would have a good chance to work against early generation missiles like the 3rd world is sprouting. This blind hoping isn't right. How about a campaign on your site? Thanks, good health,Brian

I replied -
I must respectfully disagree -

The Nike system was designed with late 1940s technology to intercept high flying aircraft with speeds limited to roughly Mach 2. It did very well with the technologies against those targets. In part, the large heavy Nike Hercules was to transport a large heavy "special" warhead.

The Nike retrofits of mid 1970s digitized and transistorized the computer and computer inputs, but the overall system design still reflected the best of the late 1940s.

(The retrofit analogy might be the improvement of the tried and true horse&carriage with the horseless carriage - same wheels, suspension, seats, no roof, no windshields, ..., "just" a lighter 2 horsepower gas engine rather than a heavy easily tired 1 horsepower horse.)

The Patriot system designed in late 1980s much better utilized the technological improvements since the 1950s.

(Carrying on with the analogy, lets use rubber tires, better suspension and shock absorbers, breaks, steering wheel, seats with springs, windows, roof, ... - A real Ford "Model T", I can hardly wait for the "Model A" :-)

I understand that the Patriot (as well as the HAWK) have better low altitude capabilities.

The threats today seem very different -

- a small car carry a "device"
- a person carrying an even smaller "device"
- rockets with a much smaller "cross-section"
than a 1950s bomber, coming in at Mach 10 or 15
- and for the unprepared, the high-jacked aircraft.
(Now that passengers recognize that the threat
- is not a detour to Cuba,
- but being part of a suicide mission,
the hijacker with a box cutter will probably not
stop passengers from interfering with the hijackers.
Specifically, the Sept.11 plane into Pennsylvania farmland.)

In my not so humble estimation, the 50 year old design Nike missiles are ill suited to the current threats. I also suspect that hijacking aircraft is now sufficiently publicized/defended that *most* further attacks will be by other methods.

You specify N. Korea.
- N. Korea has missiles of various ranges. Assuming that N. Korean missiles are in fact launched from N. Korea, as opposed to being launched from "fishing" boats, other land mass, ..., lets examine defending two possible targets.

  1. South Korea - against multiple SCUD capability N. Korean missiles. A Patriot system is (I presume) much more efficient for the following reasons.
    1. one Patriot system can attack multiple targets concurrently. The older technology of the Nike system, with precision tracking and command guidance all the way to intercept, can guide only one Nike missile at a time.
    2. Patriot systems are in current production and training. Much lower time, effort, and cost to deploy.
    3. The Patriot systems require much lower manpower and support. Their accuracy comes from a completely different homing system, impossible in the Nike days..
    Unfortunately, I cannot think of a single advantage of the Nike over the Patriot in attacking SCUD type missiles.

    I am guessing that a major use of Nike by South Korea is as a precision surface-to-surface missile.

  2. San Francisco (I live near there ;-)
    Neither Nike nor Patriot (as far as I know) can adequately detect nor intercept an incoming ICBM.
    I have comments at
So, baring other information, I respectfully disagree.

Best Regards

Ed Thelen

Thinking of purchasing a (contaminated) Nike site.
Sarah ... wrote

> Dear Mr. Thelen:
> I was wondering if you could give me any information on the purchasing
> of an old Nike Site and what all it entails. I have heard of one that
> is going to be put up for sale shortly and I am interested in the
> property.  
>  I have been doing some research on the web trying to find out
> as much about them as possible, and was wondering what type of
> information you may have in regards to this type of a purchase. I
> checked into the Cleanup Projects on FUDS Properties and the property
> I'm interested in has a hazardous type of CON/HTRW (containerized
> hazardous, toxic, and radioactive wastes, which are mainly in
> underground storage tanks), it is not listed as having a risk factor,
> and the remedy selected chart has it listed as WDT (waste removal-drums,
> tanks, bulk containers), and a status is RA-C (remedial
> action-construction) with a note that remedial action is normally
> complete at the "construction" phase, which in this case actually
> involves a demolition project, but the construction terminology is used
> to keep the reporting process consistent. ...
> Sarah ...

I would not buy ANYTHING that the government has listed in any negative way.

  1. You may well have to "clean up" anything that is listed as "hazardous" by any damn fools and/or greedy lawyers/politicians past, present, and future.
  2. Bureaucrats think that they are paid to drive YOU crazy, and they may well be.
  3. " I'm from Washington. I'm here to help you - "

I would stick with something safe like

  1. Russian roulette -
    At least you have a 5/6 chance of survival, (not allowing for gravity and other effects) unless someone cheated and put a few more active rounds in the chambers.
  2. The lottery -
    At least losers don't have to pay again and again for each new administrator or policy change.
Don't you read the newspapers?

I recently re-visited my old Nike site, C-41, on the lake front near downtown Chicago. In the late 1970s the site was "cleaned up" then obliterated, returned to the Chicago Park District.

According to a local historian, there is a rumor that one barrel of something was left in the site after the previous cleanup. According to my informant, $125,000 has been allocated to look for that rumored left over barrel from the previous cleanup. Even allowing for say
- $45,000 for Chicago political, mob, and other contributions,
- $25,000 for various "permits" and other extortions,
- and $25,000 for environmental impact reports,
that still leaves $30,000 to look for the rumored barrel.
We don't have to find anything - just write a nice report - and maybe start another rumor. Actually best not to find anything - that might possibly embarrass someone, and require contract over-run money to transport the rumored barrel more carefully than atomic warheads to some soon to be designated contaminated site. You and I should be in such a business --

I was just recently listening of a possible LEASE of three acres of the Naval AirField in Silicon Valley by a non-profit museum.

Fortunately, potential buyer paid-for searches for burrowing owls, red toed frogs, Mediterranean Fruit Flies, and other endangered or endangering species had yielded nothing.

The standard government lease also required any organization that leased the land be responsible for any past, present, and future "contamination" on or under that land

- and that was before reading the fine print.
Consider that this land was used for naval aircraft operations for about 70 years. And of course today's miracle product is tomorrow's villain, and it will be up to you to pay for the clean up.

Additionally, most of silicon valley is contaminated from

  1. mercury that was deposited by nature eons ago, in New Almaden, about 15 miles away.
  2. various other chemicals used in chip processing over the last 40 years
  3. MTBE - a government required gasoline additive.
    ( I kid you not, we are required to contaminate our environment. In a few years YOU will help fund another SuperFund to clean up the government mandated mess. I will probably be dead. ;-)

But I digress - If you want to lead an "interesting" life,

go for it ;-))
Ed Thelen

... "bunkers ... turned into homes ... sold for millions ... as seen on TV?"
Robert Jones wrote:

> As a child I remember my father telling stories about playing in 
> an abandoned Nike missle base in his hometown in South Jersey. 
> I have become quite interested in these bunkers, and even come 
> to find that some people have managed to purchase them and 
> turn them into homes. I have seen the refinished ones on tv, 
> the ones being sold for millions of dollars, 

   I watch real-estate sales a bit, but have not seen such - 
    Tough trying to talk a woman into living in a cave - 
   (She might want to hang out in cold dark dank Nike magazine 
   during a hot moist New Jersey heat wave - but live in one??? ) 

> but how on earth 
> did these people manage to contact the government and 
> purchase them in the first place? 

   I'm told that dealing with the feds can be an exercise in 
   frustration, but quite a number are on local/county ground. 
   Some (mostly in the mid-west?) are now privately held. 

> I would like to buy a run down bunker 
> and refinish it into a home, do you have any 
> advice on how to do that, or who to contact? 

   Well - if the goal is to make bucks, I would strongly 
      suggest checking "the market" for how many people 
      would like to live in a sub-basement or even a basement. 
      If your goal is to live in one your self, 
      - resale value of your old sub-basement? 
   If you are not planning to live alone, 
      can you find a "significant other" or roommate 
      who shares your idea of living in a cave. 

   "How to do that" 
   a) procurement - personal visits to determine ownership? 
      Search EPA records of ownership might save legwork - 
   b) local construction permits - 
      I couldn't guess - probably have to plow new 
      bureaucratic ground 
   c) practical specifications/plans/construction 

... " buying these old complexes and converting them into business and homes. "

someone wrote:

> My friend and I have heard reports of people buying these old complexes and converting them into business and homes.

Your phrase

"converting them into business and homes"
sounds more than a mite optimistic.

Yes, potentially one could use one or more of the old, not-up-to-current-code, buildings for some sort of business. Just as well as any other old, not-up-to-current-code buildings. There is nothing special about the buildings that would warrant the phrase "convert them into a business".

Same goes for homes, only more so. At best they were Spartan buildings to house 20 or so single men in each of several large common rooms. One guy belch or pass gas and we all knew about it. We all shared the same toilet area, usually without walls around the toilet stools. Not a very romantic way to live.

> If so how can we find info on this?

Depends where you are willing to move to.

I have a high, nostalgic regard for the Nike equipment and program, but live in a tract house with two bathrooms - good insulation, and a garage - luxurious compared with my old Nike days.

> Your help would be appreciated. My e-mail is ...

How to get a unit roster?
? wrote
Could you tell me how to get a roster of the men who served in the 513th AAA Msl. Poulsbo,Wash. in the years 0f 1956-1958. I was there and would like to look up some old bddies who served then.

Thanks a million

Mark Morgan wrote

Two places to start: the American Legion and VFW. Both have "in search of" sections at the back of their respective magazines although you may have to be a member in order to run a request. I'm not aware of a 513th AAAMBn veteran's association but if I stumble across something I'll send it along. MK

About Surface-to-Surface operation
Rolf D. Goerigk wrote
Please check:
The SS procedure.
The Baro Fuze, picture #16 on page:

If you are interested to see parts of the guidance unit (gyros) picture #27:

If you like to see all of the LA equipment start at:

Remember...the "computation team" (usually the ORE-Team) was responsible for the SS calculation.

However, we had a team on unit level also.
The calculated EL, AZ and RNG data was set at the track console and locked via toggle switches at the EL-operators position
(At the top of Lights Control Panel) left to the EL scope.

A SS mission was only possible with an X-warhead!

  • The missile was aimed at the Height Displacement (HD) point.
  • The HD value was also calculated by the SS calculation team and set at the computer as the HT value.
  • That is true for the Final Dive time (FD) also.
That is all I have Ed! I`m still looking for more SS information but that is a hard task because the SS mission was handled like "SECRET".

Hope the information is of some help.

? FUIF ?
I was "talking" with
Chuck Zellers and he mentioned "FUIF". I asked what that was/is and he responded
FUIF stands for Fire Unit Integration Facility. This system was built (I think) by Martin Marietta.  At least they were the civilian company that had the 3rd eschelon maintenance responsibility.

The FUIF equipment was indeed a digital to analog system that was used to send data from a Missile Master to each battery.  The data enabled target assignment and coordination of fire activities by Missile Master. A distinct series of symbols were sent indicating each sites assigned target(s), etc.  This information was in addition to the IFF responses from potential targets when the Acquisition and/or ABAR IFF system was used to interrogate targets.

Each Nike site had a "FUIF room" which was typically attached behind the building that connected both radar vans. The FUIF info was painted on the Acq PPI scope over the targets displayed. Different symbols painted indicated what kind of target, etc.

The FUIF room contained 4 equipment racks, each about 2+ feet wide and over 6 feet high about 1 foot or so deep (as I remember). The left rack contained the digital computer that converted PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) data streams to analog data.  This PCM data came from Missile Master via phone lines. The converted analog data was fed the next 3 racks that were analog computers used to display x,y and h coordinates on the PPI scope.  The analog computer was designated as the Ground Slant Computer.

The FUIF room was air conditioned by its own A/C as I remember.  The equipment was never shut off and I believe it ran off of 60 Hz AC as opposed to the radar vans which used 400 Hz.

The digital computer was fully transistorized while the Ground Slant Computer was vacuum tube.

An interesting side note: I kept ALL my US Army assignment orders, pay vouchers and training diplomas including the one for FUIF training.  Although I kept my Ft Bliss training schematics for the AN/FPS-36/75 radar, I don't remember being allowed to keep any FUIF material...I assume at the time it was classified as you may know, most if not all people assigned to a Nike site had to have a Secret clearance.

If you have other questions or need clarification of my note, please let me know.

. Also, P1 is "Proficiency Pay 1". There was also a P2, depending on your MOS for enlisted people only (I believe). A written test was given each year based on your MOS. P1 awarded an extra $50.00 per month, not bad for the times!


Chuck Zellers

Folk lore corrected - ?NIKE Tunnels?
? I presently live virtually next door to [NY-99] with my kids playing in the school yard often. Rumor has it that there were "miles" of underground tunnels and a missile silo. From browsing different sites it does not seem likely? Any ideas? ?
Question from Jay
Answer by ME
Well, there was a "silo", otherwise called a "magazine" where the missiles were stored.

I doubt that there are any unless someone else dug the rumored tunnels, like for previous or post Nike usage,

Nike was originally designed to be transportable - the "magazine" idea was developed for urban areas to reduce the expense and pain of buying large areas of land to reduce the risk of civilian/military casualties if an explosive warhead exploded.

The Ordinance Department had strict guide lines about protective zones. These guidelines were not violated by Nike even during the Cold War.

Nike did not need tunnels, and tunnels cost money, and there were none dug for any U.S. Nike site that I know of.

Best Regards
Ed Thelen

Answer by Donald E. Bender

The "tunnels" myth is certainly one of the more persistent ones when it comes to the old Nike sites. Yet, I've never heard of any special tunnels at any Nike site and one wonders why the Army would have needed them? Movement of personnel from site to site (from the Launcher Area to the IFC Area, for example) could be accomplished via public roads using Army trucks, other Army vehicles or personal vehicles.

A half mile (or one or even two mile tunnel) leading from one site to the other would have been hugely expensive to create, probably costing more than the missile site itself.

Yet, these rumors persist. Right here in Livingston, at the old Riker Hill IFC Area, the local kids who hang out at the base will ask you if you know about the tunnels. Or, they will tell you about them ... "Yeah. Those tunnels go right down the hillside, all the way to East Hanover where the missiles were kept".

I'd really like to see such a tunnel! Blasted through the rock of the mountain, going down, perhaps 300 feet in elevation, diving under the Passaic River, to emerge a mile and a half away at the old Launcher Area! Think of the stairs, lighting, corridors, ventilation ... sump pumps ... Good grief, it would be an engineering feat. Nothing too exotic, technology-wise, but hugely expensive and in need of constant maintenance, I suspect, especially with a river in between, and potential for water seepage.

Maybe you should offer a bounty for the first "secret" set of Nike tunnels discovered at one of the old sites!?

Five-hundred dollars for the discovery of the first secret tunnel at a Nike missile site! There's a thought!

But, I've never come across any references to tunnel systems associated with old Nike sites. Nor with the many other Cold War era sites they are rumored to be associated with (old Air Force radar sites, Missile Master facilities, and more).

It seems there is widespread Tunnelmania out there all across the nation! It does make for good stories, I'll admit that! ;-)

What do you think about the $500 reward idea? ;-)

Best regards,

Don Bender
Livingston, NJ
(973) 535-8362

?Chicago folks resentful about loss of water front?
Question from
John Braun Answer by ME

> Hi Ed,
> Don't know if you've had a chance to read the  NPG June [2001] Newsletter 

> but on pages 8, 9, 10 & 11 in Word, it shows that the residents of
> Chicago and the media newsprint wasn't liking the fact that the new Ajax
> bases were gobbling up their lake shore frontage. The City really wanted
> the AAA gun emplacements to go some place else and then when most were
> upgraded to Ajax sites, it seems it created quite a ruckus. When I read
> that, I thought of you and wondered if you remembered any of the scuttle
> butt then, and did it cause concern to the soldiers like you stationed at
> the lake front sites? 

None at all - you can find 10 or a 100 folks to protest anything, and of course the media has to sell papers and TV time. Same game, nothing new -

Actually we were a little sympathetic with the Chicago folks, we did take some prime recreation land. And few folks like to be reminded of everyday reality when they go out to the park to relax or cool off. Who can blame them?

You know, you go to the baseball park to relax, and there is a cop to "keep order". Your tummy just tightens up a bit. You think "why is the cop needed here?", then you remember some troubles, and you wish there were no troubles.

Actually, folks said nice things to us. We personally felt quite welcome, even though "we" had fenced off maybe 3 percent of "their" wonderful park land. I don't remember ANY unpleasantness over the issue. - Of course we arrived after it was a done deal. In Chicago "why fight city hall"? :-))

Heck, now we seem to need cops in the schools - Gads!

?Old Nike Sites safe radioactively?
Question from
J Answer by ME

Old Nike Sites safe radioactively?

> Hello Ed,
> Do you know if a resident near an abandoned nike missile site needs to worry 
> at all about radiation? 
> Thank you for your help.
> J 
In a word - NO, not from Nike related activities or mistakes. 

You don't specify 
  a) which Nike site 
  b) which part of a site 
  a) There were no nuclear "accidents" at any Nike site. 
     (Radiation should be same as "background" at any Nike site 
     unless something odd has happened since closing.)
  b) There was a radioactive substance in the ATR devices 
     (one per radar system except the HIPAR) i.e. One each 
      in the TTR, MTR, LOPAR, ... 
     (They were used to help keep the transmitter power from 
     damaging the first part of the receiver.) 
     There was a strict rule that if you received one, 
     you had to return one. We did not have spares, 
     they did not seem to fail in service. 
     We were told the ATR had about the same radioactive power 
     as in a home smoke detector,
     but it was a lot better protected in a tough brass case with thick 
     glass windows. 

     They were essentially match box shaped with dimensions about 
       (please forgive a failing memory) 
       Tracking radars =  1.5" x 1" x 0.5" 
       LOPAR           =  4" x 3" x 1.5" 
        with thick glass windows on the long ends. 

    We were told that essentially no radiation escaped from the sealed 
      unit - but if you were determined and smashed one open 
    a) you would explain that to the Captain and other authorities 

    b) a very slight amount of radioactivity could escape 
       All those have long since been returned to various other 

    c) There were rumors that the commercial voltage reference tubes 
      ( I think something like 0B75, 0C90 ) 
        were very slightly radioactive 
      - for more reliable starting to conduct/glow - 
      - like maybe one ionizing-particle per second - 
        actually much less than your residential smoke detector. 

      I suppose someone broke one somewhere, 
      and threw the evidence into the trash where it is 
      probably in a "land fill" buried under several 
      illegally trashed smoke detectors - - - - 
     a) I would feel very comfortable living on any Nike site 
         - assuming the weather was nice (no Greenland for me!) 
         - a good library or college near by 
         - friendly neighbors, good city services, ... 
         - (all the usual good stuff :-) 
Ed Thelen

Earth Penetrators? Answer by jake the snake Jegelewicz

Earth Penetrators
Boy thats a story; can't remember the General's name, but he found out about the Surface to Surface capabilities of the Herc system, and it's accuracy at 100 miles. The test took a couple a years for the total evaluation. We just took the 2 control van's and the Missile tracking radar to the field, with the same fire mission expectation's as air defense, get a round off in 15 min. The scenario was to get ground co-ordinates in and prepare settings to enter into the computer to fire a surface to surface round. Then pack it all up and load the equipment under the belly's of CH-47's and move to a new site and prepare for another mission.

All kinds of weird stuff was being discussed, even the plan to carry a missile under the belly of a CH-47, lock on it with the M.T.R. and launch that way instead of carrying launchers around too!

Apparently thats when there was a lot of trouble with tunnels at the DMZ in Korea and the General wanted to know if the Herc warhead could survive a hit and detonate underground and collapse the tunnels.

I would go out to White Sands and survey in impact sites and then watch the bad mothers come in. From 100 miles away all you could see was a little contrail outta McGregor and then just cover your ears and wait for the impact at the site. You would see the explosion before you even heard the Sonic boom of it comin in.

Historic Structure Report?

Question from me
Answer by Anjanette Sivilich

re: C-47 Preservation, What is a Historic Structure Report?

Don [Peterson] knows of my efforts. A Historic Structure Report is a document that records the existing condition of a site and provides recommendations for preserving, restoring, or rehabilitating the site. This is the shortest, most concise definition I can give you.

I will be giving the NPG a copy of my thesis once it is complete. I hope this will give them some direction in their preservation efforts.

Anjanette Sivilich

Site Dismantling?

Question from Mark A. Daigle
Answer by me

> Do you know what process was used to decommission most areas?  Were they
> filled with dirt, water, concrete?

Nope, as best I have heard, 
the Army
  - removed the transportable military equipment, 
          supplies, beds, plates, paint, brooms,  ...
  - did a general "police the area" to remove unsightly material,
  - closed and locked the doors, gates, ...
  - had the utilities disconnected - electricity, water, phones, ...
and told the land management authority that the area was available.

After that a wide variety of things happened ranging from:
  - becoming a museum (formal as SF-88), or informal as MS-20
  - basicly left alone - 
  - some buildings used for other purposes
  - obliterated (magazines filled in, buildings leveled),
      now parks (like C-43), empty land, apartment houses

Question from Virgil Hiltz
Answer by me

> I for the life of me don't remember the missles being 
> moved out in the media or anything. Did they dismantle 
> them and quietly truck them out?

The missiles were shipped to sites in major parts
in large (say 10 foot long max) containers.
I *imagine* they left the same way.
A complete missile is a bit of a bother in length
and the fins make a "bulky" load.  And I imagine
army trucks with large containers moving about are
not too newsworthy, soldiers probably not popular 
interview subjects - no crisis - boooring -
won't sell any more newsprint -

Also likely is that the shipments probably
were not scheduled for peak traffic times -
if nothing else less risk of traffic accident,
traffic tie up, shorter transit time, 
easier escort, ...

I have heard stories that the nuclear warheads
were removed from some sites by helicopter -

Radar Interference?

Question from ???
Answer by
Doyle Piland

> My question: How does this type of
> interference arise? Does the energy
> directed in one beam from a TTR or MTR
> interfere with others ... or with the
> display equipment?

This certainly is possible.  One thing to keep in mind is that all of the
energy emitted by a radar, radio, or other type of emitting device is not
contained in the "beam."  There are sidelobes, backlobes, back scatter,
reflections, etc. with energy bouncing around all over the place.

> I also wonder if the potential for such
> "interference" had to be considered when
> siting the bases ... or did a 10-mile
> separation mean that there would be no
> problem?

Yes ... No.  Yes, potential interference had to be considered in siting,
not only from other Nike systems but from all other sources.  They also had
to consider possible interference problems when assigning operating
frequencies.  I'm not sure how it was done then, possibly the same as now
but, frequencies are assigned and authorized by an "Area Frequency
Coordinator" which is under the control of the FCC.

No, being 10 miles away didn't prevent interference.  It sure reduced it
significantly but, did not eliminate the possibility.  Thus, continued need
for prudent frequency assignment.
> I presume he was referring to the tracking
> radars, not the ACQ/LOPAR.

No.  All radars can experience and cause interference problems.

> What about civilian ATC radars or military
> surveillance (Long Range Radar or Gap Filler
> sites)? I suppose these were all in different
> "bands" or wavelengths so it did not matter.

Being in a different "band" or operating at a different frequency doesn't
mean that interference is not a problem.  Other equipment operating at or
near a harmonic of the assigned frequency may also interfere.

> However, some surveillance radars (the Air
> Force's powerful LRR radar site at Montauk
> AFS at the tip of Long Island, NY, comes
> to mind) did cause interference with television
> reception back in the 1960s, according to
> reports I've read.

That is most likely true.  Keep in mind that all transmitters radiate
outside of their set frequency.  High power radars are more prone to cause
problems than lower power radars.  There is both "in-band" and
"out-of-band" spurious signals radiated.  These can be very disruptive to
other electronics equipment operating in the area without even knowing it. 
Additionally, internal operating frequencies such as the "Intermediate
Frequency" (IF) used in a radar may radiate to some extent and cause
interference with other things.

Additionally, almost anything electronics or electrical may also cause
interference problems.  For example, the computer you are sitting at
reading this is a fairly noisy device.  It in fact emits several signals,
the most predominant of these is its clock frequency.  For example, mine
being a little older than I would like, operates at 133 MHz.  It emits a
signal at 133 MHz among others, some depending on what the system is doing
at the time.  A light switch emits a small noise spike when it is turned
on.  Relays opening and closing produces noise spikes.  Electric motors,
gas filled light bulbs, hair dryers, electric razors, etc. all emit noise. 
One other thing to keep in mind, electronic equipment that emits a certain
frequency signal are also most likely susceptible to interference from that
same frequency.

> Was "interference" of some type a problem at
> Nike sites? Could someone named "Ivan" have
> sat on a hill near a Nike site outside of
> New York City and simply broadcast some type
> of RF which would have prevented a site (or
> sites) from functioning?

What you are talking about here is a special kind of interference called
"jamming."  Whether it was from "Ivan" sitting on a hill, an airplane
circling out some distance from the site radiating (standoff jammer), or a
plane coming straight in radiating an interference signal, it has the same
effect.  That was what all the Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM)
equipment was in the Nike for.  It caused problems but, did not prevent
sites from functioning.  Especially after the TRR was incorporated into the

Well.  End of basic introduction to a career field in EMC. 
(ElectroMagnetic Compatibility)

Doyle Piland

Hercules Post Launch Details

Question from John R Braun
Ed Thelen's comments in italics

There has been some discussion about Nike Hercules launch and which direction the missile flies? Does your memory agree that they were launched at 85 degrees,
(Yes - there was limited adjustment}
then booster separation to an assumed site (booster disposal area), then the missile had to roll stabilize with tunnel #4 facing to earth
(after roll stabilization, the belly (down) of the missile faced the predicted intercept point.)
before steering commands could be given?

If the preceding is true, then the missile was launched away from the site, dumped its booster, roll stabilized, and then could take steering orders.

This means the missile flew away from the site until after booster separation and roll stabilization, then it could have flown over the site pursuing a designated target.

Some out there think that the missile was launched over the site or in a 90 degree vertical position to almost any direction. Not true. Until roll stabilization (tunnel #4 facing earth) detected by the computer (X Y orientation), the missile would not accept any steering commands.
(The missile went "just about" straight up for 4.4 seconds, during that time 0 g (go straight) steering commands were sent to it. There was no circuit in the missile to refuse steering commands.)

If roll stabilization wasn't detected, then the missile fail-safed.
(Not exactly, the computer only knew tracking data, there was no roll-stabilization signal as such (no telemetry). A timer in the computer measured the time from "Missile Away", (missile climbing) and allowed for the following times

- booster burn and booster separation - about 3.4 seconds
- roll stabilization - 1 second
then the computer started sending commands (usually a big dive) to get the missile going toward the target. If the missile did not appear to be responding to steering commands
- the battery commander could burst the missile
- I understand that circuits were added to the computer to burst the missile
- on a range, the range safety people could burst the missile.
This did occasionally happen - it was called a "moon-shot".)

When guys are visiting the old sites, they always think the area defended was from the point of launch; to over the IFC; on to the target. Probably not so?
(Site planning suggested that the launchers to be placed between the radar (IFC) area and the expected target area. This reduced

- the difficulties of an "over-the-sholder" shot
- the likelihood of a booster landing near the IFC

Several sites were configured with the possibility of a missile passing nearly over the Missile Tracking Radar. One such site is SF-88 north of San Francisco. There was no reasonable place for a launching site between the high ridge (desirable for the radars) and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

The "over-the-sholder" shot, where the missile passes nearly over the Missile Tracking Radar, would normally place severe strains on the ability of the Missile Tracking Radar (MTR) to maintain track on the missile. A bit like watching an airplane go right over your head - all of a sudden you want to turn around (180 degrees) to continue watching the airplane. The MTR had the same problem - and special circuits were built in to help avoid the problem

- the computer steered the missile around a cone above the MTR
- the MTR had a special tracking circuit to help handle the problem)

Remember gimbal lock? Launch sequence had limitations as to flight direction. It wasn't 360 degrees. How do you remember it?
(Plus or minus 70 degrees of the direction of the predicted intercept at the time of launch. If the missile flew in a direction out of the range of angles, it risked "gyro tumble" - and it would not know which direction was "up" and all reference between computer directions and missile directions would be lost.

People tend to worry about any limitation, but since the missile was traveling at least as fast as any proposed target, this was not a meaningful limitation.

During severe tracking problems or severe target evasions, the predicted intercept could swing wildly - a bit of a distraction when the flight time was long. However, for several reasons, the missile was steered as smoothly as practical - until the last ten seconds - and the 70 degree limit was not exceeded in real situations.)

Regards, John

Was Hercules ever deployed as an ABM (AntiBallisticMissile)?

Question from Robert Nocera

Was Hercules ever deployed as an ABM ? Were the tests against ballistic missiles just "lets see what would happen" or was it intended to be used against ballistic targets?

Comment from Ed Thelen
There seems to have been quite an attempt to qualify the Nike Hercules against shorter range (slower, like a SCUD) ballistic missiles. This class of missile travels about 3,000 miles/hour (about a mile per second) and the Nike Hercules system did intercept similar missiles - under test range conditions.

HOWEVER - the problem of the day was InterContinental Ballistic Missiles, specifically from Russia, a whole different speed range!

A long range (intercontinental) ballistic missile comes in at about 19,000 miles per hour and really stresses defensive radars to detect them at a suitable range, and stresses the defensive missile to get out there FAST to destroy/disable the ICBM at a suitable distance from the intended target area.

Lets play at defending against an ICBM coming right at you at 19,000 mph. (That is 5.27 miles per second!)

  1. You see a blip at 150 miles on your HIPAR (or maybe a SuperHIPAR is needed). What was that!?!? Noise, intermittent, interference from something. Lets look at it again.

  2. The HIPAR goes around again in about 10 seconds, and you see a blip - at a 100 miles from you. (The missile has traveled 50 miles in 10 seconds.)

  3. You place the target designate line and ring on the blip and press the designate button. Lets say you are super speedy and can do that accurately in 3 seconds.

  4. The missile is now 15 miles from the designated place, range is 85 miles.

  5. Let us assume that the Target Tracking crew anticipated you and tried to start finding the missile when you saw it again at 100 miles - and by some miracle they could slew the TTR radar, search in elevation, and start tracking the missile 5 seconds. The missile is at 75 miles.

  6. The computer takes 2 seconds to settle (missile at 65 miles) and you the battery commander press the LAUNCH switch.

  7. The Hercules sets its gyro for 2 seconds (missile is at 55 miles) then launches.

  8. At the end of 4 seconds, the boost is complete and the Hercules is about a mile in the air going maybe 0.7 miles per second. (the missile is now 20 miles closer, 35 miles) and the Hercules starts to turn toward the missile.

  9. Assuming all of the above improbables, and that the Hercules could intercept this ICBM traveling 8 times faster than it, the defensive nuclear explosion to disable the ICBM occurs about 4 miles above the Nike site - a bit too close for comfort or equipment survival.

If any of the above timing slips a total of 1 seconds, you are toast!

Point to the tale - defense against an incoming ICBM is non-trivial. And we assumed a single simple target, with no attempts by the ICBM at spoofing the defenders with multiple real and or dummy warheads (all too easy).

There is another little problem - assuming the above conditions, the area that the Hercules could defend would be a circle about 3 miles in diameter. The Hercules just cannot get much further than that by the time the ICBM arrives on target.

I doubt that Hercules was expected to do ballistic missile defense work in the U.S. - Does anyone have a better guess about the U.S, Europe, elsewhere?

Jan 2011, Charles D. Carter reminds us that there were ICBMs in Cuba, facing Florida during the Missile Crisis
Here are the specs on the ICBMs that were Cuba

Russian SS-4 Sandal:

Russian SS-5 Skean:

and more Jan 28, 2011
From the attached graphic ( 100K bytes ), you can see I have plotted the distance from San Cristobal, Cuba where the SS4 and SS5 ICBMs were located to the southernmost Nike site which was in Key Largo, Florida. The other sites were between 20 and 50 miles farther north and northwest.

The distance is 247 nautical miles. It gave us a better window of opportunity but there is always the question of hypothetical projections and reality. The constant testing indicated we would have met our mission objectives. Having the most sophisticated HIPAR at some of the battery IFC and the Missile Master at AADCP gave us an advantage on keeping track of when they fired up the Russian MIGs and Cuban fighters to play cat and mouse with us which occurred frequently. The 2nd Msl Bn 52nd ADA won the E Award more frequently than other units due to the fact we were tested more frequently than other units because of our location.

Of course, as a seventeen year old soldier full of piss and vinegar, I had no doubt we could blow anything out of the sky at any range. Time and logic has tempered that attitude a bit. At sixty five, I trust science rather than emotion. Maybe that's why some of my Christian friend have dropped off the radar. Que Sera Sera.

From Tom Loeb, March 2003

I saw your answer in the FAQ section regarding the ABM capabilities of Nike. All very true.

I was stationed at A/4/562, site TARE, in Fairbanks Alaska from 1964-1965 when I was discharged. I was a Fire Control and Radar Tech.

Just as I arrived at the site it came off an extensive overhaul and modification that added a new HIPAR radar, computer, IP screens, and a TRR (Target Ranging Radar). It was a very sexy system for the time, all back lit control switches (the bulbs were a pain to replace), single control knobs for the IP scopes for both range and azimuth, much like a joy stick,

In addition, Western Electric had added a "ABM" mode to the system. The TRR was to be aligned along the inbound azimuth of the missile as fed to us by the BMEWS system at Clear Alaska. They fed the data via a microwave link to our system. We had an RCA radio tech on-site who maintained the link.

The missile was to be launched right away and was set to track along the TRRs heading guided by the MTR as usual.

The plan was to detonate well ahead of the target to compensate for the speed differences. The warheads were "large."

I was at the site as this system was debugged and brought on-line. A lot of long days and nights. We and the Western Electric guys could never make it work in ABM mode. Trying to do all of this with analog computers was a major issue. Way to slow.

I do recall a number of very high ranking people from the Army Test Range on Kwajalein where the system was developed coming in a number of times to fool (work) with it. They had a small test van parked outside that fed data to the system for test purposes. It was a great Nike system, the new radars were a big improvement, but it was not an ABM system.

Tom Loeb

Thomas Loeb
1716 S. Chesterfield Dr.
Arlington Heights, IL 60005

Cancer caused by NIKE or HAWK radiation?

Question from Geert Oosterbosch

Have you ever heard about cancer caused by NIKE or HAWK radiation?

I'm asking you this question, because on demand of our Minister of Defense, the Medical Services are leading a scientific investigation,right at this moment, to look if there is a link between NIKE and/or HAWK radiation and several kinds of cancer.

So, now the Medical Services are offering a free physical examination to everybody who has worked at a NIKE or HAWK site.

So I'm curious if you or anyone else ever has heard about this matter? If so, is it possible to give me some more information or perhaps results of tests done in other countries?

Kind regards.

Geert Oosterbosch

Comments by Ed Thelen:
Hello Geert

In one word "no".

I get this question about every three months from European countries, and there is of course considerable curiosity about the effects of "radiation" in general by the population of most countries.

In response to your question, and because of its repeating nature, I am thinking of making a page possibly called - "Radiation, mysteries, "fact", ignorance, and Public Health".

  1. As you know, there is also quite a body of "fact", that is repeatable experimental results and predictive mathematical formulas dealing with electromagnetic and other "radiation". Unfortunately, real world answers (except when viewing "cloud chamber" results), are mostly statistical. The probability of ... is ... .

    There is no way that you can say that this particular wave/particle thing is going to do something that will cause cancer - it gets to be a statistical thing.

  2. Among other little problems, there is no general body of knowledge that says that if an x-ray hits this carbon atom in DNA in such and such a way, what bad (or good) thing will happen. At another level we are at empirical "knowledge" or lack of such.

    If x people are hit by a dose y of some form of ionizing radiation, some will die soon, some will never feel "good" again, some will have kids with genetic problems, some will show no ill effects at all.

    The same is true even if the dose y is zero. Statistics ...

  3. There is little/no public differentiation between:
    • "ionizing radiation" (UltraViolet and above) - big cell damage and mutation
    • "visible radiation" (visible light) that does some chemical changes and some cell damage
    • "heating radiation" (Infrared, radar, power lines) that just seems to heat (or cook) things

    At least in the U.S., the "person on the street" is pathetically ignorant about the physics of radiation and also statistics, and is happy to listen to, and babble about, an amazing amount of nonsense.

    A favorite thing is to find two cancer victims living near eachother and near power lines, and using that as proof that power lines cause cancer. - One could wish that life is that simple.

    Heck - there was a billion dollar legal settlement about breast implants where no correlation of usage to serious problems was demonstrated. Tears and greed won the day.

Folk tale

     When I was in High School (1948ish) I used to sneak into
     the electronics labs at the University of Minnesota 
     where they were playing with microwave generators.  

     They had some power coming out of a microwave horn.  
     I was advised not to look down the microwave horn 
     and to not put my eyes into the beam.

     If you put "steel wool" in the beam, it would spark and 
     burn wonderfully.  If you put your hand in the beam
     it would feel warm in about 3 seconds, and soon really 
     uncomfortably hot in about 10 seconds. Yes, I did the 
     steel wool and hand warming experiments, several times.

     These microwave intensities were over 1,000 higher
     than found on the *OUTSIDE* of radar antenna systems.
     (To form a good beam, you must spread the radiation
      wide and high over the beam forming structure,
      like an lens, parabola, or phased array.)

     The Nike TTR had an average power (not pulse power)
     of about 200 watts. Spread evenly over the 6 foot
     diameter antenna (a good approximation) the heating
     value is about 70 watts per square meter.

     Direct sunlight has about 14 times more heating power 
     per square meter, and many times more capability to do 
     chemical changes in cells.

Where can I get a Nike?

re: National Guard Museum at Camp Murray, Washington

Question from Patrick Haskett

... Also the museum has alot of photos about the sites at Vashon Island, Kenmore,and Edmonds among others. For real details and a good start you need to email LTC Emory Lehman(ret), the president of the Museum and a good friend. He can put you in contact with all the right people. His email is "" By the way we NEED a Nike Hercules for our museum to put on display. How can we get one?

(January 11)
Nike Ajax for auction at e-bay Spotted by(Tom Vaughn)

Nike Missions - Low Altitude vs. Surface to Air?

Question from Kurt Laughlin
> > What was the difference between a LA and a SA mission?
Image of vertical plotting board

Answer from Rolf Dieter G?rigk

As you can see on the vert-plot-board -right hand side-,
there was a so called "Dead Zone" and "Low Altitude Zone" or "Region".
The LA-Zone starts at about 20 kyds range and 5 kfeet altitude.
The altitude is raised to 10 kfeet at about 60 kyds.

I can`t remember that we ever used this "option" during "operation".
In the mid 60`s the "option" became obsolete because HAWK was
NIKE was used for (mostly) high altitude engagements and the SS-mission.

However, I remember that there were some checks with the computer and
the Low Altitude Mission option.
Actually, it was an electronic smoothing circuitry for the 
erratic low altitude tracking data.
Erractic because of the low "grazing" angle of the track antenna and the
effects of clutter on the track data, pushing the missiles "G"
accelerations to the limits.

Two decades later, after the computer was modified to digital,
it was possible to evaluate the effects of low angle tracking
using the computer "Printout".
It was useless to fire a missile at such a target because of the
IEB - Indicated Error at Burst or "miss-distance".
The above words are true for tracking under ecm conditions also.

W?nsche Euch einen sehr schoenen 2ten Weihnachtstag!

HAWK sites in the U.S.?

Doyle Piland responded to the above question

I do not believe that were any HAWK units deployed as a part of the
continental US Air Defense - in Pittsburg or anywhere else - except
possibly Florida.

HAWK was assigned to many reserve/national guard units throughout the US
but, were never a part of the active defense scheme.  They were in reserve,
supposedly ready for deployment wherever in the world they were needed.

I have recently talked with several who had careers in HAWK and they know
of no permanent HAWK Air Defense sites in the US.

Doyle Piland
Donald E. Bender added


I'm glad that you addressed this issue. I have
also never heard of any Hawk units deployed here
in the states, except for the Miami-Homestead
Defense and sites in the Florida Keys.

There were PLANS to deploy Hawks at 41 tactical 
sites along the Gulf Coast by 1961, which were 
only parly realized when some sites were installed 
in Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis. There
were some other temporary sites as well.

Hawk missile sites were typically equipped
with 6 launchers, each launcher having 3

According to one of my historical books, the
8th Bn., 15th Arty. from Ft. Lewis in Washington
set up Hawk sites at Patrick, MacDill and Homestead
AFBs during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Hercs
of the 2nd. Bn., 52nd. Arty. arrived from Ft. Bliss
soon afterward. All of this was under the 13th
Atry. Group based at Homestead AFB.

After the crisis subsided, permanent sites for 
both Hercules and Hawk were made. Hawk sites
were located at the following locations:

HM-12 Miami/Old Cutler Road
HM-39 Miami/North Canal Drive
HM-59 6-mi. S of Florida City
HM-60 4-mi. SW of Florida City (reloc. to HM-59)
HM-84 7-mi. NNW Homestead AFB

These were in addition to several
Nike Hercules sites in that same area.
Richmond AFS had a Missile Master
and later, a BIRDIE facility for these

Other Hawk sites were located in the
Key West Defense Area:

KW-10 Boca Chica Key 
KW-15 Sugarloaf Key 
KW-24 Geiger Key 
KW-65 Key West International Airport. 
KW-80 Fleming Key

A Missile Master (and, presumably, later
follow-on systems) located at NAS Key West
coordinated these missile defenses which
remained active until 1979.

These were under the 6th Bn., 65th. Arty
(later, 1st Bn., 65th Arty.).

My source for this information
includes the following book:
   "To Defend and Deter: The Legacy of the
      United States Cold War Missile Program"
   by John C. Lonnquest and David F. Winkler

Thanks for keeping us on the "straight and
narrow" with our history, Doyle!


Don B.

400 Hz and Nike funny nose spike?

Question from Kurt Laughlin
Answers by Ed Thelen

> Two technical questions: 
> Why was 400Hz electrical power used?  
> I once asked an electrical engineer and he said 
> it might be because a higher frequency allows smaller motors 
> to be used for the same power.  Does this sound right?

Yes - more specifically, less iron is needed.
(About 80 percent less iron is required for transformers.)
The subject is a little complicated in the case of motors,
but the results are real.  So 400 Hz is great in situations 
where weight is a big factor.

However, lower frequencies (such as 50 or 60 hertz) 
are preferable for long transmission lines.  
The reduced effects of capacitance and inductance
are helpful here. Interesting world  :-) Many compromises.

> Also: Various HERCULES photos and diagrams appear to show 
> different warhead/instrumentation sections.  

> Some have a plain nose spike, others a "pitch-yaw" weathervane.  
> The foremost antenna "fins" have what look like pitot tubes in 
> some views that are absent in others.  
> Can someone indentify the differences?

Apparently the plain old nose spike is for conventional
warheads, and the fancy nose is for "special" warheads.
I am told that the fancy nose is to help prevent
low bursts of the "special" warheads.

> Thanks,
> KL

Site Uniformity?

Question from Dale

I was up at NF-16 the other day and i was looking around, and I was wondering, is there a uniform site plan for all Nike sites or do they all "go their own way"?
Answer from Donald E. Bender
You're right -- they "go their own way" -- with certain limitations. Basically, you have the same "ingredients" at each site (with some variations). The same buildings, radars, generators, missile magazines, mess hall, barracks, and so forth.

However, because the topography of each site is different (flat, hilly, mountainous, etc.) and the exact shape of the available land could differ radically (easy to get in some wide open areas, hard to obtain in built up urban areas) ... and other considerations, the precise ARRANGEMENT of these elements, varied from site to site and these arrangements could be quite different.

So, standardized elements arranged in customized configurations at individual sites (you can say "tactical sites" if you want to sound impressively military and knowledgeable about this!) ... ;-)

> B'cuz the IFC is about 1 1/2 miles > away from the rest of the base and I had no idea where to look for the > magazines on the base.

You know that the IFC and Launcher Area HAD to be separated by a minimum of 1,000 yards due to the rapid acceleration of the missiles from the launcher ... any closer and the MTR could not follow the rapidly rising missile, would lose its "lock" on the missile which would then be unguided (and dangerous) and would self-destruct within 2-3 seconds (internal timer).

So ... always 2 separate facilities, sometimes quite close, other times, as much as a few miles apart. At site NY-79/80 where I live, the two sites are about 4 miles apart and in different townships.

> I found a really weird looking water/sewage treatment > plant, along with some other stuff. Were certain sites that were more self > contained than others?

The sewage stuff if pretty much standard at these sites.

More "self-contained". I don't think so. They all had their own power-generation equipment and were self contained in that way. Plus protective equipment, small arms, gas masks, etc. Some US sites had a more protected underground facility at the IFC and Launcher Area to protect crews and equipment, similar to the European Nike sites. See Ronald Erkelens Web site (link from my site or Ed's).

> NF-16 looks like a few Army posts I was stationed on, > with all of the buildings and facilities (they > even have a field house) I'm lost.....thanx, Dale

Nah ... you're not really lost. Just in need of some additional information. You should take some photos of the site, maybe make or get a map too. You can send them on to me (or to Ed, if he doesn't mind) and he or I will give you some more ideas if you like ...

Hope this helps. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any more questions. Keep in touch!

Zero Length Launcher?

Question from eyza md. siraj

> I'm a student from Malaysia taking Computer Engineering and I would like
> to seek some information/facts about how the guided missile take
> off/lauch and how we control it. I don't want in details, just tell me
> as short as you can.

Answer from Ed Thelen

The type of launch system the Nike used is called "Zero Length Launcher". After the rocket/missile moves a few inches, it becomes less and less constrained.

In this case, the top holding bracket will have slipped off the launching rail, and the bottom holding bracket will slip off when it slides off the end of the rail.

Many (but not the Nike) rockets launched this way are totally unguided. To help correct for the inevitable off axis thrust and other problems, the aerodynamic fins are usually canted to give the rocket a spinning motion. This helps counter unsymetrical thrust and drag, helping the missile to retain it's original attitude. (Straight up - or a reasonable approximation of it.)

Spinning was not desired in the Nike, and various guidance and control systems were already on board and could be used. In fact they were. Rotation was suppressed during boost using the roll system and the same gyro used to determine "down".

The accelerometers were active, and accelerations to the side were suppressed during boost also.

So - you now have both cases.

"Special Weapon" Security?

Answer from John Meskanick

Team D, 66th USA Artillery Detachment, 5th Artillery Group, SASCOM was made up of the following Officers and Enlisted personnel.

Commanding Officer , usually having the rank of Captain, was responsible for overall administration of the team. Interfaced directly with Headquarters and the German Battery Commander concerning all matters related to operations, security, and special weapons support.

Executive Officer , usually having the rank of 1st Lieutenant acted as the back-up to the Commanding Officer. Acted as the Warhead Officer if one was not formally assigned to the Team. Shared responsibilities as Officer of the Day and controlled special weapon release code books and keys.

Warhead Officer having the rank of 2nd Lieutenant supervised all assembly, inspection, and maintenance of the special weapons. Shared responsibilities as Officer of the Day and controlled special weapon release code books and keys.

Team Sergeant having a rank of E-7 was responsible for daily operations of the Team including supervision of the Security and Assembly Sergeants, Cook, and Team Clerk.

Security Sergeant having a rank of E-6 was responsible for the security force including daily guard mounts, inspections, schedules, and administrative duties. Shared emergency destruct supervisory tasks with Assembly sergeant. Supervised the arms room and maintained all rifle and pistol qualification records.

Assembly Sergeant having a rank of E-6 was responsible for daily overview of special weapon inspection and maintenance. Maintained all records and log books for the special weapons. Shared emergency destruct supervisory tasks with Security Sergeant. Supervised and coordinated all tactical evaluations and drills.

Assembly and Maintenance men usually have the rank of E-5 were responsible for assembly, inspection, and maintenance of the special weapons. There were three of these individuals assigned to the Team. Shared responsibilities as Charge of Quarters and controlled special weapon release code books and keys. Was responsible for actual opening of PAL locking devices and insertion of arming and mission plugs. Was required to be present in launching area during 30 minute alert status or higher

Clerk having the rank of E-4 was responsible for the day to day administrative duties such as morning reports, records, general typing, communication checks, and office duties.

Cooks have the rank of E-2, E-3 or E-4 were responsible for administration of the messhall, food procurement, preparation, and kitchen detail. There were two of these guys assigned to the Team.

Security Personnel usually having the rank of E-3 and E-4 were responsible for day to day special weapon security. Pulled 24 hour guard shift responsibilities every three days. Controlled all entrance and exit for the launching area exclusion area. Controlled mission and arming plugs along with Assembly men. Performed 30 minute checks on locked missile barns. Were required to be present (two of them armed with M-14's or M-16's) when missile storage building were unlocked or open. Maintained constant radio and land line checks with Headquarters, Administrative area, and IFC. There were 12-16 of these guys assigned to the Team.

General Responsibilities ? everyone was required to stand guard duty occasionally to back fill for leaves, sick calls, and other problems. .. everyone was required to perform routine communication checks ? rifle and pistol qualification happened every quarter ? everyone was required to go on field exercises at least two week per year. Everyone had emergency destruction training and responsibilities.

How big is a Nike site?

From Bob (ridr)

Answer from Bud Halsey Site Manager, Nike Site SF-88, GGNRA, National Park Service

You are correct that the overall dimensions of "Nike missile sites" varied quite a bit. You must understand first that a "typical" Nike missile site consisted of three parts: an integrated fire control (IFC) area; a launching area and an administrative area. In many of the sites, the administrative area was co-located with either the IFC or the launching area. This would affect the overall acreage of the "Nike site". The size (acreage) of the launching area was also affected by the number of underground magazines and the physical arrangement of the launcher sections. The size of the different IFCs was also affected by the type and number of radars on the site.

So, it is difficult to generalize about the dimensions or acreage of a "typical" Nike site since there is no such thing as a "typical" site. The overall size of our site (SF-88) is: launching area-approximately 30 acres (with two underground magazines; IFC approximately 7 acres and administrative area--about 1 acre. Other factors that affect the overall size of the Nike sites include the terrain and the location (sites in expensive suburban areas were intentionally made smaller to hold down the cost of buying the land). The use of underground magazines reduced the acreage required for the launching area. For example, the launching areas in the Anchorage or Fairbanks, Alaska sites, where the missiles were stored in separate ABOVE GROUND magazines, had considerably more acreage (about 140 acres) than similar sites in the "lower forty eight".

If your question deals with the size of the underground magazines, you must understand that there were several types of magazines. These include:

        Type Magazine   Length   Width   Comment

        1. Type A       42 feet  63 feet (Ajax only)
        2. Type B       49 feet  60 feet (Ajax only) 
        3. Type B (Mod) 49 feet  60 feet (Universal Ajax & Hercules)
        4. Type B (RS)  49 feet 123 feet (Rising Star - Greenland only)
        5. Type C       42 feet  63 feet (Ajax only)
        6. Type C (Mod) 42 feet  63 feet (Hercules)
        7. Type D       62 feet  68 feet (Hercules)

Note: No Type A magazines were ever built. No Type C magazines were built. Type B Modified and Type C modified were Ajax pits converted to handle the Nike Hercules M-36 launcher. Rising Star pits were employed only at Thule AFB in Greenland. Type D were Nike Hercules only, built in the second "wave" of building, ca. 1960.

If your question deals with how far below ground the magazines are, The answer is about 30 feet. There is a pit below the floor of the magazine about 10 feet below the floor where the sump pump, air and cable conduits and elevator shaft and equipment are located.

SAGE computer--

From Bob (ridr)

Oh boy, and I worked in the central computer section, you'd think I'd remember all this junk! Yup, made by IBM Federal Systems Division, we studied in Kingston, and I lived in Woodstock in 1962---that Woodstock! There wasn't any free sex going on (that I knew about!), but it was a wonderful little village tucked away in the Catskills.

Let's see---if I remember the real specs you'll laugh your ---backside off, but here goes--and this was absolutely state of the art, remember------word length 16 bits (two words), memory size--> in ferrite core arrays and damn big ones made by hand, 64 k , and a smaller 4 k, (I think). Also huge spinning drums weighing maybe fifty pounds apiece--20 or 30 of them spinning at 3500 RPM, and collecting realtime data from radar sites. The whole system worked in real time, and worked extremely well. Cycle time? Why, the very fastest cycle time that handpicked vacuum tubes could provide---> an astonishing 2 million cycles per second!!!! The main control room had 23,000 indicator lights to watch. Yes that's 23k. They kept track of the actions of 64,000 vacuum tubes.

Image of Sage Weapons Director station, 55 K bytes
Image of a Sage tube section, 55 K bytes

It sounds so automatic and boring --

From J.P. Moore

Thought I better explain why Nike not interesting to me. We're only talking Ajax/Herc. What's to excite? Acquire target, push switch, target falls. Ad nauseum. Boring!

On the other hand, Zeus, Spartan, Sprint are very exciting, what little I know of them. Unbelievably fast, so much to do, so little time. Technical problems beyond my comprehension to be solved. Extremely low profile radar targets screaming inbound, glowing white hot, as they unmask from the cloud of debris, decoys, chaff etc. That, I find exciting. Also exciting, the ICBM w/MIRVs.

Comment from Ed Thelen, another aspect - in 1955, life was worrisome.

  1. Designing a beam riding missile to follow the TTR radar beam back to us at the Nike site seemed to us in 1956 to be an almost trivial feat. Hell we figured out how to do the optimum path guidance (with rate gyros) for an air-air missile like the Sparrow before it was designed, or at least made public.

    We thought a Russian plane ought to be able to send a missile to follow our radar beam back down to our TTR radar. We figured that we would not see the much smaller missile until it was quite close to us. We were reasonably aware that we would not be paying attention to the close part of the trace on the radar scope if and when they would attack us, we would be watching the plane(s) like hawks. And there was NO comment about that in Army manuals.

  2. In 1955, we had never seen jamming. We could imagine all kinds of methods -
    • chaff, rope, angels, of WWII fame
    • broad band noise
    • noise tracking our ACQ and TTR magnetrons
    • spoofing games taking advantage of our fixed pulse rate.
    There was NO comment about that in Army manuals.

  3. In 1955, we were physically vulnerable to ANY kind of ground attack. We were in a public park. The fences were less than 100 feet away from the radars and vans.
    • a mortar in the public parking 300 meters away could make mince-meat out of us with NO danger
    • one or two people with 45's or 9 mm pistols could have disabled the vans and killed any opposition from us before we finally found the ammunition for the one 30 cal carbine pop gun that we had.
    There was NO plan or thought of physical defense that would keep out a determined Boy Scout troop. A ground attack coordinated with an air attack would have left any site I know of useless. (Granted, trying to coordinate a ground attack in Chicago with an air attack would have been a tricky balance of spy vs counter-spy. But several independent groups, given action words - like in France in late WWII - ...)

We thought we were in interesting times.

Got any info on Zeus, Spartan, Sprint?

Answer # 1 from J.P. Moore

  Zeus was similar in appearance to
the later Spartan. A 3 stage ABM, "the fastest, quickest accelerating air
defense vehicle ever successfully fired".  Tested in 1962 at Kwajalein, it
intercepted an ICBM.  It repeated this intercept nine more times in test
firings.  In may, 1963, Zeus intercepted a satellite in earth orbit.  Missile
would reach altitude of 200-250 miles within 2 minutes of being fired.  Nuke
WH, yield unknown.


Length:     48 ft
diameter;  60 in.
weight:     40,000 lb
range:       300 mi
alt;           200 mi
guidance;  command via ground radar

In 1963, Zeus was canx, and became a building block for the Nike X Project,
later called Sentinel System, then changed to Safeguard System.

Spartan was a long-range, more powerful version of Zeus.  First fired March
30, 1968, at Kwajalein island.


Shape         Canard
length         55 ft
diameter     43 in
weight        33,400 lb
speed         Mach 10
range         460 mi
altitude       300 mi
propellant    solid, 3 stage
guidance     command via ground radar
warhead      5 megaton thermonuke
launcher     monorail


THIS IS WHAT IS SITTING OUT BEHIND THE MUSEUM.  It is a very tall cone.  Ultra
fast, but speed not given.  It does say the missile reached intercept altitude
within seconds after launch!  So fast it heated to white-hot enroute target.
I now believe this is what I saw in the movie.  I remember it was conical.
It is possible, even probable, that Sprint was considerably faster than Zeus.
I do not know how guidance and WH components can be built to withstand such
high G forces. Or the airframe and propellant either, for that matter. I guess
the cone is the ultimate high G shape.   Amazing!!


shape        cone frustrum
length        27 ft
diameter     4.5 ft at base of cone
weight        7,500 lb
range         25 mi
propellant    solid, 2 stage
guidance     command via radar
warhead      low-kiloton thermonuke
launcher      gas ejection

Answer #2 from Donald E. Bender
Now, the Spartan is just an outgrowth of the Nike Ajax ... well, it took many years, millions (billions?) of dollars and a heck of a lot of people and man-hours (people-hours? I'm sure there were women involved ...) to do this, so I guess it's a little bit more, ah, sophisticated than Ajax.

Here's is the URL:

Is there any information about Bomarc?
Question from many over the years

Answer - George Runkle pointed out: The Bomarc Project and The Mighty Bomarc

Can I get a Nike for display?
Question from Errol Porter
... We are looking for a missile that we can mount at Dyess AFB in Abilene Texas and dedicate to the 5th /517th there. Can you give me any help on where to look and who to contact. ...

Answer from Bud Halsey, Manager of Site SF-88L

Ed Thelen asked me to reply to your e-mail to him in which you asked about acquiring a Nike Hercules missile for display purposes at Dyess AFB. As you can imagine, they are very difficult to find these days since the United States has not used them for over 14 years now. All missiles remain the property of the US government, so the first place I would begin my search would be the US Army. The US Army Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL, is the principal Army agency with responsibility for the Nike missiles. They, perhaps, might know the whereabouts of any remaining Nike missiles in the United States Army. Any missiles the Army might have would also have to be cleared by the Army's Center for Military History in Washington, DC, prior to release to a veterans' organization.

Assuming you might be able to find a Nike Hercules missile under the Army's control (this is not too likely at this late date), you would have to contact the US Army Tank-Automotives and Armaments Command (TACOM) to conduct the transfer loan of a missile to non-federal entities, municipalities or veterans' organizations. A federal law, 10 U.S. C. 2572 (a) deals with these types of loans, and the Army has designated TACOM, with the Center of Military History's approval, as their agent to make these loans.

Having said all of this, perhaps a more practical way to acquire a Nike Hercules missile would be to have your other veterans and yourself search junkyards and scrap metal dealers (who specialize in military surplus) nationwide. There are dealers throughout the country that have parts to old Nike missiles and even a few "reassembled missiles" in their junkyards. Another source, would be municipalities who might have acquired Nike missiles for display in city parks who now no longer want to display them and who might be willing to transfer the loan to your group. A search of American Legion Halls, VFW clubs or other veterans' organizations might also reveal a missile or two. If a state's Army National Guard once manned Nike sites, often they have a "trophy" missile under their control.

This site (SF-88 in the old San Francisco Defense Area) is a National Park, so we have perhaps the highest priority of all governmental agencies in acquiring these obsolete missiles for public display. However, my experience has proven that they are HARD TO FIND, and at this late date they are practically unavailable. In my opinion, junkyards are probably your best source (thats where I get a lot of my Nike equipment).

Keep in mind, even if you can find or procure a Nike Hercules missile, you would most likely need either a launcher or some other way to display it. Also, you would need to work closely with the Air Force if they still own Dyess AFB . Also, don't forget transportation costs, assembly/disassembly costs, etc. Even if the Army has a missile to let you have, they will charge a lot of money to disassemble it, and you also have to pay the shipping charges. Even the National Park Service has to pay the Army these fees and shipping the missiles costs, and we are the federal government also.

I hope my answer is not too pessimistic, but frankly too many years have passed to have a large source of these missiles around. Ten or fifteen years ago, they were probably a lot easier to find. One last consideration, there are still four countries using the Nike Hercules, but even assuming they will soon phase them out of their country's air defenses, we are talking BIG dollars to get one shipped back to Texas if they elect to give or sell one to your group.

If I can be of further assistance to you in this matter, please let me know.
Bud Halsey
Site Manager, Nike Site SF-88, GGNRA, National Park Service

PS: Did you know that we sponsor a yearly Reunion/Free Picnic at Site SF-88? All former Nike missilemen, and their families and friends, are invited to the reunion to have a free picnic, see our restoration, renew old acquaintances and swap lies about the "good old days" when they served with Nikes. The annual reunion/picnic is always held on the last Sunday of August. This year, it will be on August 30, 1998 at Nike Site SF-88 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Please let the group that you have reunions with know this, and I would like to see you, or any of your veterans' group, attend our reunion too. BH

What is "SOS"? (Served often on U.S. Nike sites)
E-mail from Frank Martinez
Dear Ed,
Came across this recipe for our favorite breakfast:

(Chipped Beef on Toast) or (Sh__ on a Shingle)

A half pound of beef may be substituted for the dried chipped bef. In that case, skip the first step in the method. Browning will also take a bit longer.

2 ounces of dried beef
1 tablespoon butter
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can of cream potato soup or cream sauce
2/3 cup of milk, about
Buttered Toast
Pour hot water over dried beef, then drain.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add meat and brown lightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in soup and enough milk to keep texture slightly thick but runny. Heat to serving temperature. Serve over buttered toast.

3 to 4 servings. Each servings without toast: 159 calories; 1,757 mg sodium; 24 mg cholesterol; 7 grams of fat; 16 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 0.30 gram fiber.

Bon Appetit !

And from J.P. Moore's book (used with permission)

Recipe For The Ultimate
Power Breakfast:


No one could equal the breakfasts cooked by the chef de cuisine at the Base-Camp Mess Hall, and nothing was better than a steaming batch of SOS heaped on top of toast or hot biscuits and dusted with black pepper. Try this authentic recipe, and send a wake-up call to your taste buds. Serve with steaming hot biscuits, orange marmalade, and canteen cups of camp coffee. The preferred method of cooking SOS is over an open campfire fueled by dried cow-pies and cholla cacti spines. However, it is possible to cook a tolerable though considerably less mouth-watering version on a stove. (Real Desert Rats will not eat 'stove-made' SOS. It lacks the unique essence of the smoldering cow-pies.)

  • 1 Pound hamburger meat. If you crave authenticity, don't use the lean stuff.
  • 1 Cup cold milk. Still being authentic? Use powdered milk.
  • 1 & 1/2 Tablespoons corn starch.
  • Garlic powder to taste. This is the secret ingredient. Be generous.
  • Salt.
  • Black pepper.
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce. (Optional but highly recommended. I prefer TABASCO brand.)

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

  • In a No. 8 cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, brown the meat, breaking it up into small bits as it cooks. Drain off the grease.
  • Add the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Put the cold milk and the corn starch into a shaker. Shake until dissolved. There should be no lumps.
  • Over a medium fire, pour the mild starch mixture on the meat, stirring constantly. You want a consistency like a thick gravy. If it's too thick, add a little more milk, stirring all the while.
  • When it is the consistency you like, ladle it over the hot slices of toast or biscuits.
  • Add the Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste, and dust with black pepper.
  • Should feed four, but probably won't. Next time, double the recipe. Enjoy!
Loraine Moore, wife of a Desert Rat

Who uses NIKE systems currently?
E-mail from Kostas Tsigaris

"Also be informed that Greece, Italy and Turkey will use NIKE till the year 2000 (and above????)."

and there have been many modernizations - 
   1) the vacuum tube range units for the MTR and TTR have been replaced
   2) Block III MWO (1983 in Greece and NAMFI)
   3) solid state IF strips

Mobile Nike Ajax Unit?
E-mail from Donald E. Bender to Moore, J.P.

Many thanks for the interesting update regarding mobile Ajax units! 

I suspected this was true -- for there were mobile Hercules units. I 
believe the Hercules missile were carried on a "ready round transporter" 
or some such device (a trailer) which had stabilizing outriggers that 
could be set up, and a blast deflector plate, and the missile would be 
launched from that set up. I wonder if it was the same for the Ajax, or 
if they had to be set up separately on launcher-loader equipment set up 
in the field?

Interestingly, the Army experimented with carrying (and firing, I believe) 
the Hercules from the experimental "GOER" all-wheel-drive, all-terrain 
vehicle during the early Sixties. I believe it was a success, but I don't 
think that a set up of this sort was ever used operationally.

Thanks again for looking into this ... and for all of the Nike Ajax "firsts".

Best regards,

Don Bender


On Fri, 1 May 1998, MalpaisMsl wrote:

> Hi, Don.
> Sometime ago you asked if the Nike Ajax could have been used as a mobile Unit.
> My answer:  "I doubt it."  Today I received a little brochure from Curtis
> Thienes >< which opens that possibility.  The brochure was
> printed for "ORGANIZATION DAY", 15 May, 1958.  It lists Units of the 2nd
> Guided Missile Group of the 1st Guided Missile Brigade, Ft. Bliss, TX.
> One of those Units, the 495th AAA Msl BN (Nike) (I was assigned to D Btry,
> 495th from '54-'57) is noted for several "firsts", among them :
>  "First Nike Ajax unit to operate in the field as a semimobile unit, in
> conjunction with the troop test of the semimobile Nike Ajax Battalion, 1957."
> That is all it says.  But, somebody, somewhere, will know about it.  
> Probably of less interest to you, but notable, the 495th AAA  was:
> 1st all-American AAA unit to fire on enemy aircraft in the European Theater,
> October, 1942.
> Credited with destroying 252 German V-1 (buzzbomb) missiles in Antwerp,
> Belgium.
> 1st Skysweeper (75MM) unit in the US Army.
> 1st AAA Missile Battalion (Nike) in the Army.
> 1st Nike Ajax Battalion to fire ASP at Red Canyon Range Camp, NM., 1955.
> 1st Nike Ajax unit to fire ASP using the offset method of fire (B-45
> aircraft), 1956.
> 1st Nike Ajax unit to fire at the McGregor Missile range, 5 April, 1957.
> ___________________________________________________________________
> So, there was some type of at least experimental SEMI-mobile Nike unit.
> That's all I know, will update when more info forthcoming.  Sending CC to our
> group, someone may know more.
> Best regards,
> JP Moore
Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Mission of Ft. Bliss, Red Canyon, McGregor?
Question from Ed Thelen,

> I guess Ft. Bliss is grossly under-represented on the site -
> gross ignorance on my part. I have no idea of the organizations
> there (I only remember "TAS" (The Artillery School).
> Could you fill me in on the Ft. Bliss "scene"?

Answer from "Frank H Evans"

Well I was a student their several times and had little knowledge about the place then. In Dec 1964 is was stationed their as my permanent duty station. During the buildup of Viet Nam - Bliss opened a Basic Training Center. Essentially the post consisted of the Air Defense School, High Altitude Missile Department for Nike and Low Altitude Missile Dept for HAWK and latter other low altitude system. Two major commands, one was a TO&E organization known as the 6th Artillery Group and the Ist Guided Missile Brigade a TA (Table of Allowance). The 1st GM Bde had training missions. They had the Basic Training units, and also trained enlisted men in Air Defense Operator type MOS (16B and 16C) (no skilled MOS such as maintenance). 6th Arty Group had several Hawk, Nike-Herc and Twin 40 Duster Battalions. Also we hosted several field artillery units activated for deployment to Viet Nam.
I have forgotten some of the official battalion designation however:

  • 8Bn, 7th Arty HAWK Mission under STRAC Had contingency plans for deployment (Korea, Viet Nam, Thailand,
  • ????? HAWK Mission under ARSTRIKE and supported the Low Altitude Missile Dept of School in Field Demos
  • 4 Bn, 62d Arty NIKE-HERCULES (Mobile) Had contingency plans for deployment (Korea, Viet Nam, Thailand, etc)
  • 1 Bn, 333d Arty NIKE-HERCULES (Mobile) Also supported the school in field demos, etc. (1/333 deployed from Blis during the Cuban msl crisis and returned in 1966.
  • STRAC - was Strategic Army Command. Units given missions to train for deployment under contingency plans. They had priority on equipment and personnel strength. They couldn't be assigned secondary missions.
  • ARSTRIKE - Army Strike Command - Similar to STRAC but had lower priority and could have secondary mission assignments locally.
Their was also many sections involved in writing and producing Air Defense Technical and Field Manuals, ordinance support, etc.

> > Also I have no idea when and how the transition from
> Red Canyon--> McGregor (spelling) was performed

Red Canyon was used for ASP (Annual Service Practice primarily for Nike Ajax (was not big enough for the Hike Hercules [range considered]. Red Canyon also did not have the facilities to accommodate all of the active duty Nike sites for annual service practice. I was never at Red Cayon - had friends that talked about it - was evidently a real hole.

McGregor Range opened about 1959. It had about 23 or so complete Nike systems with IFCs online and downrange the associated launcher sites. Only one site which was site 1 had an underground magazine of the type of site. This was used to train officers (primarily 2d Lts in OBC Officer Basic) from the Hi Altitude Missile Department of the US Army Air Defense School. The rest of the sites had above ground launchers only. USARADCOM eventually switched from ASP to SNAP - Short Notice Annual Service Practice. Units arriving at Bliss billeted their until a site became vacant, then they moved to the range. Maintenance crews receipted for several missile, generally 2 Ajax and one her missile, assembled them then the crew prepared to fire them. Range control would alert the site upon launch of a down range radio controlled aerial target (RCAT). Two typoes - one prop driven - another ram jet engine. Several times we used air force planes as targets. The Site would slip the TTR azimuth pot 1600 mils, so the target flew south to north over the shoulder and appeared on the system as being on course from north to south. a few time the azimuth pot got slipped twice so the system saw it as it was and the missile was fired at the air force plane. Biggs stopped that very fast. One time such was the case and the battery control officer activated the BURST OVERRIDE switch and the missile passed the aircraft - ran out of fuel and landed in Mexico. Tell me how much info you want and what type on Bliss and Ill try to get it together for you.

During my stay (before deployment to Viet Nam with a field arty bn, I commanded Btry B, 4th Bn, 6d Arty. We where mobile and had continguency plans, and in the interim, was connected to NORAD and provided AD support of the El Paso, Ft Bliss and White Sands Missile Range. Al;though we had data connect to NORAD - most of the time we functioned as a standalone in autonomous mode. We had a Birdie D Command Post at Battaion Hq for easrly warning and C3.

By the way I saw in one of your FAQs, something about Viet Nam Air Defense. They had NIKE on continguency but it was never deployed their. Would have been a sitting duck for VC hit and run ambush. The Marines and the Army had several HAWK sites, however I know little about them. As far as I know they never fired for intercept. Until Desert Storm - the US never fired an AD missile at a declared FOE. In fact in Thule the Soviets flew over our sites often and we never received a weapons free once. Air Force would scramble interceptors, identify and force them to return.

Mc Gregor had major facilities such as PX, Barracks, Mess halls, etc.

Suggest you check out the Ft Bliss Web Site and go to WHATS NEW then to WHATS NEW AT THE SCHOOL. They are redoing and there are a few under construction areas. If you have never been there - I suggest it to you.

Nike missile and launcher for sale?
info from Ben Buja

Was also driving to Gettysburgh National Battlefield a couple week ago and ended up taking a few the backroads. Near Chambersburg is a rather large Army Supply Depot. There was also rather small Surplus store that had a Nike-Ajax on a launcher in the parking lot. I stopped to take a photo but my camera didn't get the shot. Kind of surprized to run into that out of the blue.

"... come on, tell us Ed! -- where ARE those UFO Records!!!!! :-)"
teasing from: Donald E. Bender ( at another Nike oriented site
"... requests ... One was from a woman who wanted to know if she could get radar "records" for UFOs!"

As we all know, the Air Force was in charge of collecting and analyzing that kind of input. The only contribution from a Nike site that I know of is the story at Tactical Headquarters .

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have information about European Nike sites?
Info from: Frank E. Rappange" (
Ed's questions/comments in italics

1) Namfi in Crete was used by Holland, Belgium and Germany. Unlike the US however, Air Defence missiles were operated by the Air Forces of those countries and not the Army.

Anyway, NAMFI is a really exciting base. I started going there when I was 7-8 years old but I still find it so fascinating. First of all, the scenery is like desert, something very uncommon for Crete, since it is a rocky (and low vegetation) sort of island. The electronics, radars and offices are well above the launching area and the view from there is splendid. Every time an international team was testing a missile, there were barbecues, drinks and generally, the atmosphere was very relaxed and informal. The only annoying thing was, that a launching programmed to happen at 10 in the morning, was taking place 1-2 hours later (if we were lucky enough) due to all sorts of problems....

I ate dinner last night with a guy who had been stationed in Germany and fired his HAWK missiles from "your" site. He remembered the big radar on the hill that went around about 3 times a minute. He figured that it could "see" into Algeria.

Also the launching area were full of pieces from the solid fuel that HERCULES use (at the moment I am trying to get hold of one fuel piece, to analyse it-I don't think someone has done this for HERCULES fuel before).

2) Nike sites from several countries were located in Germany (Germany, Holland, Belgium and USA). However these sites were not mobile.

Oh - ah - (scratch head) - what do I/we mean mobile? In the US, defending cities and other fixed areas, the wheels were returned to somewhere and seemed quite unavailable - I understood the mission of the Nike was to defend the air space surrounding it, but the selection of the air space seemed "mixed". (I guess life is full of "mixed" decisions.)

Was the mission in Europe primarily to defend:
1) cities/populations
2) fixed military installations
3) mobile troops
4) cover a great number of areas providing a wide umbrella for the mobile troops
5) other
6) a few or all of the above

I think the best description was 'all of the above'. There was a Nike 'missile belt' that ran from the north of Denmark to the south of Germany. In Germany this belt was reinforced(?) by Hawk missiles in the east of the FRG, the Nikes were located more to the west. The idea was that the Hawks should take care of the lower targets (<5000') and the Nike the high targets (5000' - 100000'). Each battery got a PTA (Primary Target Area) from the Dutch border to the Inner German Border (about 200 kY) and about 50 kY wide), and we were told to defend it. Since the idea was that there would be no communication possible in war time, we were trained to operate in 'autonomous operations'. That means each sqn was operating with no outside assistance.

Target priority -as I try to remember- was: "Targets flying east to west that would reach the imaginary north-south line through the battery first". It was believed that in case of a Warsaw Pact attack, the number of attacking aircraft would be enormous, and the only effective way of getting them out was by means of guided missiles.

My own squadron e.g. was located on the same place (Borgholzhausen) from 1963 to 1983. Although the system was -theoretically- moveable, in practice it turned out that the system did not respond well to moving.

Very easy to believe - a nice way of saying $#^*&^%^$@)

Yep!! I think the Dutch airforce had a go at moving a complete sqn once. The repairs took about 3 weeks!

I was really impressed with how reliable the very large number of tubes (valves), connections, switches, and all of the other failure points turned out to be. (Assuming you did not shake the system.)

It was a beautiful system to work with!! I think half of the equipment could actually fail before you got into real trouble. I fired a live missile at Crete, with a system that would be completely nonops at home. Not one of the zero checks of the computer was in tolerance - it was not even possible to press the sensitivity button- (what we called 'normal abnormal indications' in Crete). After firing it turned out that the misdistance at burst was about 12 yards!

Ah - that reminds me of a long standing argument that I had with my fellow mechanics. The frequency of the MTR magnetron vs the frequency of the missile transponder magnetron.
Option 1) (the book solution) set the MTR magnetron frequency to the frequency of maximum power.
Option 2) set the MTR magnetron frequency away from the missile transponder frequency (and the receiver frequency) such that the ground clutter in the launcher is reduced (and the signal from the transponder is seen more clearly).
Do you know the later answer to MTR frequency question? If not, do you know of anyone who does?

Sorry, no on both questions.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have biographical information on Percy Spencer?
From: Cliff Tryer (return e-mail address bounced)
(Percy Spencer was one of the primary figures in developing Radar, a watercooled magnetron in 1946, microwave ovens, etc. )

Almost nothing - some reports say that he was self taught, never finished high school, but made very interesting contributions and seems to have died in 1976 .
Copyright ?, 1996-97 by J. Carlton Gallawa
Inventor Spencer
Doctor Spencer continued at Raytheon as a senior consultant until he died at the age of 76. At the time of his death, Dr. Spencer held more than a hundred patents and was considered one of the world's leading experts in the field of microwave energy, despite his lack of a high school education.
Allaire: I guess around '43. But eventually Raytheon introduced a lot of new techniques. For example, it would take practically all day to take a solid chunk of copper and machine it out, bore it out to make the cavities and to make the input holes for the filaments and the output holes. Percy Spencer, who was running the microwave tube division at the time, came up with a process whereby one could make thousands of copper anodes in a short period of time. How did he do that? Instead of a machinist taking a big chunk of copper and spending all day long boring and drilling, Percy Spencer took thin sheets of copper and with a die just stamp out laminations. Then the laminations would be thoroughly cleaned, stacked on a fixture with layers of soldering between, which would then also be stamped out so you would have the exact configuration. Then run them through a hydrogen furnace. The furnace would melt the solder and bond the copper laminations together. That's the way production was dramatically increased.

Goldstein: What was his position?

Allaire: He was manager of the microwave and power tube division of Raytheon Company. Over the years I have wondered how he happened to come up with that idea. I really don't know. However, Raytheon had a division that was building transformers from steel laminations. Perhaps Percy Spencer carried that manufacturing technology over to the manufacture of magnetrons. Percy Spencer is deceased so I cannot check on whether or not that was his rationale. In any event, it was a remarkable way to do it. It worked really well. Working with copper was entirely different from working with steel that goes into a transformer. Steel is hard, whereas copper is very soft and malleable. It's a similar technique, but it had to be applied differently.

Do you have information on "off-shore" or foreign Nike sites?
From: -many-

Original guesses replaced by this information.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Nike Manning Requirements
From: J.D. Warren" (
Would like to find out as much information regarding manning crews (numbers of people, crew rotations, maintenance manpower requirements, etc. as possible. I'm looking at new replacement type system. My return e-mail address:

Comments from Ed Thelen

I do not have the Hercules "TO&E" (Table of Organization and Equipment) and am forwarding this question to Bud Halsey. Bud has cataloged the 4.5 tons of Nike documentation gathered at site SF-88.

As you probably know, there is often a wide gap between theory (the TO&E) and fact (the people and equipment actually available on a particular Nike site).

At the beginning of the Nike program (1954-7, with which I am more familiar), sites seemed fully supplied with people (about. 120) trained to the standards of the time. Later, especially with Vietnam War demands, U.S. sites were reputed to have been especially short handed, some people mention 80 people (this includes cooks etc.)

There are also other variations:
- Ajax missiles demanded much more sustainer motor and fuel maintenance
- The number of launcher "pits" per site could range from 1 to up to 3?. Each pit requiring a firing crew.
Unfortunately I don't know the firing crew duties, but expect a useful minimum of 3, one chief to handle the phone & Launch Control Panel, an a reasonable minimum of 2 shove missiles about.

Answer from Bud Halsey

First, your comments on TO&Es and modifications thereto based on factors like the demand for soldiers in Vietnam are generally correct and do affect the manning of any unit. There are several other factors that should be considered also. I'll list them later. I agree with your assessment that his questions are "rugged" ones to answer well. Undaunted, I will offer some of my views in an attempt to give you some basis for a more complete answer to Warren's question.

As we know, the Table of Organization (TO&E) is the document that spells out the mission of any unit, the manning required to perform that mission, the equipment necessary to do the mission, the basis of the unit's assignment to a higher unit to do its mission, the capability of the unit to perform its mission, how many subordinate units it has assigned or attached, and various other factors like mobility requirements to move it, maintenance capability, etc., etc.

The part of the TO&E of EVERY unit in the Army that gives me (an old infantryman) the most satisfaction, is the requirement for them to "fight as infantry as required". This sort of sets the importance of the infantry, and has sent a chill up the backs of many a Nike man, quartermaster, or judge advocate.

We also know that TO&Es are often "modified" to meet certain requirements (e.g. units in the Arctic have their TO&E modified to add skis and cold weather gear beyond the equipment found in their TO&E). These are called "modified tables of organization (MTO&E). TO&Es are often augmented with augmentation teams who perform special tasks or augment existing capabilities of a TO&E. Air Defense units have many augmentation teams, because there is really no "standard" air defense unit.

With this in mind, lets look at the TO&E of selected Nike units. Keep in mind, the "series" of a TO&E changes from time to time based on technologies, overall Army strength, and other factors. For this opus, I have selected the "Series G" TO&Es of the early 1970s--the time of the greatest number of Nike units. Listed below are selected personnel requirements for selected Air Defense (ADA) units:

TO&E # Unit Off WO EM Total
44-102G Hq & Hq Battery, ADA Brigade (Conus) 15 3 46 64
44-112G Hq & Hq Battery, ADA Group (Conus) 10 3 55 68
44-166G Hq & Hq Detachment, ADA Battalion (Herc) 5 0 7 12
44-545G ADA Battalion, Nike Hercules) (Conus) 27 21 573 621
44-546G Hq & Hq Battery, ADA Bn (Nike Herc)(Conus) 11 5 69 85
44-547G ADA Firing Battery, Nike Hercules, Conus 4 4 126 134
44-548G ADA Double Firing Btry, (NH) (Conus) 6 7 223 236
Listed below is a matrix of other selected TO&Es showing the progression from Nike Ajax to Nike Hercules. Generally, the TO&E of a headquarters unit of Nike Ajax is the same as that of a Nike Hercules unit, since headquarters are similar and the change from Ajax to Hercules is not too radical and where differences can be made up by augmentation teams. Since the TO&Es of Ajax units are not found in "Series G", I'll omit the series letter.
Unit Nike Ajax Basic Herc Improved Herc ATBM
HHD, ADA Bn N/A 44-166 44-166 N/A
ADA Bn (NA)(NH) 44-145 44-445 44-545 44-535
HHB, ADA Bn (NH) 44-146 44-496 44-546 44-536
Firing Btry, (NH) 44-147 44-447 44-547 44-537
Double Btry, (NH) 44-148 44-448 44-548 N/A
Universal(NH)Btry N/A 44-139 44-549 N/A
Note: These are only a few ADA TO&Es for Nike missile units, picked at random. They are all similar, but slightly different. Many require augmentation teams to "flesh them out".

A "typical" ADA Battalion (TO&E 44-145) is organized with a Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB); 4 Firing Batteries (A,B,C and D); and a Medical Section.

An HHB consists of a Headquarters (Commander and his staff); Headquarters Battery with an operations and intelligence section; an admin and supply section; a battalion motor maintenance section; a communications section; a radar section and an assembly and service section. A "typical" firing battery consists of a headquarters section; a communications section; an IFC platoon; and a launch platoon. Each launch platoon consists of a platoon headquarters section and 3 firing sections. Thus you can see the basic framework to develop the manning requirements for a specific site. SF-88, for example, had only two firing sections (not 3) in the launch platoon and probably needed some maintenance, transportation and mess personnel (augmentation teams).

Augmentation teams were essential to "modify" the TO&E of most Conus Nike Ajax and Nike Hercules units. Because of remote locations, topography, need to cover the defense areas, and a host of other reasons, very few Nike sites had MTO&Es that were similar. Almost all were augmented with special teams that varied in size from 2 to 50 personnel. A few selected Nike-oriented Augmentation teams typically found in Conus Nike sites include the following:
TO&E Team Function Off WO EM Total
1-500G FB Airplane, Command and utility 1 1 1 3
FE Helicopter, utility 0 2 2 4
8-500G SB Medical support 0 0 4 4
19-500G IC Security (dismounted) 0 0 4 4
29-500G CA Unit mess augmentation 0 0 1 1
CC Mess augmentation (cook) 0 0 3 3
HA Chaplain team 1 0 1 2
DI Wheeled vehicle repairman 0 0 1 1
DJ General vehicle repairman 0 0 1 1
DK Senior vehicle repairman 0 0 1 1
DM Motor sergeant 0 0 1 1
44-510G FB Command & staff support section 2 0 0 2
GD AD Direction Ctr (SAGE)(BIRDIE) 4 0 4 8
GE AD Direction Ctr (Manual AADCP) 4 0 8 12
HD Cmd Post Hq Sec (AN/TSQ-51) 1 0 7 8
HE Monitor/Data Col Sec (AN/TSQ-51)4 0 12 16
HF Maintenence Sec (AN/TSQ-51) 0 1 12 13
HG Remote Radar Integration Sta 0 0 10 10
HH Fire Distribution Team 0 0 4 4
HI Terminal data link repair tm 0 0 1 1
44-568G ADA Ops Det (BIRDIE) 5 1 41 47
These are a few augmentation teams, picked at random, that can be added, as need, to any ADA TO&E to perform the required mission.

Generally, the TO&E of a particular unit assumes 24-hour a day operation over a sustained period of combat. There is a little flexibility built in, but not much. For example, the TO&E of a firing battery provides sufficient manpower to perform the mission. Usually, the crews worked a 24-hour shift on and a 24-hour shift off. They were expected to perform their mission over a sustained period of operations.

The development of a TO&E also takes into account that a unit will sustain casualties, have men on other duty elsewhere and a variety of other reasons that a unit may be undermanned. However, the unit is expected to perform its mission until its strength drops below established levels (usually spelled out in manning documents). If a unit drops below established "unit effectiveness" levels, it will receive replacements or will be removed from combat and replaced with another new unit. A unit so removed, will be pulled off line, re-manned, re-trained and then returned to combat. Units habitually work with less than TO&E authorizations of personnel and equipment. This just means that those who are present, work longer and harder.

There are many reasons that units work understaffed. Competing requirements for personnel to do other higher priority work, overseas levies, "special duty" assignments all contribute to different manning levels. When a unit is short-handed, procedures may have to be modified. For example, in a firing battery launching platoon, there may be a requirement for 4 men to manually push the missile onto the launcher from the elevator. However, a lesser number can do the job--not as safely or not according to "the book", but never the less, they can do it.

One last point to consider is the fact that many units of Nike missiles were part of the Army National Guard. There would always be a cadre of "full-timers" on a site, and a number of "part timers" at home or away from the site until called in for routine drills (one weekend a month and a 2-week annual training period) or in emergencies. MTO&Es would spell out the minimum number of positions to be manned by "full-timers" and "part-timers" would augment them.

These are some of my thoughts regarding manning requirements for Nike units and a short discussion on TO&Es and MTO&Es

Regards, Bud Halsey

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

How many missiles per Nike site?
From: Doug Lupo (

... how come only six rockets, i would have thought that for the money that was being spent on the site and maintance and man power , when push came to shove, I would want a lot more than 6 lousey rocks to throw at the bear.
doug lupo, houston , tx (

Answer from Bud Halsey

Ed and Doug...
As usual, there is no quick and easy answer to your question about the number of missiles normally stored, ready for action, in each "pit" at a Nike Ajax or a Nike Hercules missile site. There are several variables that affect the answer. First, we have to consider the physical type or capacity of the magazine ("pit"), whether the missile is Ajax or Hercules, and your definition of "ready for action". In the Nike Ajax pits, some missiles could be stored without their tail fins [they could be attached quickly]. Some were stored with their tail fins attached. With this as a disclaimer, let's look at the answer to your questions:

Type Pit Type Missile All With Fins - OR - With Fins & Without Fins
A Ajax
- OR -
4 & 7
B Ajax
- OR -
4 & 6
B (Mod) Ajax
- OR -
4 & 6
B (Mod) Hercules
- OR - .
C Ajax
- OR -
4 & 6
C (Mod) Hercules
- OR - .
D Hercules
- OR - .

There were six types of "pits" in the Continental United States (CONUS). Besides these underground magazine types, there were other above-ground or underground magazine types found at Strategic Air Command bases in CONUS (SAC); Alaska (USARAL); Europe (USAREUR); Thule, Greenland ("Rising Star" that held ten Nike Hercules missiles below ground); and other overseas locations where US Army Nike units were deployed (e.g. Okinawa or Taiwan).

There were also modifications to some of the "pit" types concerning the location of the elevators. There were no Type A "pits" ever built in any defense area. Most Nike Ajax missiles were stored in Type B, Type C or Type B (Modified) and Type C (Modified) "pits". Type B (Mod) "pits" and Type C (Mod) "pits" were modified to accommodate the larger Nike Hercules missile, and both Ajax and Hercules were stored in them (but not mixed in one pit) from time to time. Type D "pits" were larger than the former Nike Ajax Type B and C "pits", and were built during the "second system" of Nike defenses added in the early 1960s for Nike Hercules missiles. In no "pit" were missiles stored on the elevator.

Doug, you seemed concerned about the money spent on each site with only "six rockets"..."to throw at the bear". Keep in mind that the figures above pertain to each "pit". Most sites in CONUS had from two to four "pits" and the "double sites" had six "pits" usually, so the number of missiles "to throw at the bear" increases significantly. Add the number of sites in a defense area, and the number of missiles increases further. San Francisco, for example, had 340 Nike missiles at 12 sites, and later 96 Nike Hercules missiles at 7 sites at one time or another to "throw at the bear".

I hope this answers your questions/concerns. Bud Halsey

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Another National Park Service Nike site?
This answer has been superceeded. The National Park Service has established another Nike Restoration site at From:

Answer from Bud Halsey - about 1998

You asked me to answer the question about future NPS plans to open more sites. I seriously doubt that the National Park Service will open more sites for the following reasons:

  1. Most of the sites surviving in the United States have deteriorated to the point where they are unable to be rebuilt. It has been 20 years since the very last site in the United States closed. I and other volunteers have been working on this site, on and off, for 15 years trying to overcome 20 years of abandonment ...

  2. The lack of missiles, trailers/vans, launchers, radars, etc., etc, makes the restoration of another site somewhere else almost impossible. Most remaining stocks of Nike equipment have been destroyed or sold to scrap dealers years ago. If the NPS were to restore another site elsewhere, they would want to do it correctly with all the exhibits and Nike items that we are restoring at SF-88. Unfortunately, the Nike equipment is no longer out there for the asking.

  3. Who else but 20 volunteers in the San Francisco Bay Area would devote over 9,000 hours a year of volunteer effort to restore a Nike site for the National Park Service? (You could probably find volunteers, but they need the equipment, etc., to restore).

So, the bottom line is, I doubt whether the NPS will ever restore another Nike site when they have SF-88. However, I don't speak for the NPS officially.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the Ajax have three warheads?
From: Nicholas Peter Munro Maude

Response from Ed Thelen

We were told that a single warhead would not properly shatter the missile into shrapnel. The intent was to get all of the missile into small pieces, a bit like a shotgun. So there was a warhead in the nose area, the middle area, and the tail area.

The anti-aircraft problem can be related to the duck hunting problem. A skilled mortal shooting at a flying duck with a 7 mm rifle has very little probability of hitting the duck.
An ground guided missile has very little probablilty of hitting a flying aircraft.

A 7 mm bullet striking the body of a duck at 2000 miles per hour is "over-kill". (One or two 2 mm high speed objects from a shotgun is enough.)
A 1000 pound missile striking the body of an aircraft at 2000 mph is overkill. (One or two hundred 7 mm high speed objects from a Nike is enough.)

So, the general goal is to have a large number of small high speed objects in the general area of the duck (or aircraft). The shotgun's "pattern" of the objects should be dense enough so it is almost certain that the duck (or aircraft) will be disabled by the small high speed objects.

The specific goal for the Ajax warhead system was to fill the air with small high speed objects, including the missile being reduced to small high speed parts.

Using 3 warheads distributed along the length of the missile increases to shattering effect on the missile and increases the number and speed of missile parts and fragments.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Was a Nike ever fired at a "hostile" target?
Response from Ed Thelen

I asked this question of many of the Nike vets at the 1997 reunion. Some had served in Korea and some in Vietnam and Okinawa. None had heard any stories of any Nike firing at a hostile (or friendly) plane.

Nike vs Russian SA-2?
From: Dave Lewis
My military service came in a little later as a participant in Uncle Sam's great Southeast Asia war games but I seem to recall that the Russian Guideline Sam's were pretty ineffective against a determined attack - especially when some good ECM support was available. I believe that the Russian Sam radar and guidance systems were similar to those used by the Nike.

Answer - still in process - trying to find flight and guidance SA-2 info. A little is here.


  1. as per AII POW-MIA , the F.G.Powers U-2 was shot down on May Day, 1960, by an SA-2.
  2. as per The Air War over Vietnam in 1966, the U.S. lost 455 aircraft north of the DMZ to air defenses.
  3. SA-2 simulation using ESAMS - Enhanced Surface-to-Air Missile Simulation
  4. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the need to counter North Vietnam's SAMs brought forth the Wild Weasel.
  5. Bob Baal at has a web site at with many very interesting pictures of soviet missiles including the SA-2.

  6. Bob and I have been e-mailing a bit:
    Bob said:
    The Fan Song guidance radar worked in E and G Band depending on model. The Long range radar was changed 3 times over the life of the system but seems to have been VHF all along.

    The info suggests that the Long range VHF was jammed so the NVA searched with the Fan Song and the US then threw ARMS at the FAn Songs.

    The Last model (F) of the Fan Song had a visual tracking system installed to help in heavy ECM.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

How to get Nike Parts?

July 2014, William Donzelli says "The building in Waterbury has been sold to a church group. Nearly everything went to scrap."

January 2002, Pete Kodis points out Radio-Research

From: Bill Evans
I'm sure you guys know that parts are available from Radio Research in Connecticut; ...
WATERBURY, CT 06704-3506
Phone: (203) 753-5840

Ed Thelen says "no I did not, thanks for the input". Checking into it a little, their Web Page is where you can request a 24 page catalog which lists a vast array of "old" radar equipment which they have working. A summary list in the catalog includes "Nike Hercules-Ajax, Raytheon Hawk, M-33, SCR-584,". Some of the Nike related equipment included:

The largest thing that I saw was a "60' Dish and Az-El Mount. Originally used in 5 GHz Tropo system" on page 24.

The catalog does not state the prices, but the owner indicated that the prices might not appeal to the casual hobbyist.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

How are missiles and warheads selected for firing?
Question from
Your comments were that as soon as the missile burst command was issued the MTR slewed to the next missile on the launch pad. OK, how did the MTR know which missile to next pick up.

Answer from Ron Loving
I will try to answer but what a taxing situation on the old gray matter.

This question falls under "Command and Control" and "Battery Operations". The "Army Air Defense Command Post" (AADCP) controlled the battery. It also was the controlling agent for the Battalion and Group headquarters that you were under. Behind that, the AIR FORCE had control of the AADCP.

Before your battery went to "Blazing Skies" or (the one that never came) "Battle Stations" the battery was at a 30 or 15 min. alert status. During this time the battery received instructions as to what type and number of rounds to load on the launchers. This gave the launcher crewman time to take the missiles out of the magazine (if msls were in storage) and get them on the launchers and erected into the firing position. When the battery was brought up to "Blazing Skies" or "Battle Stations" AADCP again told you what to fire (what type of warhead).

The BCO (Battery Control Officer), by selecting a series of switches in the IFC van, told the launch control officer what type of round (Warhead) he wanted to fire. This information was also transmitted back down the line to AADCP for verification. The launch control officer or NCO would then select the best available missile and select it through setting switches on the Launcher Control Box (don't think that is the correct name of the box---Crew Chief Junction Box or CCJB in HAWK). When the BCO gave the order to fire, the command was transmitted down to the launching area where the button was actually pressed to launch the missile.

Battery Operations --- While the battery is at the 30 min status (this means that you have 30 min. to get a round off) the battery "Stacks all Equipment" on the Pulse Acquisition Radar (PAR). In the fire control van was a series of precision resistors, each on a small chassis, and rack mounted. All of the other radar's were "Electronically" stacked on top of the PAR ( the electronic center of the battery) by using its own system that allowed the equipment to become one big system on the same point on the ground as the PAR. The resisters (mentioned above) were used to set the individual launcher "Parallax" ( distance to the launchers from the center of the battery -- center of the PAR) into the batteries computer system and would again electronically stack the launchers, with all of the other equipment, on top of the PAR.

With the AZ, EL and Parallax range to the individual launchers set into the computer the MTR had no problem slewing to the launcher selected by the launch control officer. During the 30 min or 1 hr preparation phase, the ability of the MTR to slew to the location of each launcher was checked and again during battery crew drills.

After remembering that far back and pulling this much out of the grey matter, I think its time for two Excedrin's or one Michelob!! Hope this answered the questions and did not produce more question, (which I will gladly answer, if there are)..

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

What about surface to surface mode?
Comments from Charlie Hancock

We tested, extensively the Herc in a surface-to-surface mode. The longest shot we made was 110 miles, surface-to-surface. We designed "Deep Earth" penetrating warheads to be used to destroy bridges or to produce deep craters at the approaches to bridges.

The accuracy of the system in the surface-to-surface mode was extremely good. For example, if our range was say 30 miles, not only could you choose which house you wanted us to hit, you could also choose which room. If our range was say 100 miles, you could choose which house you wanted to hit. We shot the missile, in a surface-to-surface mode at mock motor pools and troop encampments. It destroyed everything.

(Update from Charlie Mar 15, 1998)
" As you know us old Ordnance guys have established a web page and at that web page is a series of pictures (8 I believe) of Nike Hercules in a surface-to-surface mode. " NIKE AJAX AND HERCULES ORDNANCE SUPPORT UNITS

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Warrant Officer?
No body actually asked, but I found this great answer --> History of the Warrant Officer

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

What about the conventional warheads? storage?
Questions from Mark Foster , Answer from "Bud" Halsey

Question: How big was a Hercules conventional warhead?
Answer: The T-45 conventional high explosive warhead weighed 1106 pounds and contained 600 pounds of HBX-6 military explosive.

Comment: "I have not seen...for going nuclear."
Discussion: One of the main reasons for placing a requirement for the Nike Hercules to have a nuclear capability was to assure the complete destruction of the weapon (presumably nuclear) that the bomber was carrying, and to remove the possibility of the "dead man" effect of the bomb continuing to the target area even after the plane was destroyed. Placing the plane (and the weapon it was carrying) inside a nuclear fireball would assure the destruction of the bomb. Our experiences against the SCUD missiles in the Gulf War show that missiles were successfully engaged and knocked down, but the SCUD's warheads continued into the target area, striking the ground (not necessarily where they were intended to hit) but never-the-less killing people and doing damage. Hitting a SCUD with even a low yield nuclear weapon or placing it into a nuclear fireball would have prevented this. A nuclear weapon also gave us the capability to engage more than one enemy target (if planes are in formation) with one missile. A third consideration for equipping Nike Hercules with the nuclear capability was the advantage a nuclear weapon would have over a conventional warhead in creating electromagnetic disruption; greater heat, light and blast effects and greater areas of destruction.

Comment: "I believe each magazine...warheads."
Response: The physical arrangement of missiles in magazines depended considerably on rules and regulations established by higher headquarters. In most instances, nuclear-equipped missiles at a given site were all stored in a separate magazine. Where possible, they avoided storing conventional and nuclear-equipped missiles in the same magazine, but in some instances this had to be done. The exact mix of high yield and low yield warheads in a given magazine varied depending on instructions from higher headquarters. Note: even today, the government "neither confirms nor denies the presence of nuclear weapons" at any specific site, ship or base.

Comment: from Roger Rigney

Just read your FAQ'S and believe you are not exactly correct on storage of conventional and nuclears .... They generally were stored together, intermixed in the very same places .... In Korea and possibly some other places they were separate in an area to themselves called a "Maximum Security Area" . I was a launcher crewman and crew chief for eight years, so I have first hand info.

Comments from Charlie Hancock
The conventional High Explosive (HE) warhead (T-45) was built to be used only in the training mode. The crew wanted to see the R-cat fall when they hit it. The HE warhead contained 650 pounds of Composition-B as its explosive and 20,000 square steel fragments, packed in two layers around the nose part of the warhead.

Later the HE warhead was installed in tactical missiles, especially in overseas locations.

In addition, a warhead designated T-46 was developed, tested, but never deployed. It was a "Sub-munitions" warhead. Looked like a 55 gal barrel with small, round sub-munitions attached to it. The idea was the main charge would explode, sending the sub-munitions into the interior of an aircraft or when used in a surface-to-surface mode would scatter in a wide dispersment.

We also shot a Herc missile at a Herc missile. It hit it. We shot a herc missile way up (over 200K ft), turned it around and fired it back in as a target. We then successfully shot another missile at it. This was testing the ATBM capability.

Later as the manuverability of aircraft increased we developed and installed an improvement to the missile's turning ability, increasing it from 7 G's to 10 G's.

The warheads were developed by the Army using inhouse organizations such as Picatinny Arsenal.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

What about the nuclear warheads?
Questions from James Sullivan, Answer from "Bud" Halsey

1. Nike Hercules used the W-31 warhead.

2. Although some procedures regarding the storage and handling of nuclear weapons remains classified today, the Nike missile warhead section (M-22, M-23 or M-97) was an integral part of the Nike missile. Since the warhead section was part of the missile, it was stored either in underground magazines or at special ammunition supply points. At those sites that had nuclear warhead-armed missiles, the storage procedures were established by higher headquarters, with nuclear-armed missiles stored either in separate magazines or in a separate section of a magazine separated from the non-nuclear missiles.

3. There were no ordnance officers assigned to the Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) of a Nike firing battery.

4. Details of when the nuclear weapons were armed are not available. However, there were several safety devices built into the missile that required certain "G" forces on firing to "arm" the missile in flight, and certain barometric and other safety devices to assure it did not detonate below a minimum safe burst altitude.

5. Even today, the government "neither confirms nor denies" the presence of a nuclear weapon at any given site (or base or ship). ... Nike Ajax did not have a nuclear capability.

The basis of much of the answer above is taken from Chuck Hansen's book, "U.S. Nuclear Weapons-The Secret History". Bud Halsey, Site Manager, Nike Site SF-88, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

----------- End of Bud Halsey's answer ----------

Here is a list of U.S. nuclear warheads including the W31

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Who's financing the restoration of the San Francisco site?
Question from Wurzbach, Answer from "Bud" Halsey
Basically, the Nike site is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of 379 national parks in the United States. The Nike site, however, gets no federal funding, so everything here (except the phone bill) is paid by donation money we get or by individual contributions from the Nike site volunteers themselves ($7,000) was contributed by volunteers in 1996 alone).

The Army is willing to donate surplus Nike equipment to us, but the cost of transporting it to the site from Army depots in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Utah must be borne by the volunteers. Also, most of the Nike equipment has now been destroyed or sold to scrap dealers. I sometimes have to buy critical pieces from scrap dealers (with my own money) just to get a piece we need. Our greatest expenses these days, aside from transportation costs, are for paint and rust inhibitors.

I am able to get some surplus equipment from the military (e.g. a fork lift, shelving, etc.) through the Defense Relocation Management Offices (DRMO) that are redistributing Department of Defense surpluses to other agencies as a result of military base closures.

None of our volunteers, including me, get paid for our work. In 1996, we donated 9,000 hours of volunteer work to this site.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Can I contribute?
Question from wurzbach (, Answer from "Bud" Halsey
As to how you could contribute, we of course accept all "sweat labor"-- the greatest source of our volunteer work force. If someone wants to donate money, we accept that also. If someone were to send a check, it should be made payable to the
and earmarked "Nike Site".

Nike Site
c/o National Park Service
Bldg. 964, Ft. Barry
Sausalito, CA 94965-2609

The Fort Point and Presidio Historical Association, who handles our restoration account, is a 501(c)3 organization under federal and state tax codes, so contributions are fully tax deductible.
I hope this information answers your questions. Bud Halsey, Site Manager
Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

What was the earth berm in the launcher area for?
Answer from "Bud" Halsey
When Nike Ajax was used, they had to be fueled with very dangerous, explosive, and corrosive fuel. The possibility of accidental explosion was very real and present. The earth berm surrounded the fueling area, and in the event of an accidental explosion, it would channel the explosive force upward--not outward thereby giving others at the launch area a better chance to survive the explosion.

When Nike Hercules was introduced and Nike Ajax removed, the former fueling area became the assembly and warheading area where explosive parts of Nike Hercules were assembled. Thus, the berm continued to provide protection for others at the site in the event of accidental explosion. The warheading building in Ajax times was where the missiles were assembled. In Hercules times, the warheads were placed into the missile at this spot. It was felt that the placement of warheads, particularly the nuclear ones, could be done better inside better than outside in the cold or rain.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

How to the keep up a rate of fire while also reloading the launchers?
> Question:
> How were you guys suppose to reload the rails while firing was going on?
Answer from "Bud" Halsey
Concerning your question about sustaining the rate of fire and reloading, you might recall the launchers are arranged by section in the launch area. A section normally consisted of four launchers arrayed in a line connected by transport and handling rails. Another section or sections would be similarly arrayed nearby. For every four launchers, there was usually an underground magazine where the missiles were stored. If the magazine was a type "B" or type "D" magazine, there was a launcher on the elevator, and three other "satellite" launchers above ground (one launcher to the right of the elevator, two launchers to the left as you face the principal direction of firing). With this arrangement, you had several options on how you fired the missiles at a sustained rate.

One method was to bring the first missile up on the elevator launcher (launcher #1) and fire it from the launcher #1. Then lower the elevator to the magazine, get the second missile, take it up and fire it from the launcher #1. You could repeat this process six times until all missiles in the magazine were fired. Your rate of fire is limited in this process by the speed by which you could move the missile (below ground) onto the elevator, raise the elevator (34 seconds) and fire. The advantages of this method include speed, working below ground in the magazine and perhaps a better sequence of selecting the missile (and warhead) to fire.

The other method, the method usually used when you had sufficient time, was to bring four missiles up one at a time placing them on the three "satellite" above-ground (launchers #2, #3 & #4). The fourth missile to be raised would be on the elevator launcher (#1) and it would normally be fired first. This would clear the elevator so it could return below to pick up the first "reload" missile. This would be fired next, and the elevator would go down again to get the second "reload" (the last remaining missile in the magazine). Once that missile was fired, the three satellite launchers would be fired in any sequence the commander ordered. Advantages of this system is that it gets 4 of your 6 missiles above ground before firing in a relatively short time (about 5 minutes) before any firing begins, pre-launch procedures can be accomplished with no firing underway, and the crew can take cover.

Regardless of the method used, keep in mind several facts. The actual firing generated considerable noise and flame, but the effects of firing last but a split second. Some minor damage to the launcher may occur (paint burned or a cable singed) but usually you can fire again about as fast as you can reload the launcher and have the missile tracking radar return to lock onto the second missile. Also remember that the other section or sections have their missiles ready to fire, so you can skip from section to section within the battery thereby giving any section a few more minutes to prepare the launcher to fire again. Hope that clears this point up.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to fire off of the launcher on the elevator?
Two (fortunately similar ;-) answers:

this from Bud Halsey
and this from Harrington, David B. (May 2004)
> Question:
> You mention firing off the launcher on the elevator. Would that be dangerous?
Answer from "Bud" Halsey
Possibly you think the launcher on the elevator, upon firing, places the magazine in some sort of jeopardy from fire and burning debris. There is always that possibility, but the risk is pretty minimal for the following reasons: When launcher #1 is raised to its near vertical firing position, the nozzle ends of the rocket motor cluster are not positioned directly above the elevator but are actually positioned above the blast deflector behind and off the elevator. With the extremely large thrust generated at the moment of firing, the missile, and its trail of flame, is not near the elevator for more than a split second. Remember, this missile goes off like a bottle rocket, not like the space shots we see on TV where the rocket seems to burn on the launcher for a long time before it begins to rise slowly off the pad.

The elevator doors, in the open position, hang down, and in the closed position are raised to form a cover over the magazine (and the elevator itself now in the "down" position). The closed doors keep rain, weather and outside stuff out of the magazine. When the elevator is raised, it goes up for several extra inches when it reaches the top, then it settles on four steel locking bars. The locking bars support the elevator for firing. Without the elevator being on locking bars, upon firing the downward thrust of the rocket cluster would drive the elevator and missile downward overcoming the hydraulic pressure that raised it initially.

> Question:
> Were the rails mechanized or would missile movement have to be done by the crew?
The Nike launching rails (supporting the missiles) were moved "by hand", generally one person near the aft end of the missile (and rail) and one person near the front end pushing the rail sideways to the desired launcher. Two people helped prevent the rail twisting and then binding.

From Harrington, David B.
Normal procedure was to load all launchers in a given section, with the last (4th) missile left on the elevator, and fired first, from it. That left three missiles available to fire during reload. During normal operations, there was only one pit crew available, so that any additional pits were unmanned, and hence not loaded. A minor point, is that after the missile was fired, the launcher rail was left behind. When the missile was fired off the elevator, the crew would have to bring the elevator down, push the rail off the elevator/launcher to a side, and load another missile from the other side. Logic says that to do this, all the missiles from one side of the pit were loaded first, and the empty rails would be placed there. With the elevator topside, there was no way to reposition a rail from one side to the other. Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Q - Could tell me who the NIKE MISSILE was named after?
I was told that the missile was named after the Greek goddess "Nike", goddess of victory.
Searching AltaVista for yielded a surprising amount of info
"She" was so honored that she had a major temple on the Acropolis

Athena (goddess of wisdom) has been represented by a 42 foot high statue ("largest indoor statue in the world") with Nike standing on her right hand. (Yes - Nike's feet are on the right hand of Athena.)

Probably the most famous statue of Nike is "Nike of Samothrace" to commemorate a victorious sea battle. It is currently in the Louvre, Paris

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Q - How do you know it will work since you don't shoot it here?
Extensive self testing was designed into the Nike system and was an integral part of the daily and weekly maintenance schedules. In general there was some method of testing each major component individually and testing the connections from the previous component in the chain, and testing the connections to the next component in the chain. Some of the tests are visual - does the scope light up and make the correct type of display. Others had numeric values or condition lights to check.

An example of a major component test is the system of tests for the analog computer. It could be put into a test mode, and a number of preset input conditions could be selected, and the outputs could be checked roughly on the plotting boards and in detail on a special meter. (The tracking radar self tests of leveling and bore sighting are covered in another segment.)

An example of a test from the previous system into the system under test is positioning the tracking radars to specified elevation, azimuth, and range and observing the correct values in the computer output.

An example of a test to the next system is the arrival of the missile predicted intercept azimuth angle at the missile.

One thing that was taken on faith was the ability of the booster rocket igniter, the sustainer motor igniter, and the warheads to actually fire. (Electrical continuity through the various igniters or squibs could and was tested at low current without igniting the unit.) The proper operation (ignition) at normal current was assumed. In practice shots, this was not a high failure rate item.

In actual practice (test firings at the test ranges), this testing and verification seemed to work very well. The major problem that I have heard about was a low percentage (3%??) of "moon shot"s. This was where the missile launched but did not appear to accept any commands, and continued vertically until out of the tracking range of the missile tracking radar.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Q - What is an Analog Computer?

A) A calculating device that does not use actual numbers.
An example is the slide rule, where length was a number is a length between marks.
The Nike system used an electronic analog computer where a voltage level was treated as a number. For instance,
0.7 millivolts is 1 yard
1.4 millivolts is 2 yards
0.7 volts is 1000 yards
70.0 volts is 100,000 yards
105.0 volts is 150,000 yards

Q) What is the voltage for 1 mile?
A) 1 mile is 1760 yards so 0.0007 volts * 1760 = 1.232 volts

Q) What is the biggest range (voltage)?
A) +- 150 Volts

Q) What is the voltage for 1 second?
A) ???? 1 volt? ????

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

How do you convert the radar slant range and antenna angles into Cartesian coordinates?

A) Height (H direction)
The slant range from the tracking system is sent to the antenna mount to the elevation potentiometer (on the antenna elevation shaft).

The potentiometer is specially constructed (wire wound) to produce the trigonometric sin of the elevation angle multiplied by the slant range voltage giving the height of the tracked object. This height is the height of a horizontal plane through the tracking radar.

The cosine output of the elevation potentiometer (driven by the elevation angle and the slant range voltage) is the horizontal range used below.

North (X direction)
The horizontal range (from above) is sent to the antenna mount azimuth potentiometer which is on the antenna azimuth shaft.

This potentiometer is constructed to produce the trigonometric cosine (and sin) of the azimuth angle. The cosine of the antenna angle times the horizontal range voltage (from above) gives the NorthSouth (X direction) voltage.

Antennas don't drift much in azimuth angle so verifying the antenna azimuth angles is checked maybe once a month.

East (Y direction)
Another output of the azimuth potentiometer is the sin of the azimuth angle times the horizontal range giving the EastWest (Y direction) voltage.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get the radars to agree the Target/Missile is at the same Height, North, East?

A) The ground under the tracking radar shifts with humidity and temperature, and the metal of the tracking radar expands differentially in sun light and shade. To minimize height differences (errors) of the target between the target and missile antennas to less than 5 yards at 50,000 yards, the tracking antennas must be frequently, carefully leveled by the crew to an error of less than 0.005 degrees!!

After leveling, and boresighting (align the optical telescope parallel with the radar beam), the antennas are pointed so the telescopes look at each other. They should be 180 degrees different in azimuth and the sum of the elevation angles must be 0 degrees. If not, adjust them to be such.

The alignment to North is not so critical (mis-alignment will not cause a missile miss) - but will cause human confusion. The North Star appears to go in a little circle about the rotational axis of the earth. The maximum error is 0.5 degree (about the diameter of the moon). We found the North Star with the Target Tracking telescope, found middle azimuth between furthest east and west and called that north, and lined up the acquisition radar to match.

Part of your real job as battery commander is to assure that all required adjustments are performed correctly, frequently enough so the potential accuracy of the system is available at all times the system is scheduled to be available for action. NOTE: The various daily checks and adjustments take over half an hour - much too long to do if the enemy is flying toward you.

Frank E. Rappange points out that there is a check that demonstrates that all of the adjustments REALLY WORK. " ...the main test (that had to be performed every 6 hrs, when on 30' SOA) was the 'Simultaneous Tracking Test'. In this test the MTR was set to 'skin track mode' and both TTR (and TRR) and MTR locked on the same target. The BCO could read the voltage difference for the positions of the respective radars in the BC Van. Readings were made for both TTR and TRR in the difference pulse modes. It was the decision of the BCO to accept the system or not."

The Event Recorder uses values assuming all adjustments are correct. If they are not, you have just fooled your self into thinking every thing went well when in fact you could have missed by 100 yards, probably causing the target a minor bump.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

How many tubes are in the computer?

A) about 250 vacuum tubes and 10 gas tubes (for power supplies)
Analog computers use "operational amplifiers".
This one uses about 70 operational amplifiers,
with 5 tubes for each 2 amplifiers,
35*5 = 175
And about 16 amplifiers to move motors (for potentiometers) 7*4 = 28
And about 8 power supplies about 5 tubes each 8*5 = 40
And other functions such as driving relays 10*1 = 10
total about 250

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know that the tracking antenna radar beam is parallel to the tracking antenna telescope beam?

A) A procedure called "bore sighting" - the same idea as making the barrel of a big gun (or telescope) match the calibrated markings.

A test antenna with weak radar signal is permanently mounted on a tall pole about 500 yards away from the tracking antennas. This test antenna also has optical targets (correctly offset about 4 feet to allow for offset of tracking antenna telescope) to adjust the tracking antenna telescope to point parallel with the antenna radar beam.

This completes actual bore sighting. The following helps assure that both antennas agree (especially azimuth).

The Target Tracking Antenna and Missile Tracking Antennas are pointed at each other, the telescopes pointed at cross hairs placed in front of each telescope and other adjustments are made.

The procedure is a bit long to describe and understand in this time frame.

Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Hercules missile data again

combined booster and body
length 39 feet
weight 10,550 pounds
length 27 feet
weight 5,250 pounds
body diam. 32 inches
fin diam. 90 inches
thrust 13,500 pounds
burn time 29 seconds
length 14 feet (including 2 feet of coupling with body
weight 5300 pounds
body diam. 34 inches
fin diam. 138 inches
thrust 173,600 pounds
burn time 3.4 sec

If you have comments or suggestions, Send e-mail to Ed Thelen

Return to Home Page
Return to beginning of Frequently Asked Questions

Updated June, 2019