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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Cooperstown in Griggs County, North Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

The Minuteman: America's "Ace in the Hole"

Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site

— November-33 Launch Facility —

 
 
The Minuteman: America's "Ace in the Hole" Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, July 24, 2020
1. The Minuteman: America's "Ace in the Hole" Marker
Inscription.  
The Minuteman nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) significantly changed the strategic nuclear capabilities of the United States. Prior to the development of the Minuteman, the U.S. relied upon liquid-fueled missiles for nuclear deterrence. These liquid-fueled missiles had significant safety concerns, required massive support facilities, and had slow response times. The Minuteman's development as a solid-fueled missile eliminated many of these weaknesses. Solid fuel enabled the Minuteman to safely and constantly be on alert in an isolated Launch Facility (like November-33) and be launched almost instantaneously. The smaller, safer, and less costly solid-fueled Minuteman ICBM allowed the U.S. nuclear arsenal to grow at an alarming rate.

Between 1962 and 1967 the U.S. developed and deployed 1,000 operational Minuteman missiles. The missile's rapid response and reliability earned the nickname: America's "Ace in the Hole."

In 1965 the first Minuteman missiles were activated in the missile field of the 321st Strategic Missile Wing (SMW) - the 321st was the first wing to receive the Minuteman II. By the
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end of 1966, the wing had 150 operational Minuteman II missiles. November-33 housed one of those missiles.

The Minuteman II offered a number of advantages over the Minuteman I that had been installed in the other Minuteman missile wings. An improved guidance system gave the new missile greater accuracy. Improved boosters increased the missile's range from 6,300 miles to 7,000 miles. The Minuteman II also had a greater payload capacity - the missile now carried the W56 warhead which could unleash a nuclear terror of 1.2 megatons (equivalent to 1.2 million tons of dynamite or about 80 times the approximately 15 kiloton atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945).

In 1970 the Minuteman II missiles in the 321st SMW were replaced by the newly developed Minuteman III missiles. The Minuteman III had some distinct strategic advantages over its predecessor. The most significant advancement saw a new re-entry system. A single Minuteman III missile could carry up to three Multiple Independently Targeted Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs). These MIRVs, or warheads, had less explosive yield (its W62 warhead was approximately 170 kilotons) than the single warhead of the Minuteman II but a single Minuteman III missile could strike three separate targets with its three warheads. Traveling at a top speed of 15,000 mph for a distance of 8,000 miles, the Minuteman III could
The Minuteman: America's "Ace in the Hole" Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, July 24, 2020
2. The Minuteman: America's "Ace in the Hole" Marker
reach those three targets quickly.

In response to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991, on July 2, 1998, the 321st SMW was deactivated. All of the wing's Minuteman III ICBMs were removed from their silos and the silos were imploded. However, there are still 450 fully operational Minutemen III missiles among three Air Force Based (AFB): Minot AFB (Minot, ND), F.E. Warren AFB (Cheyenne, WY), and Malmstrom AFB (Great Falls, MT).

Photo Captions
The approximately 60-foot-tall Minuteman III (left) and the slightly shorter Minutemen II (right) (1988).
A Minuteman III missile is successfully test-launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (2009).
Air Force technicians work on the warheads of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (1985).
Two missile maintenance crewmen perform an electrical check on an LGM-30F Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its silo (1980).

 
Erected by State Historical Society of North Dakota.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, Cold. A significant historical date for this entry is July 2, 1998.
 
Location. 47° 26.414′ N, 98° 3.972′ W. Marker is near Cooperstown, North Dakota, in Griggs County. Marker can be reached from 2nd Street NE (North Dakota
November-33 wide view image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, July 24, 2020
3. November-33 wide view
Route 200) 0.2 miles east of 116th Avenue NE, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 11622 ND-200, Cooperstown ND 58425, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) (here, next to this marker); November-33: "Ace in the Hole" (a few steps from this marker); Launch Facility Security (within shouting distance of this marker); Missile Transport (within shouting distance of this marker); Launcher Closure Door (within shouting distance of this marker); Missile Maintenance (within shouting distance of this marker); More than Meets the Eye (within shouting distance of this marker); Opheim Cabin (approx. 2.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cooperstown.
 
Also see . . .  Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site Information. (Submitted on March 26, 2021, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota.)
 
Historic Site Sign image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, July 24, 2020
4. Historic Site Sign


Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile
State Historic Site
November-33
State Historical Society of North Dakota
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 11, 2024. It was originally submitted on March 25, 2021, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 255 times since then and 68 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 26, 2021, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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Jul. 24, 2024