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LOX Bays

Martin Company color illustration showing the propellant terminal with adjoining LOX bay at upper left.

Image courtesy of Fred Epler


At each of the three propellant terminals at a Titan I complex, there was an adjacent LOX bay which housed a very large, stainless steel, double-walled liquid oxygen storage tank.  Access to the LOX bay was from the upper level of the propellant terminal by a distinctive doorway with chamfered corners.


Top: overhead view; bottom left: side view; bottom right: end-on view



Diagram of the LOX tank specification used at the Lowry Titan I sites.



Entrance to the LOX bay (at upper middle) viewed from the scrapped out propellant terminal #1 at 724-C.  The doorway has been closed off with welded plate steel-- probably deck plating salvaged from the personnel tunnels.


The LOX bay itself was a tunnel-like structure 68' long and 24' in diameter and comprised of 5 semi-circular, corrugated steel sections roughly 15 feet wide, bolted and welded together with 1'6" concrete walls on both ends and a concrete pad for a floor.


The LOX tanks were 60'6" long and 11'6" in diameter and held 28,000 gallons each of liquid oxygen in a super-cooled cryogenic state for use as oxidizer for the Titans' rocket motors.  Each tank was supported by a rather intricate array of steel beams forming a crib-like structure around it that would allow the tank reasonable leeway to move with any ground shocks that might be transmitted to the enclosing bay.

LOX Bay under construction

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler

The LOX tanks were most likely constructed offsite from Buckley Air National Guard Base and arrived by rail where they were hoisted into a special rig and then lowered onto wheel trucks for transport to the construction sites.


LOX tank at Buckley Air National Guard Base being lowered from a rig onto independent wheel "trucks" for transport to the construction site at 724-B.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


LOX tank being moved onto the construction site at 724-C for installation.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


Tank being nudged into place at 724-B.  The corrugated sections that will cover the bay can be seen in the background awaiting installation.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


Final positioning of LOX tank.  Note the bulldozer being used to move and adjust it to its final position for the addition of its supporting steel structure.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler


Though this photo mostly shows the propellant terminal structure, the emplaced LOX tank with its shiny new connections can be seen at the lower left of the image.

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler

Once on site, the storage were wrestled into position into the partially-constructed LOX bay with heavy equipment.  Next the supporting steel structure was assembled around the tanks before the corrugated steel liners were lowered over the tank and secured in place.  Once backfilled, the floor of the LOX bays were approximately 25' below the surface.

From a strategic standpoint (and that of a layman) this shallow depth seems like a point of weakness in the case of an enemy first-strike as a near miss on a Titan I complex would certainly have put extreme stresses on the LOX bays, putting the invaluable oxidizer, required for a retaliatory strike, at great risk from a failed tank, line or connection.

It is likely however, that the tanks would have fared pretty well in all but the most catastrophic and close strike owing to the protective nature of the soil surrounding it (although shallow).  Even with the enormous energies released by a nuclear explosion, digging up buried structures takes incredible power.  Ground shocks would be more likely to cause damage than an explosion.

Enclosing liner sections being installed around emplaced LOX tank

Photo courtesy of Fred Epler

After the closure of the Titan sites, all of the LOX bays at Lowry, and most likely all other sites, were excavated and the tanks were removed and re-purposed to other projects or placed in storage.  The doors into the complex were welded shut with heavy plate steel and the LOX bays, hastily torn open, were just as quickly backfilled with earth.


Today you can see the large depressions in the ground at 724-C where the dirt has settled leaving a shallow rut near each LOX loading and vent shaft.  Some of the corrugated liner plates can also be seen sticking from the ground, mostly buried, heavily rusted with peeling pale yellow paint.


Normally I would include photos of how the LOX bays appear today, but there remains nothing to take pictures of, everything having been buried.  Additionally I could not locate any operational photos of the completed LOX bays to show how they looked after completion.  If anyone has any photos of these structures taken from inside an operational complex I'd be very grateful if you would contact me.  I'm always curious to see areas I've never glimpsed in person or in pictures.


So ends the LOX bays section.  Please click on the map below to explore other areas or to go to the main map to see the entire complex:

Current Location: LOX Bays

Blast Lock #1 Blast Lock #2 Main Map Launcher Area Air Filtration Launcher Area Air Filtration Fuel Terminal Power House Air Intake Power House LOX Bay #1 LOX Bay #3 Equipment Terminal #1 Missile Silo #1 Propellant Terminal #1 LOX Tunnel #1 Propellant Terminal #3 Missile Silo #3 Equipment Terminal #3 LOX Tunnel #3 Utilities Tunnel #1 Utilities Tunnel #3 Launcher Tunnels Launcher Tunnels Launcher Tunnels Launcher Tunnels Launcher Tunnels

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