Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Peacekeeper Missile (MX) Rail Garrison - Part 1

From the convoluted realm of 1980's nuclear deterrence strategy came a plan to base U.S. ICBMs in railcars that would have roamed the nation's rail network. The artist's rendering shown below is the second version of the plan to deploy the MX missile (later named the Peacekeeper) in a sort of shell game strategy.  The first iteration would have deployed mobile missile launchers on road vehicle carriers that would shuttle from bunker to bunker in sites located in the Great Basin states of Utah, and Nevada.  The next plan was to base special railcars at bases along the nations rail network, and have the cars roam the rails at random depending on the threat level. The cars were to carry markings of commercial railroad companies as shown below, but presumably they would not have confused the Santa Fe with being the Automated Railway, and did the Union Pacific and the Illinois Central merge? The desert scene looks very much like the Santa Fe east of Klondike on the Needles Sub. The SP and C&O highcube cars are interesting, and is that supposed to be a B&O Sentinel car?

Part 2 will cover the political and social aspects of this plan, and more on the train itself, and also what the Russkies are up to with rail deployed missiles.

Artist's rendering of the Peacekeeper Rail Garrison car running on the commercial rail network.
Cutaway view of the Peacekeeper Rail Garrison Launch Car.

Kit-bashing at its finest. The launcher used a cold launch system using compressed air for the initial lift of the rocket.

Westinghouse launch car at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

The road option with rail delivery.

Next stop, Chicago Union Station.

As can be seen in the video below the Air Force was planning on using large road carriers on prepared roads as part of  the land basing system, but they also at least tested the system shown above to launch missiles from road-less areas.

The MX Rail Garrison was not the first scheme to deploy ICBMs by rail. Operation Big Star was floated around 1959, but was deemed impractical. 

The key word here is CLUSTER. 

And, hey, if cats can figure this out.....


  1. Charles Stookey, Vancouver WAMay 15, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    In The late '70s in Norman OK I had a model railroading/railfanning friend named Bob Osborne. He was a Boeing mechanical engineer and worked on the SST project. After it was canceled he moved to Norman to teach refrigeration mechanics at the Oklahoma Postal Training Center. One of his prize posessions was the original HO model of the Minuteman missile train as seen in the this post. It was fascinating to say the least. As I recall it was mostly of Athearn origin. He moved back to Federal Way WA before 1980 and I lost track of him. I often wonder what happened to the train.

  2. Hello. I'm working on exhibits for a Wyoming historic site: a former Peacekeeper missile launch facility.

    I'd love to use a couple of the above images in the exhibit, but can't find the original sources and/or copyright holders. Do you know the source of the images captioned "Cutaway view..." or "Kit-bashing..."?

  3. Very nice to hear from you. It's been a while since I researched and posted this, but I will see what I can find. Am pretty sure the cutaway view must be in the public domain as I think it came from the Air Force. The kitbashing image might be from the museum in Dayton, Ohio. Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, I believe, has a missile related rail car model of some sort, but I have not seen it. Also, the museum at Hill AFB may have some material.

    1. Thanks for checking! If I don't hear back from you, I'll send a note to the AF Museum in Dayton about a picture of the model.


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