By Cliff Lethbridge

Minuteman II Launch, Photo Courtesy U.S. Air Force

Minuteman II Launch, Photo Courtesy U.S. Air Force

Classification: Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile

Length: 59 feet, 9 inches

Diameter: 6 feet, 4 inches

Range: 6,990 miles

Date of First Cape Canaveral Launch: September 24, 1964

Date of Final Cape Canaveral Launch: March 14, 1970

Number of Cape Canaveral Launches: 21

Designated LGM-30F Mk II, the Minuteman II represented the second generation of the Minuteman ICBM. Longer and heavier than the Minuteman I, the Minuteman II could carry 34 percent more propellant, resulting in increased range. In addition, the Minuteman II carried an improved Aerojet second stage engine. This engine had an increased diameter and submerged exhaust nozzles. The Minuteman II introduced an Autonetics microelectronic inertial guidance system which could store data on multiple targets. The missile could carry either of two improved versions of Avco re-entry vehicles, each of which could deliver a two-megaton warhead. In addition, two types of Tracor penaids could be incorporated in the Minuteman II. This was the first time penaids were flown on a U.S. missile. The first Minuteman II test launch occurred at Cape Canaveral in September, 1964.

The Minuteman II became operational at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota in 1966. Designated Wing VI, Grand Forks Air Force Base was activated as a Minuteman II base and was the only Minuteman Wing that never deployed the Minuteman I. Wing VI was structured in an identical fashion to Wings I through IV, with a total of 150 missiles deployed. Eventually, Wing I at Malstrom Air Force Base, Montana was outfitted with an extra 50-missile squadron for the Minuteman II. This created a maximum deployment capability of 1,000 missiles. With a force made up of a combined Minuteman I and Minuteman II fleet, the full 1,000-missile deployment was achieved by April, 1967. Following this full deployment, aging Minuteman I missiles were eventually phased out and fully replaced by the Minuteman II and Minuteman III.