Historic California Posts, Camp,
Stations and Airfields
Los Angeles Defense Area Site
(El Monte US Army Reserve Center)
(LA-14A) and Launcher (LA-14L) Areas, South El Monte
The first Nike-Ajax battery in the greater
Los Angeles area was completed in 1954. At the peak of the Nike
program, there were 16 missile launch sites guarding the greater
Los Angeles area and the Nike-Ajax battery in EI Monte was one
of these sites. Together, they protected an area of approximately
4,000 square miles with what Army officials called a "Ring
of Supersonic Steel".
These launch sites were initially under
the command of the 47th Artillery Brigade (Air Defense), headquartered
at Fort MacArthur, and the 12th
Artillery Group, stationed in Pasadena.
However, the sites were ultimately manned by personnel from the
California Army National Guard.
On 17 September 1962, the Department of the Army, Civil, acquired
a 26.67 acre site for Nike Site LA 14-L/A Launch and Administration
area. This site was subsequently transferred on 9 October 1967,
to the Commanding Officer, Southern California Sector, XV Corps
through Use Permit DACW09-4-68-30. This 26.67 acre site permitted
continued use of the Nike Site LA-14L/A Launch and Administration
areas. During that time, a headquarters building and Reserve
Center was constructed on an eastern portion of the site.
While some sites eventually deployed the nuclear-capable Nike-Hercules
anti-aircraft missile, the older non-nuclear Nike-Ajax was the
only missile deployed at this site. Improvements on the site
included two underground missile storage areas, a missile assembly
and test building, acid fueling station, acid storage shed, a
flammable material storehouse, a standby generator facility,
and a 4,000 gallon underground fuel storage tank.
It is not known precisely when this site was deactivated or declared
excess. In 1971, an amendment to the Use Permit reduced the total
acreage of the site by 3.05 acres. This 3.05 acres, was incorporated
into a recreational lease between the Department of the Army
and the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation.
Under Amendment No.2, dated 2 June 1972, the termination date
of the permit was extended for an additional term of five years,
from 30 September 1972 to 30 September 1977. However, in the
early 1970's all of the Nike bases in the Los Angeles area were
declared obsolete and subsequently deactivated on 1 July 1974
under the terms of the SALT I treaty.
By 1976, the Department of the Army in conjunction with the Los
Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, began developing
public recreational uses in the area. On 16 December 1976, Amendment
No. 3 deleted an additional 19.22 acres from the permit in order
to accommodate this recreational development, in exchange 12.77
acres were transferred to the Department of the Army.
Through these amendments, the area remaining under the Permit
DACW09-4-68-30 was reduced to 17.17 acres. This 17.17 acres still
supports a portion of the currently active EI Monte U.S. Army
Reserve Center. Two amendments deleted 22.27 acres from the permit
area. This 22.27 acre area is currently being leased by the Los
Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation from the Department
of the Army for a variety of recreational purposes.
Amendment No. 3 granted a right of entry for the purposes of
relocating property line fencing, the underground fuel storage
tank, the flammable material storehouse, and an unidentified
metal building. There is no mention or record that this work
was ever completed.
Most of the former structures have been removed except the two
missile storage areas/launch pads, assorted vents, hatches, an
acid storage shed, and a concrete pad associated with the former
acid fueling station. The main opening to one of these missile
storage areas is unsecured. Open access is available to this
storage area through an adjacent unsecured rectangular hatch.
Other openings such as unplugged above ground lines and unsecured
vents, etc. were also noticed. The structures associated with
these openings are located inside a fenced area currently being
leased to the Los Angels County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Since the area is secured by a chain linked fence with a lock
on the entrance gate, potential safety hazards due to these openings
The site was garrisoned by the following Regular Army units:
Battery A, 933rd Antiaircraft Artillery
Missile Battalion; December 1955-1958.
Battery C, 1st Battalion (Nike-Ajax),
56th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, September 1958-1961.
UPDATE: All but one building in the lower
portion of this site were destroyed in the 2009 Station Fire.
Fire Control Area (LA-14C), Whitter Narrows
The Department of the Army obtained 13.30
acres fee & 16.79 acres in easements from Frank F. Pellissier
& Sons, Inc., et. al. on 1 May 1955; 0.06 acres fee from
Rose Hills Memorial Park Association; 26.67 acres by use permit
from the Department of the Army, Civil Works; and 6.91 acres
The site was used by the Department of the Army from 1955 to
1963 for control of launchers located at Whittier Narrows Recreation
The site was declared excess on 22 March 1963. The lease on 6.91
acres had been terminated on 26 May 1957. There was no provision
regarding restoration in the termination. The 26.67 acres that
had been acquired by use permit were retransferred to the Department
of the Army, Civil Works, on 1 August 1962. The remaining 13.36
acres fee and 16.79 acres in easements were conveyed by the General
Services Administration (GSA) through the Department of Health
Education and Welfare (HEW) to the Rio Hondo Junior College District
by quitclaim deed dated 15 November 1963.
On 21 November 1971 this property was traded to the County Sanitation
District of Los Angeles County, the current owner.
The site is currently owned by the County
Sanitation District of Los Angeles County. The site is being
used for recreational purposes, the location of radio towers
and is now part of a sanitary landfill.
Source: Los Angeles District,
US Army Corps of Engineers
Posted 15 February 2015
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-war 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
the prime contractor for the XSAM-G-7 Nike missile system
and Douglas as the primary subcontractor was responsible for the
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. An acquisition radar called LOPAR (Low-Power
Acquisition Radar) 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
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 United States. 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 an MIM (Mobile Intercept Missile) 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.
Source: Directory of U.S. Missiles
and Rockets, http://www.designation-systems.net/
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