578th Strategic Missile Squadron

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578th Strategic Missile Squadron
Convair SM-65F Atlas 94 578 SMS Site 12 Corinth TX.jpg
Convair SM-65F Atlas No. 94, Site 12 Corinth TX
Active1943–1949; 1961–1965
CountryUnited States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleIntercontinental ballistic missile
Garrison/HQDyess AFB, Texas
EngagementsEuropean-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Streamer.jpg
World War II (EAME Theater)
DecorationsStreamer PUC Army.PNG
Distinguished Unit Citation
578th Strategic Missile Squadron emblem578th Strategic Missile Squadron - SAC - Emblem.png

The 578th Strategic Missile Squadron (578 SMS) is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 96th Strategic Aerospace Wing, stationed at Dyess AFB, Texas

On 1 July 1961, the 578th Strategic Missile Squadron (ICBM-Atlas) went on alert as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) squadron, being equipped with the SM-65F Atlas, with a mission of nuclear deterrence.

The squadron was inactivated as part of the phaseout of the Atlas ICBM on 25 March 1965.


World War II[edit]

Established as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber squadron; trained under Second Air Force. Deployed to European Theater of Operations (ETO), assigned to VIII Bomber Command in England, Flew combat missions over Nazi Germany and Occupied Europe until the German capitulation in May 1945. Most personnel demobilized in England immediately after the end of the war in Europe, Squadron returned to the United States with a small headquarters staff and was planned to be re-equipped and remanned as a B-29 Superfortress squadron. Japanese capitulation canceled plans and was inactivated as a paper unit in the United States during September 1945.

Effective 15 September 1947, the squadron was activated at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. Having been allotted to the organized reserves, with assignment to Twelfth Air Force, Tactical Air Command. It was equipped with A-26 Invader light bombers. It was reassigned to Continental Air Command on 1 December 1948. It remained on reserve service until being inactivated on 10 November 1949 due to budget restrictions.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Squadron[edit]

Reactivated in 1961 as a Strategic Air Command SM-65F Atlas ICBM launch squadron, stationed at Dyess AFB, Texas and assigned to the 96th Bombardment (later Strategic Aerospace) Wing on 1 July 1961.

The squadron was assigned twelve missiles, based in a 1 x 12 configuration: twelve independent widely dispersed launch sites comprised the missile squadron. In August 1962, the first Atlas F was placed on alert status. In October, all 12 missiles were put on alert status as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Atlas F was the final and most advanced version of the Atlas ICBM and was stored in a vertical position inside underground concrete and steel silos. When stored, the Atlas F sat atop an elevator. If a missile was placed on alert, it was fueled with RP-1 (kerosene) liquid fuel, which could be stored inside the missile for extended periods. If a decision was made to launch the missile, the missile was raised to the surface and the liquid oxygen tank was filled. The launch would occur shortly after completion of this process. (see below for site details).

The exposure on the surface that this procedure entailed was the great weakness of the Atlas F. It was exposed and vulnerable during this time. The Titan II and Minuteman missiles could be launched from within their silos, thereby eliminating this vulnerability. Also, since the Titan did not use a cryogenic fuel or oxidizer, and the Minuteman was a solid fuel rocket, they could be stored fully fueled and ready to launch within a very few minutes.

The 578th SMS operated twelve launch silos; one missile at each site. On 1 December 1964, the first Atlas F missile at Dyess was removed from alert status in favor of the more advanced LGM-25C Titan II; squadron was inactivated on 25 March 1965. Missile sites were later sold off to private ownership after demilitarization.


  • Constituted 578th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 15 January 1943
Activated on 26 January 1943
Inactivated on 13 September 1945
  • Re-designated 578th Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy) on 13 August 1947
Activated in the reserve on 9 September 1947
Re-designated 578th Bombardment Squadron (light) on 27 June 1949
Inactivated on 10 November 1949
  • Re-designated 578th Strategic Missile Squadron (ICBM-Atlas), and activated, on 25 January 1961
Organized on 1 July 1961
Inactivated on 25 March 1965



Aircraft and missiles[edit]

SM-65F Atlas Missile Sites
578–1 1.5 mi SE of Lake Fort Phantom Hill, TX 32°36′09″N 099°38′59″W / 32.60250°N 99.64972°W / 32.60250; -99.64972
578–2 1.5 mi S of Albany, TX 32°42′23″N 099°17′51″W / 32.70639°N 99.29750°W / 32.70639; -99.29750
578–3 2.5 mi SE of Clyde, TX 32°22′54″N 099°27′37″W / 32.38167°N 99.46028°W / 32.38167; -99.46028
578–4 9.6 mi SSW of Clyde, TX 32°16′25″N 099°32′28″W / 32.27361°N 99.54111°W / 32.27361; -99.54111
578–5 1.5 mi SE of Lake Coleman, TX 32°09′42″N 099°33′10″W / 32.16167°N 99.55278°W / 32.16167; -99.55278
578–6 2.7 mi E of Lawn, TX 32°08′25″N 099°42′12″W / 32.14028°N 99.70333°W / 32.14028; -99.70333
578–7 3.4 mi NE of Bradshaw, TX 32°07′51″N 099°51′18″W / 32.13083°N 99.85500°W / 32.13083; -99.85500
578–8 4.9 mi ENE of Winters, TX 31°58′24″N 099°52′48″W / 31.97333°N 99.88000°W / 31.97333; -99.88000
578–9 11.9 mi NW of Bradshaw, TX 32°12′37″N 100°03′03″W / 32.21028°N 100.05083°W / 32.21028; -100.05083
578–10 13.1 mi S of Trent, TX 32°18′05″N 100°09′11″W / 32.30139°N 100.15306°W / 32.30139; -100.15306
578–11 3.2 mi SSW of Anson, TX 32°42′40″N 099°54′34″W / 32.71111°N 99.90944°W / 32.71111; -99.90944
578–12 1.4 mi WNW of Corinth, TX 32°51′37″N 099°53′29″W / 32.86028°N 99.89139°W / 32.86028; -99.89139

See also[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.