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MOB 1 - Greenham Common, England
Gryphon (GLCM) Main Operating Base 1 (MOB 1): RAF Greenham Common, England, UK. The 501st Tactical Missile Wing (TMW) was the first GLCM wing planted in Europe, activated in the summer of 1982. Its tactical unit was the 11th Tactical Missile Squadron, activated three months later. This wing was established and activated during World War II as 501st Bombardment Group, Very Heavy, then inactivated after the war. On 11 January 1982, it was consolidated with 701 Tactical Missile Wing, a Matador missile wing which had been established and activated in 1956, then inactivated in 1958. In January 1982, the 701 TMW was redesignated as the 501 TMW and activated on 1 July 1982. Because it was the first GLCM wing, many lessons were learned that proved beneficial for the other five GLCM wings that followed. The wing’s weapon was the BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM), initially named the Tomahawk--the name given it by the U.S. Navy--but eventually renamed the Gryphon by the U.S. Air Force. The 11 TMS received its weapons in November 1983; they were flown onto the base by Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft. The unit was equipped with 96 missiles for deployment, plus four spares. These missiles were removed from service and destroyed following ratification of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The last GLCMs at RAF Greenham Common were removed in March 1991. The 501 TMW was not only the USAF's first GLCM wing when it stood up, it was the also the last GLCM wing to be inactivated--on 31 May 1991. RAF Greenham Common was closed in September 1992 and in 1997 the former base was designated as public parkland. For an excellent overview of the GLCM weapons system, and a closer look at its deployment at Greenham Common, including details of the impact of political protests there, the article “The Short, Happy Life of the Glick-Em” by Peter Grier in the July 2002 Air Force Magazine (available online) is highly recommended.
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