Records of Coast Artillery Guns being Fired at Fort Tilden.


The following is an estimated list of dates when the large Coast Artillery guns were fired at Fort Tilden.  The list is based on newspaper clippings, reports of training from Fort Tilden to the War Department, and damage claims from local residents, especially when the 16-inch guns were fired.  This list is a "work in progress" as we are attempting to fill the gaps in our knowledge about Fort Tilden.

Prior to a scheduled firing of Battery Harris'  16-inch guns in 1940, residents living near the fort were advised to "leave their windows open and place fragile objects on tables of sturdy construction - also, that pictures be removed from walls, dishes be moved away from the walls and that rooms with shaky ceilings be vacated during the firing period" (The Herald Tribune, 5/26/40).
May 14, 1917
The two 6-inch guns of the East Battery and the two 6-inch guns of the West Battery were proof fired.  Each gun was fired twice, first with a three-quarters charge and the second with a full charge.  The range was 12,000 yards and it took 23.1 seconds for the projectile to hit the water after firing.

Jan 1921
Damage claim

Oct 1921
Damage claim

Nov 1921
Damage claim

1923
Battery Harris' 16-inch guns were proof fired

Jul 1925
Damage claim

Sep 1925
Damage claim

Sep 1925
3-inch Anti-Aircraft gun practice

Jun 1931
Battery Harris' 16-inch guns fired service target practice

Sep 13, 1935
Battery Harris' 16-inch guns used for velocity test firing. First time guns fired in 12 years.  Guns fired 3 rounds each and the firing took place between 1:20 and 4:50 PM.  All shots reached the desired 27,000 yard range. Firing was observed from Forts Monmouth and Hancock.

Oct 1,1935
Battery Harris 16-inch guns fired for service target practice

Dec 1938
"Life Magazine" photos of Battery Harris 16-inch guns firing published (guns not fired this year).

Feb 18, 1940
Five weeks of AA gun winter training was planned for Fort Tilden with 8 AA guns brought from Fort Totten by Battery D of the 62nd Regiment, and four searchlights from Battery A.  Aircraft from Mitchell Field towed targets at an altitude of about 10,000 feet along the Atlantic shoreline. (NY Herald Tribune, 2/18/40)  High winds tore three targets from the tow planes and the training was suspended for days.  A few "settling" shots to test the stability of the guns on the soft sand were fired while the gun crews waited for better weather.(NY Herald Tribune, 2/22/40)

May 13, 1940
Two 6-inch guns fired 12 rounds for target practice by Battery I of the 245th Coast Artillery.

May 29, 1940
Battery Harris' 16-inch guns fired for the first time in 5 years.  The guns fired 14 shells to a range of 17 miles. Firing started at 2:25 PM. 36 men manned each gun, with 50 more in the underground plotting room.  8 shots were fired between 2:25 and 3:00 PM.  The second barrage was fired between 5:00 and 5:30 PM; (an interim fog bank prevented continuous firing).  Col. Forrest Williford, C.O. of 7th C.A.; Coast Guard patrolled area with 1 Cutter and 3 patrol boats.  The guns were targeted onto an 18' square target, towed by Army tugs. Observation of firing by spotting plane from Mitchel Field, and observation tower near the marine Parkway Bridge.  Subcaliber 75mm guns were fired 30 to 40 rounds daily for several days prior to the actual 16-inch gun firing.

Oct 1940
5 days of AA and coastal gun training

June 11, 1941
Battery Harris' 16-inch guns fired 14 rounds total (7 from each gun). Began firing at 5:15 PM, and continued for 31 minutes, Batteries G & H of the 245th C.A. Regiment participated in the firing. Brig. Gen. Williford, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Coast Artillery District, observed with Lt. Col. Thomas E. Jeffords, the Commanding Officer of Fort Tilden. This was the first time these guns were fired in a year. The target was a pyramid with an 18 foot base towed by a tug 25,000 yards offshore.

Oct-Nov 1941
"Science and Mechanics",  issue shows 16-inch guns (not casemated) firing.  This article is believed to be based on the June 1941 firing of Battery Harris as the casemate construction started Aug 1941 for gun #1, and Nov 41 for gun #2. Also, Battery G of the 245th is the unit desribed.

Dec 31, 1942
Battery Harris' 16-inch guns and 75mm subcaliber guns were fired at Battery Harris (See Fred Baldwin's report).  Prior to today's firing, gun #1 had only fired 31 rounds total and gun # 2 had only fired a total of 24 rounds.  Two ranging shots and 5 rounds were fired "for effect", by each gun.

?? 1948
Battery Harris' 16-inch guns were reduced to scrap by cutting torches on site.

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