Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Bolsa Chica Military Reservation
(Bolsa Chica Fire Control Site No 11, SCR-296 Radar Site No. 5)
 
Bolsa Chica Military Reservation
by Mark J. Berhow, Coast Defense Study Group

Bolsa Chica Marine Reserve: Parking off of Warner Ave. near intersection with Pacific Coast Highway, or parking off Pacific Coast Highway 1/2 mile south of intersection with Warner Ave. Huntington Beach.
 
Signal Oil Corporation: South of intersection of Bolsa Chica Rd., and Los Patos Ave. Permission must be sought, "No Trespassing" signs are posted.

This property was originally home to a local gun club. After the Army located two Panama mounts there in 1942, the gun club became a rather fancy barracks building. In 1943, Battery 242 and 128 were constructed behind the 155 battery. Battery 242 was completed and named Battery Harry J. Harrison, but Battery 128 was halted short of completion. Both emplacements were located on the private property area and were destroyed during 1993-1995 to make way for a new housing development. The Panama mounts are visible and located on Marine Reserve land on a bluff above the lagoon. The foundations of the gun club are just behind, on private property. From a riding stable at the rear of the property the entry way to Battery 128's PSR can be seen, but it is sealed shut.
 
 
US Army Corps of Engineers History

On 15 May 1942, the War Department acquired 771.956 acres of land through fee, leaseholds and permits from 14 separate parties. 634.77 acres were acquired in fee in a condemnation action by two separate leases (630.65 acres from Katherine Torrence et. al., and 4.12 acres from the Pacific Electric Railway Company). An additional 137.186 acres were acquired in fee, easements, licenses, and lesser interest from 12 separate parties.

The site was used by the Army for Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles by Fort MacArthur during World War II, specifically as a shore artillery battery. Army structures were built in the northern half of the site consisting of fortification structures and buildings, two gun emplacements, a water tank and tower, transformer vault, two underground tanks, and electrical and water utility systems.

In 1948 all of the site was declared excess except a 6.20 acre parcel and necessary easements. By judgement entered in 1949, 634.77 acres was revested in the former owners (6.20 acres of the Katherine Torrence tract was retained as were easements for communication cable [1.39 acres], power line [0.71 acres], water [0.22 acre], and roadway [3.33 acres]). The War Assets Administration (WAA) assumed accountability for 123.006 acres on 1 February 1949. An additional 14.18 acres were reassigned to WAA on 11 February 1954 for LA Battery Bolsa Chica, making a total of 137.186 acres. Late in 1949, 116.24 acres (of the 137.186 acres) were declared surplus and revested in their former owners. The remaining 20.946 acre tract was conveyed by the Government to the Ocean View School District (OVSD) on 12 September 1949. The OVSD breached the conditions of this contract, subsequently the tract was transferred by GSA to the Department of the Army on 3 June 1954. Both the 20.946 acre tract and the 6.20 acre tract were acquired for Nike Battery Bolsa Chica. However, due to a change in criteria for Nike sites, the subject land could not be used.

The 6.20 acre tract was relinquished by quit claim deed to a private individual on 15 August 1959. At present, the northern part of the site is vacant, and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve encompasses the southwestern quadrants of the site. The OVSD owns 15.33 acres of the 20.946 acre tract. The remaining 5.616 acres is privately owned. The property to the north of Los Patos Ave has been subdivided and developed into several single family homes. Several utility lines traverse the property, and there is a network of oil pipelines on the site.

Source: US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District

 

Artillery Armament of the Bolsa Chica Military Reservation
World War II Temporary

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

Constructed

Completed

Decommisioned

 Tactical Battery 7

2

155mm

  Panama Mount

1942

-

-

1940 Program

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

Decommisioned

128

2

16 inch

 Casemated Long Range Barbette

 1943

 Not Completed

 (1)
Harry J. Harrison

2

6 inch T2M1

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M4

1943

 1944

(1)

(1) Sometime after World War II, the guns of Battery Harrison were removed and transferred to Battery 241. Both Battery Harrison and Battery 128 are to be destroyed for a housing development.
 

SCR-296 Fixed Coast Artillery Gun-Laying Medium Wave Radar Set. No 5

 

Description: Fixed Coast Artillery gun-laying medium wave radar, assigned to modern 6 inch or larger batteries.

Uses: Set is designed to track a surface target in range and azimuth. Data are sent to the plotting room and used in firing. An SCR-296-A normally is assigned to one battery, but may furnish data to more. Works with IFF RC-136-A.

Performance & Sitting: Range is shown on "A" scope. The target is tracked in azimuth with a pip matching oscilloscope or a zero-center meter. Range accuracy is about ± 30 yards while azimuth accuracy is about ± 0.20 degree under the best conditions. The set has a dependable range of 20,000 yards on a destroyer size target when employed at a height of 145 feet. Site should be not less than 100 feet above sea level; 150 to 500 feet is recommended.

Mobility: Shipment includes areas and separate generator. When crated the total weight is 91,763 lbs. Largest unit is 5,270 lbs.

Installation: SCR-296-A includes a tower, an operating building, and two power plant buildings. The tower is obtainable in heights of 25, 50, 75, and 100 feet. Concrete floors must be put in locally.

Personnel: Operating crew consists of 5 men in addition to a power plant operator and maintenance man who should be available at all times.

Power: Primary power of 2.3 KW is supplied by PE-84C -- commercial or auxiliary 110 V, AC single phase. Generator needs high octane gasoline.

Information from Naval History Library Online.

For more information on the SCR-296 radar set CLICK HERE

 

Maps

 
 
 
Site Map. Click to view a larger image.
 
Fire control sites. Click for a larger view.
 
 
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications: Reserve Ammunition Magazine
 
 
Army Units Assigned to Bolsa Chica
 

 Data Source

Date(s)

 Unit(s)
 Army of the United States Station List  7 April 1945
Western Defense Command
  • Battery A, 3rd Coast Artillery Battalion (Harbor Defense)
 
 
Other Online Histories
Fort MacArthur Museum 
Fort Wiki
A Brief History of Bolsa Chica Military Reservation


Available from Amazon.com:

Seacoast Fortifications of the United States: An Introductory History 
by Emmanual R. Lewis 
Paperback. Published by the United States Naval Institute. 1993 


Available from Fort MacArthur Military Press
Website

California's Railway Guns and their Home at Fort MacArthur
Small, Charles S.
Railhead Publications, Canton, OH 1984

The Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles, a Reference Manual
Berhow, Mark A.
Fort MacArthur Military Press, San Pedro, CA 1992

Guardian at Angels Gate: Fort MacArthur Defender of Los Angeles
Berhow, Mark A. and Gustafson, David
Fort MacArthur Military Press, San Pedro, CA (draft manuscript)
 
 
 
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Updated 8 February 2016