Propulsion Systems for Electric Vehicles
Missile Battery 1962-1978
Minuteman II Missiles were
in service from 1962 until 1997. Currently the Minuteman III is still
This page is divided into two sections: The first is the battery
and the second the Minuteman Missile it went into.
The Delco-Remy Missile Battery:
You are looking at the cross section of part
of a Minuteman Inter Continental Ballistic Missile. The rectangular
object in the center is a Delco-Remy designed and built silver-zinc
battery that powered the inertial guidance system. Photo via Gene
Here are photos of a battery that had been
tested in Plant 21 (Basement of Plant 11). Government inspection
procedures called for every Xth battery to be tested. These
batteries had the electrolyte stored separately from the cells, making
them a dry battery until activation. When a firing current was
applied to the explosive squibs in the battery fired releasing the
electrolyte into the cells and the battery became active. The
explosive squibs were manufactured in the Phoenix, AZ area and before they
could be shipped, 50% of them had to be successfully test fired at the
manufacturer with a DR representative on hand. I got to be that
representative once in my brief career in Missile Battery.
The top two terminals were for the squib.
The bottom four were for (2) 28 volt dc outputs.
This is an early battery. The last ones
were built in 1978.
While we were the OEM the Autonetics Division
of North American also had its name on the battery as it were the prime
contractor for the electronics in the Minuteman II Program.
Note from this side view this is not the same
battery mounting that would be used in the battery shown in the missile
cross section at the top as this one mounted on the outer diameter of
the missile. Actually two batteries were supplied. One
powered the general electronics in the missile and the other the
inertial guidance system. Both had to supply current for only 186 seconds because by
that time the Minuteman II was activated, out of the silo and on its way
to its predetermined target, no doubt in the former Soviet Union. As
a ballistic missile once it had fired and established its trajectory, the
rocket motors dropped off and the nuclear warhead was basically a high
tech artillery shell on its way though the upper atmosphere to the target
determined by classical physics. Luckily none of this ever happened
for real, for it if had, none of us would probably be around to either
write or read this webpage.
The Minuteman II Missile:
This is a Minuteman II on display at the
March AFB Museum in California.
The following photos are from the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton,
OH which has a display dedicated to the Minuteman Missile in its Rockets
and Missiles Gallery. These photos give a very good view of what
the DR Missile Battery went into and its importance to the defense of
the US during the Cold War.
This photo shows where the Minuteman bases
were and still are.
This diagram shows the flight path of the
missile. A couple of things to note that are amplified in the
following two photos. First is the life duration of the battery
which is 186 seconds. After that time period the missile is in a
ballistic or free falling mode while on its way to the target. The
second photo reveals the scary part in that 30 minutes after launch the
missile hits its target. And once a missile is launched it is on
its way and can not be called back. So once somebody starts
launching missiles at another country things go down hill in a real
hurry. Based on the distance and time given here the Minuteman
would be traveling at over 12,000 miles per hour.
The world has had really only one big
experience with ballistic missiles used in wartime and that was the
German V-2s that were fired at both London and Brussels during WWII.
Once launched the V-2s would hit their targets in a matter of a couple
of minutes and the people in the target area never knew they were coming
as they were traveling several times faster than the speed of the sound.
The sonic booms would arrive at the target long after the missile had