Military Review

"Well done" in American - unsuccessful debut

"Well done" in American - unsuccessful debut

In general, the idea of ​​the car - launcher with ICBM "Minuteman" I and MX was similar to that used by Soviet developers.

At the early stage of the implementation of the “Minuteman” program, it was planned to create and put into service intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) of this family of two types of basing - stationary mine and mobile railway. The command of the Strategic Air Command of the United States Air Force expected to place missiles from the general order of the ICMB type "Minuteman" on the railway base from 50 to 150. Representatives of the Strategic Aviation Command sent the corresponding request and the previously developed tactical and technical requirements to the US Air Force headquarters even 12 February 1959 of the year. Moreover, the document stated that the first such combat railway missile system (BZHRK) with intercontinental ballistic missiles such as “Minuteman” should take up combat duty no later than January 1963 of the year.

October 12 1959 of the US military for the first time publicly announced a plan for implementing the BZHRK program with the Minutman I intercontinental ballistic missile (the program received the symbol Mobile Mobile Minuteman), according to which the use of the railway network was supposed to increase the Minutemen’s invulnerability from a nuclear strike by the Soviet Union. The article “American Minuteman missiles talk about the end of the era of bombers” (US Minuteman Missile To Signal Bomber Era End), posted in 28.11.1960 Toledo Blade newspaper, stated, in particular: “Officials claim that the enemy to neutralize the fleet of“ mini-men ” "Rail-based will need to use more than 10 thousand missiles against the rail network of the United States, and several thousand more missiles will be needed to disable the mine launchers, as well as the rest of the US missile potential. But many missiles will still survive the attack and will be able to strike back. ”


In order to determine the technological capabilities and military feasibility of deploying Minibar-type ICBMs on the basis of a mobile railway launch complex, the command of the Strategic Aviation Command of the US Air Force ordered a number of developmental works and tests, which were combined into a program that received the code name Operation Big Star (Operation Big Star). The overall management of the tests was carried out by the headquarters of the Strategic Aviation Command, from which special teams were deployed, located at the US Air Force Hill, Utah, and directly on the experimental prototype trains, and was responsible for the direct testing assigned to the US Air Force Ballistic Missile Department.

In the framework of these tests, which took place from June 20 to August 27 1960, several so-called Minuteman Mobility Test Train experimental trains of the mobile complex Hill United States were used. . Tests were conducted on railways in the western and central parts of the United States.

The main objective of the tests is the study by specialists of various issues related to the promising possibility of creating and adopting a combat railway missile system with ICBMs of the “Minuteman” type:

- the degree of mobility of BZHRK and the possibility of their dispersal by the used railways;

- the technical capabilities of the US rail network to provide combat patrols of such BZHRK;

- the problems of ensuring reliable and interference-free control and communication with such BZHRK as part of its combat patrols;

- possible negative effects on the missile and launch equipment BZHRK due to vibration and other influences;

- the peculiarities of human perception of this method of combat duty, the level of physical and psycho-emotional stress on the personnel of BZhRK, etc.

Initially, it was planned to bring to trial six specially equipped “heavy” trains, but as a result, only four experimental trains took part in Operation Big Star - prototype BZHRK, which performed test runs on the 21 section of the railway network in the north-west and mid-west sections:

- the first train, which included 11 units of rolling stock (a locomotive and wagons with equipment and personnel), left Hill Air Force Base on June 21, 1960 and ran on the railways operated by the Union Pacific, Western Pacific and Denver & Rio Grande. The total distance covered by the train was 27 miles (about 1100 km);

- The second experimental train - a prototype of the BZhRK, commander of which Colonel Carlton V. Hansen was appointed, also included 11 rolling stock units, also departed from Hill base and cruised the same area as the first train, and in the same period of time. The composition of the “combat crew” trains included soldiers from the Strategic Aviation Command (31 people under the command of Colonel Lucion N. Powell), and 11 people of civilian personnel - engineers, technicians and specialists in railway transport operation and logistics. For 10 days of “travel”, the train traveled 2300 miles, that is, about 3760 km;

- the third train left Hill base the following month, July 26, and, unlike previous trains, included 13 rolling stock units, including an additional flat car, on which the third stage of the Hercules Powder Company development rocket was deployed, as well as the first “prototype” "Platform - launcher MBR, which had a length of 24 m and equipped with special shock-absorbing devices. On the “pre-prototype”, an ICBM model was installed in the form of steel compartments filled with sand and concrete. It was planned that the train would make the 14-day “journey” by railways - the routes of seven American companies, the total duration of which will be 3 thousand miles (about 4900 km). I exploited the train in 35 of the US Air Force Strategic Aviation Command and the US Air Force Ballistic Missile Research Division plus 13 civilian personnel;

- The fourth experimental train, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James F. Lambert, was tested in August 1960.

Upon completion of the test of the fourth experimental train, the BZHRK prototype with the Minuteman rocket, the objectives of Operation Big Star were, in the opinion of the US Air Force command, generally achieved, and therefore the remaining two trains, the fifth and sixth, were not used.


According to the results of tests, the command of the Strategic Air Command of the US Air Force decided to create a mobile strategic missile wing. It is known for certain that as of December 13 1960 of the year in the hangar at one of the enterprises of the company Boeing Airplane Co. There was already a “ready-made full-size model of the Minuteman rocket train. It is also known that the 12 plan for the implementation of the Mobile Minuteman program, published by 1959 in October, contained data on the Pentagon’s intention to build the BZHRK assembly facilities in the western part of the Hill air base, where the Ogden Ordnance Depot had previously been located.

According to information available in foreign sources, in the basic version a rocket train with three ICBMs of the “Minuteman” type I should have included 10 cars for various purposes, including five for accommodating (living) personnel, combat duty and various maintenance work complex. According to the test results, it was revealed that the maintenance of one rocket train with five intercontinental ballistic missiles requires not 30 – 40 people, but 25 – 30. The actual combat crew of the two officers was located in one of the cars in a specially equipped section, and their combat posts (places) were separated from each other by a partition made of bulletproof glass. With a five-rocket ammunition, the number of cars should have been at least 15, including six cars to accommodate missiles and various launch equipment, three to accommodate communications equipment, telemetry and various general technical equipment, two for spare missiles (if necessary), and two cars - for living quarters, a dining room and living rooms of personnel. According to the test results, it was decided in the future to include in the composition of the rocket train also sanitary, hospital and cargo cars, carriage of water and fuel.

In the final version, the transport-launch car or railway mobile launcher BZHRK with an intercontinental ballistic missile of the “Minuteman” type was designed for one rocket (at the initial stage, the version for two missiles was also considered), constructively it should include: an electro-hydraulic lifting device for transferring ICBMs in vertical position and power drive for it; launch pad with gas deflector; shock absorption system to reduce shock and vibration loads on the rocket during transportation, installation in the vertical position and launch; as well as the outer protective shell-case - to protect the rocket from various external influences and masking the true purpose of the car. During the pre-launch preparation, a significant part of the roof of the carriage - the launcher was thrown away, and the rest - was hinged on the hinges at the end of the carriage. Folding hydraulic supports were to ensure the stability of the car when firing.

The cars for the accommodation of personnel, combat duty and various maintenance work on the complex of specialists of the area of ​​material and technical maintenance of the military airbase Hill base were to be reequipped from the existing US Land Forces railway wagons, and transport and launch wagons were to be manufactured at Base Defense Depot Ogden Utah (DDOU), also known as the Utah General Depot. The latter were carried out on the basis of a standard freight railway wagon, which was extended by no more than 4 m and had a reinforced chassis, flaps and a removable roof to lift the rocket into the launch position.

Initially, it was envisaged to transfer a promising BZHRK with ICBM “Minuteman” I into service with the Strategic Aviation Command of the US Air Force in the summer of 1962. For this, 1 December 1960 was officially formed 4062-e strategic rocket wing (mobile), which was planned to include three squadrons of combat railway missile systems for 10 rocket trains each. In addition, each train was originally to carry three ICBMs of the “Minuteman” type I, and then even five missiles. As a result, with an aggregate number of groups of intercontinental ballistic missiles of the “Minuteman” I type, 600 missiles were to be placed in 450 missiles in silo launchers (150 missiles on trains) with five missiles each.


The US military and representatives of the military-industrial complex actively advertised the idea of ​​a rocket train with “Minutemen”. In particular, especially for the press and VIPs in 1960, in the hangar of Boeing in 1960, a mock-up of a combat train complex with ICBMs of the Minuteman type I was assembled. However, this did not help in any way.

28 March (according to other data, 18 March) 1961, US President John F. Kennedy, announced the decision to replace the three missile squadrons with mobile combat railway missile complexes to put on combat duty a number of missile squadrons with high-security silos. In fact, it was the decision to close the BZHRK creation program, one of the reasons for which was the too high cost of practical implementation of such a program.

19 of May 1961 of the Pentagon’s leadership “temporarily postponed” the final review of the future of the BZHRK program with ICBMs of the “Minuteman” type, and December 7 of 1961 of the year Defense Secretary Robert McNamara announced the decision to close the program due to its high cost (1 December). Finally, on February 20, the US Air Force Strategic Command Command 1962 disbanded the 4062 strategic rocket wing.

However, the prototypes of the rocket trains that had already been created were not sent for scrap, they found more effective use - as delivery vehicles for ICBMs of the Minuteman family from manufacturing plants to places where the positioning areas of these intercontinental ballistic missiles were deployed. The first “Minuteman” ICBM, assembled at an Utah facility, was sent in July 1962 to the silo location from plant No. 77 in a transport-charging vehicle specially developed under the Minuteman program, which was delivered to the designated area in the framework of the BZHRK program, a platform car of length 85 ft (25,91 m).

So the first American attempt to create the BZHRK ended ingloriously, for which work by that time they managed to spend about 100 million dollars. According to American sources, the main reasons for abandoning this venture were:

- the high cost of storage and maintenance of ICBMs on railway launch platforms (according to calculations by American experts, the rolling stock of one BZhRK, together with the necessary special equipment and ammunition in six missiles, would have cost the budget 11,2 million, while the average cost of one ICBM in the version with Silos was about 1,5 million dollars.);

- a longer period of preparation of missiles for launching compared to mine-based rockets (including due to the fact that the coordinates of the missile firing site were not known in advance), as well as a number of others.

However, in the 1980s, the Americans again stepped on the same rake - they tried to create a new BZHRK, which was planned to include an already more powerful ICBM of the MX type (“Pikiper”). And again, it all ended with nothing.
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. Pbs
    Pbs 9 December 2017 16: 13 New
    The main reason for the failure was that the Americans created the largest fleet of submarine missile carriers and the BZHRK in their conditions they simply did not need. But it’s right, why write about how Putin crap about profiling the most important strategic project, it’s better to write about the Americans ...
    1. KCA
      KCA 9 December 2017 17: 20 New
      Too many critical strategic projects are already at the stage of completing testing and starting production, even from what they tell us - Sarmat, Boundary, 4202, Zircon, A-235, and this is just what at least they’re telling something, Putin probably knows more than yours what is more important at this stage, he has whole Defense Ministry and General Staff in consultants for making decisions
    2. Sergey-8848
      Sergey-8848 9 December 2017 17: 21 New
      After all, the article is normal, and the author, perhaps, will be further promoted. So after all, both in terms of strategic aviation and SSBNs, we only “caught up” with partners, and caught up, therefore we are alive.
      It is unlikely that the ubiquitous intrigues, arms, ears and legs should be woven everywhere and everywhere. Discussing the cessation of (very unexpected and very unpleasant) funding for our new BZHRK project is one thing, and a normal short review of overseas work is a little different.
    3. Russian whale
      Russian whale 9 December 2017 19: 48 New
      For Pbs:
      If you are not too lazy to go to the source site, you will see another article by the author - on the topic of "Barguzin". But no, you must definitely drop the poop :) And you write better - we will read it, with popcorn or poop :)
      And yes - the main reason for the refusal was that Kennedy decided: ICBMs in protected OS silos are better than BZHRK, and importantly, cheaper, and not what you brought. In addition, the OS silos then - in the absence of a serious space reconnaissance system and low accuracy of the Soviet warheads of ICBMs, made it possible to better provide ICBM protection from the first strike than trains. Read the source, incl. memoirs and archival materials in the English language, not the Red Star.
      1. Vadim237
        Vadim237 9 December 2017 22: 51 New
        "OSA silos then - in the absence of a serious space reconnaissance system and low accuracy of Soviet warhead ICBMs, made it possible to better protect the ICBMs from the first strike." They now provide the highest security for ICBMs from a ground nuclear explosion with a capacity of 1 megaton, as well as from saboteurs, aviation and so on.
    4. Graz
      Graz 10 December 2017 05: 54 New
      Pbs, write some nonsense, that is, your train is more expensive than a nuclear submarine with intercontinental missiles, so it turns out?
      1. ZVO
        ZVO 10 December 2017 10: 42 New
        Quote: Graz
        Pbs, write some nonsense, that is, your train is more expensive than a nuclear submarine with intercontinental missiles, so it turns out?

        If we calculate all the costs for the infrastructure of providing missile trains in terms of 1 missile, then it is likely that the "missile from the train" will be much more expensive than the missile "from the boat" ...
  2. Sergey-8848
    Sergey-8848 9 December 2017 16: 41 New
    What prices were in those years - 1 ICBM, along with silos, for only $ 1 million! And now it’s believed that average the price of Abrams (various modifications) is $ 4, 3 million. So much for inflation and the continuous printing of green cards with portraits of presidents.
    1. Blackmokona
      Blackmokona 10 December 2017 11: 51 New
      Compared with ruble inflation, it is almost in place.
  3. DimanC
    DimanC 9 December 2017 18: 01 New
    Hmm, funny: budget overruns are more likely security. Apparently then they already realized that the then Soviet leadership was conceptually dependent on the global backstage, and headed for the restoration of the capitalist system, so a hot war is not expected. Therefore, you can not spend money
  4. Turist1996
    Turist1996 9 December 2017 21: 09 New
    The main reason - the Yankees are over! The Americans remained ...
  5. MORDVIN13rus
    MORDVIN13rus 9 December 2017 22: 57 New
    One of the reasons for the closure of the project is private railways, not public ones.
  6. Old26
    Old26 10 December 2017 15: 30 New
    Quote: Sergey-8848
    After all, the article is normal, and the author, perhaps, will be further promoted.

    I think that the author will continue and the second part will be about MX

    Quote: Pbs
    The main reason for the failure was that the Americans created the largest fleet of submarine missile carriers and the BZHRK in their conditions they simply did not need.

    Yes, he was "born" ahead of time. At that time, the main Soviet intercontinental missiles had heads with a capacity of 3-5 megatons with a sufficiently large KVO. And a five megaton charge could simply take the train out of the way. And if not demolished, then disable. And getting and destroying the mine was much more difficult

    Quote: MORDVIN13rus
    One of the reasons for the closure of the project is private railways, not public ones.

    That's right. And the second time they did MX-based BZHRK, there was the same problem
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 10 December 2017 18: 40 New
      "And getting and destroying the mine was much more difficult" ////

      But did the USSR ever try to get into the mine or any other
      ICBM launchers?
      In my opinion, they always aimed at a larger city, a large naval
      base. There, where plus or minus a couple of kilometers does not matter.
  7. Old26
    Old26 10 December 2017 21: 20 New
    Quote: voyaka uh
    "And getting and destroying the mine was much more difficult" ////

    But did the USSR ever try to get into a mine or any other accelerated ICBMs?
    In my opinion, they always aimed at a larger city, at large naval bases. There, where plus or minus a couple of kilometers does not matter.

    Well, the initial objective of the ICBMs in the early 60s was to reduce the retaliatory strike. And there was only one way to reduce it - to reduce the number of carriers in the retaliatory strike. But American ICBMs with solid propellant rocket launchers were ready to launch higher. With a KVO of 5 km, the Soviet ICBMs could not guaranteed hit the silos of the Americans. And what remains? Damage the public. But a 5 mt head strike on New York - this would be undesirable for the United States. And so we held the sight of the city, they are our military facilities
  8. iouris
    iouris 11 December 2017 14: 09 New
    I think there are many reasons for abandoning the project. The USA has a very narrow railway track and a relatively undeveloped railway network. But, most importantly, the US administration was confident that the USSR would not attack first (or maybe they knew that the USSR would disappear). In addition, the "nuclear triad" of the United States ensured the solution of all the tasks of "containing Russia".