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Atlas Vernier Start Tank Gallery


The ID plate affixed to the tank. It reads

Container - Helium Storage Stage I
Martin Part Number RD48S0085-001
Airite Part Number 6340
Martin Serial Number 0000316
Airite Serial Number 0207
Govt Cont No AF04(647)695   Mfg 3-62
Stk No     Wt 79.0 lbs max   U.S.
Airite Products

This gets curiouser and curiouser. The ID plate identifies this as a helium tank, rather than a vernier engine propellant tank. The ID plate also refers to "Stage I," implying a multi-stage missile. The Altas was sometimes called a "stage and a half" missile, because the booster engines were jettisoned after firing for a bit over two minutes, but it didn't have a true "stage 1" or "stage 2".

Additionally, it has part and serial numbers from Airite Products, the tank's manufacturer, and from Martin. Convair, a division of General Dynamics, was the contractor for the Atlas while The Martin Company manufactured the Titan I and Titan II missiles. If this were a tank from an Atlas, it would likely have both Airite and Convair/GD part/serial numbers -- it seems odd that it would have Martin part/serial numbers.

The manufacturing date would also seem to be troublesome if this were from an Atlas missile, as most Atlas missile emplacements were either operational or in the process of being activated by March of 1962 (the Atlas D and Atlas E were operational, while the Atlas F squadrons finished coming online in December 1962). The Titan I, originally developed as a backup for the Atlas, was actually deployed around the same time, in the 1960-61 timeframe, while the Titan IIs squadrons started service in the 1963-67 time period.

I wonder if this isn't really from a Titan II missile and the paperwork for the tank got mixed up somewhere along the way prior to being put on display.

But then there's that part number, with the "RD" prefix, commonly used by Rocketdyne. While Rocketdyne produced the engines for the Atlas missile, Aerojet General produced the LR-87 and LR-91 engines used on the Titan series.

Curiouser and curiouser ...

Time picture taken Sat Dec 7 11:18:44 2013
Location picture taken Cold War Gallery
Space Hall
Kansas Cosmosphere
Hutchinson, KS
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