Ed Thelen's Nike Missile Web Site


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Table of Contents. This site presents a great deal of Nike Hercules historical, technical and operational information and provides extensive links to Nike related books, documents, museums and to other Nike related web sites. This site also provides a photographic tour of Nike site SF-88 (being restored), location and status of Nike sites, and a List of Nike People, some on-line documents, a bulletin board, a search, a Photo Exchange, an FAQ, and a variety of other features.
    The above is archaic (1954-about 1974) - however the Russians are playing "games" again.

Table of Contents

The Web This web site

gotta have a little fun
(Model) Nike Launches from BA-79 just outside of Baltimore
from David Zuchero - Jun 22, 2020

I am working with a group of volunteers who are restoring BA-79 just outside of Baltimore. Last week I launched a scale model of the Nike Hercules from BA-79 off of the one of the elevator doors. Probably the first time any Nike every left the launch site at that base, lucky for all of us!

from JP Moore
This example shows the importance of accuracy in your tax return.

The IRS has returned the Tax Return to a man in New York City after he apparently answered one of the questions incorrectly.
In response to the question, ... "Do you have anyone dependent on you?"
the man wrote: ... "12 million single mothers, 7.1 million illegal immigrants, 1.1 million crack-heads, 4.4 million unemployable scroungers, 80,000 criminals in over 85 prisons, plus 450 idiots in Congress and a group that call themselves Politicians."

The IRS stated that the response he gave was unacceptable.

The man's response back to the IRS was.... "Who did I leave out?"

What Nike is all about

Nike Hercules Missile Q5 High Altitude Intercept - 1.5 minutes

This three minute video is a (successful :-) test of an early Nike Ajax destroying a radio controlled WW-II B-17. Later tests verified that the Nike Ajax was also a killer of higher flying sub and supersonic jets such as used by the Soviet Union. The next generation was the Nike Hercules which was faster, longer range, and could carry nuclear warheads to destroy multiple targets.
    The "plotting room" equipment shown in this video must have been an engineering prototype - Things were much more crowded when installed in the two vans - among other things, the plotting boards here are horizontal, in the BC van, they are vertical. The analog computer operational amplifiers are different, big tubes here, in the vans they were "miniature" tubes, and on and on - the zero set switches (the round spinning things in the analog computer) were a little different style -
    I think you could say that this equipment was "re-packaged" for field use.

Mike Stucka, a staff writer for the Taunton Daily Gazette, was looking for images for a Nike story and e-mailed
"This story is interesting, and everyone is so darned helpful."
    ( That story has disappeared - I should have made a "local copy" ! )
I thought for a bit and replied:
"These were good days for lots of now older folks -
and we were quite proud of
- the learning experience - some of us even got a little more "mature" ;-))
- doing something useful - better than flipping hamburgers or selling shoes ?
"Most look back and smile, and like to share the warm feeling :-))"

This site has become a cooperative effort as more than 350 people have contributed text, stories, ideas, information, and corrections.

The Nike surface to air missile system was named after the winged goddess of victory in Greek mythology. Two versions of this system defended the U.S. and other places from hostile aircraft.

The 1st version, the Nike Ajax, was deployed in the U.S. from 1954 to the early 1960s. It had an effective range of 25 miles.

The 2nd version, the Nike Hercules, was developed which was faster, had a range of over 75 miles, and had nuclear capability. The Hercules was deployed starting in 1958. In 1963, there were 134 Nike Hercules and 77 Nike Ajax batteries defending the U. S. - as per "Rings of Supersonic Steel".

Both versions above are made light and transportable by wheeled vehicles, transportable in cargo planes for "easy" mobility. With practice and preparation, a site could be moved in a long, hard day. As many parts as practical are made of aluminum or magnesium, the standard power frequency is 400 Hertz (cycles per second) saving iron and weight in transformers and motors as in aircraft.

The Hercules is still in use (with an improved computer and a few other enhancements) by several countries today.

This web site does not present photos, histories, nor detailed status of most NIKE sites. I link to other web sites take up that interesting challenge.

Almost all Nike Hercules related information has been declassified - the only exceptions are some IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) information, some flight characteristics, and some nuclear warhead information. This site has a little information on the Nike Ajax, and no information on Nike Zeus (external link).

I installed and maintained Nike Ajax fire control equipment (radars & computer) at Chicago site C-41 during 1955-1957. Maybe "we" deterred "them". I have served as a volunteer helping restore an old Nike site (SF-88) near San Francisco for the National Park Service.

About submitting photos to this web site.

Colorful Pictures, Movies, Brochures

Two "action" pictures and four movies

Hercules Night Launch,
(17 K bytes)
[Herc night launch]
From previous army pictures at

Hercules Day Launch,
(from NAMFI, 32 K bytes)
[Herc day NAMFI launch]
Rolf Dieter G?rigk

On-Line Movies
Nike Ajax Intercept - 1 minute, Internet Archive
Nike Hercules Intercept - 1.5 min, Internet Archive
Hercules Launchs - 6 min, YouTube

Nike Hercules night launch

The missile (with booster) was launched 0.4 seconds ago, is accelerating at 25 times the force of earth's gravity, has risen 60 feet, and it is now going 210 miles per hour.

Four seconds from now, the missile will be:

  • going 1,700 miles per hour straight up,
  • separated from the booster, (the black flaming thing with the white fins),
  • turning (diving) towards the intercept point with the target,
  • starting the sustainer rocket engine to reach 2,700 miles per hour.
If the target is 90 miles approaching at mach 1.5, the missile will meet the target 60 miles away in 90 seconds.

The Nike Hercules shown here defended major U.S. target areas against aircraft attack from 1958 to 1974. It had an effective range of over 75 miles and a speed of mach 3.6. South Korea has over 200 of these missiles, with associated radars and guidance systems, currently in service.

Its predecessor, the smaller Nike Ajax, was in service from 1954 through about 1965. It had a range of 25 miles and a speed of mach 2.5.

... ...
Click here for expanded graphics scanned by Pete Wurzbach C/4/562 Alvarado, Texas

2.3 MBytes
A short easy introduction to the Nike Anti-Aircraft system - from Michael Keller - posted May 3, 2013 Click on image to download the .pdf "Camp Sarafi", South Korea
from Al Dietz ... I believe the balloon antennas are left to right: TTR, TRR, and MTR. The LOPAR acquisition radar is behind the building.
I don't normally post pictures of individual sites (too many), but isn't this bleak ?? Gads - imagine winter -

A Great Photo Study of an abandoned Nike site - by Rich Lewis
Lumberton, New Jersey PH23/25, Rich Lewis photo study
A local HTML version, (I worry about "good stuff" going away.)

Intercept - A little more technical ;-))
This is a plot of a Nike Hercules intercepting a target flying at 52,000 feet.
The vertical scale is altitude in feet. (max 100,000 feet)
    The left trace is the Nike missile, the right is the target.
The horizonal scale is computed time to intercept, in seconds.
    The middle is time zero, intercept.
Note: Against high flying targets such as this, the Hercules does not necessarily go above the target.
from TM9-1400-250-10/2 page 36, Manual

Cold War in South Florida, ... Study available free online - posted Mar 4, 2010

3 MBytes
Click on image to download the .pdf
Good news. The Cold War Study of Nike Hercules in South Florida ($19.95 plus shipping) has been re-released in pdf format as a public domain document.

The tours of HM-69 has been overwhelming at Everglades National Park for the second year. Tours will be conducted through the end of March.

Charles D. Carter

The Cuban Missile Crisis by James Whitaker (Nike, South Florida)
The Cold War is an Electronic War (Soviets shot down 23 of our ELINT Planes) 36 minutes through 44 minutes

Michael Keller wrote (Feb 2009) & (Dec 2010) & (Aug 2011) & (Dec 2012)
Cover of 2 MByte brochure Just found this nice piece on Ebay. Printing Date is 10-15-56. "The purpose of this booklet is to inform high-school graduates-and their parents-of the matchless opportunities that lie within the Army Antiaircraft Command." Well, most of the once-adressed kids will be retired by now, but maybe they remember this booklet. Its a 3 page folder, size 500mm x 100mm. (Yes I prefer metric) :) But look, on the frontcover: seems that track LIMA296 has slipped through!! :)) It has a beautiful painting inside, and a funny 70's scene on the backside.
It contains the original Team Nike decal, and a small brochure. Both items came to me together with the MISSILE MASTER booklet. [600 KB]
The diameter of the decal is 4,06 inch. (103 mm)
with kind regards from germany,
A recruiting brochure featuring the Nike Hercules, "Now making its appearance on-site."

Nike History

Nike in Overall Air Defense

Nike Site Technical information

Nike Operational information

Support for Nike Field Batteries (and museums)

On-Line documents ( Atempting to sort - somehow ) - Longer range radars another site
- Documents w/out numbers
- Documents w numbers

Places to visit, physical and on-line

People and Trip Reports

Stories, Questions

Other -

Formal Names
Formal identifications (as per Ron Parshall).
Nike Ajax
  • Missile Tracking Radar OA-859 MPA-4
  • About photo submission

    New policy: I am introducing a Photo Exchange so that those who wish to share can, and those who wish, can ask. I hope this works better than my previous "no photos" policy. You are still invited to look up web sites who specialize in a particular area, and offer there.

    Thank you

    Ed Thelen

    Good news ;-)) Nike not considered obsolete. ;-))
    Return to Technical

    Subject: Status updat of my FOIA to Redstone Arsenal for the history of the Nike Hercules weapons system by Mary T Cagle
    From: James Newman < jamesnewman1976 @ yahoo . com >
    Date: Mon, July 17, 2017

    Dear Ed,
    I just got my FOIA to Redstone Arsenal US Army Material Command denied. I am going to appeal within the 60 day time limit. This document was denied under Executive order 13526 section 3.3 Section 4 "For State of the art technology" the document will remain classified for 50 years from its creation date until 2023. Vacuum tube technology of the early to mid-1950s is not state of the art technology. This system went defunct in 1980 when the last Nikes were decommissioned in Florida and Alaska.

    Cory Newman

    General diagram of a Nike Hercules site.

    Figure from FM 44-1-2 ADA Reference Handbook, 15 June 1984, as found on page 20 of "Rings of Supersonic Steel".

    If you have comments or suggestions, Send e-mail to Ed Thelen (ed@ed-thelen.org)
    flattering pictures of Ed, a short bio.

    This page updated Feb 3, 2018
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