Abandoned Radar Site (map & site information), expanded
This drawing and the following text are from the:
SEACOAST AND ANTIAIRCRAFT DEFENSES
PREPARED FOR THE
MARIN HEADLANDS DISTRICT
GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
by Milton B. Halsey, Jr.
(curator of the Nike site)
The following text is by Milton B. Halsey, Jr.
(curator of the Nike site)
SECTION 3 - FORT CRONKHITE
The entire area found in Section 3 once contained the integrated
fire control (IFC) area of Nike antiaircraft guided missile site SF 88.
The integrated fire control area contained the radars used to acquire
and identify hostile targets and the radars used to guide the missiles.
Each Nike missile site consisted of three separate areas:
the administrative area (e.g. Site 88A),
the control area (e.g. Site 88C)
and the launch area (e.g. Site 88L). In this case, the administrative area
(Site 88A) was located at Fort Barry where the YMCA camp is now located.
The launch area (Site 88L) is also at Fort Barry and is open
to the public as a park interpretive exhibit. The control area (Site 88C)
was on Wolf Ridge and is described in this section of the
booklet in greater detail. The numbers below are keyed to the map
titled Section 3.
- Sentry Box and Gate. The integrated fire control area of each Nike missile
battery was a secure area surrounded by a barbed wire fence and guarded by armed
sentries 24-hours a day. This gate is the only road access to the site, and the
sentry box is where the guards were located. Upon a person's arrival at the gate,
he/she would be scrutinized closely, and without proper identity papers and a
valid reason to be there, that person would be denied entrance and detained for
- Helipads. Although Bunker Road connected this area to the main part of
Fort Cronkhite, access to this area was available also by using helicopters to
fly personnel up to the site. These two paved circles were where the helicopters
landed. They are some distance from the buildings or radar towers to minimize
interference with them. They were lighted at night and marked with a
triangle or "H" for daytime use.
- HIPAR Antenna on a 25-foot Tower with Geodesic Dome.
On this site, the high-power acquisition radar (HIPAR) was once located.
This HIPAR radar scanned the horizon out to a horizontal range of
over 100 nautical miles
and up to a vertical range (altitude) of over 148,000 feet (over 28 miles)
searching for incoming hostile aircraft. Once hostile aircraft were detected,
data on their course, speed, altitude and location were passed electronically
by computer and other electrical means to the target-tracking radars,
while the HIPAR acquisition radar continued to sweep the horizon searching for
more targets. This radar, its 25-foot tower and the geodesic dome have been
removed leaving only the gravel area around the radar and the footings of its tower.
- HIPAR Building. The remains of the HIPAR building stand today stripped of the
electrical and data controls and wires that once were in the building.
Once, a mass of electrical consoles, generators and wires were housed here,
and this was the "nerve center" for the operation of the HIPAR acquisition radar.
- Target-Tracking Radar on a Tower with a Geodesic Dome.
On top the this tower found here, a target-tracking radar under a geodesic dome
operated as part of the control system of the Nike guided missile battery.
After a target had been located by the acquisition radars, it was passed
electronically to the target-tracking radar. The acquisition radar then continued
to search for more targets, while the target-tracking radar continued to
track the target aircraft. The tracking was accomplished on a
radar console, and data were passed electronically to the control
vans, the launch site console operators and the tracking
consoles. The speed, altitude, and direction of flight of the target
aircraft were tracked. Illuminated as a "blip" on the
radar console and the control console, the target was tracked or
followed by the console operators/ Today, the radar and its dome
are gone, but the tower upon which it stood remains.
5(A) Target-Recognition/Tracking Radar on a Tower with a Geodesic Dome.
... snip ...
- Concrete Pad. The Nike antiaircraft guided missile system was designed
to be a mobile system. All of its components were
fully-transportable by vehicle, and, at least theoretically, they
could be set up any place. In and around cities of the United
States, more permanent sites were built with buildings,
underground storage areas, and other permanent fixtures. However,
basically the Nike system remained a transportable system, and
much of the system was contained in vehicular vans. All of the
radars and their consoles were contained in vans, but in the
permanent fixed locations, much of the equipment was put into
buildings. Concrete pads were located next to radars or
buildings to park the vans (and often their equipment) on. This pad
was here one of the radar-carrying vans was habitually parked.
... snip ...
- Missile_Tracking Radar with Geodesic Dome.
To complete the system
of Nike antiaircraft missile radars, there was a
radar that tracked and guided the missile after it had been fired.
Electronically, data were transmitted through this
radar that guided the missile. These data controlled the
sustainer motor in the missile and the control surfaces (winglets or
fins) on the missile that steered or guided it.
... snip ...
Today, the radar and its dome
are gone, but the concrete stand upon which it stood remains.
- New Acquisition Radar on a Tower with Geodesic Dome.
When the Nike Hercules system replaced the original Nike Ajax system in
the 1960's, many of the old Nike radars were retained and
used in the new system. However, to improve the horizontal range
and altitude capability of the Nike Hercules system, some new
radars had to be emplaced. At this site, a new and improved acquisition
radar was added to the other radars on the IFC site
along with new generators and enhanced electrical transformers.
This is another concrete pad used as a place to park
the battery's control vans.
- ICC Building.
The integrated control center (ICC) was the
"heart" and "brains" of the Nike system. Here, many of the
communications, radar and control consoles that actually
operated the system were housed. Once, this building was filled
with wires, computers and consoles, but today it stands
vacant and abandoned. From this building decisions
were made regarding targets and the missiles that would
engage them, and from here orders were issued to the launch area
to actually fire the missiles.
- Pads for the Control Vans.
As mentioned previously, the Nike antiaircraft guided missile system was a mobile,
vehicular-mounted system with much of the unit's equipment
operating from vans. When a permanent building such as the
ICC building was available, a lot of the equipment was left
installed in the vans, and the vans were parked on pads
next to the building and connected electronically to other
equipment in the building. The vans have long since
departed, but the concrete pads that they parked on
remain adjacent to the old ICC building.
- Radar Operations Building.
This building once was the
radar operations building and the center of radar
operations for the battery. Electronic and data link
equipment that pertained to the operation of the radars
were controlled or observed from here. Radar technicians
and radar repair personnel were on hand here to operate the
- Old Generator Building.
The presence of so many radars and
other electrical machinery required a large amount of electricity.
Although the site on Wolf Ridge was connected to the Fort
Cronkhite commercial electrical source, it was necessary to
generate more power on the site. This small building was
constructed when the Nike Ajax was first installed, and it
contained several portable generators emplaced on more permanent
concrete generator blocks. These few generators provided the
necessary back-up electricity to operate the site.
- Extension to the Generator Building.
In 1961, when the
transition from the Nike Ajax to the Nike Hercules system was
being made, an extension to the original generator building was
made. Among other things, the Nike Hercules system required
considerably more electricity to operate the radars than the old
Nike Ajax. To compensate for the increased electrical needs of
the site, the original building was enlarged and extended toward
the south. This enlarged generator building accommodated more
portable generators - also mounted on concrete blocks. These
generators fed their electrical output through a maze of wires
contained within the building to the transformer bank located to
the east of the building. Today, the generators and much of the
wiring is gone, and only the empty building with its concrete
generator stands remains. From the broken-out windows on the
south side of the building, one can see magnificent views of San
Francisco and the Golden Gate.
- Fuel Tank and Water Tank.
The fuel tank that supplied the fuel
for the generators in the generator building and the water tank
that supplied water for the generator room stood at this site.
Today, only rusted remains of these two tanks exist.
- Generator Stand.
While the generator building was being built,
portable generator to supply emergency electricity were placed
on this concrete pad. Today, only the pad remains.
This transformer bank was part of the original
electrical distribution system at this site. The transformers
remain today behind barbed wire, abandoned to the elements.
- Ready Room.
A portion of the battery that operated this
integrated fire control area was required to live on the site
and be able to operate 24-hours a day. The ready room, with
its recreation room, sleeping rooms, latrine and showers was
where the men lived so they could be immediately available.
Depending on the international situation or world crises at any
given time, the men were required to maintain various degrees of
readiness. Depending on the readiness condition in effect at
any given time, the number of men occupying the ready room varied,
but the site was kept operational 24-hours a day, 7-days a week,
year in and year out for the entire life of the Nike system.
- Bore Sight Mast and 40mm AA AS Site No. 1.
Much of the accuracy
of the Nike system depended upon the accuracy of the individual
radar sets and the calibration of the radars and the control consoles.
A tall metal pole or mast with radar ... and
lights stood on the concrete base at this location. It was used
to calibrate electrical, radar and optical instruments or
transmitters. Today the tall mast and its guy wires are gone,
but the concrete mast base remains to mark the site. Before the
IFC area for Hike missile site SF 88C was build, a 40mm antiaircraft
gun position was located where the bore sight mast was
later placed. This antiaircraft gun position was part of the
antiaircraft plan developed just before World War II. In the
original plan it was designated 40mm AAA AW Site No. 1. Like the
similar 40mm antiaircraft gun positions described in Sections 1
and 2 above, this was a concrete-filled sandbag position
designed for a single mobile 40mm antiaircraft gun. There is no
trace of this position existing today.
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