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Elliot's Nike Experiences!  Click to view!

"FIRST TO FIRE!!"                "ON THE WAY!!!"

LA-55 Nike Radar Site, Palos Verdes California


Looking for anything related to  Nike radar site LA-55 in Palos Verdes at the dead end of Crenshaw Blvd. I grew up in Del Cerro across from it and would like to re-connect with some of the  folk that worked there.

My Name is Ed Sharpe

I was trying to Find Dave Fairchild who ran the Generators at LA-55, Unfortunately I found out Dave passed away a yearr ago from Cancer. I was trying to find him to express thanks  for all the knowledge he shared with me and  parts etc..

I am also still also trying to find  Riley and a few others that might remember me

I lived across Crenshaw blvd in Del Cerro at the dead-end of Crenshaw and was the Kid that used to pester Dave Fairchild and some of you others for electronics parts, dead magnetron tubes etc and of course conversation as I grew up thru the 1960s.  I should also express thanks to any of you that took the time to talk with me, fetch Dave for me when I would hit that buzzer at the gate there. I am sure you had more important things to do but you took the time... thanks

I am looking for any pictures of Dave, any of the guys,. the equipment any parts books on Nike etc...

I have fond memories of LA-55  between 1960 and 1970

Ed Sharpe's Nike Birthday Present 
The Coolest Birthday Present I Ever Got! 

Ed Sharpe's Nike Birthday Present From Dave Fairchild and  others at LA-55. In addition I was given a magnetron  tube that did not work but the magnets became the basis for many projects... this was  during High School

More photos and more story here 


Photo of Chuck Zellers on the AN/FPS-75 radar antenna circa 1965. Click photo read about Chuck's NIKE experiences and to see the  Radar training manuals Chuck uploaded for everyone to use.




BATTERY "C" A Western Electric Article  about the NIKE Missile System
Read on HERE



The Unknown Nike Site!


The Museum was presented  with a 16 x 20 photograph  but the person that found it for us 

Found it in a place separated from it's previous owner thus we are clueless as to where this was shot. any ideas? perhaps the jeep and the jeep number are a clue! will try to post a better  photo of it... we used the small camera and the resolution is not  too good! - Ed Sharpe archivist

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Click for large view!

One reply we got....


That could be just about anywhere in California... but it looks to me like what is now the Canyon Country Area near Saugas. or out the other side of Gorman taking the back roads. (heading east- southeast)..  its so populated now, i doubt i could find where the concrete pad is,  if it still is there - its been 28 years.
Hope this helps

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(click photo for larger view)

This card says....Army's NIKE-ZEUS (please  can someone clarify?) on face of pc.  Post Card is a 30-day service card from a Car dealer; Grant Bishop Chevrolet in Los Gatos California.  Stamp on back reads: Ask for Pennzoil with Z-7. -  

RE: "Nike Zeus" post card - Sorry, the picture you display is a Nike Hercules missile. Chuck Zellers -

Editors note -  Many times advertising cards seem to carry 'wrong info' thanks Chuck!

On the ../nike_sites1.htm web page, the postcard of the Nike Hercules
launch is an artists rendition of a launch. The angle of the launcher
was either 87 or 85 degrees only. This enabled the missile to reach an
altitude where the warhead will arm. Also the first picture, the
nike_s1.jpg, is of a Nike Ajax...and the site could be anywhere. It even
looks like the eastern shore of Maryland where I was also stationed.
T. R. Choy - Former SP5 US Army A-4-1, Gaithersburg, MD 1971



 Russ Fey Discusses 'LIVE FIRING OF THE NIKE'

I don't know if you have ever seen a live fire of a Hercules but it is really awe inspiring.  I worked at McGregor Range for the year prior to going to Okinawa building 2 Ajax missiles per week for foreign troop training which was going full bore at that time.  I was fortunate enough to be in the Assembly and Test section which I found to be pretty interesting compared to some of the other jobs onsite.

Technical inspections was the name of the game on an active Hercules site.  In retrospect I can see the necessity for it as it kept everyone on their toes and assured that equipment and personnel were at the required state of readiness.  At the time, though, inspections were sometimes a living hell to prepare for and go through. We had inspections at many different levels on Okinawa and the higher the level the more stress was applied.

The different levels of command started at battery and proceeded to battalion, brigade, Usaryis (US army Ryukyu Islands) and on to US army Pacific which involved inspectors coming from their headquarters in Hawaii.

During the weeks of ASP (annual service practice) on Okinawa our site at Bolo Point was greatly affected since, as I mentioned before, each of the 8 batteries on the island came to our place and used our facilities. I wore a blue ball cap with LCA Maint on it and my job was to go to the launcher area each day and be available to give assistance to the visiting troops.  This would involve mostly running down equipment or parts they might need. My mos was that of missile mechanic and I was a spec. 5.

Our site consisted of 3 underground magazines which were unaffected by all the visitor activity.  Two launchers had been placed right near the edge of a steep cliff on Bolo Point for purposes of ASP and this was, I suppose, a half mile to a mile from our site if memory serves correctly. One could throw a rock into the East China Sea from there which was at the bottom of the cliff.

Our facilities that were affected, though, were the assembly building and the warhead building.  ASP involved building a ready round from the ground up while being inspected.  Every step was read from a manual, performed by a technician, who announced "check", and then reviewed by another technician who announced "verified".  I suppose this procedure stems from the security requirement known as the 2 man rule.  A technician could intentionally screw something up if someone else was not watching him.  The 2 man rule was applied in the "exclusion area" where the live missiles were kept and during assembly. The missile body came in one metal container, the fins in wooden crates, and the warheads had a really neat kind of metal container in which the rack holding the weapon was supported by heavy springs to soften the blows in transit.

The boosters had to be assembled as well into a cluster of 4 Ajax boosters.  As far as photographs go, I abided by our strict rules and have only pictures of the buildings taken from the barracks area.  I know there are many photos out there and some of my friends had some really nice ones of the launcher area with the birds elevated. 

The missile was assembled and prepped, including calibrating the guidance system, in the assembly building.  The warhead building, which was surrounded by a large earthen berm, is where the activity took place involving explosives such as attaching the warhead section to the missile body and assembling the booster cluster.

Once the missile and booster cluster were assembled it was time to move to the launcher area for final assembly.  The booster section was set on the launcher rail first, in a horizontal position, and then the missile body was placed on the rail and fitted into a shroud at the front of the booster cluster.  A yoke assembly at the front of the launcher rail attached to the missile body and then bolts at the rear end of the booster were tightened to hold the whole thing together. At firing a shear bolt in the forward yoke assembly would break due to the heavy thrust of the boosters and the missile was on its way.

I saw many missiles fired during my time in the army including Ajax, Hawks and Hercs.  All were fun to watch but the Herc, being so large and with such a massive booster system were the best of all.  The idea of a
42 foot 10,000 pound missile taking off as if shot out of a cannon is hard to realize without seeing in person. 

While all the activity I saw and was involved with was in the launcher area the fire control people were going through the paces with their own inspectors in that area.  In keeping with the security rule of "need to know" I was pretty ignorant of what those boys did.  We knew what we had to know and they knew what they had to.  They called us "pit rats" and we called them "scope dopes."I do not ever remember seeing anyone from the IFC area down in the launching area and I know I never got into their area either.  I hope this gives you an idea of what went on those many years ago and it
has been enjoyable reminiscing about it. --- Russ Fey

This shows the AN/FPS-75 radar van where the transmitter, receiver, display and IFF where housed. Receiver video was sent to the "BC" (Battery Control) van. The video displayed targets that were selected (acquired) for engagement. Picture from Chuck Zellers

click photo for larger view!

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This photo shows the IFC (Integrated Fire Control Area) from some distance. The item on the left is the Nike Acquisition radar, the white "ball" in the center is a tracking radar and the radar on the right is the AN/FPS-75 ABAR (Alternate Battery Acquisition Radar). Photo by  Chuck Zellers




“Official” PIO Photo of Private James L. Luff and his sentry dog, “Adelu”.


“Official” PIO Photo of Private James L. Luff and his sentry dog, “Adelu”.

 Photo taken circa Aug 1960, Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa). Responsible for site security, Luff and his dog patrolled the Nike-Hercules Launch Area of Battery “C” every-other night, alternating 4-hour shifts with another dog handler, Donald Cole, and his dog “Casper”. Another team of handlers, Schilling and Browning, patrolled with their dogs, “Arman” and “Adu” on the alternating nights.

All patrols were incident-free.






Elliot, I’m sure someone’s filed you in on SNAP locations by now, but
here’s what I know just in case.
    In Korea, Nike and Hawk missiles fired at B-4-44 in 1967. I have a
couple pictures of each kind getting away before it was our turn to
    I went ‘home’ to the Chicago defense, (Munster), and 9 months later I
was shipped to Germany with only 6 months left. I didn’t go with the
SNAP crew there, but Ouzo and ‘worry beads’ are from Greece, I
believe. I’m about 95% certain that’s where they fired in 1969.
     As an Acq operator I appreciated the humorous article you printed. I
didn’t see anything like that, but saw a couple close calls when an
alert MTR operator killed the magnetron just in time (I’m told) to
avoid a live fire. He was locked on a missile instead of the
simulator, from 6 hour checks. Maybe. It was a while back, you know.
    We didn’t fool around much in Korea. The battery was an “‘F’ Troop
“when we got there and a year later had won several awards. Pretty
serious bunch up on the hill thanks to an outstanding Warrant Officer
named C. W. Smith, I think. He never gave anyone a hard time the first
time, but made sure you knew what you were doing. The second time
never happened to anyone, that I know of. There was a large 1x4 paddle
about 4 feet long labeled ‘Feces Stirrer’ for second offenders.

    Our generators were all reportedly WWII surplus, 350KW units, but the
site took over 400KW with the TRR fired up. We were going through
checks one morning with a guy wearing a star or two looking over our
shoulders in the fire control van. He and I both saw 5 unidentified
aircraft in a nice ‘V’  formation with no IFF coming south over the
DMZ toward Seoul. He got excited about the time I heard the generator
start it’s death knell (just over the edge of the hill), turning up
the rpm on that tired old diesel to way more than it should have been.
The ‘star guy’ wanted to know what I was going to do. I said I’d call
another battery, but Charlie was going down real soon, and explained
the screaming engine noise to him, which is exactly when the diesel
put part of a connecting rod through the side of the block and we went
offline. He stomped out of the van and I have no idea who  he was, nor
do/did I care.
    I never heard a word about it from anyone.
Jon W. Roy


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NIKE ZEUS missile
description of NIKE ZEUS missile program.

Nike Hercules Story
30-minute public affairs film produced by the Army in 1960 to educate the public on the NIKE HERCULES air defense system

Hercules missile intercept
1-minute film clip of a NIKE HERCULES intercepting a Q-5 target missile (late 1950s)

Redstone Arsenal Through The Years - Michael E. Baker
History of Redstone Arsenal - "Redstone Arsenal Through the Years." Produced by Michael E. Baker, Command Historian for the US Army Aviation and Missile Command.

On July 3rd, 1941, fire trucks raced through the city delivering copies of a special edition of The Huntsville Times announcing that a totally new era was about to begin in North Alabama. Tiny farming communities in the Huntsville area received news that they would soon be affected by profound changes. The ARMY was coming. Huntsville would never be the same.

While the spectacular successes in the more sophisticated field of rockets and guided missiles tend to overshadow its previous accomplishments, the Redstone Arsenal complex established a commendable record in World War II as one of the best equipped, most productive chemical munitions manufacturing centers in the nation. Over 45-million units of ammunition were loaded and assembled for shipment at the arsenal complex between March 1942 and September 1945, and more than 27-million items of chemical munitions having a total value of over $134.5 million were produced. For their exceptional work, personnel at the arsenal complex won the prestigious Army-Navy E Award nine different times for their outstanding record in the production of war equipment.

Once World War II ended, the focus shifted from production to the demilitarization and salvaging of munitions and the deactivation of the huge manufacturing facilities at the arsenal complex. Some of the empty buildings and lands were leased to private enterprise.

By 1949, part of the arsenal was advertised for sale. But the sale never happened. A series of events soon transformed these facilities and opened an entirely new chapter to the installations history.

Thanks to vision and efforts of Major General Holger N. Ludy Toftoy, and the shrewd lobbying by Senator John Sparkman, Congressman Bob Jones, and officials from the Huntsville area, Redstone Arsenals mission had been totally revamped by 1950. It was now the center of Army missilery and rocketry. The new mission included the transfer of Wernher von Braun and his team from Fort Bliss, Texas, to Redstone. By 1956, Redstones scientists, engineers, and technicians had transformed such weapons as the CORPORAL, HONEST JOHN, REDSTONE, NIKE AJAX, and NIKE HERCULES from dreams and plans into realities.

As Redstone prospered, so did the city of Huntsville.

The period from 1956 1960 under the command of Major General John B. Medaris was one of the most nationally publicized periods of the arsenals history. Frequently, General Medaris could be seen on national television or testifying before Congress urging funding for his programs. The magnitude of the operations Medaris managed is reflected in the fact that his commands budget approached $2 billion in Fiscal Years 1959 and 1960, about 25 percent of the Armys budget for those years.

When Medaris team began their work in 1956, they had the primary mission of fielding the Armys first intermediate range ballistic missile, the JUPITER. By August 1958, this system was delivered to the Air Force for early deployment overseas. The JUPITERs later proved to be a significant bargaining chip in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

During his command, Medaris team also had several other notable achievements in the missile and rocket field as they fielded the REDSTONE and HAWK; accelerated the development of the NIKE ZEUS system, a predecessor of todays Army Space and Missile Defense Command; and began the development of the PERSHING missile system, a system whose improvements would later play a major role in ending the Cold War.

It was also during this time that the Army at Redstone made a number of contributions that helped lay the foundation for U.S. space exploration. In August 1957, they recovered intact a nose cone from a JUPITER-C flight test, the first time that a man-made object had been retrieved from outer space.

However, in October and November of 1957, the Soviets launched Sputniks I and II, shattering American dreams of scientific and technical superiority. Amid mounting public pressure to respond to the Soviet challenge and due to the repeated problems with the Navy-managed satellite program known as Project Vanguard, the Army was given the green light and successfully launched Americas first satellite, EXPLORER I, on January 31, 1958, a mere 84 days after receiving the mission. The Army at Redstones facing and meeting this challenge not only restored U.S. prestige, but it also jump-started the extraordinary growth and tradition of excellence that has become a hallmark of both the Redstone and Huntsville communities.

Other noteworthy achievements by the Army at Redstone in the space field during this period included launching the first successful American lunar probe and the first U.S. satellite to go into permanent orbit around the sun; initiating the development of the million-pound thrust engine that became the nations moon rocket; and recovering the first living beings, Monkeys Able and Baker, from a flight into outer space.

However, the Armys role in the space field began to change dramatically when President Eisenhower concluded that it would be in the Nations best interest to make the Von Braun team a part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. As a result, on July 1st, 1960, the Army officially transferred about 4,700 Army civil service employees and more than $100-million in facilities and equipment at Redstone and Cape Canaveral, Florida, to NASAs George C. Marshall Space Flight Center.

But, it is important to remember that within a year after this transfer (May 5th, 1961), it was an Army-modified REDSTONE that provided the initial boost for Americas first manned space flight of Commander Alan B. Shepard. An Army-modified REDSTONE also served as the booster for the Mercury flight of Virgil Gus Grissom in July of that same year.

Many soldiers and civilians who come to work for the Army at Redstone Arsenal are astounded when they learn of the significant role that the Army played in paving the way for the U.S. space program. From these roots grew a spirit of achievement, a legacy that has continued even after the Army at Redstone lost its space mission.

At the beginning of the 1960s, the Army at Redstone focused on using what it had learned to get into space and applying that knowledge to supply our soldiers in the field with the best possible weapons.

By 1962, the U.S. Army was undergoing a sweeping reorganization. One of the results of this reorganization was the creation of the U.S. Army Missile Command (MICOM), which was activated on August 1st, 1962, at Redstone Arsenal. One of the significant changes was the establishment of project managers for missile system programs.

During the 1960s and 1970s, much of the technology Redstone Arsenal had been working on began to mature. The Francis J. McMorrow Missile Laboratories were dedicated on March 12th, 1964, in memory of MICOMs first commander who died while still in command. These research, development, and engineering facilities established the reputation as being among the best in the Army. Especially noteworthy is their role as a center for laser research. For example, they helped the National Cancer Institute investigate the use of lasers to destroy malignant tumors. And, they pioneered the laser guidance concepts and techniques used by the U.S. Air Force in the development of their laser-guided smart bombs.

Redstone got a pretty good idea of how well it was doing in June 1967 during the 6-Day War. Israeli troops downed several Egyptian jets with HAWK missiles, marking the first combat firings of U.S. Army missiles.

Another significant highlight of this period occurred on May 2nd, 1972, when the TOW missile mounted on a UH-1B Huey helicopter became the first American-made guided missile to be fired by U.S. troops in combat.

It was also during this period, in May 1974, that all ballistic missile defense efforts were consolidated under a single manager in the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, which eventually evolved into todays U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

In the 1980s, the Army at Redstone began building in great quantities many of the weapons that it had developed in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the best examples would be the PERSHING II. First deployed in 1983, this systems increased range and pinpoint accuracy were major factors in influencing the Soviet Union to sign the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 in which the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to eliminate an entire class of nuclear missiles. The PERSHING had done its job and was retired with honor.

In 1991, we got a glimpse of what things were like in the late 1950s as the Army at Redstone stood at the forefront of the news as the Desert Shield/Desert Storm operations unfolded. At that time, it was the largest deployment and subsequent combat use of Army missiles in Redstone Arsenals history. Virtually every one of the arsenals missile systems was deployed. HELLFIRE missiles launched from an Apache helicopter fired the first shots of the war, taking out early warning radars and paving the way for the Air Forces campaign. HELLFIRE and TOW missiles went on to destroy hundreds of Iraqi tanks, personnel carriers, and other vehicles during the course of the war. MLRS rockets rained down on the Iraqi artillery units and other targets so effectively that the Iraqis referred to them as Steel Rain. And the Scudbuster, better known as the PATRIOT missile system, became a household word.

One of Redstones strengths has been the excellent relations it has had with the Huntsville community over the years. One example of that cooperative spirit is the amount of land that the Army here has donated to the community to improve the quality of life in the area.

Redstone positioned itself for the 21st century when it opened the John J. Sparkman Center in August 1994. This state-of-the-art facility soon became the model for future Government construction requirements.

A landmark day in the history of Redstone Arsenal occurred on July 17th, 1997, when the former Army Missile Command (MICOM) combined with the aviation portion of the U.S. Army Aviation and Troop Command (ATCOM). A totally new organization, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM), was born. The Army had now entrusted Redstone Arsenal with the management of two key components of the Army After Next missile firepower and aviation platforms.

September 11th, 2001 the world as we all knew it would never be the same. As a result, America embarked on its War on Terrorism and Redstone once again was ready to answer the call. For example, we utilized for the first time in operations our HELLFIRE missiles mounted on a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, we achieved a significant first when the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 defense system (better known as the PAC-3) was used for the first time in combat. And, our aviation platforms filled the skies providing protection and delivering troops and equipment.

Americas sons and daughters will continue to look at us right here at Team Redstone and its depot partners at Corpus Christi and Letterkenny to provide the very best possible equipment to preserve the peace. They do so because they know that the Team Redstone family has always made excellence the cornerstone of their work and support. That tradition of success will continue to make Redstone an enduring installation as we move forward in the 21st century.

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