Historic California Posts, Camp, Stations and Airfields
Los Angeles Defense Area Site LA-40
(Long Beach Army Aviation Support Facility, Long Beach Spring Street National Guard Armory)
The Department of Army use of the site began in 1955 with construction of an Army Nike-Ajax Battery which was incorporated into the Los Angeles Defense Area. A fire control area and an administrative/launcher area initially were developed on the site. Facilities constructed in these areas included living quarters, facilities for the assembly, launching, and control of guided antiaircraft missiles, utility lines, and three (3) underground missile magazines. Operation of the facility was assumed by Battery A, 720th Antiaircraft Artillery Missile Battalion of the California Army National Guard on 14 September, 1958. Battery A ceased missile operations at the site on May 1, 1963.

Additional acreage was leased in 1960 for use as a helicopter and light aircraft maintenance, storage, and operations facility by the California Army National Guard (CA ARNG) known as the Long Beach Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF). Property improvements included: a maintenance hanger, paint, and oil storage building; operations buildings; utility lines; transformers; parking areas; sidewalks; equipment pads; paved areas; access road; drainage system; fences; entrance gates; and aircraft taxiway, parking, and washing areas. CA ARNG Army Aviation activities transfereed to then Naval Air Station, Los Alamitos in 1972. The leases for this area were terminated in 1974.
Aircraft on the Long Beach AASF flight line.
The site is currently owned by the City of Long Beach. The former fire control area is presently occupied by the Long Beach Airport Business Park. The launcher area is currently the site of the Kilroy Airport Center. Most of the improvements constructed by the Army have been removed, The improvements remaining include buildings from the original administrative area, which continued to be used by the CA ARNG. From 1974 to 1985 the site was home to the 40th Infantry Division's property management unit, the 40th Infantry Division Materiel Management Center. This activity was commonly called "DLOGS", the acronym for Division LOGistics System. The site later became the site of the Class IX (Repair Parts) Supply Point for Army National Guard units in Southern California.

The Integrated Fire Control (IFC) Area, known as LA-40C, was located at the southwest corner of Spring and Clark Streets at the Long Beach Airport. The Launcher Area (LA-40L) and Aministrative Area (LA-40A) were located at the Southwest corner of the Long Beach Airport, near the intersection of Spring and Kilroy Airport Way. The IFC site has been destroyed for a hotel development. The Launch site was used for a number of years as an emergency communications facility for Long Beach city departments. It was recently destroyed during the construction of the Kilroy office complex. The Administrative Area has since been rereveloped.
Air Defense units assigned to Los Angeles Defense Site LA-40:
Other Army National Guard units assigned to the Spring Street Armory:
Source: Los Angeles District, US Army Corps of Engineers, History compiled in 1999.
Posted 15 February 2015
Nike-Ajax Missile

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.

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Updated 8 February 2016