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Titan II: A History of a Cold War Missile Program [Hardcover]

David K. Stumpf

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Book Description

15 May 2000
The Titan II ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) program was developed by the United States military to bolster the size, strength, and speed of the nation's strategic weapons arsenal in the 1950s and 1960s. Each missile carried a single warhead -- the largest in U.S. inventory -- used liquid fuel propellants, and was stored and launched from hardened underground silos. The missiles were deployed at basing facilities in Arkansas, Arizona, and Kansas and remained in active service for over twenty years. Since military deactivation in the early 1980s, the Titan II has served as a reliable satellite launch vehicle.

This is the richly detailed story of the Titan II missile and the men and women who developed and operated the system. David K. Stumpf uses a wide range of sources, drawing upon interviews with and memoirs by engineers and airmen as well as recently declassified government documents and other public materials. Over 170 drawings and photographs, most of which have never been published, enhance the narrative. The three major accidents of the program are described in detail for the first time using authoritative sources.

Titan Il will be welcomed by librarians for its prodigious reference detail, by technology history professionals and laymen, and by the many civilian and Air Force personnel who were involved in the program -- a deterrent weapons system that proved to be successful in defending America from nuclear attack.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arkansas Press (15 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557286019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557286017
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 18.4 x 25.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,242,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great, Detailed History of A Missile Program 11 July 2000
By Dwayne A. Day - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are a number of good books on the history of ballistic missiles. Edmund Beard, Richard Armacost and Harold Sapolski have all written classic books on the management of early ballistic missile programs. There are some more recent books that either re-cover this earlier ground or add to it. However, there are no real technical histories devoted to the development of any of the ballistic missiles the United States has built over the years. This book begins to fill that void.
David Stumpf previously wrote a book on the Navy's Regulus cruise missile that is a pretty comprehensive history. He did a good job with that one. Now he has turned his attention to the Titan II and done another great job.
Titan II is a detailed history of the development of the United States' second ICBM (technically, it could be considered the third, since it bears only limited resemblance to the Titan I that preceded it). This is a book focused on the technical development of the missile, the development and construction of its launch silos, its launch tests, its operational history, and its retirement from service in the 1980s. It is filled with illustrations, most of which have never been published before. And it is clear from his sources that he did not simply review previously published articles on the Titan II, but interviewed the people who worked on it and gathered information from private archives and previously classified materials.
The book does not go into the development of the space launch version of the Titan. The history of the development of the Titan III and the Titan IV rockets still awaits writing. He does, however, include a chapter on the refurbishment of old Titan II ICBMs into launch vehicles during the 1980s.
Stumpf includes an interesting discussion of the development of missile reentry vehicles. This is a subject that I personally believe could use a book in itself. I think it would be fascinating to trace the development of this technology.
Stumpf also includes an extensive discussion of several accidents involving the Titan II. And he discusses how and why the missiles were ultimately removed from service.
There are also useful appendices at the end of the book, listing the various flight tests (and their accuracy), the missiles produced, and other details.
We can only hope that he turns his attention to other early Cold War missile programs. This is an impressive piece of work.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and entertaining 31 May 2001
By Glenbot - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was expecting the typical academic or historical reference that is chock full of info, but fairly dull to read. As the cliche goes, you can't judge a book by its cover. Mr. Stumpf has done a great job of writing also. He details the beginnings of the program, operational aspects and the fatal accidents which seem to have been forgotten over the years.
He even details the program to turn the old warhorses into satellite launch vehicles and the remaining silo, now a musuem in Arizona.
Like the previous reviewer, I would have liked to seen some info on the Titan II and the Gemini program.
If you're a space or Cold War buff, read this book, then visit the silo/museum in Green Valley, Ariz.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 24 Nov 2008
By Deputy Dog - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is fantastic! I am a former Titan II crewmember and I learned a tremendous amount about the missiles I "baby-sat" for 4 years -- the "why" behind some design, fit with other weapon systems, incidents at other bases, difficulties in construction, and a bit of the politics. An enchanting, wonderful, thoroughly-researched, well-written book. It's a treasure in my library!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Backbone of U.S. Strategic Forces 17 Nov 2008
By J. Page - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I loved this book through and through. The coverage of doctrine, policy from the U.S. leadership to the "in the trenches" view from the wing/squadron/flight level was amazing. The Titan family has been a stalwart throughout the Cold War - as ICBMs, Space Launch Vehicles, boosting Gemini capsules into orbit... and its cousins boosting national reconnaissance satellites in later decades.

I liked the fact that it was written as a historical study from a non-military source. If there is bias in the book it is from the historian perspective and not the party-line offered by the U.S. military. With today's Air Force missileers screwing up left and right, its nice to read a history of their figurative grandfathers and fathers doing the job correctly to keep the Russian Bear at bay.

Recommended: Disaster at Silo 7, Star Trek: First Contact (alternative uses for a Titan II???), The Day After (don't put a Titan II silo in your backyard...)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need this book... 26 May 2006
By Roger Sanders - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Wow another wonderful cold war missile history book.This book is so imformative it get right down to the nuts and bolts that kept this mighty missile together.If you want to learn about what Titan was and what it did to protect us then get this book now trust me it's that good.
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