Military

Gallery: Titan Missile Museum takes visitors back to Cold War times

Gallery: Titan Missile Museum ...
The Titan Missile Museum contains a deactivated Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in its silo
The Titan Missile Museum contains a deactivated Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in its silo
View 47 Images
The Titan Museum includes exhibits chronicling the Cold War career of the Titan II
1/47
The Titan Museum includes exhibits chronicling the Cold War career of the Titan II
The Titan Museum offers tours of the launch facility
2/47
The Titan Museum offers tours of the launch facility
This color illustration shows how the entire launch facility was buried underground for protection against a nuclear strike
3/47
This color illustration shows how the entire launch facility was buried underground for protection against a nuclear strike
The main entrance to the underground facility
4/47
The main entrance to the underground facility
The stairs leading into the main facility
5/47
The stairs leading into the main facility
The entrance showing the sole security camera
6/47
The entrance showing the sole security camera
The stairs to the command center go down three storys
7/47
The stairs to the command center go down three storys
The facility was protected by a series of large steel blast doors
8/47
The facility was protected by a series of large steel blast doors
The inner bunker walls can withstand 1,000 psi of force in the event of an attack
9/47
The inner bunker walls can withstand 1,000 psi of force in the event of an attack
The main control room where the Titan II missile was monitored and fired
10/47
The main control room where the Titan II missile was monitored and fired
Many areas of the site could only be visited by at least two men at a time for security reasons
11/47
Many areas of the site could only be visited by at least two men at a time for security reasons
The facility had enough air inside to keep the four-man crew alive for 17 days and food for 30 days
12/47
The facility had enough air inside to keep the four-man crew alive for 17 days and food for 30 days
Control room electronics and 24-hour clock
13/47
Control room electronics and 24-hour clock
One of the springs that protect the main control room from the shock of a nuclear explosion in the vicinity of the base
14/47
One of the springs that protect the main control room from the shock of a nuclear explosion in the vicinity of the base
Part of the control room electronics
15/47
Part of the control room electronics
The safe that contains the orders and instructions to be used in the event of a launch order
16/47
The safe that contains the orders and instructions to be used in the event of a launch order
It required two officers with official keys and the Presidential GO codes to arm and launch the missile
17/47
It required two officers with official keys and the Presidential GO codes to arm and launch the missile
A Titan II missile control board
18/47
A Titan II missile control board
Hazmat suits that would have been used for missile fueling operations
19/47
Hazmat suits that would have been used for missile fueling operations
The Titan II was retired as a weapon in 1987
20/47
The Titan II was retired as a weapon in 1987
One of the underground corridors in the Titan Missile Museum
21/47
One of the underground corridors in the Titan Missile Museum
This is the only intact Titan II silo
22/47
This is the only intact Titan II silo
An emergency medical station that was needed because the missile's propellants were extremely toxic and highly volatile
23/47
An emergency medical station that was needed because the missile's propellants were extremely toxic and highly volatile
Another of the springs that protect the main control room from the shock of a nuclear explosion in the vicinity of the base
24/47
Another of the springs that protect the main control room from the shock of a nuclear explosion in the vicinity of the base
The silo is jammed half open so it can be inspected by arms control surveillance satellites
25/47
The silo is jammed half open so it can be inspected by arms control surveillance satellites
The silo showing one of the maintenance platforms in position
26/47
The silo showing one of the maintenance platforms in position
The Titan II was powered by a pair of hypergolic fuels, Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide, that ignite on contact
27/47
The Titan II was powered by a pair of hypergolic fuels, Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide, that ignite on contact
Even the lights had to be set on springs to protect them from blast damage
28/47
Even the lights had to be set on springs to protect them from blast damage
A two-man only warning inside the launch silo
29/47
A two-man only warning inside the launch silo
A valve control board
30/47
A valve control board
Detail of the Cold War-era technology
31/47
Detail of the Cold War-era technology
One of the blast doors used to protect the facility
32/47
One of the blast doors used to protect the facility
There were no topside guards at the launch site and only one television camera at the entrance
33/47
There were no topside guards at the launch site and only one television camera at the entrance
Attack warning sirens to be used in the event of war
34/47
Attack warning sirens to be used in the event of war
A back up radio antenna that could be deployed after an attack
35/47
A back up radio antenna that could be deployed after an attack
The Titan Missile Museum contains a deactivated Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in its silo
36/47
The Titan Missile Museum contains a deactivated Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in its silo
The Stage 1 rocket engines on display
37/47
The Stage 1 rocket engines on display
The two Stage 1 engines that powered the Titan II that produce 430,000 lb of thrust
38/47
The two Stage 1 engines that powered the Titan II that produce 430,000 lb of thrust
The stage 2 rocket engine used to send the warhead on its suborbital trajectory
39/47
The stage 2 rocket engine used to send the warhead on its suborbital trajectory
A vernier motor used for attitude control for the Titan II missile
40/47
A vernier motor used for attitude control for the Titan II missile
The hardstand was used to transfer the propellants from tanker trucks to the missile once every few years
41/47
The hardstand was used to transfer the propellants from tanker trucks to the missile once every few years
A Cold War-era security vehicle
42/47
A Cold War-era security vehicle
Emergency drinking water issued by the Civil Defense department for use in the event of a nuclear war
43/47
Emergency drinking water issued by the Civil Defense department for use in the event of a nuclear war
Location of Titan II sites in the viciinity
44/47
Location of Titan II sites in the viciinity
Diagram of the launch facility
45/47
Diagram of the launch facility
Being in Arizona, rattlesnakes are a common visitor to the museum grounds
46/47
Being in Arizona, rattlesnakes are a common visitor to the museum grounds
An above ground radio antenna used to keep in contact with NORAD
47/47
An above ground radio antenna used to keep in contact with NORAD

As the Cold War fades into history, relics from the time go from top secret to public exhibits. Case in point is the Titan Missile Museum about 25 mi (40 km) south of Tucson, Arizona. Previously the US Air Force Facility Missile Site 8 or Titan II ICBM Site 571-7, the underground facility that was once home to a globe-spanning suborbital missile topped with a nine-megaton nuclear warhead is now a national landmark and a museum dedicated to the dark days of mutually assured destruction.

The Titan Missile Museum is the last of 54 Titan sites operated by the US Air Force from 1963 to 1987 as a hardened second-strike deterrent against Soviet nuclear attacks during the Cold War. The facility consisted of two underground, specially hardened buildings that acted as command center and support, as well as the silo that contained the liquid-fueled 103-foot (31-m) Titan II missile topped by a massive concrete and steel sliding lid.

In the event of an attack, two armed officers in the command center would wait for coded messages from the President of the United States. If one of these was received and verified, the GO code would be entered into the fire control system to arm the W53 hydrogen warhead and a pair of keys would be turned simultaneously for five seconds to launch the missile and send it toward its pre-programmed target.

Today, it is the only remaining Titan site, with the others either destroyed or converted into private residences. Even the museum has to conform to international arms control treaties. The warhead has been removed and the nose cone has an obvious hole in it to prove that it is empty, and similar holes have been cut in the propellant tanks and the heat shield. In addition, the protective top door is jammed in the halfway open position in a way that is clear to any satellite from orbit.

This color illustration shows how the entire launch facility was buried underground for protection against a nuclear strike
This color illustration shows how the entire launch facility was buried underground for protection against a nuclear strike

The above color illustration shows how the entire launch facility was buried underground for protection against a nuclear strike.

The Titan II was powered by a pair of hypergolic fuels, Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide, that ignite on contact
The Titan II was powered by a pair of hypergolic fuels, Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide, that ignite on contact

The Titan II was powered by a pair of hypergolic fuels, Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide, that ignite on contact.

The facility was protected by a series of large steel blast doors
The facility was protected by a series of large steel blast doors

The facility was protected by a series of large steel blast doors

If you want to experience this taste of Cold War times, the Titan Missile Museum is located at 1580 West Duval Mine Road, Sahuarita, Arizona. It's open 9:45 am to 5:00 pm Sunday to Friday (4:00 pm May to October) and 8:45 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday. It's closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. If you can't make it there, you can take a photographic tour via our gallery.

5 comments
Nelson Hyde Chick
What an insane waste of resources and money for something that would the death of life on this planet if it happened! Imagine all the good that could have been done with those resources and money!
guzmanchinky
I'm bummed I missed this on my desert tour. Next time. Cool pictures and article!
Rustin Lee Haase
I guess Nelson Hyde Chick would like to erase all historical records of every scary or unpleasant thing that ever happend. To be true to form Nelson should be for removing all Holocost memorials, the Vietnam memorial and the S.S.Arizona. Historical revisionism just to "Disney-fy" it makes it a lie and more evil thant what it is covering up. ...besides the best weapons are ones so effective that you never have to use them and these Titan missiles did that very well.
Rustin Lee Haase
The YouTuber "Death Wears Bunnyslippers" is going to find this extremely fascinating. His channel is all about his experiences renovating the control facility of another Titan missle base in Arkansas. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd50A5qLv8FemVufSvDgkCQ
Jean Lamb
I used to buy parts for those little darlings a long time ago--not easy when the last factory making some of the stuff shut down ten years before.