Jupiter IRBM Site Configuration

The Army originally planned that Jupiter would be a mobile missile; a road- transportable weapon that could be moved from one location to another in a matter of hours. The Air Force thought there was little to be gained in having a mobile IRBM and elected to deploy the missiles at fixed launch sites.

A Jupiter squadron consisted of 15 missiles and approximately 500 officers and men. The missiles were organized into five "flights" of three missiles each. To reduce their vulnerability, the flights were located several miles apart. Each flight contained three launch emplacements, each of which was separated by a distance of several hundred yards. Each flight was composed of five officers and ten airmen.

The ground support equipment for each emplacement was housed in approximately 20 vehicles. They included two generator trucks, a power distribution truck, short- and long-range theodolites, a hydraulic and pneumatic truck, and a truck carrying liquid oxygen. Another trailer carried 6,000 gallons of fuel, and three liquid oxygen trailers each carried 4,000 gallons.

The missile arrived at the emplacement on a large trailer. While it was still on the trailer, the crew attached the hinged launch pedestal to the base of the missile. Using a powerful winch, which drew a cable through a succession of "A" and "H" frames, the crew pulled the missile into its upright firing position. Once the missile was vertical, the crew attached the fuel lines and encased the bottom third of the missile in a so-called "flower petal shelter". The shelter consisted of a dozen wedge- shaped metal panels and allowed the crew to service the missile during inclement weather.

The missiles were stored in an upright position on the launch pad. The firing sequence, which consisted primarily of pumping 68,000 pounds of liquid oxygen and 30,000 pounds of RP-1 aboard, took about 15 minutes. The three missiles that comprised each flight were controlled by an officer and two crewmen seated in a mobile launch control trailer.

Each squadron was supported by a receipt, inspection, and maintenance (RIM) area well to the rear of the emplacements. RIM teams accepted and inspected new missiles, and also provided both scheduled maintenance and emergency repair to missiles in the field. Each RIM area also housed 25-ton liquid oxygen and nitrogen generating plants. Several times a week, tanker trucks carried the gases from the plant to the individual emplacements.