Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Manhattan Beach Military Reservation
US Army Corps
of Engineers Los Angeles District History for Manhattan Beach
Military Reservation (1993)
The Manhattan Beach Railway Military
Reservation (8.444 acres of which were acquired and 4.759 acres
leased) consisted of 59 tracts of land and totalled 13.203 acres.
The 8.444 acres were acquired by the War Department by Declaration
of Taking, Case No. 2313-Y filed 15 January 1943 and Declaration
of Taking, Case No. 2440-RJ filed 15 January 1943, and 30 December
1942 by direct purchase. The subject property was owned by private
individuals and consisted of low-priced residential subdivisions.
The 4.759 acres were leased from private individuals and also
consisted of low-priced residential subdivisions with three (3)
modest residences; two (2) were lived in and the third had become
uninhabitable due to the vibration caused in firing the battery.
The site was originally used by the Harbor Defense of Los Angeles,
California as a coastal railway gun battery. The Harbor Defense
constructed 2,259 lineal feet of 110-pound standard rail,
together with 310 feet of movable gun supporting rails and one
(1) No. 8 turnout with appurtenances. Also constructed on-site
were seven (7) underground storage and living quarters shored
with wooden timbers. The Property Management Division called
attention to the danger of collapse of these underground structures,
and passed on the recommendation to the War Assets Administration's
Safety Engineer that they be demolished and the excavation filled.
The files did not indicate if or when the recommendation was
The 8.444 acre site was declared surplus on 24 August 1945 and
assigned to the War Assets Administration for disposal. All of
the track was sold for removal off-site. The file did not indicate
the date of the transaction or to whom the track was sold. The
lease for the 4.759 acres expired on its own terms June through
September 1944. The property is currently under private ownership
and used for single-family residences.
US Army Corps
of Engineers Los Angeles District for Battery Eubank (1993)
The former Battery Eubank is located in a residential area of
Manhattan Beach. The site was bounded by Ardmore Avenue and 16th
Street on the north and south respectively, Valley Drive on the
west and Flournoy Street on the east.
Site History: The attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces
started a barrage of reports regarding the presence of Japanese
submarines, surface craft and airplanes off the California coast.
Coastal defense of Los Angeles became a prime concern due to
the importance of the military and industrial installations and
large civilian populations in Southern California. To protect
these installations and civilian populations, efforts were made
to increase the number of Army antiaircraft, submarine, and coastal
defenses. Command for these defenses were maintained at Fort
MacArthur, San Pedro, California.
On 19 December 1941, Battery E, 52nd Coastal Artillery Regiment,
then stationed at Fort Hancock, New Jersey, was reassigned to
Fort MacArthur. Battery headquarters and two gun sections of
Battery E reported for assignment on 24 December 1941. Santa
Fe Railroad was contracted to build a spur to the location of
the battery site. The unit was then emplaced at Railroad Avenue
and 14th Street in Manhattan Beach. Prior to the emplacement
of the railroad guns, the area was comprised of sand dunes.
The Battery was commanded by Captain P. Eubank and consisted
of 4 officers and 114 enlisted men. The Battery had two 8 inch
railway guns which were capable of firing armor-piercing
projectiles at a.maximum range of 33,000 yards. The guns were
located on railroad tracks and large timber beams were used to
support the guns in the firing position. Four bunkers were
constructed in the sand dunes to the east of the gun position.
After the bunkers were constructed, two gun crews remained on
site to man the railroad guns and the rest of the Battery was
As the tide of World War II changed, the threat of attack on
the U.S. decreased. In 1944, Battery E was transferred to Camp
Breckenridge, Kentucky. The bunkers at Battery Eubank were demolished
in April 1949 and residential development of the area began in
the early 1960's.
Batteries Erwin and Eubank, Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles
by Justin Ruhge
Fort MacArthur was the only fort in California at which railroad
guns were stationed. 14-inch and 8-inch guns were sent there to
provide added firepower to protect the harbor entrance and also
provide protection for the remote parts of the California coast
where the guns could be sent on coastal railroads. In October
1925 the first 14-inch railroad gun arrived at Fort MacArthur.
In 1926, a single emplacement for the gun and its carriage was
constructed on the Lower Reservation that allowed the gun to rest
on a permanent surveyed location, which provided 360 degrees traverse.
In June 1930, the second 14-inch gun arrived. In 1937, two emplacements
were constructed for the guns on the Lower Reservation and the
1926 emplacement abandoned.
The battery formed by both guns was named
Battery Erwin. The battery was transferred to the Army in April
1942. The installation cost $28,000. Later canvas buildings were
added to cover the guns. These could be moved away quickly when
The two guns were 50-caliber, 715.2 inches
long, Model 1920 MII, Nos. 7 and 10, manufactured at Watervliet
Arsenal. They were mounted in 1938 on the permanent emplacements
on the special railroad carriages Model 1920 MII, Nos. 1 and 4
manufactured by the Watervliet Arsenal.
Each gun and carriage cost $430,000. The
gun, carriage and flatcar on which it was mounted weighed 365
tons. The flatcar had 14 axles, 8 in front and 6 in the rear to
distribute the loads on the rails. The 14-inch gun could fire
a 1,560-pound projectile 27 miles. The guns came with a support
train of about 18 cars that were pulled by Sterling engines.
Four of the 14-inch guns and their trains
were manufactured. Two went to Fort MacArthur and two were stationed
at Fort Grant at the Pacific Ocean end of the Panama Canal.
The 1926 emplacement has been covered over.
The 1937 emplacements were destroyed in the early 1980s.
Due to the restrictions on gunfire from
the 14-inch guns at Fort MacArthur, the two railroad guns were
moved to Point Don south of San Clemente in June 1936 and to Naples
near Goleta in September 1940 so that the 3rd Coast Artillery
could practice firing these guns without destroying nearby residential
property. Rail spurs were built and the guns faced out to sea.
Traverse was limited to the 3.5 degrees built into the carriage.
In these locations the concussions from firing were so great that
the flatcars sometimes jumped right off the tracks.
On December 27, 1941, two 8-inch railroad
guns arrived at Fort MacArthur. 29 of these gun trains were built
in 1941 to 1942. These two guns were stationed at Manhattan Beach
between 18th and 19th Streets (At the present day site of Live
Oak Park) on a spur track, which was built along with magazines
between February and August 1942. The guns were fired on the flatcars
with outrigger supports for stabilization rather than using permanent
emplacements as with the 14-inch guns. Two roll away camouflage
houses were built to protect each gun. This installation cost
$47,000. These 8-inch guns could fire a 260-pound shell 18.7 miles.
This two-gun battery was named Battery Eubank.
Reference: A detailed description
of the 8-inch and 14-inch railway guns is presented in British
and American Artillery of World War 2 by Ian V. Hogg, 1978, pgs.
175 to 181.
The 8-inch Gun Mk. VI, M3A2, on railway
mount M1A1 was a World War II improvement on the World War I-era
8-inch (203 mm) M1888 gun and was used by the US Army's Coast
Artillery Corps in US harbor defenses. The guns were also mounted
in fixed emplacements on the barbette carriage M1A1. These guns
were US Navy surplus from battleships scrapped under the 1922
Washington Naval Treaty. Mark VI (also Mark 6) was the Navy designation
and M3A2 was the Army designation for this gun, in sources they
are usually written together.
M3A2 railway gun was quickly put together at the start of World
War II, to supplement the older World War I 8-inch M1888 railway
gun. It was developed from an experimental 12-inch (305 mm) railway
howitzer carriage of World War I. The all-around rotating mount
and outriggers were designed to allow the gun to track a moving
target for coast defense. These guns had a very short life in
Army use, entering service in February 1941 and being cut up
for scrap immediately after the war. The guns were the Navy's
8-inch (203 mm)/45 caliber Mark VI, and were originally secondary
armament on Virginia- and Connecticut-class battleships launched
1904-06 and scrapped in the 1920s. They were mounted in both
fixed emplacements and on the M1A1 railway carriage.
Sighting and Fire Control Equipment: The following sighting equipment was used with