National Register UpdateThe following letter was recently sent to Don Peterson concerning the status of the C-47 National Register Nomination
Dear Mr. Peterson:
Thank you for your inquiry regarding the Nike C47 site in Porter County, Indiana. It appears that the Indiana State Historic Preservation Officer for- warded the nomination packet (as approved by the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board) to the Federal Preservation Officer (FPO) at the GSA on Novembers, 1998.
Nominations for Federal properties or sites with some federally-owned land must be reviewed and certified by the appropriate FPO before considera- tion by the National Park Service.
The Federal Preservation Officer for the GSA forwarded a copy of the nomination documentation for the C47 site to the National Register on Decem- ber 18, 1998, requesting a "preliminary review" of the nomination by the National Register staff. GSA's request voiced concern regarding the recent date of the property and whether or not the property met the National Register criteria for properties less than 50 years old. The National Register staff is now reviewing the documentation and will re- spond back to the GSA in the near future.
That is the current status of the nomination as far as I can tell. It is being reviewed by National Register staff. If you have any additional ques- tions, please feel free to contact me.
Paul Lusianan is a Cold War expert who works for the National Park Service
"The Nike Hercules Story"as told by the United States Army
This historic footage tells the public affairs version of the Nike Hercules development and deployment. 30 minutes of family entertainment.
Yours free when you make a donation to the Nike Preservation Group of $18.00 or more.
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The Nike Hercules Story - produced in 1958/68 by Herbert Kerkaw, Inc. of New York
New Members Since Last Month
Larry E. Green
The Evolution of the NIKE
by John Braun
With the advent of aircraft, armies of the world begar searching for weapon systems to counter the threat. W.W.II brought a new era to aircraft performance and tactics. To counter these threats, air defense artillery gun weapons were developed with in- creased range and rate of fire. Many gun weapon systems began to use advanced types of computing sights and radar. Even with these improvements, the aircraft still had an inherent advantage in that after the projectile left the gun it was unguided (followed a ballistic trajectory), result- inn in a very low target kill probability.
In the fall of 1944, the first US air defense artillery missile was conceived at Fort Bliss, Texas. Development of a radically new weapon system, based on the guided surface-to-air missile as a means of destroying enermy aircraft, was begun in 1945. The project was named after Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.
The first Nike Ajax battery became operational in December of 1953. A basic Mike Hercules system, successor to the 1st generation Nike Ajax air defense artillery weapon system, dramatically demonstrated the dynamic growth potential of the Nike family of missile systems. Most of the basic Nike Hercules systems in the field were updated by field modifications to form the Improved Nike Hercules system. This system increased many of the capabilities of the basic Hercules system while incorporating the addition of an additional target ranging radar (TRR), improved acquisition radar(s), and the most advanced and sophisticated electronic counter-measures (ECCM) equipment available.
Improved Nike Hercules, with its ability to engage high performance aircraft at both high and low altitudes, its long range, and its nuclear capability, could engage and destroy an entire formation of hostile aircraft. Reliable, extremely accurate, and possessing a large kill radius, the system demonstrated its effectiveness against airborne targets traveling at speeds in excess of 2,100 mph (mach 3), at ranges greater than 75 miles, and at altitudes up to 150,000 ft. In addition, the Improved system could effectively engage surface targets at ranges greater than its surface-to-air range capability.
On June 3, 1960, an Improved Nike Hercules system destroyed a Corpora? surface-to-surface missile. This was the first known kill of a ballistic missile by another missile. On August 12, 1960, Improved Nike Hercules destroyed another Nike Hercules that had been launched as a target.
The Nike Hercules missile presented a far more difficult target than the Corporal missile, having a higher velocity and smaller size. Further tests were conducted to determine the extent of anti-ballistic missile (ATBM) capabilities of the Improved Nike Hercules system. Increasing this antimissile capability, certain Improved Nike Hercules systems received additional field modifications to Increase their ability to engage some types of hostile tactical missiles before they could penetrate defended areas.
Nike Hercules and Improved Nike Hercules firing batteries were deployed by Army Air Defense Command (ARADCOM) around key population and Industrial centers of the United States, giving NORAD (North American Air Defense Command) an inner ring of defenses against the Soviet manned bomber threat of the time. C47, A Battery, 1st of the 60th Artillery, Wheeler, IN, was one of those Improved Nike Hercules missile sites.
John Braun Is a lifetime member of the NPG and sits on the Board of Directors for the organization. You can contact John at his e-mail address:
Visit to SF-91, Angel Island
By Tom Vaughn
Most NPG members are well aware of the restored Mike Missile Base SF-88. This site is well worth a visit when in the Sar Francisco area. Recently I did visit the SF-88 location and found enjoyable. But there is another Nike site in the area that I visitec and in it's own way was just as enjoyable. This was the Nike Ajax site SF-91 on Angel Island.
A couple of months ago I made a business trip to Sacramento. I was in touch with Ed Thelen, the owner of the Nike home page or the Internet. We decided to get together and look for some of the Bay area Nike sites. We went looking for SF-89, SF-51 and SF-91. The finding of SF-91 was by far the most interesting.
Being an island, one must take a ferry to reach it. Ed and I took the first ferry of the day. The boat was filled with boy scouts and state park volunteers. When we reached the island we found that to gel to the site we would have to do some heavy duty hiking, as the site was on the other side of the island. We asked a state park ranger if the Nike site was open and if the tram that traveled around the island went by it. He asked about our interest in the Nike site and Ed explained about his Nike web page and I told him about the work of the NPG with C-47.
The ranger, Dan Winkelman, took us to the site showing us an assembly building and the launcher magazines. He told us the magazines were dry and he had been in them, but the state had all the hatches welded closed recently. On the air intake vent on the middle (B) magazine, the men who manned it wrote on it "Bee SECTION" and drew a picture of a bee with a Nike Ajax as it's stinger. It was very well done. We checked A and C magazines but they had no artwork on their vents. Hopefully this will somehow be preserved.
Dan took us to the top of the mountain on the island where the IFC was located. Wow! What a view of the bay! At the IFC there is one small building, a redwood water tank and the radar pads left from Nike days. The IFC looked straight down into the launch area. There was a small hill that blocked the line of sight to the launch area but the Army cut three notches into the hill, one for each section, so there would be line of sight.
Seeing no living facilities I asked where the men were housed, Dan explained that they lived at Fort McDowell, which was not far from our location. Ft. McDowell had been built prior to World War One. Most of the buildings were built in a Spanish Colonial style with red tile roofs and stucco walls. In the 1950's when the Nike site was operational, Ft McDowell was unoccupied. The empty houses provided housing and the base hospital was converted into the battery headquarters. The Nike crewmen replaced the medical coips insignias with the crossed cannons of the artillery. (In 1955 the artillery corps insignia had not yet been replaced by the missile insignia for the ADA) The entrance was marked indicating that this was Battely D (D/9, then D/ 2/51).
Dan took us to one of the old Army warehouses where several Nike control consoles are stored. It appears that after SF-91 was closed in 1961 it was used as a training site for the ARADCOM region in the San Francisco area. A radar display was marked SFAADS, which may have stood for San Francisco Army Air Defense School.
I sent Ranger Dan a unit insignia of the 51st Air Defense Artillery for display in the small military museum that they have in the Ft McDowell Chapel. The man spent at least 3 hours with Ed and me, taking us to the military sites around the island.
(I would also like to send him an ARADCOM patch for the museum. Does anyone have a patch I could send him? Please contact me if you do.)
I highly recommend a visit to Angel Island. Not only to see SF-91 but also to see the large military ghost town that was Ft MoDowell, There are other interesting military sites to visit also such as the Civil War gun fortifications and the immigration station, the Ellis Island of the West Coast.
Touring Herc Sites
by Bob Campbell
I've been "touring" a number of old Here sites here in the Midwest, and have included pictures. The condition of these vary dramatically, depending on the use to which they've been put over these last thirty years.
The Hecker, Illinois site is currently a vocational school and is in "like-new" condition....even the missile elevators still work!
The Pacific, Missouri site is also owned by a school district. The former Admin Area is well maintained, while the launcher area is in a bit more dilapidated state. I toured this site in early 1969, shortly after the unit was de-activated, and then again last year.
While visiting an old "Here buddy" of mine in the Kansas City area, we took a drive to the Lawson, Missouri site. We were able to photograph the IFC area, which is in excellent condition, but could not get near enough to the launcher section, as it was gated off.
The last site I've visited is the Grafton, Illinois site, which is in a more advanced state of decay than the others I've seen.