Cold War relics: Deactivated Titan 1 missile silos surround Beale

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Allen Pollard
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
Beale was once home to the 851st Strategic Missile Squadron, and had three missile silo complexes, 851-A in Lincoln, 851-B in Sutter Buttes and 851-C in Chico, from Feb. 1, 1961-March 25, 1965.

Construction on the complexes began Jan. 22, 1960. More than 600,000 cubic yards of earth was excavated. In order to complete each facility, 32,000 cubic yards of concrete, 300 tons of piping, 90 miles of cables and 1,800 separate supply items were needed per complex.

All three complexes combined cost the U.S. more than $40 million to build.
The silos housed the HGM-25A Titan 1, the United States, first multistage Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

The 851st SMS was activated on April 1, 1961. The first missile was moved to complex 4A in Lincoln on Feb. 28, 1962, and the last was placed in Chico complex 4C on April 20, 1962.

On May 24, 1962 an explosion destroyed a Titan 1 and damaged the silo at complex 4C Chico. After investigation the Air Force concluded that the explosion was caused by a blocked vent and blocked valve.

In September 1962, the 851st SMS became the last Titan 1 Squadron to achieve alert status, and the Chico complex became operational on March 9, 1963, after damages from the blast were repaired.

Two months after the 851st SMS became fully operational it was the first Titan 1 unit to pass an Operational Readiness Inspection.

On May 16, 1964, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara directed the accelerated phase-out of the Titan 1.

The first Titan 1 was taken off alert status at Beale on Jan. 4, 1965, and within three months the 851st SMS would be deactivated.

Complexes 4B and 4C are currently privately owned and 4A is owned by Placer County.