Jupiter missile emplacement showing ground support equipment. The bottom third of the missile is encased in a "flower petal shelter" of wedge-shaped metal panels allowing crews to service the missile in all weather conditions.
||Medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM)
|Place of origin
||United States Air Force
Italian Air Force
Turkish Air Force
||~100 (45 deployed)
||49800 kg (110000 lb)
||18.3 m (60 ft)
||2.67 m (8 ft 9 in)
The PGM-19 Jupiter was the first medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) of the United States Air Force (USAF). It was a liquid-fueled rocket using RP-1 fuel and LOX oxidizer, with a single Rocketdyne LR70-NA (model S-3D) rocket engine producing 667 kN of thrust. The prime contractor was the Chrysler Corporation.
The missiles, armed with nuclear warheads, were deployed in Italy and Turkey in 1961 as part of NATO's Cold War deterrent against the Soviet Union. They were all removed by the US as part of a secret agreement with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In September 1955, Wernher von Braun, briefing the U.S. secretary of defense on long range missiles, pointed out that a 1,500 mi (2,400 km) missile was a logical extension of the PGM-11 Redstone. Accordingly, in December 1955, the secretaries of the Army and Navy announced a dual army–navy program to create a land- and sea-based MRBM.
The requirement for shipboard storage and launching dictated the size and shape of the Jupiter, which emerged as a short squat missile with a large girth. However, the Navy disliked the Jupiter's cryogenic propellants and dropped it in November 1956 in favor of the solid-fueled UGM-27 Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missile, Jupiter retained its shape, making it too big for carriage in contemporary cargo aircraft such as the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II.
Later in November 1956, the Department of Defense assigned all land-based long-range missiles to the air force, with the army retaining control of battlefield missiles with a range of 200 miles (320 km) or less. The Jupiter MRBM program was transferred to the air force, which had developed the PGM-17 Thor MRBM independently, and was not altogether happy with the Jupiter program.
Jupiter test flights officially commenced with the launch of Missile 1A on March 1, 1957 from Cape Canaveral's LC-5. The vehicle performed well until past 50 seconds into launch when control started to fail, leading to breakup at T+73 seconds. It was deduced that overheating in the boattail had burned through wiring, thus extra insulation was added there on future flights. On April 26, Missile 1B was launched, but broke apart at T+93 seconds from propellant slosh, leading to the addition of baffles to the fuel tanks. The third test on May 31 succeeded, as did Jupiter launches on August 28 and October 23. Test number six (November 27) failed due to a turbopump malfunction at T+202 seconds and so did the next launch on December 19, causing the missile to lose thrust at T+116 seconds and fall into the Atlantic Ocean. On January 15, 1958, Jupiter was declared operational.
The first three tests of 1958 were all successful and concentrated on detaching and recovering dummy reentry vehicles. Missile AM-19 (October 10) went out of control and was destroyed at T+49 seconds due to a fire in the boattail section. Afterwards, there was only one more failure in the Jupiter program, AM-23 on September 15, 1959, which suffered loss of control seconds into the launch from a bad solder joint in a helium pressure bottle. The missile pitched over and broke in half, spilling the contents of its RP-1 tank before Range Safety issued the destruct command.
, a squirrel monkey, with a model of the Jupiter that launched her on a suborbital flight in 1959
Jupiter missiles were used in a series of suborbital biological test fights. On December 13, 1958, Jupiter AM-13 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida with a navy–trained South American squirrel monkey named Gordo on board. The nose cone recovery parachute failed to operate and Gordo did not survive the flight. Telemetry data sent back during the flight showed that the monkey survived the 10 g (100 m/s²) of launch, eight minutes of weightlessness and 40 g (390 m/s²) of reentry at 10,000 mph (4.5 km/s). The nose cone sank 1,302 nautical miles (2,411 km) downrange from Cape Canaveral and was not recovered.
Another biological flight was launched on May 28, 1959. Aboard Jupiter AM-18 were a seven–pound (3.2 kg) American-born rhesus monkey, Able, and an 11–ounce (310 g) South American squirrel monkey, Baker. The monkeys rode in the nose cone of the missile to an altitude of 59 miles (95 km) and a distance of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) down the Atlantic Missile Range from Cape Canaveral. They withstood accelerations 38 times the normal pull of gravity and were weightless for about nine minutes. A top speed of 10,000 mph (4.5 km/s) was reached during their 16–minute flight. After splashdown the Jupiter nosecone carrying Able and Baker was recovered by the seagoing tug USS Kiowa (ATF-72).
The failed AM-23 launch in September 1959 also carried a biological payload, including several mice (which did not survive).
The monkeys survived the flight in good condition. Able died four days after the flight from a reaction to anaesthesia while undergoing surgery to remove an infected medical electrode. Baker lived for many years after the flight, finally succumbing to kidney failure on November 29, 1984 at the United States Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Deployment locations for Jupiter missiles in Italy from 1961 to 1963
In April 1958, the U.S. Department of Defense notified the air force it had tentatively planned to deploy the first three Jupiter squadrons (45 missiles) in France. Negotiations between France and the U.S. fell through in June 1958. Charles De Gaulle, the new French president, refused to accept basing any Jupiter missiles in France. This prompted U.S. to explore the possibility of deploying the missiles in Italy and Turkey. The air force was already implementing plans to base four squadrons (60 missiles)—subsequently redefined as 20 Royal Air Force squadrons each with three missiles—of PGM-17 Thor IRBMs in Britain on airfields stretching from Yorkshire to East Anglia.
In 1958, the United States Air Force activated the 864th Strategic Missile Squadron at ABMA. Although the USAF briefly considered training its Jupiter crews at Vandenberg AFB, California, it later decided to conduct all of its training at Huntsville. In June and September of the same year the air force activated two more squadrons, the 865th and 866th.
In April 1959, the secretary of the air force issued implementing instructions to USAF to deploy two Jupiter squadrons to Italy. The two squadrons, totaling 30 missiles, were deployed at 10 sites in Italy from 1961 to 1963. They were operated by Italian Air Force crews, but USAF personnel controlled arming the nuclear warheads. The deployed missiles were under command of 36ª Aerobrigata Interdizione Strategica (36th Strategic Interdiction Air Squadron, Italian Air Force) at Gioia del Colle Air Base, Italy.
Jupiter squadrons consisted of 15 missiles and approximately 500 military personnel with five "flights" of three missiles each, manned by five officers and 10 NCOs. To reduce vulnerability, the flights were located approximately 30 miles apart, with the triple launcher emplacements separated by a distance of several hundred miles.
The ground equipment for each emplacement was housed in approximately 20 vehicles; including two generator trucks, a power distribution truck, short- and long-range theodolites, a hydraulic and pneumatic truck and a liquid oxygen truck. Another trailer carried 6000 gallons of fuel and three liquid oxygen trailers each carried 4,000 US gallons (15,000 l; 3,300 imp gal).
The missiles arrived at the emplacement on large trailers; while still on the trailer, the crew attached the hinged launch pedestal to the base of the missile which was hauled to an upright position using a winch. Once the missile was vertical, fuel and oxidizer lines were connected and the bottom third of the missile was encased in a "flower petal shelter", consisting of wedge-shaped metal panels, allowing crew members to service the missiles in all weather conditions. Stored empty, on 15-minute combat status in an upright position on the launch pad, the firing sequence included filling the fuel and oxidizer tanks with 68,000 lb (31,000 kg) of LOX and 30,000 lb (14,000 kg) of RP-1, while the guidance system was aligned and targeting information loaded. Once the fuel and oxidizer tanks were full, the launch controlling officer and two crewmen in a mobile launch control trailer could launch the missiles.
Each squadron was supported by a receipt, inspection and maintenance (RIM) area to the rear of the emplacements. RIM teams inspected new missiles and provided maintenance and repair to missiles in the field. Each RIM area also housed 25 tons of liquid oxygen and nitrogen generating plants. Several times a week, tanker trucks carried the fuel from the plant to the individual emplacements. The actual locations of the launch sites (built in a triangular configuration) were in the direct vicinities of the villages Acquaviva delle Fonti, Altamura (two sites), Gioia del Colle, Gravina in Puglia, Laterza, Mottola, Spinazzola, Irsina and Matera.
In 1962, a Bulgarian MiG-17 reconnaissance airplane was reported to have crashed into an olive grove near one of the U.S. Jupiter missile launch sites in Italy, after overflying the site.
In October 1959, the location of the third and final Jupiter MRBM squadron was settled when a government-to-government agreement was signed with Turkey. The U.S. and Turkey concluded an agreement to deploy one Jupiter squadron on NATO's southern flank. One squadron totaling 15 missiles was deployed at five sites near İzmir, Turkey from 1961 to 1963, operated by USAF personnel, with the first flight of three Jupiter missiles turned over to the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force) in late October 1962, but USAF personnel retaining control of nuclear warhead arming.
On four occasions between mid-October 1961 and August 1962, Jupiter mobile missiles carrying 1.4 megaton of TNT (5.9 PJ) nuclear warheads were struck by lightning at their bases in Italy. In each case, thermal batteries were activated, and on two occasions, tritium-deuterium "boost" gas was injected into the warhead pits, partially arming them. After the fourth lightning strike on a Jupiter MRBM, the USAF placed protective lightning strike-diversion tower arrays at all of the Italian and Turkish Jupiter MRBM missiles sites.
By the time the Turkish Jupiters had been installed, the missiles were already largely obsolete and increasingly vulnerable to Soviet attacks. All Jupiter MRBMs were removed from service by April 1963, as a backdoor trade with the Soviets in exchange for their earlier removal of MRBMs from Cuba.