Project Nike was a U.S. Army project, proposed in May 1945 by Bell Laboratories, to develop a line-of-sight anti-aircraft missile system. The project delivered the United States’ first operational anti-aircraft missile system during 1953, the Nike Ajax. A great number of the technologies and rocket systems used to develop the Nike Ajax were re-used for a number of functions, many of which were given the “Nike” name (after Nike, the goddess of victory from Greek mythology). The missile’s first-stage solid rocket booster became the basis for many types of rocket including the Nike Hercules missile and NASA’s Nike Smoke rocket, used for upper-atmosphere research.

During World War II, the world’s nations learned a painful lesson. High-altitude bombers dropping tons of explosives — or nuclear weapons — could level entire cities. New defensive measures were needed, and in early 1945 the U.S. Army began developing a radar-guided missile capable of knocking down enemy planes flying higher and faster than any gun could hope to reach. The research led to the development of the original “NIKE” missile in 1951. (The United States once named its rockets and missiles after mythological figures, and NIKE was the Greek goddess of victory.)

The base is typical of more than 300 identical missile batteries that once guarded U.S. cities and military installations. Beginning around 1965, the number of Nike batteries was reduced. Thule air defense was reduced during 1965 and SAC air base defense during 1966, reducing the number of batteries to 112. Budgetary cuts reduced that number to 87 in 1968, and 82 in 1969.

The Hercules Missile

The missile also had an optional nuclear warhead to improve the probability of a kill. The W-31 warhead had four variants offering 2, 10, 20 and 30 kiloton yields. The 20 KT version was used in the Hercules system. At sites in the USA the missile almost exclusively carried a nuclear warhead. Sites in foreign nations typically had a mix of high explosive and nuclear warheads.

Listed below are additional site containing fascinating information and media about this lost form of American defense.

Nike installations across this country.  https://youtu.be/9kaoBeklaMo

This base is located in San Francisco.  Great site recovery.  https://youtu.be/o_-pk4Ez_3s

The NJ site is one of the most decayed we’ve seen.  https://youtu.be/w6a3x–f6Uc


Roberts location:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycO-KzPa4_c