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56th Field Artillery Brigade
PAGE 2 - The missiles and doctrine: P1, P1A and P2
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Pershing 1/1-A

Pershing 2

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Pershing 1/1-A Weapon System

Big Picture Series: Pershing 1A (Movie - 10+ min) (Source: YouTube)
(Source: Martin Marietta Pamphlet July 1971)
The PERSHING weapon system was first deployed in 1964 to Europe.

At hidden firing sites deep in the German forest, elite PERSHING crewmen are armed with nuclear-tipped, two-stage, solid propellant missiles. Ready for launch from tracked vehicles, the missiles are counted down, and checked out by a mobile programmer-test station (far left in photo #1). A radio terminal set with an inflatable antenna (far right, photo #1) maintains contact with higher headquarters.

PERSHING's mobility, and firepower led to its choice for the vital Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) mission in support of NATO.

To increase PERSHING's ability to shoot, move, and communicate in its QRA role, in January 1966 the Army awarded a contract for new ground equipment designated PERSHING 1-A.

Pershing is capable of providing Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) fire support for the theater and General Support for the Field Armies. The battalion - composed of four firing batteries, a headquarters battery, and a service battery - can attack any target within range in any direction. By maneuvering the firing batteries, commanders possess a powerful means of influencing the course of combat and can deliver nuclear fire over a zone of great width and depth, shifting and concentrating fire according to the situation.

Currently, Pershing 1 is deployed with U.S. and Federal Republic of Germany units in Europe. When available, Pershing 1-A will further strengthen the deterrent capability of NATO forces by reducing reaction time and increasing reliability of the Pershing system.
Prime mover for the Pershing 1 (P1) system is the M-474 tracked vehicle, using major components of the M-113 light armored personnel carrier. Four of the tracked vehicles are used to transport the system. The M-474 has a 200 mile cruising range, and a maximum forward speed over the road of about 40 miles per hour. It can ford a stream 42 inches deep. It is about 18 feet long, 8 feet wide, and weighs about 12,000 pounds gross.

The P1 missile less the warhead section is carried on a mobile erector-launcher mounted on a M-474. The erector-launcher can be removed from the tracked vehicle for transport by air. The P1 erector-launcher, developed by Thompson-Ramo-Woolridge, weighs about 5,800 pounds, is about 20 feet long, 7 feet wide and 9 feet high overall. The other three major units also transported on M-474's are the warhead section, the programmer-test station (PTS)/power station (PS) and the tropospheric-scatter radio terminal set. Collins Radio Company produces the communication equipment.

Pershing 1 was retired from active duty with the US Army in September 1970 and is currently being phased out of the FRG Air Force "gruppes." This transition to P1-A will be completed by late 1971.

1. Pershing 1 firing battery (KB)

2. Current PERSHING 1 Firing Site - Somewhere in Germany (KB)

3. Sentry guards nuclear warhead (KB)

4. P1-A Erector-Launcher replaces P1 vehicles (KB)


In order to increase the system's ability to shoot, move and communicate in its QRA role, the US Army in January 1966 awarded a contract to Martin Marietta Corporation for development of new ground equipment designated Pershing 1-A. The first 1-A production contract was awarded Martin Marietta in November 1967.

Faster erector-launchers and the introduction of solid state electronics contribute to a more rapid rate of fire and even greater reliability.

The biggest outward change -- but not the only one -- is a shift from tracked vehicles to wheels for all ground support equipment, including the improved erector-launcher.

The switch to this new equipment was accomplished through a unique logistics plan known as "SWAP." Battalion-size "packages" of P1-A equipment were formed at Cape Kennedy, Florida, then shipped intact to Pershing units in the field. New equipment was then substituted for the old without affecting the readiness posture of the unit. The first such "swap" effort took place early in August 1969.

Under the P1-A program, there is no change to the basic 35 foot inertial-guided missile. Each battery has several missiles, each on its own erector-launcher.

The wheeled ground equipment features an erector-launcher which carries the complete missile on a transporter or semi-trailer towed by a M-757 tractor. The M-757 is a modification of the basic M-656 truck developed for the Army by Ford Motor Company.

The P1-A erector-launcher (EL) is designed for rapid movement from one firing position to the next and is capable of fast erection and firing. It can also be transported in C-130 aircraft.

Hydraulic lifts in the improved EL raise the missile from the horizontal traveling cradle to the vertical firing position in a matter of seconds.
Programmer-Test Station

The improved programmer-test station (PTS), mounted on an M-656 vehicle, provides the means for rapid missile checkout and countdown. It is equipped with computer control devices and performs automatic self-test and malfunction isolation. Modern electronic packaging, featuring plug-in mircomodules, allows the operator to perform repairs at the firing site.

Mounted on the same vehicle is the power station, which provides energy for the entire system.
Battery Control Central

A new but integral part of the P1-A firing unit is a battery control central (BCC) to facilitate the performance of command functions in the QRA role. The BCC consists of an expandable shelter containing communications equipment and a power unit mounted on an M-656 vehicle. Through the facilities of the BCC, the battery commander will be able to maintain more intimate control over the firing positions at the battery firing sites. When a missile is ready for launch, the fire button can be pushed from the BCC or, at the commander's option, the fire box can be removed and operated from a remote location.
Radio Terminal Set

Another M-656 carries the radio terminal set (RTS) which provides voice and teletype networks for the battery. The van is topped by an inflatable parabolic antenna which can be stored in a recessed space during road travel. New to the operation is a single side-band voice system for increased command communications.

Pershing 2 Weapon System

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