Following World War II, the onset of nuclear weapons, long-range jet bombers, and ballistic missiles radically changed American foreign policy and military strategy. The Air Force, led by men of far-sighted vision and uncommon dedication, accepted the challenge of organizing and leading a massive research and development effort to build ballistic missiles. In the quarter of a century since, these weapons have constituted one of the three legs of the strategic triad—the basis of America's strategy of deterring nuclear war—yet they have received less attention from the public and within the Air Force than the more glamorous manned bombers of the Strategic Air Command or the missile-launching submarines of the U.S. Navy. This volume attempts to correct the imbalance by telling the story of the development of Air Force ballistic missiles. It concentrates on the first generation of ballistic missiles: the intercontinental Atlas and Titan, and the intermediate range Thor. Although the effort to develop rockets has a longer history than commonly assumed, the modern history spans the relatively short era from 1945 to 1960. During this brief interval, missiles advanced from drawing board to alert status, where the next generation now remains poised to deter war. The author describes the difficulties involved in the technological competition with the Soviets to be first to develop and deploy a ballistic missile force. With innovative leadership, the Air Force succeeded also in overcoming conflict with the Army and Navy, budgetary constraints, administrative complications, and of course formidable engineering problems.
Preface * INTRODUCTION * I. PILOTLESS AIRCRAFT * Early Experimental Guided Missiles * Interservice Rivalry * The Postwar Program * II. BALLISTIC MISSILES RESEARCH * Modern Rockets * Project MX-774 * The National Guided Missile Program * USAF Missile Program, 1947-1950 * Atomic-Equipped Missiles * III. THE CONTEST FOR CONTROL * Project MX-1593 Atlas Reorganizing for Missiles Roles and Missions Controversy * IV. A RADICAL REORGANIZATION * The New Look * The Air Force Accelerates * A West Coast Facility * V. A FAMILY OF MISSILES * Parallel Development * A National Priority * Initial Operational Capability * Thor * VI. THE POOR MAN'S APPROACH * ICBM Initial Operational Capability * IRBM Initial Operational Capability * The Economy Axe * The Furor over Sputnik * Final Plans * VII. THE OPERATIONAL FORCE * ICBM Squadrons * The Concurrency Concept * Site Activation * Flight Testing * Construction * Aerospace Corporation * Deploying the First Generation * Reliability Problems * Final Deployments * IRBM Squadrons * Minuteman * Phase-out-Phase-in * Retiring Thor and Jupiter * Retiring Atlas and Titan I * EPILOGUE * APPENDICES * 1. The Teapot Committee Report * 2. The Gillette Report * 3. Major Officials in Ballistic Missiles Development * NOTES * GLOSSARY * BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE