Wednesday, February 24, 2021

O Say Can You C

Historic Hangar C at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The U.S. Air Force roundels on the facade are a recent addition. Unless otherwise noted, all images on this page are copyright © 2021 Stephen C. Smith. Click an image to view it at a larger size.

Hangar C is one of the most historic sites at what is now called Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. It was the first hangar built on the Cape, in 1953, near the first four launch pads.

Where are Hangars A and B? They were to the south at what is now Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach. The Cape missile range has always been a part of Patrick AFB.

Hangar C in its earliest days housed the first Redstone missiles to launch off the Cape, at Pad 4, as well as early cruise missiles that launched from nearby pads.

The historic hangar today is used to store artifacts restored by the Air Force Space and Missile Museum.

Hangar C had been off-limits to the public until early 2020, when the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offered a once-a-week “Rise to Space” Tour. A few guests were able to go inside Hangar C before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down KSCVC bus tours and the U.S. Air Force suspended tours of the base.

I recently was invited to go inside Hangar C to view the addition of a new artifact, which you'll learn about at the bottom of this article. Come inside!

A sign inside Hangar C displays the building's history.

This sign discusses Wernher von Braun's history with the Cape. Legend has it that von Braun had an office upstairs.

Where was von Braun's office? Looking at these windows, his office was on the lower level, the second window from the right. The first window is above a stairwell from the first floor.

Inside the rumored office of Wernher von Braun. According to the legend, his personal scribblings are hidden behind the wall panelling. The floor is wrapped in plastic due to asbestos removal.

These overhang offices were not part of the original structure. They were added later. Von Braun's “office” was across a corridor from these later additions.

A new arrival is a restored Pershing II surface-to-surface guided missile. Only seven remain in existence, and the museum has one of them. According to a 45th Space Wing press release:

In 1987, after the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union had to eliminate all short to intermediate range ground launched missiles, including the Pershing II. Only seven of these missiles were allowed to remain as long as they were demilitarized and preserved for public display. The Pershing II in the Hangar C collection happens to be one of only four remaining with the original erector launcher included.

Here are images of the restored missile.

The missile atop its erector launcher.

A schematic on the side of the erector launcher.

The “We Gave Peace a Chance” sign is a replica of one seen in a famous photo of a Pershing II being withdrawn from service in Germany.

The sign provides the history and specifications of the Pershing II.

Hidden under the erector launcher is a plaque listing those who have worked on each restoration of the artifact. The most recent restoration was by Guard-Lee of Apopka, Florida.

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