SM-65 Atlas E ICBM Squadron, Forbes AFB, Topeka, Kansas 1960-1964
548th Strategic Missile Squadron
An Important Part of Kansas and the Cold War Era
Welcome to the home web site for the 548th Strategic Missile Squadron. The 548th SMS was based at Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas from 1961 thru 1965. There were 9 sites built in a ring around Topeka. These sites were manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year during the time the Squadron was active. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, all 548th sites were at a high level of alert and were ready to launch the Atlas missile should it have become necessary. The squadron was armed with the SM-65 weapon system, more commonly know as the Atlas. The 548th was an Atlas E unit which meant the missile was housed in a "coffin launcher" style complex. The missile was kept in a horizontal osition. In order to launch, a 400-ton overhead door was rolled back after which the "bird" was raised to a vertical position. Once upright, the rocket was fueled with RP-1 and Liquid Oxygen after which it would then be made ready for launch. The Atlas E was equipped with a Mark IV re-entry vehicle developed by General Electric and carried a type W-38 warhead which had a yield of approximately 3.8 megatons of TNT. It had a range of approximately 6,000 miles. Developed by General Dynamics, the Atlas weapons system became a national priority during which no expense was spared in the development, testing and implementation of this first generation ICBM system. The Atlas rocket was also used by NASA during the early days of manned space travel and was the booster used to put John Glenn into Earth orbit.
During the 2003 Labor Day weekend, many of the members of the 548th SMS attended the first reunion ever held for this squadron. Many of these people had not seen each other since the deactivation of the unit in 1965. During this reunion the 548th SMS Association was formed in order to continue the research for more members and to have a central organization for those who served to contact their fellow missileers. A Members section of this web site allows those who served in the 548th to find the people with whom they served. Any squadron members who are not currently in the database are urged to contact the 548th Association so that they can be included.
This web site is dedicated to everyone who served in the 548th SMS. Without their dedication and sacrifice for the national defense of the United States of America, the freedoms we enjoy today would not be possible.
To everyone who served in and supported the 548th Strategic Missile Squadron ....... Thank You !!