Trisha Shetty (Editor)

548th Strategic Missile Squadron

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Active  1942-1949; 1961-1964
Type  Squadron
Country  United States
Garrison/HQ  Forbes AFB, Kansas
548th Strategic Missile Squadron
Branch  United States Air Force
Role  Intercontinental ballistic missile

The 548th Strategic Missile Squadron (548 SMS) is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 40th Strategic Aerospace Wing, stationed at Forbes AFB, Kansas.


The 548 SMS was equipped with the SM-65E Atlas Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), with a mission of nuclear deterrence. The squadron was inacivated as part of the phaseout of the Atlas ICBM on 1 September 1964.

World War II

Activated in late 1942 as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomb squadron, trained under Second Air Force. Deployed to England in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during June 1943, assigned to VIII Bomber Command as a strategic bombardment squadron.

Participated in the air offensive over Nazi Germany and Occupied Europe until German capitulation in May 1945. Personnel demobilized in England and returned to the United States; squadron reassigned to Second Air Force and was programmed to be re-equipped with B-29 Superfortresses for deployment to Pacific Theater. Japanese capitulation led to units inactivation in September 1945, being neither manned or equipped.

Effective 15 September 1947, the squadron was activated at Selfridge Field, Michigan. Having been allotted to the organized reserves, with assignment to Second Air Force, Air Defense Command, it was redesigned as a very heavy bombardment unit on 25 August. In July 1948, the squadron was assigned to the Tenth Air Force, which in December, became a part of the Continental Air Command. The squadron was inactivated on 27 June 1949 due to budget restrictions.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Squadron

Reactivated in 1960 as a Strategic Air Command SM-65E Atlas ICBM launch squadron, stationed at Forbes AFB, Kansas and assigned to the 21st Air (later Strategic Aerospace) Division. Nearly 6 months later, on January 24, 1961, the first Atlas missile arrived at Forbes. By October, all nine sites had their Atlas E missiles. On October 16, 1961, Air Force Ballistic Missile Activation Chief, Maj. Gen. Gerrity turned over operational control of the sites to Second Air Force.

The squadron was assigned nine missiles, based in a 1 x 9 configuration: nine independent launch sites comprised a missile squadron. The major enhancement in the Atlas E was the new all-inertial system that obviated the need for ground control facilities. Since the missiles were no longer tied to a central guidance control facility, the launchers could be dispersed widely.

The missiles were housed in a "coffin launcher" style complexes. The missile was kept in a horizontal position. In order to launch, a 400-ton overhead door was rolled back after which the "bird" was raised to a vertical position. Once upright, the rocket was fueled with RP-1 and Liquid Oxygen after which it would then be made ready for launch. The Atlas E was equipped with a Mark IV re-entry vehicle developed by AVCO and carried a type W-38 warhead which had a yield of approximately 4 megatons of TNT. It had a range of approximately 6,000 miles. (see below for site details).

Missiles were retired and removed during 1964 in favor of the more advanced LGM-25C Titan II; squadron was inactivated on 1 September. Missile sites were later sold off to private ownership after demilitarization.


  • Constituted as 548th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 25 November 1942
  • Activated on 1 December 1942 Inactivated on 28 August 1945
  • Re-designated 548th Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy) on 25 August 1947
  • Activated in the reserve on 15 September 1947 Inactivated on 27 June 1949
  • Re-designated 548th Strategic Missile Squadron, and activated, on 22 January 1960
  • Organized on 1 July 1960 Inactivated on 1 September 1964


  • 385th Bombardment Group, 1 December 1942 – 28 August 1945
  • ETO Fuselage Code: HR
  • Second Air Force, 15 September 1947
  • Tenth Air Force, 1 July 1948
  • First Air Force, 15 August 1948
  • Tenth Air Force, 1 December 1948 – 27 June 1949
  • Strategic Air Command, 22 January 1960
  • 21st Air (later Strategic Aerospace) Division, 1 July 1960
  • 40th Strategic Aerospace Wing 1 January-1 September 1964 (not Operational 1 August-1 September 1964)
  • Aircraft and missiles

  • B-17 Flying Fortress, 1942–1945
  • B-29 Superfortress, 1947-1949.
  • SM-65E Atlas Missile, 1960–1964
  • Operated nine missile sites with one missile at each site (9 total):


    During the 2003 Labor Day weekend, many of the members of the 548th SMS attended the first reunion ever held for this squadron. Many of these people had not seen each other since the inactivation of the unit in 1965. During this reunion the 548th SMS Association was formed in order to continue the research for more members and to have a central organization for those who served to contact their fellow missileers. This information was obtained at .A Members Only section of this web site allows those who served in the 548th to find the people with whom they served. Any squadron members who are not currently in the database are urged to contact the 548th Association so that they can be included.


    548th Strategic Missile Squadron Wikipedia

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