December 12, 2019

Titan II PlaneTags: A 2022 Update

As you may know, we stopped producing our Titan PlaneTags at #774 and were finally able to complete the series thanks to our friends at Pima Air & Space Museum who located the rest of the material to make them. They sold out within three minutes in early 2022. We kept 20 of them to donate to Pima and are auctioning them off 5 per month on ebay until they are gone. All proceeds from the sale will go directly to Pima to support their amazing work. Follow our social media for updates [ IG, Twitter]


The Titan II was an ICBM and space launcher developed in the midst of the Cold War by the Glenn L. Martin Company. While it was designed for carrying a nuclear warhead from the U.S. to the other side of the globe, its purpose was peace with the hope it would never launch at all. Its mission was “Peace Through Deterrence”, demonstrating that the U.S. had the ability to retaliate against a nuclear strike to such a degree that the attacker would be completely destroyed, even if they launched their weapons first. For nearly a quarter of a century, Titan II missiles fulfilled this mission.

  titan II launch

Test launch of an LGM-25C Titan II ICBM from an underground silo at Vandenberg AFB , United States, mid-1970s. Public Domain.


The Cold War

 After WWII, a conflict developed between the USSR and the U.S. as the two powerful nations that were once allies vied for supremacy in a growing arms race. The United States had developed the atomic bomb and had deployed it against Japan, ending WWII. Fearing this new threat, the USSR began expanding its reach to its surrounding countries and developing its own nuclear arms. In response, the U.S. also expanded its armaments, leading to the Cold War which lasted from right after WWII to 1991. 


The Arms Race


In 1957 the Soviet Union announced that they had tested an ICBM (Intercontinental ballistic missile) that was capable of reaching the United States. Later that same year, the USSR launched Sputnik,  the first man-made satellite, into space, followed by two more satellites. The U.S. had not launched any at this point. Feeling the loss of technological superiority, the U.S. began developing and improving its own ICBM technology. The Titan II was developed in 1958.


Titan II Missile flickr photo by taylorphotographor shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license  


Its mission was “Peace Through Deterrence”. It was intended to retaliate against a nuclear strike from the USSR and to deter strikes by demonstrating that it had the ability to destroy any attackers, even if it were launched second. This concept was called Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).


Titan II At A Glance

Class: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)
Basing: Silo-based
Length: 31.3 m
Diameter: 3.05 m
Launch Weight: 149,700 kg
Payload: Single warhead
Warhead: 9.0 mT Nuclear
Propulsion: Two-stage, liquid propellant
Range: 15,000 km
Status: Obsolete
In Service: 1963-1987



The Silo

The Titan II was a 2nd gen,  two-stage, silo-stored and launched, liquid-propelled Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). It was ready to launch at all times from a secured, hardened, underground silo, with its liquid propellant on board. Like a shell from a gun, the Titan II was ballistic, receiving a brief but powerful push from a rocket motor, then following a free-flight trajectory to its target. It was the largest land-based missile the U.S. ever deployed.  

missile silo

Titan Missile flickr photo by M McBey shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license  

54 silo sites were eventually developed over the years, divided into groups of 18 silos near three Air Force Bases: Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ, McConnell AFB in Witchita, KS, and Little Rock AFB in Little Rock, AR.
    An additional location near Vandenberg Air Force Base, California operated 3 silos for technical development and testing from 1963 to1969.

Titan II silo sites

The launch facilities were underground, standing ready and safe from nuclear attack. They could be launched out of the silo within 1 minute of the launch sequence, and delivering its payload halfway around the globe at 15,000 mph.


The Many Missions of Titan II

The ultimate weapon of war became the largest implement of peace. 

Titan II was used as 

  • Missile Defense - It was tipped with the Mark 6 bomb, a 9 megaton bomb with the equivalent of 600 times the Hiroshima blast
  • Manned Space - During the Gemini space program - modified Titan IIs carried a two man crew 
  • Satellite - In 1986 after the decommissioning of the Titan II as a weapons system, Lockheed Martin acquired 14 of the vehicles and retrofitted them for spacelift. In 1988 the Titan II began delivering payloads into polar, low earth orbit 



Titan II launch vehicle launching Gemini 11 (12 September 1966)
By NASA/KSC - Great Images in NASA (Description), Public Domain

MotoArt and Titan II

MotoArt owner Dave Hall was stoked when he heard that there was Titan II missile material available. “The Titan II Missile was a symbol of war and, at the same time, of peace. I couldn’t wait to make it our next PlaneTags.”


Titan II Missile PlaneTags

Pima Air & Space Museum / Arizona Aerospace Foundation generously donated the Titan II materials. The materials had been at the museum for decades, most likely taken from various launch sites during decommissioning or to be used as spare parts. There was just enough to make a very limited run of PlaneTags.  

A portion of the sales will go to the Titan Missile Museum , a sister museum to Pima Air & Space Museum. The Titan Missile Museum, located in a former missile silo in Sahuarita, Arizona, is dedicated to preserving the memory of this part of Cold War history and educating visitors with interactive and informative exhibits. Guests can tour the missile silo area and see first hand the technology which kept us from war during those tense Cold War years.  These PlaneTags can be purchased while visiting this incredible museum or here on the PlaneTags website.

Here's just one of several videos produced by the Titan Missile Museum. MotoArt is pleased to support their work.


Titan II PlaneTags

Titan 2 missile PlaneTags

The PlaneTags are made from the skin of a Titan II missile, specifically from the spacer section used to mate the Reentry Vehicle (where the W-53 warhead was carried) to the Stage II airframe.  The material used is 2014-T6 aluminum, an alloy of aluminum and copper that was formulated specifically for the Titan II and not found anywhere else. The slightly golden color is the result of Iridite, a chromium chemical conversion process applied to the airframe to prevent corrosion. 

Own a small piece of a greater history with the newest PlaneTags. Like many of the commemorative PlaneTags that have been offered, the material is scarce and in a limited quantity so once these have been sold, there will be no additional ones made. Don’t miss out because you waited too long.