Operational Sites and Bases

Missile Sites

Strategic or Tactical Missile Site

RAF North Luffenham, Rutland

RAF North Luffenham, Rutland

Full name of site:

RAF North Luffenham, Rutland

Location:

J9JP+2R, Oakham LE15 8RL, Storbritannien

Operational period:

1960

to

1963

Primary user:

RAF, USAF

Description:

The launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik in October 1957 raised concerns in the West that similar technology might also be used to deliver nuclear warheads.

To counter this threat sixty Thor intermediate range ballistic missiles, jointly operated by RAF and USAF personnel, were deployed on 20 sites in England between 1959 and 1963. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 59 out of the 60 missiles were raised to their alert positions and readied for launch.

As part of the negotiations to ease tensions the US agreed to abandon plans to station Jupiter missiles in Italy and Turkey; archaeological traces of these sites may be seen. As more powerful intercontinental missiles came into service in the continental United States the Thor missiles were withdrawn from England in summer 1963.

The Thor missile site at North Luffenham is Listed Grade II*. An equivalent and nearly intact launch complex is preserved as a National Historic Landmark at Vandenberg Air Base, California.

Ownership:

Ministry of Defence

Valuation of authenticity and integrity:

This is the best preserved Thor missile site in England. While it was stripped of most of its equipment after closure in 1963 the concrete footprint of the site remains intact.

Status and access:

No public access