Chemistry & Physics

Martin Marietta Corp. | Pershing Weapon System

  • First edition of a rare promotional booklet for the original Pershing missile system (MGM-31A). WorldCat locates only one institutional copy, at the US Army Field Artillery School in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

    Pershing was conceived during the late 1950s as a nuclear weapon system to be deployed in defense of NATO countries on the European continent. Testing occurred during 1960 and 1961, and production began in 1962. “As the successor to the Redstone [ballistic missiles], the Pershing inherited the Redstone’s mission of acting as a forward-based SRBM [short-range ballistic missile] that could strike critical targets in Warsaw Pact nations from U.S. bases in NATO-aligned nations. Unlike the Redstone, the Pershing 1 used solid fuel which could be stored indefinitely inside the missile, eliminating an otherwise lengthy fueling process prior to launch. Additionally, the missile’s size and weight made it easier to transport. Due to these factors, the missiles were valued for their survivability and short launch time. The only significant factor that slowed launch time for the Pershing 1 was that, due to the missile’s length, the warhead was carried on a separate vehicle and attached once a launch order had been received” (”MGM-31 Pershing 1”, Missile Threat website, the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies).

    This booklet describes and illustrates the technical aspects of the Pershing system, describing it as “containing all the elements necessary to complete a deep penetration, nuclear fire mission... a missile, automatic checkout and pre-flight programming equipment, an electrical power station, a small portable launch platform, and communications equipment” that would allow it to be a self-sustaining and highly responsive in unstable battlefield conditions. Eight glossy photographs depict a Pershing missile in the launcher, at the moment of launch, the equipment carrier, erector-launcher, programmer and power stations, and the separate warhead vehicle. They are accompanied by stylish technical drawings and blueprints that give an idea of scale and functioning.

  • Orlando, FL: Martin Company, [1965].

    32-page booklet, quarto. Original grey wrappers printed in black and gold, plastic comb binding. Photographic frontispiece and 7 plates from photos on glossy photo stock, 3 double-sided plates of blueprints, illustrations within the text. Just a little rubbing and creasing at the extremities of the wrappers. An excellent copy.