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Charlie Battery - 1959 - 1961

The Launching Area

- Click Here For Larger Image -Alpha Section

This is a perfect illustration of a Nike Launching Pad. Most launching sections that I have seen have 3 launchers each. The missiles roll across each launcher on rails that have sets of rollers both front and back, and move along tracks that go into the hanger where the Nike Hercules were stored. The tracks also extend out past the rear hanger door so missile trailers can pull up to on or off load other missiles, which is clearly demonstrated in the Pop-up of image 5 of this page. “Click Here” to view that image.

Also the revetment can be easily seen. Basically, it was a small protected room with hallways to the front, and out the back. A rear passage was necessary because the diesel electrical generator shed was behind the revetment, and during alerts every section fired up theirs up. Every area was electrically independent during alerts.

However my first Nike base, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, had 4 launchers. This Nike base was a sophisticated and complex launching area that had a huge underground concrete missile storage area that brought missiles up and down on a huge elevator that had a launcher on it, which was the 4th launcher. So we could move missiles around on, as well as fire from that elevator.

It was a serious industrial device that had to travel quite a ways up to the surface. And when in the underground storage area, watching it elevate was fairly awesome sight, especially when the elevator reached its resting point on the surface. It had these massive locking devices slammed into the locking points on the elevator making crashingly loud din, painfully amplified by the cavernous space we were in.

A diagram of an underground storage area can be seen a PDF that explains the premise of a Nike Base and its various configurations. It helps one to have a more clear overview of a Nike Site. Please “Click Here” to view/download the article.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -PFC Neil Watson - Section Panel Operator

Neil Watson was kind of a mentor to me. He was the man who helped me learn to become a section panel operator. I think it's quite possible that Neil was the very first Section Panel Operator of Alpha Section, and I, replacing Neil, became the second.

He had a great sense of humor and we spent many an hour drinking beer in wild converstions about the irony of just about everything. He was from Baltimore, Maryland. Here's what I mean... Click Here.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Alpha Section Panel

This was my office. I wanted to be a section panel operator from the first time I saw one back at my first station with 1st Missle Battalion, 52nd Artillery, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Camp Hanford, Washington State. So I worked on making sure that would happen.

The first thing I had going for me was that the current panel operator, Neil Watson, (image above) was part of the group I used to hang out with. He basically showed me the ropes, and when it came time for him to rotate home I stepped in seemlessly.

The second thing I had going for me was SFC John Chambers. He helped me get section panel manuals from missile maintenance, so that I could be knowledgeable on a technical level. It was my experience that John Chambers was always supportive when one show initiative and was a self starters, I think he respected that in people

In this image the missile on launcher 2 is selected and being made ready to fire. The rounded rectangle at the bottom center of the panel has the flip down door open. This section of selectors, switches, and toggles, is where the section could manually fire the missiles if all the other systems failed, or lost communication. Can you figure out which one is the firing switch, hmmmm... I wonder... which one is it?

Section panel operator was a lot more interesting job, and one was always involved in the loop of action, using communication headsets. We always seemed to do well in alert evaluations.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -The Outer Perimeter And Inner Section Service Roads

Here we see the section inner service road with a rear view of the missile hanger. Visible as well, are the tracks extending out of the rear hanger door, allowing missile trailers to up and download missiles.

An excellent view of a of missile trailers with two missiles on them are illustrated on images 6 and 7 below.

And in the far distance to the right, past the empty missile trailer and behind a berm, is Charlie Section's missile hanger. Their generator shed is barely visible just above the trailer and to the left of the base of the guard tower. A great view of the back of their revetment can be seen on the last image of the following link, so “Click Here” to view that image.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Missile Trailer On Alpha Section Inner Service Road

This is the kind of trailer that would pull up to the tracks in the rear of the missile hanger to deal with missiles. They are also the trailers we would tow to exchange missiles at Baumholder.

Also visible is the rear of Alpha Section's revetment, and to the far left, part of the generator shed.

And to the far right, a Nike Ajax in its launcher with its cover. There were missiles on the launchers 24/7/365.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Guided Missile Trailers Pulled By 5 Ton Cargo Trucks

Image by Jim Fitzpatrick - Pennsylvania - 1960

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Bravo Section With Alpha Section Just Above It

This is a good shot of Bravo Section, unfortunately it's a bit out of focus. There are some images that even Photoshop can't fix. However, it is still useful because it shows the Alpha Section and Bravo relationship.

After passing through the the inner perimeter security gate one would take an immediate left and go up the hill to Alpha, and to go to Bravo Section one go to the immediate right, down the hill. So the two sections were almost in a straight line from each other. And Charlie Section is to the right in this image.

Isn't that fascinating...!

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Bravo Secton - I Think It’s A Rocket

This is a great shot, and I discovered why while using the magnification tool. It's amazing how many little treasures I have found with this tool while working with all of these images. Visuals that are to small and get passed by, or just by not being observant enough.

What I discovered was something I stressed upon at the begining of this section, but in the reverse. And that is the importance of “Line of Site” from the Launching Area and The IFC. I pointed out the notches in the tree line exposing the three sections, and in this detail it is illustrated perfectly, but from the opposite perspective. If you “Click Here”, you will see what I mean. It was a wonderful little discovery.

Also in the detail on the back track to the launcher, on the far right is a “Yellow Safety Stop”. They prevent any movement along the tracks, and they are simply flipped either forward to be utilized, or backward to be cleared.

Image by Ken Nendick - Chicago -1960

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Bravo Section Ammo Dump

Image by Ken Nendick - Chicago -1960

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- Click Here For Larger Image -From Inside The Revetment (Duck...!)

Image by Ken Nendick - Chicago -1960

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