Historic Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Travis Defense Area Site T-86, Fairfield/Cement Hill
Launcher Area (T-86L), Travis Defense Area Site T-86

The property for the former Travis Nike Battery 86 was acquired on 31 December 1955 through Federal condemnation proceedings against the estate of Frank H. Toody. When the acquisitions were competed, the USACE had acquired 46.90 acres in fee owned land and 61.09 acres in "right-of-way," "safety zone," and "line-of-sight" easements. The Site was located between the City of Fairfield, California and Travis Air Force Base, north of Air Base Parkway.

The U.S. Army's Cold War antiaircraft/air defense artillery sites were identified by a system that included the initial(s) of the defense area and a Site number (e.g. T-86 meant "Travis Air Force Base Defense Area Site 86" or for the purposes of this report, "Travis Nike Battery 86"). A suffix was added to the initials to identify the function of the Site (or portions of the site); this would have included suffixes for missile batteries (L), command and control facilities (C), and administrative and family housing areas (A)

The Administrative Area (T-86A) 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 Control Area (T-86C) (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 on Cement Hill, two miles north of the Launcher 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 while 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 if they had been located closer to the launchers.

The Launcher Area (T-86L) was located adjacent to and north of the Administrative Area and consisted of 12 launchers and 3 magazines (underground storage "bunkers") that held a total of 30 MIM-3 Nike-Ajax multi-stage, surface-to-air missiles.(Figure 3 1 Nike-Ajax (left) and Nike-Hercules (right) missiles on universal launchers (Redstone Arsenal). These were later modified in 1961 to hold 18 of the larger MIM-14 Nike-Hercules missiles. Additionally, the Launcher Area also consisted of missile and warhead assembly, maintenance, and fueling facilities.

The Site was initially garrisoned in January 1957 by Battery B, 436th Antiaircraft Artillery Missile Battalion. In September 1958, the U.S. Army reorganized the field and antiaircraft artillery branches under the Combat Arms Regimental System. The 436th Antiaircraft Artillery Missile Battalion was reorganized as the 1st Missile Battalion, 61st Artillery Regiment.

On 20 May 1957, the U.S. Army acquired an additional 6.48 acres of land. DoD use of this tract of land was not found during research. The U.S. Army transferred it to DHEW on 18 April 1958. DHEW quitclaimed this tract to the Armijo Joint High School District. Permits for water and sewage line rights-of-way connect this tract to the main Administrative Area. No documentation was found during research regarding other improvements to this tract.

Between December 1960 and June 1961, the Site was converted to the MIM-14 Nike-Hercules air defense missile system. During this period, the site remained operational with both types of missiles operating from a universal launcher. The much larger Nike-Hercules also had the capability of being armed with a nuclear warhead that could destroy several high altitude targets simultaneously.

A Post Engineer Map indicates that prior to 29 June 1970, a magazine (Structure S-102) was inactivated. The four launchers associated with this magazine were also removed. In June 1971 the Site was deactivated and the garrisoning unit inactivated.

On 23 May 1972, the General Services Administration (GSA) transferred the Administrative Area and a portion of the Control Area to DHEW for disposal. The U.S. Army retained some measure of control of the Site as it issued a one year lease to the Sheriff of Solano County for the use of the mess hall (Building 204) and one of the enlisted barracks (Building 201) as a minimum security detention facility.

On 15 June 1975, DHEW quitclaimed the Administrative Area to the Fairfield Suisun Unified School District and the Control Area to the County of Solano and the Travis Unified School District. On this date, the U.S. Army quitclaimed the Launcher Area to the County of Solano. In all cases, GSA acted as agents for the U.S. Army and DHEW.

Presently, the former Launcher Area is owned by Solano County and used for the Solano County Animal Control Facility, the Solano County Sentenced Detention Facility, and the Fairfield Suisun Unified School District Transportation Yard.

The former Administrative Area is used by Fairfield Suisun Unified School District as a special education facility. The barracks portion of this area which has been used as a storage facility by the district in the past is currently vacant.

The former IFC Area is maintained by the Solano County Office of Emergency Services and the Travis Unified School District to house radio communication equipment. Napa Cellular Telephone Company also leases tower space at this location.

The 6.48-acre tract across Airbase Parkway was developed into a residential neighborhood. It has been subdivided into 40 parcels.

Integrated Fire Control (T-86C), Cement Hill

Corps of Engineers Site Acquisition and Disposal History

A total of 117.65 acres was acquired by the Army for Nike Battery 86. The acquired acreage consisted of 53.38 acres by fee, 1.01 acres by license, 62.30 acres by easement, 0.96 acres by transfer, and an unrecorded amount of acreage for a clearance strip beyond the security fence.

The acreage by fee was acquired from the estate of Frank H. Tooby on December 21, 1955 (46.90 acres), and from Norman S. Andrew, et al on May 20, 1957 (6.48 acres). The acreage by license was acquired from the County of Solano in November 1955 (0.10 acres) and on November 13, 1956 (0.84 acres), and from Southern Pacific Company on June 27, 1956 (0.07 acres). The acreage by easement was acquired from the estate of Frank H. Tooby on January 17, 1956 (59.91 acres), from Ivy Perry, et al on December 13, 1956 (1.26 acres) and September 21, 1957 (0.29 acres), and from Sacramento Northern Railway on August 28, 1957 (0.05 acres) and April 24, 1970 (0.79 acres). The remaining acreage was acquired by transfer from the Bureau of Reclamation Department of the Interior (DOI) on January 13, 1970 (0.96 acres) and from Arthur Tooby, et al on May 2, 1970 (record of area not available).

The property was used as a Nike missile defense site. The primary activity performed by the Army at Nike Battery 86 included the assembly and maintenance of Nike missiles, identification and tracking of incoming targets, and directing Nike missiles in flight. The property was also used for housing military personnel and contained barracks, a mess hall, officers quarters, and basketball courts.

A total of 117.65 acres was disposed of. On April 18, 1958, 6.48 acres was reported as excess (SF 118 No. SAC RE 13) to the General Services Administration (GSA); the property was conveyed by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) to Armijo Joint High School District by quit claim deed (QCD) dated October 30, 1958. The license for 0.84 acres was terminated on March 15, 1959. On May 23, 1972, a total of 107.54 acres was reported as excess (SF 118) to GSA. This property was conveyed as follows: 17.98 acres by fee through the Secretary of HEW to Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District by QCD dated June 15, 1975; one half interest in 21.90 acres by easement to the County of Solano by QCD dated June 16, 1975 while the other half interest was conveyed by easement through the Secretary of HEW to Travis Unified School District by QCD dated June 15, 1975; 0.17 acres by easement was conveyed through GSA to the County of Solano by QCD dated June 16, 1975; 12.98 acres with "recapture clause" was conveyed by and through the Secretary of HEW to Travis Unified School District by QCD dated June 15, 1975; 15.77 acres by fee, 37.19 acres by easement, and the acreage with no record to the County of Solano on June 15, 1975; and 1.55 acres by easement to Hofmann Construction Company by QCD dated April 16, 1973. The 0.96 acres transferred from the DOI expired under its own terms on May 23, 1972. GSA assumed accountability of the remaining acreage (1.66 acres by easement and 0.17 acres by license) on GSA form 1011 dated January 13, 1984.

The Suisun-Fairfield Unified School District is the current owner of the Facility Area. Solano County controls the IFC Area located on Cement Hill.

Source, Sacramento District, US Army Corps of Engineers

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' liqued-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 escpe 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 manoeuverability 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 wersions were produced, most being of the MIM-14B variant.

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



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Updated 8 February 2016