Frequently Asked Questions
There were six different versions of the SM-65 missile system. Atlas A, B and C series were prototype and testing versions. The operational versions were Atlas D, E, and F. The Atlas D and E were housed in "coffin launcher" style complexes and the Atlas F was housed in an underground silo structure.
The Atlas system was in service from 1958 thru 1965. The Atlas D sites were made operational first, then the E sites and finally the F sites. Most of the F bases were in some operational condition during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
The estimated cost of the SM-65 program was over $4.3 billion dollars in 1960 dollar's. That would equate to over $40 billion dollars in current value.
The operational Atlas D sites were located in Nebraska and Wyoming with one site in Iowa. The Atlas E sites were located in Kansas, Wyoming, Colorado and Washington state with one site in Idaho and one site in Nebraska. The Atlas F sites were located in Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma and Texas with two sites in Vermont.
The Atlas ICBM was armed with the W-38 thermonuclear warhead. This warhead had a nominal yield of 3.8 megatons of TNT. This is the equivalent of 253 times the yield of the Little Boy atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th, 1945.
There were 8 Atlas D sites built with a total of 24 missiles. Each Atlas D operational site contained 3 separate launchers. There were 27 Atlas E and 72 Atlas F sites constructed.