Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
(Lake Merced Military Reservation,
SCR-296 Radar Set No. 8, San Francisco Defense Area Sites SF-61
and SF-59, San Francisco Fort Funston National Guard Armory)
Fort Funston's cantonment
area. The US Coast Guard Station is in the foreground and Battery
Howe with its 12-inch mortars is to the right. (NARA) Click the
image for a more detailed view.
by Gordon Chappell, Regional Historian,
Pacific West Region, National Park Service
About 1890 the army engineers planning
new defenses of San Francisco Bay proposed to build two mortar
batteries on a tract of land between Laguna de la Merced (Lake
Merced or, more properly, Lake of Mercy) and the Pacific Ocean,
in the southwestern corner of San Francisco. The Spring Valley
Water Company, owner of the yet undeveloped land, was amenable
to a 'friendly' condemnation suit, and in this manner the government
acquired in December 1900 roughly 45 acres at $900 per acre,
and established the Lake Merced Military Reservation. However
no construction took place until World War I provided the stimulus,
when in February 1917 the Engineers commenced building a temporary
battery for four 12-inch mortars, with the guns for it to come
from Batteries Stotsenburg-McKinnon, Pits 3 and 4. They also
began work on a temporary battery to mount two 5-inch rapid fire
guns to come from Battery Sherwood. The two batteries were turned
over to the Coast Artillery Corps on January 30, 1919. The mortar
battery, in which the four guns were arranged in a straight line,
was named for Brigadier General Walter Howe who had died in 1915.
The only concrete in the emplacement was in the gun platforms;
the plotting room was a wooden building. The same was true for
the rapid fire battery, whose ammunition storage was a mere wooden
shelter between the guns covered with a thin layer of earth.
This battery was named for Colonel Lawrence L.Bruff, an ordnance
officer who had died in 1911, and it should not be confused with
the later Battery Bluff.
Meanwhile, on June 26, 1917 the Lake Merced
Military Reservation was renamed Fort Funston for Major General
Frederick Funston, who had died that February. In July the post
was enlarged by the purchase of an additional 150 acres lying
to the south. Troops assigned to the batteries lived in tents
while building their own wood frame barracks and quarters. The
San Francisco Chronicle remarked on the occasion of raising the
first flag over the new Fort Funston parade ground that the place
looked more like a frontier post than anything else, for the garrison's
buildings were almost all of frame construction, all but a few
considered temporary, and while some of them were neat enough
when new and freshly painted, none had any architectural distinction
or decoration. The buildings housed the men who manned the batteries,
and the post functioned as a sub-post of Fort Winfield Scott,
the Coast Artillery command for San Francisco Bay defenses which
comprised the western portion of the Presidio of San Francisco.
The garrison complex would grow during World
War II by the construction of a new class of "temporary"
barracks and quarters and other structures to a total by the end
of 1942 of 86 buildings, but after the war its batteries became
obsolete and it was demolished in its entirety, save for a few
of the World War II buildings east of the road.
As for the batteries themselves, Battery
Bruff was declared obsolete, a mere six months after it had been
turned over to the Coast Artillery Corps, making it the shortest-lived
battery in the San Francisco Bay defenses and raising real questions
about its necessity in the first place. Battery Howe, on the other-hand,
apparently retained its mortars until 1945, this "temporary"
battery thus far outlasting the armament of many "permanent"
After the original cantonment area was transferred
to the City and County of San Francisco, a portion was retained
by the Department of the Army and permitted to the California
National Guard for the housing of an Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion.
The 20 November 1957 map documenting the Fort Funston Military
Reservation shows that Battery A, 271st Antiaircraft Artillery
Gun Battalion had four 90mm Antiaircraft Guns just west on the
cantonment area. The California National Guard used the magazines
at Battery Howe and Antiaircraft Battery Number 3 for ammunition
storage and the balloon hanger as a storage shed for the mobile
antiaircraft guns. This site was on City and County of San Francisco
land outside of the California National Guard leased area and
the area retained by the Army. This site was known as SF-61.
The last military use of Fort Funston was
as a Nike missile battery location. It, too, is now obsolete.
Originally Published in 1981 for
the annual meeting of the Council on Abandoned Military Posts.
Reprinted with permission of the author
by Justin Ruhge
Fort Funston, 24
January 1939. The newly completed Battery Richmond P. Davis can
be see on the right side of the image. (National Archives)
At the beginning of the Endicott period
in 1890, two mortar batteries were proposed on a tract of land
between Laguna de la Merced and the ocean. The Spring Valley
Water Company owned this land. The Company was agreeable to selling
the land at $1,000 per acre. Before his retirement, Colonel Mendell
had selected a tract of 45 acres west of the north arm of the
lake. The condemnation suit was completed in December 1900 with
the Federal Government acquiring 44.95 acres at $900 per acre.
However, from that date until World War I, the Army undertook
neither construction nor development at the new reservation.
In 1917, General Orders 76, dated June
26, 1917 named the Lake Merced Military Reservation in honor
of Major General Frederick Funston who had fought with the rebels
in Cuba before the Spanish-American War, won the Medal of Honor
for action in the Philippines, captured the insurrection leader,
Emilio Aguinaldo, and had come to San Francisco's aid during
the 1906 earthquake. Funston had died in February 1917. In July
of that year, the post was enlarged by the purchase of 150 acres
to the south, also from the Spring Valley Water Company at a
cost of $226,151.
Enlisted men lived in tents while they
constructed their own barracks and other buildings. On August
21, 1917, Fort Funston's flag was raised for the first time as
a sub-post of Fort Winfield Scott.
The ground picked for the Fort was in
the middle of sand dunes on a bluff above the ocean and south
of Fort Miley. The garrison complex would grow during World War
II by the construction of a new class of "temporary"
barracks and quarters and other structures to a total, by the
end of 1942, of 86 buildings. After the war, most of these were
removed so that today only a few remain. Seven batteries were
built on the Fort property beginning in 1917 with mortar Battery
Howe and ending with the close of the NIKE battery in 1965. The
Fort area in 2004 is a park surrounded by San Francisco's Park
Merced high-rise apartments, San Francisco State University,
and the Stonetown Shopping Center.
The 24th Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service,
arrived in San Francisco sometime in early 1920. In April the
14th Balloon Company joined it from Fort Omaha, Nebraska. The
two outfits worked together to develop a system of tracking ship
movements and as spotters for artillery hits and to pull airborne
or sea-borne targets. The balloons were stationed at each end
of a baseline about seven miles long.
In January 1921, the 24th Balloon Company
was stationed at Fort Baker but maintained its balloons at Fort
Barry. The 14th Balloon Company kept its balloons at Fort Funston.
The steady winds of San Francisco Bay
were a source of constant trouble for balloonists. On several
occasions gusts of up to 50 miles per hour turned balloonists'
knuckles white. In January 1921, each company lost an inflated
balloon to high winds because there were no means of storage
on any posts. Construction was begun on hangars at Fort Barry,
Forts Funston and Winfield Scott on July 27, 1920 and completed
by June, 1921 at a cost of $1,999,787. This project included
hydrogen generator houses and fields for maneuvering the tie-down
tower to which the balloons were attached.
Both balloon companies were stationed
at Crissy Field in 1921 when it came into full operation. It
is not known when they left San Francisco. A balloon hangar was
in existence at Fort Funston in 1922. After World War II the
hanger was used as a gun shed for California National Guard Anti-Aircraft
Development started in 1946 on a surface-to-air
missile that came to be called the Nike-Ajax. These rocket missiles
were controlled by a computer that was "fed" by three
radars. One radar tracked the target; one followed the missile
itself; and the third "acquisition" radar detected
distant aircraft and transferred the information to the target-tracking
radar. In the late 1950s, the Nike-Hercules began replacing Nike-Ajax.
The new missile was larger, faster and had a much greater range
against intercepting long-range Russian atomic bomb-carrying
aircraft. Still later a third model, Nike-Zeus, was the new replacement.
About 1957, construction began on Nike
sites in the Bay area. Five of these batteries were located in
today's Golden Gate Recreation Area (GGNRA): Fort Winfield Scott,
Fort Funston, Fort Barry, Fort Cronkhite, and Angel Island. In
addition, four radar complexes were to be found: one on Wolf
Ridge at Fort Cronkhite, one on Diablo Ridge on top of the casemates
of Battery Construction 129, one on top of Angel Island, and
on Mount Sutro in San Francisco.
A Nike battery included the launcher area
where the missiles were stored in underground rooms and brought
up on elevators to the launchers; the control area usually at
a high elevation and with its radar which had to have an unobstructed
view of the launch area; and the cantonment area, including quarters,
mess hall, and recreation rooms.
The Fort Funston Nike battery was designated
SF-59. Two underground rooms were provided, each with its own
elevator. Nearby were the several buildings to be found at a
missile site - the ready room and generator room. Further away,
near the south boundary of the post, stood the newly built barracks,
storerooms and other structures.
In 2004 the Nike battery has been used
for various public civic applications.
RADAR: the Miracle Technology of World
Radar was the miracle technology of World
War II. Developed in the late 1930s, Radar was first used in
a rudimentary form in England during the "Battle of Britain."
It was very quickly developed for long-range surveillance and
fire control for American war ships and seacoast batteries.
Both Britain and the United States were
developing radio detecting and ranging (Radar) systems in the
late 1930s. As far as the defenses of San Francisco were concerned,
there were two families of radar - those used for air defense
and those used for seacoast artillery fire control. Research
priority was given to air defense Radar.
One of the first operational Radars, referred
to early on as "special equipment" was the SCR-268,
which was used in connection with antiaircraft searchlights for
detecting aircraft. In military terms it was called a searchlight
director. The SCR-270 and SCR-271 were Radar for the long-range
detection of aircraft, out to 100 to 150 miles.
In August 1940 the War Department approved
a plan for the placing of 21 mobile detectors on the coasts,
11 along the northeast Atlantic and 10 along the Pacific. By
January 1942, 27 sets of SCR-270 had been installed on the West
Coast. The SCR-270 was heavily criticized, at least in the early
days because its antenna, described as a king-sized set of bedsprings,
took up a lot of room.
The distribution of these Radar sets for
antiaircraft purposes in the harbor defenses of San Francisco
is not known. In the postwar plans, however, San Francisco was
to have nine searchlights equipped with radar, six north of the
Golden Gate and three on the south side of the bay.
The other family of Radar was designed
to assist the seacoast artillery in fire control. Development
was delayed until the antiaircraft types were perfected, and
by 1942 an SCR-296, a surface craft detector, was in production.
The earliest correspondence concerning the SCR-296 that has been
found regarding the Bay Area was dated October 16, 1943. This
letter authorized the construction of five SCR-296 sets: Set
1, Wildcat Military Reservation on the Point Reyes Peninsula;
Set 3 on Hill 640 northwest of Frank Valley; Set 5 on Bonita
Ridge. Fort Barry; Set 10 at Devil's Slide south of Milagra Ridge;
and Set 11 at Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay. The directive went
on to say that four other sets had already been authorized for
San Francisco: Wolf Ridge at Fort Cronkhite, Fort Winfield Scott,
Fort Miley and Fort Funston.
Another type of Radar used in seacoast
artillery defense was the SCR-682, which was a general surveillance
detector. Inasmuch as its technical specifications reached San
Francisco in August 1943, this type of Radar probably followed.
Its principal components, the antenna spinner assembly, were
a rotatable 4-foot paraboloid mounted on a pedestal base, approximately
2 feet square. The antenna and pedestal were protected by a light
plastic blister approximately 6 feet in diameter and 6 feet high.
The total weight of the antenna spinner assembly was 500 pounds.
The modulator unit weighed 550 pounds. It had to be located not
more than 150 feet from the antenna spinner. The indicator unit
weighed 460 pounds and had to be located within 15 feet of the
modulator and power units.
It is not known how many SCR-682 sets
there were in the San Francisco harbor defenses. In the postwar
plans for San Francisco because only two such sets were called
for: one at Point Reyes Headlands and one on Wolf Ridge, Fort
By 1945 the harbor defenses of San Francisco
possessed two sets of "general surveillance" Radar,
SCR-682. Set 1 was located about 2,000 feet east of the lighthouse
on a knoll at Point Reyes. Set 2 stood near the crest of Wolf
Ridge at an elevation of 880 feet, above Fort Cronkhite. Of the
ten sets of surface craft detector Radars, SCR-296, which were
installed by 1945, seven were within the boundaries of today's
GGNRA: No. 1 was at Wildcat Ridge; No. 3 at Hill 640; No. 4 at
Wolf Ridge, Fort Cronkhite; No. 5 at Point Bonita Ridge, Fort
Barry; No. 6 at Bakers Beach; No. 7 at Fort Miley; and No. 8
at South Fort Funston. The other three were at Milagra Ridge,
Devil's Slide and Pillar Point. Set 2, which was to have been
at Bolinas Point, was never set up, perhaps because it required
a 100-foot tower.
Each Radar set required a tower from 25
to 50 feet high set on concrete pylons, a transmitter building
and a structure to house a power plant.
References: A History of
San Francisco Harbor Defense Installations: Fort Baker, Barry,
Cronkhite and Funston by Emanuel Raymond Lewis, 1965, Prepared
for Division of Beaches and Parks, State of California; Seacoast
Fortifications of the United States by Emanuel Raymond Lewis,
1970; Fort Funston, Battery Davis and the Panama Mounts, Fort
Funston, California, by Gordon Chappell, 1982; Seacoast Fortifications
San Francisco Harbor by Erwin N. Thompson, 1979: Artillery at
the Golden Gate by Brian B. Chin, 1994.
Set No. 8
This radar set was located 50 feet east
of Fire Control Station B1S1 Davis. Completed 1 October 1943.
Declared obsolete on 14 January 1946. Power from Fort Funston
power grid with backup power provided by an onsite power house.
For more information on the SCR-296 radar set CLICK
of an SCR-296 radar set.
Artillery gun-laying medium wave radar, assigned to modern 6
inch or larger batteries.
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.
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.
Shipment includes areas and separate
generator. When crated the total weight is 91,763 lbs. Largest
unit is 5,270 lbs.
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.
consists of 5 men in addition to a power plant operator and maintenance
man who should be available at all times.
of 2.3 KW is supplied by PE-84C -- commercial or auxiliary 110
V, AC single phase. Generator needs high octane gasoline.
Plotting and Switchboard Room: Located 700 feet northeast of Battery Davis's Gun
No. 1, this facility was completed 21 September 1940. Power supply
was provided by Battery Davis. The entrance to this station is
Funston Groupment C2: This two-story structure, completed in 1941, is
located 250 feet due west of the of the western most Nike-Ajax
launcher (Structure 202) , This bunker was the command post during
World War II for the active coast artillery batteries at Fort
Funston (i.e., Batteries Howe, Bluff and Davis). Power supplied
by Battery Davis. Presently this structure is integrated into
a scenic overlook.
Fire Control Station Group 4: Completed in 14 November 1941, this structure is
located 250 feet due west of the of the western most Nike-Ajax
launcher (Structure 202) , This bunker was the Fire Control Station
for Battery Bluff. Power supplied by Battery Davis. The structure
is not visible and may have been removed.
Fire Control Station B1S1 Davis: Completed 21 September 1940 this structure was a
two-story fire control station for Battery
Richmond P. Davis. The station is located 1,300 feet south
of Battery Davis's No 1 gun. Power supplied by Battery Davis.
The structure is not visible and may have been removed.
Fire Control Station B2S2 Construction
No. 243: A fire control station
for Battery Construction 243, an unnamed
two-gun, six-inch gun battery located at Fort Miley. Completed
on 15 November 1943, this station was located 650 feet west of
the magazine for Antiaircraft Battery No. 3. Power supplied by
commercial sources with a back-up powerhouse. Due to erosion,
this station is reported to have slid off of the bluff onto the
Fire Control Station B3S3 Wallace: Completed in 14 November 1941, this structure was
located 550 feet south of Battery Davis's No 1 gun. This bunker
was the Fire Control Station for Battery
Wallace, a two-gun, 12-inch battery located at Fort Barry
in Marin County. Power from a dedicated powerhouse. The structure
is not visible and may have been removed.
Fire Control Station B4S4 Townsley: Completed in 14 November 1941, this structure
was located 600 feet due west of the San Francisco Defense Area
Site 59A's mess hall (Building 103). This bunker was the Fire
Control Station for Battery Townsley,
a two-gun, 16-inch battery located at Fort Cronkite in Marin County.
Power supplied by the post's power grid. The structure is not
visible and may have been removed.
Fire Control Station B4S4 Construction
No. 129: Located 150 yards to the
north of Battery Walter Howe, this fire control station was originally
built in 1918 and rebuilt in 1926 and designated as Fire Control
Station B1 & BC Howe During World War II, it was redesignated
as a fire control station for Battery Construction No. 129, an
unnamed, two 16-inch gun battery located at Fort Funston in Marin
County. . Power supplied by the Fort Funston power grid with a
backup power. The structure is not visible and may have been removed.
Fire Control Station B5S5 Construction
No. 244: A fire control station
for Battery Construction 244, an unnamed, two-gun, six-inch battery
located at Milagra Ridge Military Reservation. This station was
originally designated Fire Control Station B3S3 Chester for Battery
James Chester at Fort Miley. Completed in 29 November 1943, this
structure is located 100 feet south of the Funston Groupment C2
command post. Power supplied by the Fort Funston power grid with
a backup power house. Presently integrated into a scenic overlook.
Radio Station. Completed
on 21 September 1940, this underground radio station was located
approximately 900 feet northeast of Battery Davis's No.1 Gun and
adjacent to the Blimp Hanger. Power supplied by Battery Davis's
power plant. The structure is not visible and may have been removed.
While most of the fortifications and supporting structures received
their primary electrical power from either the post's electrical
grid or Battery Davis's power plant, most of the fire control
stations had back up generators housed on protected power houses.
Power House (1-Unit) Installation No.
2: Located 1,200 feet south of
Battery Davis's Gun No. 1, this power house provided backup power
to B1S1 Davis, B3S3 Davis, and Group 4. Completed on 27 June
1944. The structure is not visible and may have been removed.
Power House (2-Unit) Installation No.
2: Located in the southern portion
of Fort Funston, this power house provided backup power to B5S5
Construction 244, B4S4 Townsley, and the Funston Groupment. Completed
on 27 June 1944. The structure is not visible and may have been
Power House (1-Unit) B2S2 243: Located 450 feet west of the 3-inch antiaircraft
battery, this power house provided backup power to B2S2 Construction
243. Completed on 27 June 1944. The structure is not visible
and may have been removed.
Power House (1-Unit) B4S4 129: Located in the Northern portion of Fort Funston,
this power house provided backup power to B4S4 Construction 129.
Completed on 27 June 1944. The structure is not visible and may
have been removed.
Power House HO-1-A: Located 110 feet south of the SCR-296 Transmitter
Building, this power house provided back up to that radar site.
Additional fire control stations. In addition to the more permanent, reinforced concrete
structures documented above, there were several "troop built"
structures dating to World War I that supported several of the
batteries at Forts Funston, Miley, Winfield Scott, and Barry.
These were little more than improved field fortifications made
of wood and corrugated metal. These have all been removed or were
allowed to deteriorate.
Throughout World War II, the specter of
a Japanese air attack, no matter how remote, hung over the commanders
responsible for the defense of San Francisco. Evan after the Battle
of Midway, which destroyed much of its air arm, the Imperial Japanese
Navy maintained the capability of striking the United States throughout
the war. This included the capability of launching up to three
float planes from the I-400 class of submarines.
With this in mind, dozens of mobile antiaircraft
guns were placed throughout the bay area. Fort Funston's defenses
were bolstered with the addition of five 40mm M1 "Bofors"
antiaircraft guns mounted of the M2A1 carriage. These sites were
assigned administrative the following numbers according to the
1948 map of Fort Funston:
Positions 24 and 25: Adjacent to Fort
Funston's main cantonment area.
Position 26: 100 feet east of Antiaircraft
Battery No. 3
Position 27: 600 feet southeast of Battery
Davis's gun no. 2.
Position 28: 100 feet east of Battery
There were eight 0.50 caliber machine guns
proving additional air defense to Fort Funston. These guns were
removed at the end of World War II.
(1) In 1917, temporary platforms
were built for 8 mortars from Battery Stotsenburg-McKinnon. In
1919 two platforms were built for 5" guns from Battery Sherwood.
The guns were removed later that year. Both emplacements have
(2) In 1937, the battery
was expanded to three guns. This battery was also known as also
known as Antiaircraft Battery No. 5 and later Antiaircraft Battery
(3) Initially establisned
to the west of the Anti-Aircraft Battery as shown below. After
the storms of the winter of 1940-1941 weakened the bluff requiring
the batter to be moved to the south of Battery Davis.
Defense Area Site No. SF-61
by Sgt Maj (CA) Dan Sebby, Military Historian,
California Military Department
On 5 May 1947 the California National Guard
formed the 271st Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion.
The battalion headquarters and at least one battery were located
at Fort Funston's main cantonment area. Each of the battalion's
firing batteries was armed with eight of the M1 40mm "Bofors"
antiaircraft gun on a M2A1 carriage and eight M51 Multiple .50-Caliber
"Quad Fifty" Machine Gun.
In 1950, the battalion moved into a new
armory which is still occupied by the California National guard
to this day. The battalion continued as an automatic weapons unit
until 1 January 1951 when it was reorganized into the 271st Antiaircraft
Artillery Gun Battalion armed with the M1 90mm antiaircraft gun.
The 20 November 1957 map documenting the
Fort Funston Military Reservation shows that Battery A, 271st
Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion of the California Army National
Guard had four M2 90-millimeter Antiaircraft Guns just west of
the cantonment area adjacent to Battery Walter Howe. This site
was on City and County of San Francisco land outside of the California
National Guard leased area and the area retained by the Army.
This site was known as San Francisco Defense Area Site SF-61.
The California National Guard continued
to use the magazines at Battery Howe and Antiaircraft Battery
Number 3 for ammunition storage and the balloon hanger as a storage
shed during this period.
The battalion continued in it's "gun"
role until 1 March 1958 when it was reorganized into the 271st
Missile Battalion (Nike). At that time they began the process
of transitioning to the Nike-Ajax air defense missile system and
preparing for taking operational control of San Francisco Defense
Area Site SF-59 in July 1959
The firing area was known as site SF-61N
while the supporting AN/TPS-1D survellince radar, located above
Battery Davis, was known as SF-61R,
The M2 90mm Antiaircraft Gun
The M2 90mm Antiaircraft
Gun in travel configuration
The M2 90 Antiaircraft
Gun with wheeled bogies removed and outriggers extended.
Prior to WWII, the primary US anti-aircraft
gun was the 3-inch M1918 gun (76.2 mm L/50), a widely-used caliber
for this class of weapon. Similar weapons were in British, Soviet
and other arsenals. There had been several upgrades to the weapon
over its history, including the experimental T8 and T9 versions
developed in the early 1930s that were intended to enter service
later in the decade.
However the Army became interested in
a much more capable weapon instead, and on June 9, 1938 they
issued a development contract calling for two new guns, one of
90 mm which they felt was the largest possible size that was
still capable of being manually loaded at high elevations, and
another, using assisted loading, of 120 mm caliber. The new design
seemed so much better than developments of the older 3-inch that
work on the 3-inch T9 was canceled in 1938 just as it became
production-ready. By 1940 the second development of the 90 mm
design, the T2, was standardized as the 90 mm M1, while its larger
cousin became the 120 mm M1 gun.
A few hundred M1's were completed when
several improvements were added to produce the 90 mm M1A1, which
entered production in late 1940 and was accepted as the standard
on May 22, 1941. The M1A1 included an improved mount and spring-rammer
on the breach with the result that firing rates went up to 20
rounds per minute. Several thousand were available when the US
entered the war, and the M1A1 was their standard AA gun for the
rest of the war. Production rates continued to improve, topping
out in the low thousands per month.
Like the German 88, and the British QF
3.7 inch AA gun, the M1A1 found itself facing tanks in combat,
but unlike the others it could not be depressed to fire against
them. On September 11, 1942 the Army issued specifications for
a new mount to allow it to be used in this role, which resulted
in the 90 mm M2, introducing yet another new mount that could
be depressed to 10 degrees below horizontal and featured a new
electrically-assisted rammer. It became the standard weapon from
May 13, 1943.
In July 1941 it was decided that in future
the 90-mm (3.54-in) gun and carriage would have to be capable
of engaging sea and land targets as well. This meant a revision
of the carriage as on the Ml carnage the gun could not be depressed
below 0°, and the opportunity was taken to incorporate a
radical redesign, The M2 carnage had a totally different design
with a low firing platform carried on four outrigger legs when
firing. It was much handier and quicker to get into action, and
some versions also had a small shield. The main change, however,
was to the gun, which became the M2 in which the ammunition feed
for a new fuse setter and rammer was added, this making fuse
setting much more rapid and accurate, and also raising the rate
of fire to a possible 27 rounds per minute. Yet more accuracy
and lethality was added in late 1944 when the 90-mm (3.54-in)
gun was used as one of the first weapons on land to fire the
new proximity-fused round, one of the most advanced weapon developments
of the war years, Using this fuse one gunner managed to shoot
down a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter with a single shot as the unfortunate
aircraft attempted to intervene in the Ardennes campaign. The
90-mm (3.54-in) gun and the proximity fuse were also instrumental
in the defeat of the V-l flying bombs over southern England.
The 90-mm (3.54-in) gun in all its forms
was manufactured in large numbers, By August 1945 a total of
7,831 of all types had been produced. This included some guns
intended for static mounting only, and some guns were indeed
used around the coasts of the continental USA in a dual anti-aircraft/
The 90-mm (3.54-in) gun was also used
in a purely coast defence mounting in a special armoured turret,
and at one stage it was proposed that these turrets would even
have their own automatic loaders, thus removing the need for
men to crew them in action as they would be aimed and fired by
remote control. The 90-mm (3.54-in) gun was also used in M36
tank destroyers mounted on Sherman chassis, and there were several
advanced designs involved in the production of a towed 90-mm
(3.54-in) anti-tank gun, but none of these saw service.
Specification, 90-mm Gun M2 on Mount
Calibre: 90 mm (3.54 in)
Weight: complete 14651 kg (32,300 lb)
Dimensions: length travelling 9.021 m
(29 ft 7.15 in); height 3.073 m (10 ft 1 in); wheelbase 4,166
m (13 ft 8 in); length of barrel 4.50 m (14 ft 9.2 in)
Maximum ceiling: 12040 m (39,500 ft)
Shell weight: 10.6 kg (23.4 lb)
Muzzle velocity: 823 m (2,700 ft) per
Westinghouse AN/TPS-1D Survaillance
This radar, made by the American manufacturer
Westinghouse was similar to majority of observing radars, used
during and shortly after the World War II. It was equipped by
electronic system of moving targets indicators, (MTI), enabling
presentation on indicator of moving targets only, not presenting
permanent objects echo. Radar was used in stationary and mobile
variants, by building in a vehicle, while radar mast could be
mounted 45 m of the transmitter. Also, it was possible to rise
the complete equipment to improvised, of 20 meters high bed,
thus increasing the effective radar range. Device had power unit
(electric generator). To protect the device of bad weather, (wind,
cold, heat, precipitation, rain and snow), all unit could be
covered by a tent, often wide enough to cover not device alone,
but space in which radar presentation board and the communication
Air Defense Radar
Emission Power: 500 kW
Range: 296 km (160 nm)
Radar Beam Width: By azimuth 3,5° to 4.5°, by elevation
11° to 13°.
Radar Presentation Error: By distance ±300 m, by angle
Radar Lock-On Angle: By elevation 11° to 13°.
Radar Lock-On Angle: By azimuth: 360°
Antenna (Arial) Rounds 1 to 15 rpm
Transmitter Frequency 1220 1350 MHz
Impulse Indurance: 2 microseconds
Without the antennas mast: 3.5 m
Height, with the antennas mast:
2.200 kgs, including electric
Defense Area Site SF-59
by Sgt Maj (CA) Dan Sebby, Military Historian,
California Military Department
Site History Summary:
Located at the southern
end of the former Fort Funston Military Reservation, a little
of 71 acres were regained from the Veterans Administration for
the purposes of building an air defense missile battery. The
cantonment area (Site SF-59A) was built over the site of Fort
Funston's southern garrison. The Integrated Fire Control (Site
SF-59C) was located atop Mount San Bruno in San Mateo County
and is documented below. The launch area (Site SF-59L) located
between the cantonment area and Battery Richmond P. Davis, consisted
of the 12 launchers and three magazines holding a total of 30
nuclear capable MIM-14B Nike-Hercules multi-stage missiles.
Initially this installation
was garrisoned in 1956 by the Regular Army's Battery A, 740th
Antiaircraft Artillery Missile Battalion. With the implementation
of the Combat Arms Regimental System in 1958, this battery became
Battery A, 4th Battalion, 61st Artillery Regiment.
In July of 1959, several
of the batteries in the San Francisco Defense Area were turned
over to the California Army National Guard and the battery at
the former Fort Funston became the home of Battery D, 2nd Missile
Battalion, 250th Artillery Regiment (1st California). Concurrent
with this change was the posting to the 2nd Battalion's Headquarters
and Headquarters Battery at the site. The California Army National
Guard remained at the Site until March of 1963 when the Site
Today, the Site is part
of the Ocean District of the Golden Gate National Recreation
Area. Site SF-59L is a public parking area while Site SF-59A
serves as an Environmental Science and Air Quality Monitoring
Center as well as the headquarters for the Ocean District, Golden
Gate National Recreation Area.
Former launch area
and missile assembly building. Nike Site SF-59. May 2001
area, Nike Site SF-59. Now the Ocean District Headquarters, Golden
Gate National Recreation Area. May 2001
Located at the southern end of the former
Fort Funston Military Reservation, 71 acres were regained from
the Veterans Administration by the U.S. Army for the purposes
of building an air defense missile battery. Additional land was
acquired on Mount San Bruno from the Crocker Land Company.
The U.S. Army's Cold War antiaircraft/air
defense artillery sites were identified by an identification system
that included the initial(s) of the defense area and a site number
(i.e. SF-59 meaning San Francisco Defense Area Site 59). To this
basic identifier was a suffix identifying the function of the
site or portions of the site. These would have included suffixes
for gun and missile batteries, command and control facilities,
and administrative and family housing areas.
When dealing with Nike sites, the
overall site was identified by the basic identifier with three
distinct functional areas identified by the suffixes A, C, and
Administrative Area (SF-59A): The Administrative
Area was built over the site of Fort Funston's southern garrison
and contained the site's administrative and support functions.
This included troop housing and messing, recreational facilities,
battery administration and supply buildings, and vehicle maintenance
Control Area (SF-59C): The control area
(also known as the Integrated Fire Control or "IFC"
area) was the location of the battery's radar and fire control
systems. The IFC area was located atop Mount San Bruno in San
Mateo County that allowed for 360º "line of site"
radar coverage by the battery's missile and target tracking and
search radar systems. The reason for locating the site away from
the launch area was that the missile tracking radar would "lock
on" to the missiles while they sat on the launcher and followed
them from launch to impact with the target. The high speed of
the Nike family of missiles would have destroyed the tracking
mechanisms of the missile tracking radar if they were located
close to the launchers. Documentation supports that the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers did not purchase the land for SF-59C nor did
it enter in to a lease with the Crocker Land Company. The audited
Corps of Engineers Real Estate Map indicates that the site was
obtained under Construction Permit SFRE-989 and continued to operate
it under that permit until 1 August 1963 when it was terminated.
Launch Area (SF-59L): Located between the
Administrative Area and the former Fort Funston's Battery Richmond
P. Davis, the Launcher Area consisted of the 12 launchers and
three magazines (underground storage "bunkers") that
held a total of 30 MIM-3 Nike-Ajax multi-stage surface-to-air
missiles. Additionally, the Launcher Area also housed missile
and warhead assembly, maintenance and fueling facilities. As such,
this was the most secure area of the site and also included a
ready room for missile crews when the battery was in a "hot"
or ready status, security checkpoints and a kennel for military
Initially this installation was garrisoned
in 1956 by the U.S. Army's Battery A, 740th Antiaircraft Artillery
Missile Battalion. With the implementation of the Combat Arms
Regimental System in 1958, this battery became Battery A, 4th
Battalion, 61st Artillery Regiment.
In July of 1959, several of the batteries
in the San Francisco Defense Area were turned over to the California
Army National Guard and San Francisco Defense Area Site SF-59
became the home of Battery D, 2nd Missile Battalion, 250th Artillery
Regiment (1st California). Concurrent with this change was the
posting to the 2nd Battalion's Headquarters and Headquarters Battery
at site SF-59A. The California Army National Guard remained at
the Site until March of 1963 when SF-59 was deactivated. The Administrative
and Launcher Areas were transferred from the U.S. Army to the
National Park Service on 27 October 1972 under the provisions
of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Act. As stated above,
the Control Area was returned to the Crocker Land Company upon
The Western Electric
SAM-A-7/M1/MIM-3 Nike Ajax
The Nike-Ajax was the world's first
operational surface-to-air guided missile system. Its origins
lay in the immediate post-World War II time, when the U.S. Army
realized that guided missiles were the only way to provide air-defense
against future fast high-flying bombers. Western Electric became
prime contractor for the XSAM-G-7 Nike missile system, and Douglas,
as the primary subcontractor, was responsible for the missile
The first unguided Nike missiles
were fired in 1946, but problems with the original multi-rocket
booster (eight solid-fuel rockets wrapped around the missile tail)
soon led to delays in the program. In 1948, it was decided to
replace this booster pack with a single rocket booster, attached
to the back of the missile. The main propulsion of the missile
was a Bell liquid-fueled rocket motor, and the flight path was
controlled by the four small fins around the nose. In November
1951, the first successful interception of a QB-17 target drone
succeeded. The first production Nike (which had been redesignated
SAM-A-7 in 1951) flew in 1952, and the first operational Nike
site was activated in 1954. By this time, the missile had been
designated by the Army as Guided Missile, Anti-Aircraft M1. The
name had changed to Nike I, to distinguish it from the
Nike B (later MIM-14 Nike-Hercules) and Nike
II (later LIM-49 Nike-Zeus). On 15 November 1956, the
name was finally changed to Nike-Ajax.
The Nike-Ajax missile used a command guidance
system. Acquisition radar called Low-Power Acquisition Radar (LOPAR)
picked up potential targets at long range, and the information
on hostile targets was then transferred to the Target Tracking
Radar (TTR). An adjacent Missile Tracking Radar (MTR) tracked
the flight path of the Nike-Ajax missile. Using tracking
data of the TTR and MTR, a computer calculated the interception
trajectory, and sent appropriate course correction commands to
the missile. The three high-explosive fragmentation warheads of
the missile (in nose, center, and aft section) were detonated
by ground command, when the paths of target and missile met.
One of the major disadvantages of the Nike-Ajax
system was that the guidance system could handle only one target
at a time. Additionally, there was originally no data link between
different Nike-Ajax sites, which could lead to several sites engaging
the same target. The latter problem was eventually solved by the
introduction of the Martin AN/FSG-1 Missile Master command-and-control
system, with automatic data communication and processing. Other
problematic features of the Nike-Ajax system were the liquid-fuel
rocket motor with its highly toxic propellants, and the large
size of a complete site with all components, which made Nike-Ajax
to all intents and purposes a fixed-site air defense system.
By 1958, nearly 200 Nike-Ajax sites
had been activated in the USA. However, the far more advanced
MIM-14 Nike Hercules soon replaced the Nike-Ajax,
and by late 1963, the last Nike-Ajax on U.S. soil had been
retired. In 1963, the Nike-Ajax had received the new designation
MIM-3A. Despite the use of a Mobile Intercept Missile (MIM) designator,
the mobility of the Nike-Ajax system was more theoretical
than actually feasible in a combat situation.
The MIM-3A continued to serve with U.S.
overseas and friendly forces for many more years. In total, more
than 16,000 missiles were built.
Assigned to Fort Funston
Order of Battle of United States
Land Forces in the World War (1931-1949)
6th Coast Defense Company, Fort
6th, 9th and 33rd Companies,
Coast Defenses of San Francisco
Order of Battle 1919-1940
57th Coast Artillery
Regiment (Regular Army Inactive)