The Titan IV at Evergreen isn’t the only Titan there. They also have a Titan II ICBM. This is installed upright in a recreation of the launch facility that would originally have been buried deep under a remote part of the US countryside. You can walk down and check out the control facilities (probably a touch closer to the silo than would originally have been the case) as well as get down to the base of the silo where the twin nozzles of the missile are. Looking up at the missile from down there is quite an impressive sight.
The Titans were liquid fueled rockets. The process of getting them ready for launch was a lot more complex than for the solid fueled rockets like the Minuteman that replaced them so they were a lot less responsive. However, they fulfilled their role for a long time. They also had a secondary career as manned launchers. The Titan II was the launch vehicle for the Gemini missions so it is a lot more familiar to most people than would be the case for the average ICBM!
The missile display at Evergreen Aerospace Museum is impressive. They have sourced a lot of different types and they have a Titan IV section lying on its side. You can get up close to the nozzle of the rocket motor and it is a cool thing to see in detail. Looking from a distance, they look very simple but, once you are close up, the complexity of the structure and the cooling structure to stop the plume from burning right through the nozzle are really impressive. The shaping of the nozzle itself, in contrast, is very simple. The expansion ratios are calculated carefully and the profile is a smooth transition to minimize the losses. Quite the contrast.
I was too young to see a Saturn V launch. My one and only space launch has been a shuttle flight and that was very impressive. I can only imagine how cool the Saturn V was to witness. Maybe when the new generation of heavy launchers comes into service I will get to see something similar. The power for the first stage was provided by the F1 engines, five of which were clustered together. We made a trip to the Kennedy Space Center a long time ago and a Saturn V is on display there lying on its side. You can get face to face with the engine nozzles.
More recently, we checked out the Apollo exhibit at the Museum of Flight, here in Seattle. They have a display of an F1 engine but this one is not looking so pristine. This is because it is a used engine. Not just used as in test firing used but used as in flew on a mission, free fell to the ocean, hit the sea at speed, sank to the bottom of the Atlantic and stayed there for decades. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, funded a project to recover the engines from Apollo 12.
The nozzle is gone which is no surprise given how thin it is as you can see in the pictures of the undamaged version. However, the combustion chamber and the turbopump seem to have come through the experience in remarkable shape. The injector plate is also on display and has been pulled out of the assembly to show it off more clearly. The F1 was quite a feat of engineering – 1.5 million lbs of thrust and the pinnacle of 60s technology.
I posted some shots of the Needles in this post. The rocky outcrops are not the only thing of interest, however. The strategic location of the cliffs and the importance of some of the military facilities in the waters approached via the Needles mean a fort was constructed overlooking the entry to the Solent during the Victorian era. Large guns were mounted on the top of the cliffs to deal with any enemy that might come.
In the end, no enemy came. However, when the First World War came, there was again a need to protect the approaches. The existing location was not suitable for the size of guns then in use so a new battery was built a little higher up on the cliffs. As with the first one, it stood guard but never engaged any enemy.
In the middle of the 20th century, the location again found a use. Britain had a space launcher development program with the rockets being developed at Saunders Roe in nearby East Cowes. The location on the cliff tops, a long way from most population areas, with nothing but sea below and no overlooking locations for prying eyes meant it was an ideal location for secret programs. A couple of test stands were built for the rockets to be mounted for testing purposes.
Now everything is decommissioned and is open for the public to view. The location on top of the cliffs is very cool anyway but, if you are an engineer type like me, the test facilities are even better. The bunkers and control rooms are worth a look and one of them even has the equipment recreated in cardboard. That might sound strange but it has been done well and even includes a cardboard coat hanging up on the wall. It is a very innovative approach to reproducing what had been taken apart long ago.