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21) Anti-Aircraft Guns at Fort Tilden

Updated: December 29, 2004

AA Gun Crewman
US Army Cpl. L. Harnett of Battery F stands
ready at a 3-inch AA gun in 1941

M3 3
This M3 3" Anti-Aircraft gun on the M2 mobile trailer
mount could hit enemy aircraft at an altitude of 27,900 feet (9,300 yds).

Construction of an anti-aircraft (A.A.) gun battery began during June of 1918, and two, 3-inch anti-aircraft guns were installed at Fort Tilden on September 5, 1919.

The mission of this anti-aircraft battery was:
1) To provide anti-aircraft defense of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
2) To provide anti-aircraft defense of Fort Tilden.
3) Seacoast mission: To add fire power to the seaward defenses of Fort Tilden when not engaged in anti-aircraft alert.

On July 26, 1922, these guns were still exposed to the weather as indicated by a letter written to the War Department for authorization to construct penthouses for the A.A. guns at Fort Tilden.

During September of 1925, there is a record of "3-inch anti-aircraft gun practice at Fort Tilden.

A map of the post revised on Mar 15, 1935, shows the position of two 3" A.A. guns in the north-central portion of post.

A third gun was added to the battery on September 26, 1938. Aerial photos from the early 1940's show an emplacement of 3 AA guns in this area.

The guns installed at this time were:

Gun #1:
Serial No. 148, 3-Inch Model 1917 M1A2, on Model 1917 A1 carriage Serial No. 12, fabricated at Watervliet Arsenal in 1919; retubed on 6/23/37. Returned from Aberdeen Ordnance Depot on 11/2/37.

Gun #2: Serial No. 13, 3-Inch Model 1917 M1A2, on Model 1917 A1 carriage Serial No. 31, fabricated at Watervliet Arsenal in 1917; retubed on 1/27/37.

Gun #3: Serial No. 47, 3-Inch Model 1917 M1A2, on Model 1917 A1 carriage Serial No. 30, fabricated at Watervliet Arsenal in 1917; retubed on 1/31/36.

An electrical generator, height finder, and director were installed just east of these there guns as part of this installation per a plan dated 1939.

There were also 8 3-Inch concrete gun platforms for auto-trailered mobile gun mounts, 20'x20' square, constructed at the Fort in June 1925.

During October of 1940, 5 days of A.A. and coastal gun training were conducted at Fort Tilden.
A revetment was constructed around emplacement during January of 1942,and the concrete base around the guns was extended three feet in September of 1942. Camouflage structures for the guns were completed in April of 1943.

After World War 2 was over and these guns were clearly obsolete, these A.A. guns and their mounts were turned in to the Ordnance Department for disposal on Feburary 15, 1946. This gun battery is believed to have been named "Anti-Aircraft Gun Battery #5 (or AA #5).

"Battery 20", consisting of two 3-inch guns Model 1902 mounted on barbette carriages Model 1905 was located at the tip of Breezy Point from 1942 to 1946. This battery served as an AA battery and a coastal defense battery against fast moving enemy boats.

Cold War Period AA Guns

During the transition period from Coast Artillery to missile based air defenses after World War 2, Fort Tilden was the site of radar controlled 90mm and later 120mm AA guns.

Here is some updated info provided by Mr. Charles Cox, a Fort Tilden veteran of this period:

"On December 29, 1950, Four batteries of 90-mm guns (16 guns total), trailer-mounted SCR-584 radar units, and a trailer-mounted M9 fire control systems, belonging to the 69th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion arrived at the fort from Fort Devens, Mass. by rail via a railroad off-loading point at Flushing, NY, and by a long truck convoy to Fort Tilden.

AA battery of four 90mm guns and SCR-584 Radar.
US Army Signal Corps illustration.

Both the 69th AAA Gun Bn (90mm) and the 526th AAA Gun Bn (120mm) belonged to the 80th AAA Group, commanded by Colonel Robert Connor, at Fort Devens and both were included on the First Army Movement Order 12-2 dated 9 Dec 1950. These orders directed all to go to Fort Totton. It was not until the units arrived at Flushing that the 69th AAA Gun Bn (90mm) was informed it would be going on to Fort Tilden (Fort Tilden was classified as a "sub-post" to Fort Totton). The 526th AAA Gun Bn (120mm) went to Fort Totton and was still there as late as July 1950.

SCR-584 Air Defense Radar Trailer.
US Army Signal Corps Photo.

Per the First Army Movement Order, the unit strengths were

69th AAA Gun Bn (90mm) Fort Tilden
Commanding Officer: Major Donald C. Sherrets
29 Officers, 3 Warrent Officers, 574 Enlisted men

526th AAA Gun Bn (120mm) Fort Totten
26 Officers, 1 Warrent Officer, 566 Enlisted men"

It is believed that the 69th AAA Gun Bn (90mm) remained at Fort Tilden until 1954, when it moved to Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, and remained there at sites NY-30 and NY-34 until 1956. In 1956 it moved to sites NY-40 and NY-41 (location unknown) until 1957. Other AA units at Fort Tilden, AA site NY-43, were:

HHB 505th AAA Gun Bn (120mm) (1952-1954)

A Battery 505th AAA Gun Bn (120mm) (1952-1955)
C Battery 505th AAA Gun Bn (120mm) (1952-1955)

HHB 737th AAA Gun Bn (1953-1957)
A Battery 737th AAA Gun Bn (90mm) (1951-1954)

Photos of the 737th AAA Gun Bn at Fort Tilden provided by Don Duvall:
737th AAA Gun Bn
Gun Park behind Chapel near CO's Residence. Note the old USLSS Station in rear.
Photo by Don Duvall.

737th AAA Gun Bn
Hatton at Gun Park
Photo by Don Duvall.

737th AAA Gun Bn
Sweep Radar.
Photo by Don Duvall.

737th AAA Gun Bn
M-33 Radar Van.
Photo by Don Duvall.

737th AAA Gun Bn
The Ammo Bunker built by Don Duvall. Note Post CO's residence in background.
Photo by Don Duvall.

These guns remained in service while temporary Nike Ajax batteries were positioned within Fort Tilden. The temporary Nike sites and AA guns were removed once the permanent Nike Ajax missile facility was completed.

Were you stationed at an AA gun facility or temporary Nike site around NYC during the 1950's? We are researching this topic and wish to hear your story. Please contact us!
AA Gun Emplacement
What's left today?

The guns have long been removed, but these two WW2-vintage Anti-Aircraft Gun Director and Height Finder emplacements lie abandoned and overgrown at Fort Tilden, located just west of the US Army Reserve Center (1999 Photo). No trace of the Cold War 90mm gun emplacements exist, as they were a temporary and mobile installation.
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