A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

April 17, 2021

Florida - Part 2 Cape Canaveral

On Monday my brother and I had an appointment with Bill Paul, a curator of the USAF Space and Missile Museum. Bill and my brother are in the same model club, so we were able to set up a visit to the USAF Cape Canaveral Museum archives even though they are closed on Mondays and are very limited in visiting due to security and COVID concerns. My purpose in visiting the archives was to find plans for the mobile launch pad, also called the transporter, used at Launch Complex 41 (LC 41) to move the Titan Missiles from assembly buildings to the launch pad.  I want to build a model of this facility as I think the juxtaposition of rockets and trains is really cool. 

Current mobile launch pad

If you have my book, "45 Track Plans" you would know that I wrote about how United Launch Alliance (ULA) currently uses trackmobiles to push their mobile launch pad at LC41.  See photo at left. 

Before ULA took over operation of LC41, the USAF used LC40 and LC41 to launch numerous Titan III and Titan IV missiles.  In the Titan era, they also used a mobile launch pad but it was pushed by SW-8 locomotives.

The locomotives are actually US Army Korean war veterans that the USAF employed here. One of them is on display at their museum at Cape Canaveral (see photo above). The arm on the engineer side of the loco allows the operators to connect two locos so they can be operated at the same time, i.e. to MU them. 

Alas, we were unable to  plans for the mobile launch pad. We did find some photos that would help. 

But the best photo I have is from a friend's collection.  You can't see how the boom is deployed in this photo. Note the charring on the tower from exhaust from previous missile launches.

This is an example of the scene I want to model. Titan III on the transporter (aka Mobile launch pad)

This photo shows the boom extended.  Anway, I am hesitant to proceed without a better set of plans. I may be able to draw some based on photos, but for now this project has moved down on the "do-list."


One of the artifacts on display at the archives was this Atlas Mercury missile signed by the Mercury astronauts. I got to handle it too! It needs some repairs, but to say it is very valuable is an understatement. 

After looking through the archives, we made a visit to the USAF Museum Annex where we got to see the missiles on display in their protected environment. The missiles look great and being protected from the sun and salt air will certainly help preserve them.  

We also got a peek at Blue Origin's launch pad and the Cape Canaveral light house. 

Some of the missiles on display at the Missile Annex

One of the unusual missiles on display at the museum 

As we were driving around the base, we had to yield to a SpaceX missile transporter that was heading to the port to retrieve a used booster. As an added treat, I got to see that SpaceX booster being recovered from their barge at the Port of Canaveral. I was lucky a couple years ago to see a SpaceX launch from my in-laws' condo in Daytona Beach Shores.  See video below.

Stay tuned for part 3 of our amazing week in Florida. 

SpaceX Booster being recovered at Port Canaveral Hmm, I do have an HO scale model of that crane.....the mind boggles.

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