Air Force Bases

Nike Missile Chicago-Gary Defense Area Illinois

Site designations and locations of Chicago missile batteries are as follows:
(C-03) Montrose/Belmont
(C-40) Chicago's Burnham Park
(C-41) Chicago's Jackson Park
(C-44) Hegewisch/Wolf Lake
(C-49/50R) Homewood
(C-51) Worth/Palos Heights/La Grange
(C-54) Orland Park
(C-61) Argonne National Laboratories
(C-70) Naperville
(C-72) Addison
(C-80) Arlington Heights
(C-84) Palatine
(C-92) Mundelein
(C-93) Northfield/Skokie
(C-94) Libertyville
(C-98) Fort Sheridan
Two batteries each shared locations at (C-44) and (C-80).

The Chicago defenses were coordinated from a "Missile Master" (later Missile Minder site) situated at Arlington Heights. Site (C-98) Fort Sheridan hosted the headquarters of the Fifth Army Air Defense Command. Other regional command facilities were located at the Museum of Science and Industry, site (C-51) Orland Park, and site (C-80) Arlington Heights.

The above summary excludes the four Gary sites (see Indiana). Chicago Nike site design and construction was handled by the Chicago District of the Corps of Engineers. Batteries that underwent conversion from Nike Ajax to Nike Hercules included C-03, C-41, C-49/50R, C-61, C-72, and C-93. The June 30, 1958, reactivation of C-03 marked the first Hercules battery to become operational within Army Air Defense Command. As elsewhere, Regular Army and Guard units shared manning responsibilities.

The air defense of Chicago become a focal point for inter-service rivalry between the Army and Air Force. A few months after the deployment of Chicago's first Nike Hercules battery, a derogatory Air Force analysis of Chicago's Nike defenses was leaked to the press. The report recommended replacing the 21 Nike sites in the Chicago area with 3 BOMARC bases to be located at Duluth, Minnesota; Kinross, Michigan; and Madison, Wisconsin.

Later, in the fall of 1958, the Strategic Air Command conducted a mock attack against Chicago. With the debate in Congress continuing in May 1959 over the merits of Nike Hercules versus BOMARC, "authoritative sources" at the Pentagon leaked that "raw data" from the mock attack indicated that the Nike Hercules was only 8 percent effective against the Air Force bomber attack.

In the end, Chicago benefitted from deployment of both systems. BOMARC bases were built at Duluth and Kinross; Nike Hercules bases remained in operation at C49/50, C-72, and C-93 as well as at sites C-46 and C-47 in northern Indiana, until 1974.