Historic California Posts, Camp, Stations and Airfields
Los Angeles Defense Area Site LA-32
(Naval Outlying Field, Horse Farm; Garden Grove US Army Reserve Center)
Los Angeles Defense Area Site LA-32, circa 1964: The Integreated Fire Control (IFC) are (LA-32C) is visible at the northwest corner,
and the Launch Area (LA-32L) is at the southeast corner. The light colored triangular patch running between the
IFC and Launcher areas was a swath which was cleared to provide a clear line of sight between the two areas

The Los Angeles Defense Area Nike Battery 32 consisted of 262.32 acres originally obtained by the U.S. by condemnation.

The site has been used as a a Naval Outlying Field, civilian airport an air defense missile battery and as a US Army Reserve Center. As a Nike-Ajax and later a Nike-Hercules battery, the launch area consisted of 213.59 acres; the control area was 34.67 acres; and the administration area was 13.57 acres.

In 1961 the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare conveyed the control area of 34.67 acres to Alamitos School District. The deed restricted use of the property to educational purposes for 20 years and contained a recapture clause. There was no restoration provision. The administration area of 13.57 acres was transferred to the California Army National Guard by DD Form 1354 dated 6 February 1975 for National Guard purposes. The remaining 213.59 acres that was the launch area were transferred to the Department of the Navy. The Navy conveyed those 213.59 acres to the Irvine Company by Quitclaim Deed dated 29 July 1976.
There were no restrictions, recapture clause or any restoration provisions in the deed. By deed dated 6 March 1964, the General Services Administration (GSA) conveyed 0.49 acre to the City of Garden Grove for street widening purposes. There was no recapture clause and no restoration provision. The State of California returned the 13.57 acre National Guard site to the Department of the Army by DD Form 1354 dated 6 August 1981. This is now an active U.S. Army Reserve Center. Many of the Nike-era buildings have been replaced by a new, modern facility.

The area used by the Los Alamitos School District has no Nike launchers. The area owned and developed by Irvine Company has been restored and improved. The missile launchers have been demolished and removed to a level of 8 feet below the ground line.
Army and Army National Guard units that garrisoned the missile site were:
Source: Los Angeles District, US Army Corps of Engineers, History compiled in 1999.
Posted 15 February 2015
Nike-Ajax (left) and Nike-Hercules (right Missiles (NARA)

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 missile airframe.

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 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 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.


Western Electric SAM-A-25/M6/MIM-14 Nike Hercules

The Nike Hercules was the only nuclear-armed surface-to-air weapon, which was operational with the U.S. Army. Development of an improved Nike missile began in 1952, with the primary goal to develop a missile with a significantly higher performance than MIM-3 Nike Ajax (then known simply as Nike), which could still be used with the existing Nike ground equipment. After it had been shown that the Nike Ajax could not be equipped with then existing nuclear warheads, nuclear armament became another goal for the new missile. The SAM-A-25 Nike B program was formally established in June 1953. As with Nike Ajax, Western Electric was prime contractor, and Douglas was responsible for the missile airframe.

The Nike B (renamed Nike Hercules on 15 December 1956) used many components of the Nike I (Nike Ajax). The booster consisted of four Nike Ajax boosters, and the original design used 4 of Ajax' liquid-fuel rockets as sustainer propulsion. However, the first flight tests with the liquid-fuel sustainer in 1955 proved very troublesome, and a solid-fueled sustainer rocket was eventually used. The first successful interception of a drone target occurred in 1956, and in 1957 the new solid-fuel sustainer flew for the first time. Nike Hercules used the same command guidance as the MIM-3 Nike Ajax, with essentially the same ground components.

The first production Nike Hercules missiles were delivered in 1958, and quickly replaced the Ajax on many Nike sites. By then, the Nike Hercules had been designated as Guided Missile, Air Defense M6. The M6 could be equipped with either an M17 (a.k.a. T45) blast-fragmentation warhead, or a W-31 nuclear fission warhead with yield selectable as 2 kT or 40 kT. The missile performance was such that even very high-flying bombers could not escape the Nike Hercules. Capability against low-level targets remained rather limited, however.

As the Nike Hercules began replacing the older Nike Ajax, work was underway to improve the acquisition and tracking radar capabilities to fully exploit the missile's greater performance. The major improvement in what was called the Improved Hercules system was the new L-band acquisition radar, called HIPAR (High-Power Acquisition Radar). The TTR (Target Tracking Radar) and TRR (Target Ranging Radar) were also improved, having better ECM resistance. The missiles of the improved Improved Hercules system were designated as M6A1. In June 1960, an Improved Hercules achieved the world's first successful interception of a ballistic guided missile, when a MGM-5 Corporal SRBM was shot down. The new radars were also far more compact than the original ones, which made moving a Nike site a least somewhat practical for the first time. Lastly, Improved Hercules introduced a viable surface-to-surface capability to the Nike system. The first Improved Hercules systems were installed at Nike sites in June 1961.

In 1963, the M6 and M6A1 missiles were redesignated as MIM-14A and MIM-14B, respectively. The MIM-14C (introduced in 1972) was a modified MIM-14B with an improved missile guidance section for higher maneuverability and better ECM resistance.

All in all, the U.S. Army established 145 Nike Hercules sites over the years. Production of the nuclear-armed missiles ended in 1964, and gradual phase-out of the MIM-14 began in the late 1960's. The Army originally planned to replace the Nike with the new MIM-104 Patriot missile, but this plan was not implemented in the USA. Therefore, after the last active Nike Hercules sites in the continental U.S. had been deactivated in 1974, there are no long-range air-defense missiles fielded in the U.S.. In Europe, the U.S. Army retired its last MIM-14 units in 1984, when the MIM-104 Patriot was introduced.

In total, more than 25000 Nike Hercules missiles of all versions were produced, most being of the MIM-14B variant.

Source: Directory of U.S. Missiles and Rockets, http://www.designation-systems.net/

Naval Outlying Field (NOLF), Horse Farm

NOLF Horse Farm, 14 August 1945
The date of construction of this World War II era Navy satellite airfield is unknown. Horse Farm was originally one of five NOLFs which were closely located between NAAS Los Alamitos & MCAS El Toro. The others were Haster Farm NOLF, Mile Square NOLF, Seal Beach NOLF, and Palisades NOLF. Mile Square was built in 1942, so Horse Farm was probably built around the same time.
The earliest depiction which has been located of the Horse Farm Airfield was a 7/21/43 aerial view looking north at “Los Alamitos Field Auxiliary (08303 Horse Ranch Outlying Field)” from the 1945 Army Air Forces Airfield Directory (see below). It depicted the field as a paved hexagonal landing mat.
The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory described “Los Alamitos Field Auxiliary (08303 Horse Ranch Outlying Field)” as a 288 acre irregularly-shaped field within which was a 1,500' diameter bituminous hexagonal landing mat in the center of a 3,966' x 2,911' all-way landing area. The field was said to not have any hangars.
The Navy apparently abandoned the Horse Farm airfield immediately after the end of World War II, as it was no longer depicted at all on the February 1946 San Diego Sectional Chart. However, the Horse Farm airfield was apparently reactivated in some capacity by the Navy at some point within the next 2 years, as "Horse Farm (Navy) was depicted once again on the September 1948 San Diego Sectional Chart. It was depicted as having a 1,700' hard surface runway.
As depicted on the 1950 USGS topographical map the airfield at Horse Farm consisted of a hexagonal landing area, measuring 1,400' across. It was still apparently owned by the military in 1950, but it is not known if it was still an active airfield.
"Horse Farm (Navy)" was depicted on the March 1951 San Diego US Air Force Sectional Chart, but the Aerodromes table described the field as "Closed".
At some point between 1951-55, Horse Farm was apparently reused as a private airfield, as that is how it was described in the "Aerodromes" table on an early-1955 San Diego Sectional Aeronautical Chart. The airfield was described as consisting of a single 1,700' runway, along with the remarks "Very poor runway."
The Horse Farm airfield evidently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point during 1955, as it was no longer depicted on the September 1955 San Diego Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy) or subsequent aeronautical charts.
In 1956, the property at Horse Farm was reused as the location for the Nike Ajax surface-to-air missile battery LA-32, Garden Grove, and the airfield was presumably closed.
This was also where one of the Southern California TRACON terminal radar antennas was located. It was not on LGB or SNA as one might assume, it was in the middle of an industrial area and the old location of the Horse Farm Naval OLF probably explains why it was located there.”
The site of the Horse Farm airfield eventually was consumed by urban sprawl.
The site of the Horse Farm airfield is bounded by Chapman Avenue on the south, Patterson Drive on the north, Knott Avenue on the west, and Western Avenue on the east.
Extract, January 1945 Army Air Forces Airfield Directory
Clearer image from the above directory page. 21 July 1943
Extracted with permission from Abandoned and Little Known Airfields
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Updated 8 February 2016