San Francisco Defense Area Site
SF-37, Coyote Hills/Newark
by Daniel M. Sebby, Military Historian, California Military Department
In 1956, the U.S. Army established an
air defense missile site on the Site officially known as San
Francisco Defense Site SF-37. As with all U.S. Army air defense
missile sites of this period, the missile battery was divided
into three functional areas.
The Administrative Area (SF-37A; also known as the cantonment
area or facility area) contained the Site's administrative and
support functions. This included troop housing and messing, recreational
facilities, battery administration, supply buildings, and vehicle
maintenance facilities. The buildings were of a standard concrete
block construction and were heated by fuel oil (Morgan and Berhow
The Control Area (SF-37C; also known as the Integrated Fire Control
area) was the location of the Site's radar and fire control systems.
The Control Area was located two miles to the south and allowed
for 360-degree "line-of-site" radar coverage by the
Site's tracking and search radar systems. The missile tracking
radar would "lock-on" to the missiles as they sat on
the launcher and follow them from launch to impact with the target.
The Control Area was located away from the Launcher Area because
the high speed of the Nike missiles would have destroyed the
mechanisms of the missile tracking radar.
The Launcher Area (SF-37L) was located to the northwest of the
Administrative Area and consisted of 12 launchers and three magazines
(also known as underground storage "bunkers") that
held a total of 30 MIM-3 Nike-Ajax multi-stage, surface-to-air
missiles. The Nike-Ajax missile required special facilities for
the fuelling of the Ajax (second-stage) portion of the missile.
The liquid fuel used for the Ajax was a combination of dimethyl
hydrazine and red fuming nitric acid. The Nike portion (booster
or first-stage) used a solid fuel which did not require on-Site
fueling. Additionally, the Launcher Area consisted of missile
and warhead assembly, crew readiness, and security buildings
(Morgan and Berhow 2002).
The Site was garrisoned by the U.S. Army's Battery D, 740th Antiaircraft
Artillery Missile Battalion (1956 through September 1958); Battery
D, 4th Missile Battalion, 61st Artillery Regiment (September
1958 through July 1960). The California Army National Guard's
Battery C, 1st Missile Battalion, 250th Artillery Regiment garrisoned
the Site from July 1959 until March 1963 when the garrison was
inactivated and the Site was deactivated (Morgan and Berhow 2002).
The Launcher and Administrative Areas
have been incorporated into the Coyote Hills Regional Park, a
unit of the East Bay Regional Park District. The Control Area
is a communications facility and law enforcement training area
for the County of Alameda.
Aerial Photos, Circa 1965
Launch (SF-37L) and
Administration (SF-37A) Areas
Integrated Fire Control
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