Did you know that there is a (real) former Cold War ICBM missile silo that you can actually tour with all its original equipment and missile? Probably the only one in the world?
It is in a formerly Air Force restricted area near Tuscon Arizona.
You have to drive through some dust storms to reach eat, but it is quite an amazing and in depth tour of the entire nuclear command experience.
After reading the Titan II book, you want to visit this national landmark site in person. And as a Cold War veteran myself, it is nice to see some of these places memorialized.
It has a full museum that contains a former warhead re-entry vehicle which was huge and also helps you to see how the Titan II missile system was used to launch the early Gemini NASA space capsules as well.
If you want to know why the re-entry vehicle was so large, check out the actual warhead design. The Titan II carried a 9.2 megaton single warhead which was massive at its time. It was so large because they did not have GPS guidance systems – they were all dependent on gyros that were synced with the North Star before they were launched (truth).
OK – let’s head down into the command center. It is a vertical set of stairs down about 4 stories.
At the bottom, you encounter your first set of 6 ton blast doors which have amazing gimbals and ball bearings that allow the door to be moved smoothly open and closed. Unfortunately, the hydraulics are not working, so we could not lock ourselves in with the massive pins.
From there we walk through another set of blast doors and enter the living quarters and command center.
It was quite surprising on how much original equipment, controls and keys were preserved.
Even most of the the manuals and publications were declassified and available in the control room.
You can even train and practice launch procedures using all the equipment and checklists!
Next, let’s head down the long tunnel to the actual missile silo.
You can get up close and examine all elements of the launch and control systems and almost touch the missile itself. It is a huge giant rocket and is quite enormous to see in person.
You can also go up on top and see the massive 60 ton silo cover that is left open to look down at the missile in place. The silo cover is left open to not only let people see inside, but it is also based on the agreement with Russia and the SALT agreement to allow the silo to remain in place and not be destroyed.
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