(Click on pictures below to enlarge. Then use your browser's back button to return.)
I was stationed in Germany 1985-1986 during the worst nuclear disaster in history: The meltdown of the Chernobyl power plant. All of Europe was concerned with the nuclear fall out from the accident. While back in Germany, U.S. Forces were on alert because of the bombings of Rhein-Main's Air Force Base in Frankfurt and later the April 5, 1986 bombing of a discotech in Berlin. I remember seeing the windows blown out on several large buildings near the BX. I was sent to Rhein-Main on guard duty while security barriers were installed.
I worked as a Lance missile crewman during my enlistment. The Lance missile was part of the Army's artillery. The Lance was a short range (75 miles) surface-to-surface tactical missile with three available warheads: 1) high explosive, 2) chemical, and 3) nuclear. The nuclear warhead was the largest and had multiple settings up to 100 kilotons. Originally, I was assigned to a line battery, but I spent most of my 3 years attached to Missile Maintenance in Service Battery (1/32 FA & 1/12 FA). All that time and I never new it was called the 'neutron bomb'. The neutron bomb was designed to target people but not cause heavy damage to buildings (a building friendly bomb).
The Lance crewmen were assigned to two different crews. The first crew picked up the main missile assemblage and warhead (both stored in containers) and loaded them up on 5-ton trucks. Later they would open the containers and 'mate' the warhead to the missile. The assembled missile would be placed onto a tank-like vehicle called a loader-transporter.
The second crew would load the missile onto a similar tracked-vehicle capable of launching the missile. The tracked-vehicle would drive to a marked location where the missile would be layed with survey equipment and gunner's sight quadrant attached to the missile. If it was a nuclear round, launching codes would be entered into the warhead. The missile would then be launched which was a spectacular site. I saw the Lance fired at the NATO base in Crete, Greece and in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. I've never seen anything move so fast. It takes flight at a speed of Mach 3. During battle the Lance missile would be used against the Soviet's front line.
The Lance missile has since become declassified and obsolete except as a flying target to test surface-to-air missiles like the Army's Patriot missile. The battalion I was assigned to in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma became a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) battalion shortly after my end of enlistment. I have not been able to find any links to the 1/32 FA where I was stationed in Germany. If anyone knows of any links to 1/32 FA, Fliegerhorst Kaserne (map, 1/32 FA barracks) please send me an e-mail.
Further reading on the Lance can be found at 50th Missile Regiment. More and more information about the Lance can be found on line. I remember searching the internet in 1997 and finding absolutely nothing about the Lance missile. Coincidently, the Lance missile was manufactured at the LTV plant (picture 200K) in Warren, Michigan, where I live.
3rd Platoon, Fort Sill
I'm holding the U.S. flag
lance engine & specs
lance missile links
lance on mobility kit
courtesy of Ben Rogers duxford.org
The Lance's Lineage -- View a time line of the Lance and its predecessors beginning with the V-2 rocket.
Lance Missile Message Board -- This page now has its own message board. Here's a place to share stories from your past with others who have worked with the missile.
The Lance Presentation -- A compilation of Lance information. Loaded with graphics. Please be patient while pages load (created on PowerPoint).
What is a neutron bomb? Definitions of a neutron bomb.
Interview with neutron bomb inventor -- An interview with Sam Cohen including his involvement in the Manhattan Project.
Manufacturer's specifications -- Specifications of the original Rocketdyne Lance System.
Photos of the Lance Missile -- Photos of Lance from Vought corporation.
Display at White Sands Missile Range -- Photos from White Sands Missile Range Museum.
The Lance System -- A chronological history of the Lance with photos and multimedia (highly recommended - offline as of 4/1/11)
LTV MGM-52 Lance -- Another web page with information on the Lance Missile. Explanation of guidance system.
The Lance Missile - MGM 52C -- Information on the Lance System including its nuclear yield.
50 Missile Regiment -- Created by a former British Lance Missile Crewman.
B Battery 6/32 (Lance) -- Stationed in Korea, this former Lance Missile Crewman recounts the deactivation of B Battery during the end of the Cold War.
Internet Archive -- Eight minute promotional video of Lance Missile (Realplayer)
History USAREUR Atillery -- detailed info on Lance Battalions overseas
Army Installations Hanau Germany--fotos, history
2nd 377FA Lance Message Board --Herzobase.org
Google Map Fliegerhorst Kaserne --It's still there
russian missile links
Russia's Nuclear Weapons
Museum -- What the Russians had during the Cold War.
SS-1 "SCUD" -- The Lance's Soviet counterpart. Although it's closer in size and weight to a Pershing II, both Scud and Lance missiles shared similar propellants, warheads, range, and guidance systems. (offline as of 4/11/11)
Ракетная система LANCE -- A comprehensive Russian web page on the Lance.
great pic of lance
from Redstone Arsenal
|As I look back now, a lot of years later, I realize my time in the Army was the happiest time of my life. God knows not because I liked the Army and there sure wasn't nothing to like about a war. I liked it for the most selfish reason of all: Because I was young. We all were. Me and Epstein and Wykowski, Selridge, Carney, Hennese, and even Sgt. Toomey. I really didn't like most of those guys then.
But today, I love every damn one of them. Life is weird you know.
©2006 m. villanueva