Funny Painting on a Nuclear Missile Control Bunker

(Photo: Richardw)

Thankfully, the delivery was never made because no one ever placed a call to order what the men who worked behind this 8-ton blast door had to offer.

In 1989, Tony Gatlin, an officer in the US Air Force, painted this amusing but dark image at a Minuteman II nuclear missile launch facility in South Dakota between Rapid City and Pierre. With the proper authorization, Gatlin and his colleagues could deliver death on a massive scale 7,000 miles away while travelling at 15,000 miles an hour. So they could potentially keep their half hour guarantee.

The men would work in pairs for 24-hour shifts, ready to end the world on short notice. Humor like this helped them cope with the stress.

The Minuteman II system was phased out as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) between the United States and the Soviet Union in July of 1991. The US had to destroy or disable its Minuteman II stockpile. On Dec. 22, 1997, it demolished the last operational silo.

But the Delta One Launch Control Facility, where Gatlin painted this door, remained intact. There was no missile inside—just a bunker. It was turned over to the National Park Service and is now open to the public.

Gatlin was not alone in his artistic endeavors. Like the nose art of World War II bomber aircraft, many missileers decorated their surroundings. Most of the paintings didn’t last long. New officers would transfer in and order them painted over.

In 1995, photographer Robert Lyon explored 100 launch control facilities in the United States and took photos of about 400 works of art in them. Much of them are, of course, gallows humor. There are scenes of Wile E. Coyote with the Roadrunner, Captain America and traditional pinups. You can view a slideshow here.

-via Ace of Spades HQ


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