Model M1900 6" Rapid Fire Gun on Barbette Carriage M1900 M1900 Gun Firing at Battery Kessler
Construction of the "West Battery", of two model 1900, 6 inch "Rapid Fire" guns with a range of 16,550 yards was commenced on February 8, 1917 and completed in March 1917:
Model 1900, S/N 24, on Model 1900 Barbette Carriage, S/N 20
Model 1900, S/N 25, on Model 1900 Barbette Carriage, S/N 21
These guns and carriages were built by the Watervliet Arsenal, in
Watervliet, NY, in 1903. They were first installed at Battery Kinney, at Fort Slocum on Davids Island in 1904 and were moved to Rockaway in 1917.
The electrical power plant building was constructed in 1917 and power units were installed. The two guns were first proof-fired on May 14, 1917. According to an official US Army history of the post written in World War 2, legend states that this battery opened fire on a German submarine during World War 1, but no evidence has been found to corroborate this story.
Plan of "West Battery" - 1920s or 1930s
(Location is SW corner of Fort Tilden, Atlantic Ocean is at top of plan.)
The battery was renamed Battery Kessler in honor of the late Colonel Percy M. Kessler USA, on December 1, 1939.
A combined Coincidence Range Finder (CRF) and plotting room was completed on July 9, 1943, to house the 22 foot wide, Model 1916 optical instrument and provide a bomb-proof and gas-proof bunker for the crew operating the M-1904 Whistler & Hearn plotting board was installed near the gun positions.
The CRF was mounted on the top floor of this structure and was able to rotate a full 360 degrees, completely within the structure, without the ends of the wide instrument hitting the walls. This building was later equipped with a CWS ventilation system consisting of exterior vents, electrical blowers, a filter canister, and an air lock entryway. This entryway had a decontamination system consisting of a vertical pipe with holes mounted behind a treadle switch that activated a blower to purge a soldiers clothing of poison gases before entering the bunker (many of the other bunkers at Fort Tilden were upgraded with similar equipment).
We believe that this structure was completely destroyed as we were able to find no trace of it in the very dense brush just west of Battery Kessler's west gun mount.
(Does anyone have photos of this, or a similar, odd looking eight-sided CRF structure?)
Battery Kessler was equipped with a SCR-296 fire control radar system during World War 2. This radar unit allowed the gun crews to engage targets during periods of reduced visiblity (i.e. fog, rain, snow, etc...)
A casemated ammunition magazine was completed on March 27, 1942. This bunker was used to store the powder, shells, and required tools and cleaning rods for the two guns.
Plan View of Battery Kessler's
This bunker has two entrances, allowing easy access to ammunition and maintenance equipment from either gun located on opposite sides of the bunker.
What's left today?
The abandoned remains of the concrete gun platforms and the underground magazine still exist today. No trace of the CRF and plotting room structure has been located yet, but it should be just west of the western gun position.
West ntrance of Battery Kessler's Bombproof Magazine - 1981
(Source: Private Collection)