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RAF IRBM North Luffenham

Last modified: 28 Jul 2019, submitted by: Joker

Country: United Kingdom    Region: Rutland

Locale: North Luffenham

Latitude: 52° 37' 54" N     Longitude: -1° 24' 12" E

Area use / Military Branches: Closed


Former RAF (WW2) North Luffenham; home of the IV (Thor) Strategic Missile Group and 144 SMS (1958-1963).
Construction of Thor missile facilities started 1957 in the E part of the UK due to the availability of many former WW2 airfields which might be used.

A total of 60 Thor IRBMs was operated by RAF Bomber Command personnel; control of the nuclear warheads remained with USAF detached at each base. The Thor IRBM force consisted of 4 main bases (I IV Strategic Missile Groups) hosting the SMG Hq and sometimes also an operational missile squadron. Each SMG controlled 4 to 5 Strategic Missile Squadrons at dispersed locations, to counter elimination in case of a surprise attack. Each SMS was individually equipped with 3 missile launchers. Operational peacetime status of the force was guaranteed by a rotating readyness schedule which was used by all SMGs; this implied that each SMG always maintained 2 SMS at 15 min. alert status so that RAF Bomber Command always had 24 missiles at its disposal. The only time that really all SMS were brought at maximum alert was during the Cuban Crisis (Oct 20 Nov 15 1962) .

The IV SMG controlled sites were: 144 SMS N Luffenham; 130 SMS Polebrook; 218 SMS Harrington; 223 SMS Folkingham and 254 SMS Melton Mowbray. The 3 launchpads at N.Luffenham are still clearly visible.
Base deactivated in 1997 and now a civil airport for light aircraft and paragliding

UK Thor missiles

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