Talos was truly a modular design, with three separate components – missile, thruster, and control fins – to be mated and tested before being declared ready for use. The intricate and outsized nature of Talos – the missile was 32 feet long and weighed nearly 8,000 pounds when fully configured – meant that it could not be stored in large numbers in a ready-to-use manner on board. a ship. Thus, a huge, elaborate and wonderfully automated storage, mating and launch system was designed to make the missile deployable in a naval combat environment. This support system was literally an armored missile assembly line that has to be one of the coolest and most original naval innovations of the Cold War.
Dubbed the Mark 7 Mod 0 Guided Missile Launch System, this heavily armored half-million-pound hangar-type facility used a complex overhead crane, elevator, and “pestle” system to move missile components. Talos from storage, along the assembly line, and on the launcher rails. Taking up two stories, it was mainly divided into three distinct sections.
The rearmost section, Area 3, was the missile store and had two levels where the Talos missiles and boosters were stored. An elevator and a slaughter crane would move the missiles in a complex puzzle-like fashion. Once a missile was selected, the system would pull it up and place it alongside one of the two crawler trucks on either side of the warehouse-like store. 30 missiles were typically stored in Area 3 during normal operations.
The missile would then be driven through an armored and hydraulically operated hatch and into Zone 2, the ready service area. Here, the sailors would couple a massive 4,400-pound powder propellant to a Talos missile, preparing it for launch. 14 mated missiles were usually stored in trays inside this section at one time. Once done, the pestle would push the missile along its path through another automated armored door and into Zone 1, the test cell.
This section is where the sailors installed the ailerons and missile control wings, a dozen in all. The missile was transferred from its rail cart to aerial launch rails to do this. The missile was then subjected to a quick series of diagnostic checks using a computer system before one of the two large armored hatches opened and the pestle seamlessly pushes the missile onto the rails. attached to the turret of the Mk7 two-armed launcher. Once fire control ensured that there were no ships near the first nine miles of the missile path that could be hit by its huge thruster when it fell or if the missile failed, the Talos cartridge was sent into the air, roaring and spitting smoke as it ascended towards its target.