All posts by silohouse

Ever wonder what an underground bunker looks like when the Air Force lives there?

Okay, we should qualify that – when the Air Force lived there in 1962!

If you are an Atlas F fan or history buff, you might enjoy browsing around this site –  It’s a treasure trove of pictures, documents, stories, and fascinating information about Atlas, Titan and Minuteman missile silos, command center bunkers, and about the people who manned them.

This page has two true stories.  The first story is a Missileer remembering the challenge of trying to keep the Atlas F Missile 80% launch ready (NOT an easy task!)  The second story is an eye witness account of an Atlas F missile accident in 1964.

Inside the Launch Control Center.  One of the many wonderful historical photos at!
Inside the Launch Control Center. One of the many wonderful historical photos at!

The Air Force may have taken their computers and equipment with them when they closed the Atlas F missile program, but you can still get an idea of what the bunkers looked like when the program was in full swing.  SiloWorld has pictures and manuals!  Yes, manuals!   Here’s a couple of our favorite links:

Diagrams of the Underground Bunker Living Area

It’s rare to find available underground structures built as solidly as the Atlas F Missile Silo complexes.   Costing about $15M each in 1960 (about $120M in today’s dollars), these structures were built to last!  Of course, they make the perfect bunker.  It helps that a significant part of the complex was originally designed to BE a bunker for missile personnel.

And only 72 were built.

Despite years of neglect, these bunkers are still incredibly sturdy and durable.  Neglect and abuse that would deteriorate ordinary buildings doesn’t weaken these structures.  Clean up can be a tremendous undertaking, but once that’s done, you have one of the best bunkers in the world!

Most start remodeling with the Command Center.  It’s an easy starting choice because it was originally designed for people.  The missile command center was on the top floor and the living quarters on the bottom floor.  For today’s uses, the two-story layout, open space and tall ceilings make for an appealing underground condo layout with a lot of flexibility for a variety of interior designs.

We have pictures on the Gallery page with some photos that show the progress of the cleanup and renovations to date on our bunker.  However, it’s hard to get a feel for just how big the underground living areas are from small photos.  After all, you can’t get a sense of scale by seeing the bunker from the outside, can you?

So to help give a better idea of the space and layout of the bunker living areas (the Launch Control Center area), below you can see diagrams of the underground complex, 2D and 3D.  Click on the picture to see the diagram full-screen.

2-d launch control center diagram
2D layout of Control Center and Atlas F Missile Silo Complex
(standard design)

3-D launch control center diagram
3D sketch of the Control Center (aka Command Center)
(standard design)

Missile Silo in Texas turned into underground Bachelor Pad

Back in the ’90’s, a remodeler from Chicago bought a missile silo in Texas.  He didn’t buy it as a bunker – he bought it as an interesting remodeling challenge.  What he has done with it is really quite wonderful.

He has turned the Command Center section of the property into a really cool underground bachelor pad!  This subterranean home looks like it came straight from Hollywood, circa 1963.  If you look at pictures of it (links below), you’ll see the chic living area is reminiscent of classic James Bond (Sean Connery versions, of course!)

At one point in time, this underground home was available for touring.  We are not sure what the status of that is today, but if you want to see pictures of this missile silo renovation, you can check out these great links:

Thinking you may want an underground bachelor pad, too?  All Atlas F Missile Silo complexes were designed with the same layouts.  To see diagrams of the Command Center layouts, see this blog post.


Interesting silo project – Luxury Bunkers

Design concept drawing from

Think no one would pay $1.5 million for a condo in the middle of nowhere with no skyline view?  Think again!

There is a company that is turning two Atlas F missile silos into luxury bunker condos.  15 stories going down almost 200 feet!  These luxury bunkers not only have condos, but also common areas, a medical facility, library, indoor garden, and fish farm!  It is designed to sustain up to 70 people for 5 years, if necessary.

Now that’s using your imagination!  Underground silos can be safe bunkers and luxurious, too!

According to the website, luxury condo bunkers start at $1.5 million.

This is an interesting video that shows some of the interior back when the luxury bunker complex was first being finished out inside.  The scenes with the Fox News reporter are located in the Command Center, and also the tunnel between the Command Center and the missile silo.  It is the same floor plan as all Atlas F Missile Silo Command Centers.  We have pictures of the same corresponding places inside our Command Center in our photo gallery.


History of the Atlas F Missile

The best of its class

That Atlas-F (also known as the SM-65F Atlas) was the final operational version of the Atlas missile as an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile).  The Atlas series was a culmination of a top secret ICBM project originally headed by John von Neumann.  Built in the middle of the Cold War with the U.S.S.R, the Atlas series was designed to help the US response faster that the U.S.S.R., should the Russians attack the United States.

In part due to this interest for response speed, the Atlas F was designed to be extremely lightweight (for a missile).  It used “balloon tanks” for fuel, which required pressurization for stability, or the Atlas would collapse under it’s own weight.  So the Atlas rocket needed to be constantly kept pressurized, which is the main reason the missiles were stored vertically  in underground silos.

There were only 72 Atlas F missile silo complexes built in the US.

Constantly ready

The need to keep the Atlas F missiles pressurized required 24/7 computerized and human monitoring of the pressure gauges.   But, it also kept the missile in an almost-ready state.  If the missile was to be launched, the fuel cells would be filled with liquid oxygen, then the reinforced concrete silo doors would be opened, and the Atlas F missile lifted up by elevator out of the missile silo for launch.

By storing vertically, The Atlas F could be launched in ten minutes, five minutes less than the D or E.

The missile silos themselves were (and still are) engineering marvels of heavily-reinforced concrete, designed to protect the missile of over-pressures of up to 100psi.   This was a huge improvement over the Atlas E facilities, which protected missiles to over-pressures of only 25psi.

Built to withstand nuclear war

The Atlas F series had an on-board computer, which necessitated a Command Center.  Both the missile silo and the Command Center were build underground.  The Atlas F missile silo complex was (and is) the most fortified of all the Atlas series facilities.  The whole underground complex was designed to withstand any kind of bomb attack except a direct hit by a nuclear bomb.

The Atlas F was only in commission for about four years, from 1961 to 1965.  Why?  The Russians made a faster missile, and the USA in response switched to the Titan II series.  Atlas F missiles were to be used for twenty more years for space launches, but this use did not require them to be kept in a permanent state of readiness, so use of the silos for missile storage was phased out.

But something built to withstand nuclear war doesn’t just fade away.  Some of these incredible bunkers have been preserved by private owners for future use.  This site is dedicated to one of those bunkers, which sits in the middle of a quite cornfield in Nebraska.