Nike Anti-Aircraft Missiles

Click the image to learn more. A newspaper clipping showing Milwauke air defenses during the early stages of the Cold War.

Milwaukee was one of a handful of Midwestern cities equipped with launching stations for Nike anti-aircraft missiles during the 1950s and 1960s.[1] Milwaukee’s defense ring consisted of eight sites, including the lakefront Maitland airstrip. Each site housed up to twelve radar-controlled rockets capable of shooting down planes traveling at supersonic speeds.[2] Beginning in 1958, the Maitland, Waukesha, and River Hills stations acquired the more lethal Nike Hercules weapons while the remaining Milwaukee-area sites retained the smaller Nike Ajax. In 1971, the army announced it would close all of its Wisconsin missile facilities.[3] The abandoned Maitland station is now home for the city’s annual Summerfest.

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ Other cities were Chicago and Detroit. See “Plan Undisclosed Number of Sites in the Milwaukee, Nearby Area,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 9, 1954,, accessed January 15, 2013.
  2. ^ “Council will get Proposal to Lease Maitland Nike Site,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 5, 1956,, accessed January 15, 2013.
  3. ^ Cities to get New Missiles: Policy is Changed,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 29, 1960,, accessed January 15, 2013; “Army Announces Closing of all State Nike Sites,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 4, 1971,, accessed January 15, 2013.

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