McConnell AFB-NEW

McConnell AFB
381st Strategic Missile Wing, McConnell AFB, KS. The 381 SMW was the second of three wings equipped with Titan II ICBMs. It was activated in late 1961 and organized on 1 March 1962. The wing was composed of two Strategic Missile Squadrons (the 532d and 533d). Each of these squadrons contained nine missile launch complexes, each housing a single Titan II missile and an adjacent launch control center containing a four-person crew. The Titan II missile was 105 feet long and 10 feet in diameter. Its “silo” was about 150 feet deep and 50 feet in diameter, including the 20-foot-diameter launch duct which comprised its center. This was protected by a steel-reinforced concrete “lid” weighing 780 tons that took 20 second to open during the launch sequence. Launch initiation was also accompanied with attenuation water that flowed into the silo at a rate of 9,000 gallons per minute for sound suppression and protection of the missile during the launch. The 381st placed its first missile on alert in the fall of 1963. On 24 August 1978, an accident involving an oxidizer leak at launch complex 533-7 killed two Air Force personnel, caused the temporary evacuation of local communities, and damaged the site. The following month, First Lieutenant Patricia E. Dougherty became the first female officer to perform SAC Titan II alert. In 1981, inactivation of the Titan II weapons system was ordered. For McConnell, the end began on 2 July 1984, when Launch Complex 533-8 was removed from alert status. The deactivation process received a setback on 2 November 1984, when fire broke out at Launch Complex 532-7 after liquid fuel had been unloaded from a deactivated Titan II. As a result of the ensuing investigation, Headquarters Strategic Air Command and the Ogden Air Logistics Center determined that the accident could have been prevented if different procedures were followed. The new procedures were put in place and the inactivation process continued. On 8 August 1986, the 381 SMW became the second Titan II wing to be inactivated. The 381st had provided over twenty years of strategic deterrence and it had won numerous awards during that time, including the SAC missile competition’s Blanchard Trophy as best ICBM wing in 1972, 1975, 1980, and 1983. This wing was later redesignated as the 381st Training Group and placed in charge of all space and missile training conducted at Vandenberg AFB from 1994 through 2020.
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