So you want to do Nike research?

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Disclaimer: I have done very little archival type research and am untrained and unpracticed in that art and science.

This site gives an overview of Nike Ajax and Nike Hercules. There is no attempt to cover other Nike research such as the "Zeus" system.

Sections in this site which point to more material are:

Here are some other sources with comments

from Kurt Laughlin, 400 South Brodhead Rd, Aliquippa PA 15001-2132 (724)375-8669
I have gotten quite a few manuals on an inter-library loan from the Army War College in Carlisle PA, which I have then photocopied. If you have a copy of the overall system manuals, I'd like to get a copy. I'm thinking of TM 9-5001-1, TM 9-5010-1, and TM 9-1400-250-10.

A good station diagram (dimensioned drawing)can be found in TM 9-5012-1. This manual also contains full painting and stenciling data for the M1 missile. An excellent cutaway is in TM 9-5013-1. The best dimensional/stenciling info on the booster is in the N-H manual - they used the same motor.

There are N-A & launchers at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and Hancock MD at a VFW. APG also has a N-H. There is a N-H & launcher at Ft. Meade MD.

from Nicholas Peter Munro Maude
Nicholas pointed to the CD ROM series "The Swords of Armageddon" by Chuck Hansen, which has a large amount of de-classified nuclear weapons material, including warhead testing. The price is on the order of $300. The same author also published "U.S. Nuclear Weapons, the Secret History" in 1988, which Amazon says is "hard to find".

How do I do research on NIKE Air Defense Missile Sites? at
Your Regional, State, County, ... Historical Society. Nike is history, and there is growing attention to it - before the oral and physical history disappears. A "typical" (no such thing) historical society is Historical Community of Northwest Indiana

Dept. of Transportation Library - from Greg Kientop

I have recently come across this 1958 aerial photograph which covers a portion of the C-54 launch facility in the Chicago Ring. As I work on roadwork-related projects... the further away from a highwaysystem you are... the less likely I will ever see aerial coverages of these sites. Perhaps this shot will interest you none-the-less.

I have higher resolution images (little better viewing quality) but this one is best suited for web usage. The source is the Ill. Dept. of Transportation Library of Aerial photography in Springfield, IL.


Greg Kientop
Engineering Geologist
Texas A&M class of '88

  • Personal Opinions of an un-named source

    Further to my recent ranting, as a result of contacting the "wrong" people in connection with learning more about local Nike sites, I got smart and tried contacting the "right" people.

    And, I got some good results!

    Instead of working with municipal clerks, landmarks preservation people or local historians, I went to the people who seem to know more about these sites, and, better still, who are really interested in them -- the local police and fire departments.

    My phone rang about a half dozen times today with various people offering information about the sites or saying they would make some additional inquiries. One excellent contact, the Deputy Fire Chief of a town with a Nike site, told me all about the fiefighting arrangements, water supplies, where the barracks and housing area was (that was an element I was unsure of) and mentioned that they had used the missile magazines for firefighting practice after the site had been closed. He had lots of other worthwhile stories as well.

    Another coincidence here. He served in the Army during the early and mid 1960s and was based in the Fairbanks, Alaska area. Doing what? Firefighting for Nike Hercules sites in the region! How's that for a coincidence! He has great stories about that and even has some photos of live launches from sites in that area which he's going to pull out of the attic for me!

    It obviously pays to talk to the "right" people. And in the case of Nike related historical research it appears that the "right" people are frequently not the historians or preservation people, but the local police and fire personnel. Interesting, isn't it!?

    Interesting "ain't" it!? After dealing with so many WOMEN who were totally surprised, confused, hostile or suspicious, and usually not interested in the topic of old Nike sites ... and after getting some good, interested, helpful responses from MEN who are mostly in the local law enforcement agencies, police, fire, sheriff, etc., I just made this observation.

    Not surprisingly, many of the men ARE much more interested in this. Some may have served in the military or may still serve in the reserves. And many of them are just more interested in this topic.

    Nike Missiles: & Missile Sites: A Guy Thing!

    To be fair, however, I do have the Nike Ajax and Hercules monographs written by MARY Cagle who did a rather good job. And then there are certain women associated with the ADA Branch and its history and archives who are certainly very knowledagble and helpful. I guess they are just more exceptional than many other women!

    However, in general, my inquiries get much more attention and interest from those of the male gender. The women mostly seem to have no interest in it and seem to wish this person calling about old Nike missile sites (whatever they are - yuck!) would stop pestering them and just go away! ;-)

    picture of fire at record center in 1973 - from Roy Mize
    Estimated loss - Army Personnel discharged Nov 1, 1912, to Jan 1, 1960 - 80%
    "No duplicate copies of the records that were destroyed in the fire were maintained, nor was a microfilm copy ever produced. There were no indexes created prior to the fire. In addition, millions of documents had been lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire occurred. Therefore, a complete listing of the records that were lost is not available. Nevertheless, NPRC (MPR) uses many alternate sources in its efforts to reconstruct basic service information to respond to requests."

    from Tom Vaughn in response to someone's plea for finding people's Army records - updated April 21, 2003
    Hello Tracy,
    Here is the url for the records center where your father's records are most likely kept. The center is in St. Louis, MO. Do you have his social security number or service number? Let me know what information you do have on him and hopefully I can give you more direction.

    Tom Vaughn

    (end of update)

    If you want to invest some time and effort into you research you can contact the Army Records Center in St Louis and request the rosters and morning reports for the above unit. Once you have the names you can use the internet to search for the men from this site. By picking the most unusual names from the rosters you may be able to find some W-54 vets. I have researched a local Nike base near where I live (C-47 Wheeler IN) and found the battery commander from 1963/4 because of his unusual last name (Nitkowski)

    In my research on C-47 I had great success at the area libraries. One library had a file from approx. 1950 to 1980 where they had articles clipped from local newspapers on military subjects.

    The libraries or newspapers may have on microfilm back issues. I spent hours viewing old newspapers at the library. Found great articles on and about the local Nike bases.

    My site has some pictures from some other Maryland Nike bases.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

    Tom Vaughn

  • Don Wellman got records from the Army Record Center
    I ordered the Unit Rosters for PI-37, Herminie Nike Site from the Mlitary Personnel Records Center in St. Louis and ended up with 1,071 names of veterans who served there from 1956-1974.

    Hours of computer people search and many phone calls later, I had the contact information for 333 people, 57 of whom are deceased.

    We had our Reunion in August of 2008. 130 veterans, spouses and guests attended. I thought it very fortunate that I found the very first Battery Commander of PI-37 (then B Battery, 1st AAA Msl Bn) and the last Battery Commander (then B Battery, 3rd Msl Bn, 1st Artillery). We are presently constructing a website.

    We have a lot of information and pictures to put there. We may have another reunion in a couple of years if we live that long!!!!

    Sorry about all this detail, but thought you might find it interesting.
    Thanks again for all you do.
    Have a good 2009!
    Don Wellman

    Talk about digging DEEP added Mar 2015
    > ... June 1969 Daily Tactical Logs of the Highlands AADCP found in the
    National Archives at College Park in Record Group 338 Entry UD-WW-273 Box 1, File "June 1969"

    MY WORD !!

    Gives research a whole new meaning to me !!

    Talk about digging deep !!

    -Ed Thelen

    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: Franklin Lakes/Mahwah "Dull Sword" Incident June 25, 1969
    From: James Newman
    Date: Wed, March 11, 2015 9:22 am
    To: ""
    Cc: Richard Levine
    The only reference to the dull sword incident at Franklin Lakes I have is from the June 1969 Daily Tactical Logs of the Highlands AADCP found in the National Archives at College Park in Record Group 338 Entry UD-WW-273 Box 1, File "June 1969" there is a one line entry which states - "1430Z Dull Sword Report Receive from D/7/112 Notify S-4"
    Cory Newman

    On Wednesday, March 11, 2015 5:43 AM, "" wrote:

    > any information on the Dull Sword Nuclear incident at Nike Site NY-93/94 Franklin Lakes/Mahwah from
    "Dull Sword Dull Sword is the term that describes reports of minor incidents involving nuclear weapons, components or systems, or which could impair their deployment. This could include actions involving vehicles capable of carrying nuclear weapons but with no nuclear weapons on board at the time of the accident. This also is used to report damage or deficiencies with equipment, tools, or diagnostic testers that are designed for use on nuclear weapons or the nuclear weapon release systems of nuclear-capable aircraft."

    Doesn't seem to be much on the Internet -
    Seems to be the minimal possible "incident".
    Even a failure of a diagnostic tester or tool (?screw driver) involving a Hercules capable of carrying, but not carrying, a nuclear weapon seems reportable in this category -
    -Ed Thelen

    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: Franklin Lakes/Mahwah "Dull Sword" Incident June 25, 1969
    From: Richard Levine
    Date: Wed, March 11, 2015 1:07 am
    To: ...
    I would also like to know more about this as I am finally starting to work on my book about this Nike site.

    On Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 5:39 PM, James Newman wrote:

    Dear Richard,
    Do You have any information on the Dull Sword Nuclear incident at Nike Site NY-93/94 Franklin Lakes/Mahwah on June 25, 1969 with the Nike Hercules.?
    I have a log entry that mentions this but gives no indication as to details. (D/7/112 NJ National Guard Unit.
    Cory Newman

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    If you have comments or suggestions, Send e-mail to Ed Thelen

    Updated October 2022