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- Titan Missile Base (Arizona) -
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THE SECOND GENERATION liquid fuelled Titan II is the largest Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) ever developed by the United States. The first missile was installed in December 1962. In total there were 54 Titan II missile sites, all ready to fire by 31 December 1963.
   There were 18 missiles at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (390th Strategic Missile Wing) near Tucson, Arizona. The 571-7 complex, now the Titan Missile Museum, went into active service on 15 July 1963. For over twenty years the missiles were kept in a state of readiniess in their underground silos, fuelled with propellant and armed with nuclear warheads. They could be launched within one minute from the time an order might be received.

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Each site took approximately 18 months to construct by local labour. The cost of each complex was over $US 8 million and each missile was costed at over $US 2 million.
    From 1981 to 1987, all Titan IIs were phased-out of service - sites, except that at the Titan II Missile Museum, and nuclear warheads were destroyed. Missile rockets were retrofitted and used to launch weather and communications satellites.
    On May 8, 1986, the present site was released by the war department for use as a museum. Before the missile was placed in the silo modifications had to be made to the both silo and missile that could be verified by ground inspection and satellite observation. These would ensure that the missile could no longer be regarded as a viable offensive weapon. The measures included the making of holes in the missile's propellant tanks, the fixing of the silo closure door in a half open position, and the installation of a skylight over the open half of the silo launch tube.
    The unique nature of this exhibit was recognized on 6 April 1994 when the United States Department of the Interior designated the Titan Missile Museum as a National Historic Landmark.

     (Map showing the location of the base with acknowledgement to John Noyce and PIMA Air Museum)

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Two views of the missile in the silo (above). The lower section visible here forms Stage II of the rocket structure. The brass ring around the missile above this section is the point where Stage II separates from the re-entry vehicle (warhead) during flight.

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An outdoor unit controls the supply of fuel to the rocket from the neighbouring fuel dumps.

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Two windows have been cut in the launch duct wall to enable easy viewing. Through the window, at the level of Stage II, one can see two figures in Rocket Fuel Handlers' suits performing maintenance tasks on the missile. One is checking for propellant leaks with a probe type device attached to a Portable Vapor Detector (PVD).
    At the feet of the figures are two umbilicals (there are five in all) which formed the electrical link between the missile and the control center and which were released when the missile was launched.

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The control centre is situated in a reinforced concrete bunker in close proximity to the silo. The firing operation required the use of two keys. Both keys had to be turned within two seconds of each other and held for 5 seconds.
   Although the guidance system had a 100 target capability generally only three were programmed. Before launch one of these targets would be selected.

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