Sembach Air Base
Hahn Air Base
Bitburg Air Base

Kadena Air Base
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Lowry AFB
Wheelus AB
Orlando AFB
Camp Happiness

Missile History I
Missile History II
Missile History III
The MM-1
Home Page

U.S. Air Force
Tactical Missiles 1949-1969
The Pioneers
Book Available Now

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Site VII - Rittersdorf
71st Tactical Missile Squadron

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Rittersdorf Site 7 1966

Site 7, Rittersdorf - 1966 - Eight, combat ready CGM-13B mace missiles sit silently underground,
all at 600B hold - ready for the EWO.
To the casual observer, nothing exciting to see here.

36th TFW photo courtesy of Wayne Douglas, 71st TMS, (lwd2856@aol.com)

Rittersdorf hard Site

The abandoned Rittersdorf Mace launch site, 1981

Photo courtesy of Scott Murdock (scott123murdock@yahoo.com)

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1962 - Site 7 under construction
Rittersdof Site VII


   In The Beginning... A Pictoral History of a Mace B Hard Site

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U.S. Air Force Tactical Missiles

Now Available On Line at
Amazon.com and Lulu.com!

By the Editors of this Website!

Beyond the Web Page... The only book devoted exclusively to the Matador and Mace Tactical Missiles. The book reveals the story from the initial idea that became the first U.S. pilotless bomber, through the politically troubled development of the ever evolving deployment methods of the Matador and Mace Tactical Missiles. It covers the Units, Groups, Squadrons and Wing that fielded the missiles. From the United States test sites, Europe, Asia and North Africa nothing is omitted. All phases of the application of these two missiles by the U.S. Air Force (and West German Luftwaffe) are included, from the first tentative launches of the XSSM-A-1 Matador in January 1949, to the tense alert duty of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the final launch of a MQM13A in May of 1977. The maintenance, logistics and launch, the men, equipment and tactics are all there.

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"Bob, George, I finished your book 2 days after I received it. Couldn't put it down. It was incredible reading and incredibly detailed information."

Kent Washburn (KWASH55@aol.com) Mace B, Kadena, Okinawa

"George and Bob. I want you both to know how much I enjoyed reading and how much I admire and appreciate what you have accomplished in developing and publishing "The Pioneers". It is truly an outstanding piece of work, reflecting the time and effort required to produce it, but is also a formidable contribution to our military history. I mentioned in some earlier correspondence that I was a little disappointed in the relatively small amount of information regarding the Operating Location/Guidance Sites but you largely made up for it with this magnificent book."

Dale Lake (daleflake@yahoo.com) 601st Tactical Control Squadron, 38th TMW, Hamm, Germany

"I just finished your book, The Pioneers, et al. Please accept my "job well done!" Not only is it informative, but it's very readable. I'd also like to complement you on how well you footnoted it. You have shown that a scholarly work can be both instructive and enjoyable."

Michael Roof (lavinaschnur@hotmail.com) SGM USA (Ret.)

USAF Tactical Missiles - Book Cover

ISBN 978-0-557-00029-6

"Very good work with great detail."

Col. Charlie Simpson, USAF, Retired
Executive Director
Association of Air Force Missileers

"George, the book arrived on Tuesday while I was off to France. Of course, I quickly read the chapter about �Germany's quiet step into the realm of nuclear armament.� You know, this is still a widely ignored fact over here...
...For me it is fascinating to see what the picture really was in the 1950s and 1960s as opposed to what the official communication of the time wanted people to believe. A fascinating book shedding some light on the early days of tactical nuclear missiles as well as the political background that even today is still largely hidden behind the propaganda of the time. Can�t wait to read the rest of it."

Burkhard Domke
Harsefeld, Germany

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Available Now!, Click Here to Order
"U.S. Tactical Missiles 1949-1969 The Pioneers"

"I have your excellent book on USAF tactical missiles. I actually witnessed the decommissioning of the Maces at W�scheim back in 1966."

Paul Offen
Talitha, Tye Common Road
Essex CM12 9PX

"I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I enjoyed the book that you and Bob wrote. The history was of particluar interest to me and my brother who was a history Professor at the University of Wisconsin. He also thought the book was well written, and he now knows what his little brother, (me), did while in Germany for three years."

George Joseph Snyder (gjsnyder@lanset.com)
71st TMS, Steinborn, Germany

"...by the way, I read your book, it was great, thanks for writing it."

Hack Hunton (hack@sstelco.com) Mace B, Kadena, Okinawa

US Air Force Tactical Missiles �2008 - George Mindling and Robert Bolton

Inspired by the 38th TMW Website, George Mindling and Robert Bolton co-authored US Air Force Tactical Missiles 1949 - 1969: The Pioneers �2008, the story of America's first operational missiles, from the Matador to the Mace, from Taiwan, Korea, and Okinawa to Germany, including Lowry, Orlando, Holloman, Santa Rosa Island at Eglin, and even Camp Happiness!

Dieses Buch ist ein Muss f�r alle, die im Rahmen ihres Dienstes bei der U.S. Air Force mit den fr�hen Marschflugk�rpern zu tun hatten, aber auch f�r deutsche Milit�rarch�ologen, die in der Eifel, im Hunsr�ck oder im Pf�lzer Wald schon �ber r�tselhafte Hinterlassenschaften gestolpert sind. Nach mehr als 40 Jahren wird endlich eine F�lle von Fakten, Informationen und Geschichten zu den zwischen 1954 und 1969 in Deutschland stationierten, mit Automwaffen ausger�steten amerikanischen Matador und Mace auf den Tisch gelegt. Ausf�hrlich und lebendig erz�hlen George Mindling und Bob Bolton von den jungen Missilemen, die im M�rz 1954 erstmals in Bitburg ankamen - noch ganz gr�n im Gesicht, weil auf dem Atlantik schwerer Sturm geherrscht hatte. Von den T-33-Flugzeugen, die aus �bungsgr�nden so taten, als w�ren sie Matador-Flugk�rper, �ber die Startstellungen hinweg in Richtung deutsch-deutsche Grenze donnerten und sich von der Gegenseite nur nicht erwischen lassen durften. Oder von der Kuba-Krise, als die US Air Force Europe auf DEFCON 3 ging und an die Mechaniker in Bitburg Munition f�r ihre Karabiner ausgegeben wurde.

Augenzeugen sagen dazu: "Wir h�tten die V�gel auf jeden Fall innerhalb von 15 Minuten in der Luft haben m�ssen!" Es ist lebendige Milit�rgeschichte, die nun nicht der Vergessenheit anheimf�llt, sondern jedermann zug�nglich wird - auch f�r die ortsans�ssige Bev�lkerung, die heute endlich erf�hrt, was sich damals in ihrer Nachbarschaft zugetragen hat. Den beiden Autoren geb�hrt der Dank.

Klaus Stark   (klaus_stark@t-online.de)
Berlin, Germany

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Rittersdorf Site VII, October 1961

Photo Courtesy of Garld and Janice Edwards (geje@comcast.net)

The original Matador B Pad (below) at Rittersdorf. The road today is a paved major road, (L-9) en route to the golf course near the Sport Hotel. There are no remnants of the original Matador pads. The Mace hard sites are several hundred yards to the left of the photo, on the other side of the road. The forest chapel, right of center, remains today.

The map to the left does not show the site nor the road L-9, which are just to the west of the town of Rittersdorf Matador B Pad - Bitburg

Rittersdorf hard Site

The Rittersdorf launch complex, photo taken during summer, 1993. The complex was built only several hundred yards from the old "soft" Matador "B" pads.
The US Army used the site for Patriot Missile deployment during the Gulf War period of the early 90's

Photo courtesy of George Mindling (myakka@embarqmail.com)

Plaque from Mace Hard Site

Site VII - May 2007

Rittersdorf Site VII - May 2007

"The area is now private property of a building contractor. His name is Marco Palzkill (see contact information below). The area is completely fenced in and construction machinery is placed all over there.

Seven of the eight missile cells are gutted (cannibalized) and empty. All outer and inner doors – except of one cell – are dismantled and scrapped. Mr. Palzkill intends to maintain one cell with its interior and the complete underground rooms. He hopes to conserve it as a little museum of the former “Cold War”. That was the intention of Mr. Palzkill as stated in the summer of 2005. I have not any contact with him since then."

"I visited the Rittersdorf Site last time in late summer 2005."

Here is the complete address of Mr. Palzkill if you would like to contact him:

Palzkill Transporte-Erdbau GmbH

Marco Palzkill
Gewerbegebiet Bildchen 1
54636 Rittersdorf
Phone: (0 65 61) 9 48 47 0

Bernhard Gross (bernhardgross@t-online.de)

Photo by George Mindling (myakka@embarqmail.com) 2 May 2007

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Mace B hard site layout

The planned layout for a hardened Mace B site. Each of the two Launch Command Centers, buried 60 feet under the paved loading and transport ramp, controls four launch bays. The Mace site was called a "semi-hardened" launch site, even though the facility was designed to withstand a nuclear attack. The Main Personnel Access Stairwell is actually centered in the middle of each complex.

Photo courtesy of George F. Kovach (GFKGDK@aol.com)


   Bernhard Gross's Illustration of a typical Site Layout

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Rittersdorf, Site VII, 1962

Site VII under construction

Photo courtesy of Glen Curl (gcurl@bv.net)

Rittersdorf - Site VII 1981

Photo courtesy of Scott Murdock (scott123murdock@yahoo.com)

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The European Stars and Stripes Article, August 24, 1964
Stars & Stripes photo

The main launch doors were originally designed to be filled with water, however, leaks and swelling when frozen led to the doors being filled with concrete instead. Raising the doors was a time consuming process.

The Personnel Doors were solid steel The Personnel Launch Door

Click Here!
The Stars and Stripes Visits a Launch Site

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Launch Door Open

The gaps in the concrete allowed the flat bed trailers to back up exactly against the lowered door, aligning the tracks built into the door with the tracks on the trailer. The missile/launcher assembly was then winched down the incline into the launch bay by cable. The winch unit was part of the trailer unit. Once the missile, with the RATO bottle attached, had been lowered into place, the next trailer arrived to load the warhead section.

Once the warhead section was attached, the third and final trailer brought and downloaded the nose section, which contained the Guidance and Flight Controls Systems. The warhead and nose sections were mounted on 4000A trailers that straddled the built in rails.

Purging the fuel cells

S/Sgt Mann and S/Sgt Chapman purge a fuel cell on a
CGM-13B at Rittersdorf during final shutdown in April, 1969. The wings have already been removed, a procedure used only in dismantling the missile. For transportation to and from the Missile Support Area, the wings were normally folded back along side the fuselage.

Photo courtesy of Kathy Geary (k.geary@worldnet.att.net)

Rittersdorf - Site VII 1981

Photo courtesy of Scott Murdock (scott123murdock@yahoo.com)

Engine Exhaust Vent

The Launch Bay Exhaust Door.

The Exhaust Doors, located on top and to the rear of each launch bay, had to be opened to allow runup of the J-33-A-41 jet engine during systems checkout. The rumor that the missile came out this door was started by a bored E&A crew chatting with several AP's on the ramp. To the casual observer, the story seems quite logical!  If it were a vertical launch weapon, this must be where it comes out!

Photo courtesy of Scott Murdock (scott123murdock@yahoo.com)

LCSC - 1995

The LCSC, in the Launch Control Center, 60 feet underground,
after the site was re-opened for salvage in 1995

Photo courtesy of George F. Kovach (GFKGDK@aol.com)

CSC - 1995

Many tense hours were spent here by alert crews of the 71st Tactical Missile Squadron. The condition of the LCSC in 1995 belies the emotion, boredom and often "extreme concern" crews experienced 60 feet underground,

Photo courtesy of George F. Kovach (GFKGDK@aol.com)

The abandoned Rittersdorf launch site, August, 1995, The site will soon be completely overgrown.


Photo courtesy of George Mindling (myakka@embarqmail.com)

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Rittersdorf, Kreis Bitburg, Germany - "B" Pad - Site VII - 2005
( 49 � 59� 05.59" N,   6 � 28� 51.54" E. )

Site VII - B Pad Google

Photo courtesy of Google Earth

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