Titan II Missile Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

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numbersix

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Titan II Missile Silo Museum, Tucson, Arizona, USA

I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Titan II missile museum in Arizona two years ago. It was on my honeymoon, so much kudos to my wife for letting us go! OK, it's not very derelict, but it's not used any more and it's the only one of its kind that's not filled in and inaccessible.

The museum is well worth visiting if you happen to be in Arizona, the website can be found here
http://www.titanmissilemuseum.org/

Covering the launch duct is a 760 ton concrete and steel door. It slides on runners and can be opened in about 19 seconds. To comply with SALT, the door is now fixed half open with big concrete blocks, this is so satellites can see in and verify that the missile is still disarmed:

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There are a number of comms antennae on the surface, this one would only pop up out of the ground when needed:

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This one was much smaller but hardened against blast:

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The entrance to the silo is fairly small, the rattlesnake warning is an original feature:

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The entrance takes you down several flights of metal stairs into the entry lock. The blastdoors are large and heavy, but are so well balanced that the tour guide was able to pick a child out of the crowd and have him move the door easily on his own. If you look in the top left of the picture you'll see the emergency lighting unit is suspended on springs. This is typical of many items inside the site, including the plant, electrical distribution boards etc and would have helped the site survive a near miss and subsequent earth movement:

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This is a closeup of the sign on the inside of the blastdoors:

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A picture looking back out of the entry lock:

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Once through the entry lock if you look right you can see the long tunnel that leads to the launch duct:

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Turning left takes you into the control centre and living accomodation:

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The control room is impressive and one lucky member of the tour party (not me sadly) got to sit in the commanders chair and then push 'The Button' when the crew members had performed all the other prerequisite tasks. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to ask the tour guide if I could sit in the chair and have my wife take my picture, but as the tour was moving on fairly quickly I got kind of carried along with it. Maybe I'll make it back one day.

The living accomodation was fairly spartan, as was to be expected:

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After seeing the living accomodation we moved along the tunnel to the launch duct. Moving down the tunnel it's possible to see that all the cable trays are suspened from adjustable spring mounts:

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The tunnel is constructed in sections with large loops of cable between the sections, this allows the tunnel to shift and shear an amount before the cables break in case of a near miss:

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You couldn't be alone anywhere in the launch duct, this was to make sure that a single person couldn't subvert the missile launch by damaging things.

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The missile was fueled by hydrazine and unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine in a 50/50 mix called Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide. They're really, really nasty on their own, but bring them together and all hell breaks loose as they ignite on contact. The fuels were put in one at a time and the crew had to wear these suits to give them a few seconds of protection should there be a fuel leak.

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We went on the 'Beyond the Blastdoors' tour which is a bit longer than the usual one and you get to go right down to level 7 of the launch duct to see the bottom of the missile. It's a truly awe inspiring sight to look up at the missile and think about how it might have carried the largest warhead in the US arsenal at the time over to the USSR.

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After we were done with our moment of shock and awe, we moved back up to the surface and into one of the museum lecture rooms where we had a good long chat with the veteran Titan II crew members who had taken us on our tour. The stories they had to tell were fascinating and showed how dangerous it was to work in a silo with a missile fueled with Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide! After thanking the crew for the tour we went on our way and left the site feeling very satisifed, but somewhat poorer having hammered my credit card in the museum gift shop!
 
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Bishop

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Brilliant write up and pics numbersix. Those last two snaps are great, I so want to go there.

B ;)
 

Ancient Mariner

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Nice report! Being a child of the cold war I have always had a great interest in the Titan I & II missile systems and would certainly visit the museum if ever I was in that part of the world.

For those that are interested, each base controlled 3 silos containing 1 missile each. These bases are now all deactivated but can still be found on flashearth. In 1967 (year after I was born) there were 63 of these missiles in active service.

An example is shown here where you can clearly see the 3 silo door caps.
 
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numbersix

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That only applies to Titan I doesn't it, where you have a single underground complex that has one control centre and three missile ducts? Titan II was a one to one ratio.

This shows the museum site from the air, you can see the launch duct right in the middle, the entrance is off to the SW of the launch duct.
 
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Cuban B.

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Good report mate, the pictures are become more interesting with their explanation.
 

numbersix

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If anyone's interested in finding out more, Siloworld has stacks and stacks of information.

This is a link to the Titan I 'Dash 1', the manual that tells you everything you need to know about running a Titan I silo. It's 70MB, but well worth a read.
 

sqwasher

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Nice one! :mrgreen: Really got into your descriptions of the place as you moved around! You've got some good pics too-the last one is really cool! :cool: What a honeymoon!
 

Richard Davies

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Very interesting, many shots remind me of the opening sequence of War Games (1983).
 
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