Does anyone know what the first use of a water deluge system was?

I've done some light googling and discovered that the Titan II ICBM rocket silos (first built in 1962) used a water deluge system, but I'm not finding anything on if the Gemini launches used water deluge. From pictures and video, it doesn't look like it.

"Since the Titan II was designed to be launched from within its silo without first being lifted to the surface, unlike all previous liquid-fueled ICBM and IRBM missiles, the silo design required several unique engineering solutions. Among these problems was the dissipation of the 5000 degree F engine exhaust gases, and the reduction of the tremendous acoustical energy generated by rocket engine operation within an enclosed space. Huge ducts and a water deluge sound suppression system prevented the missile from self-destruction due to accoustical energy."


The earliest reference I have found is to LC-34 (built in 1960), used for Saturn I and IB launches.

"A torus ring of large water nozzles, designed by Edwin Davis, encircled the 8-meter-wide exhaust opening. During launch and for some seconds thereafter, the nozzles would spray water on the pedestal, across the exhaust opening, and down the opening's walls, cooling the deflector and pedestal."


This ring is visible in pictures of the remains of LC-34.

The Saturn V launch pads had a "water suppression system" that sprayed water on the pad to prevent damage that was effectively a pad deluge system.


1 Answer 1


I found an earlier one:

Bold mine:

"The made-to-order pad was one of several concessions Vanguard succeeded in obtaining from the Air Force. NRL and Martin insisted also on a "wet pad," one equipped with a plumbing system capable of supplying water for cooling the flame duct of the launch structure and for other purposes connected with static and flight firing tests. For Yates this request posed problems. It meant piping off the main line water intended for the Thor project. It also called for the emplacement of a spilloff basin for catching the water poured through the flame duct, and Yates feared that a basin in the Vanguard launch area would create later difficulties for the Air Force's IRBM program. He agreed to the wet pad only after receiving assurances from NRL and Martin that no interference with the Thor schedule would ensue."


This refers to LC-18A. It was built in 1956 and in use from December 1956 to 1959. It was the site of the famous Vanguard rocket explosion.

A picture of Vanguard SLV-3 (Satellite Launch Vehicle) prior to its launch in September 1958:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Great info, I never knew this..but once you look, it's there. You can see the water spraying out behind the booster in this old newsreel youtu.be/EWXHW7n9c4Y?feature=shared&t=16 (taken from the reverse angle of the photo you posted). $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ I think you're right, I watched that (or similar) video several times last night and I didn't notice that, from about 15 seconds in the clip until engine ignition at about 27 seconds, that's gotta be all part of the water deluge. Video is from the same angle as the picture though, the flame trench is behind the rocket in both. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ You're right, the tower is on the left of the booster in both; so same angle. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ does this imply that Thor also had one? $\endgroup$
    – JCRM
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ Regrettably, there's information about the launches available, very little on the details of launch pad construction. LC-18B did have a retaining pond that was full of water at least once, see picture: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Thor_first_launch.jpg I don't know if they used some kind of pad deluge system or just had the water underneath the rocket. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 16:23

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