Air Force Bases

Nike Missile Battery D-57/58 Detroit Michigan

The Newport NIKE Missile Battery D-57/58 is one of sixteen original NIKE Missile Batteries that surrounded the city of Detroit, Michigan in 1958. D-57/58 is an intact example of a Dual NIKE Missile Battery significant for its role in American military history, the history of the Cold War, and specifically the history of the Detroit Defense Area. Further, NIKE Missile Battery D-57/58 is an important example of the relationship between military installations and the industrial economy of the State of Michigan.

NIKE Missile Battery D-57/58 is located in Monroe County, Michigan and represents the best remaining example of a former NIKE Missile Battery in Michigan. While the missiles, fueling, and guidance systems were removed during decommissioning in 1974, the existing structures are easily recognizable within the framework of NIKE technology and operation. As such, the remaining buildings associated with the former NIKE Missile Battery D-57/58 provide a good deal of interpretive information about the design and operation of a NIKE Missile Battery.

The NIKE system, one of several air defense missile systems developed and employed after World War II, was a result of a research program initiated by the United States in 1944. The United States Army recognized the need for an air defense system capable of maneuvering quickly while closing in on a moving target. Development of a command guidance system composed of a radio- guided rocket, two radars and a computer was accelerated in 1951 largely as a result of the Korean Conflict. By 1954, the NIKE Missile system began to be employed throughout the continental United States. NIKE Missile Battery D-57/58 located just south of the city of Detroit, Michigan, follows the locational pattern typical of NIKE Missile Batteries of being placed for purposes of defense around major metropolitan areas.

The Newport NIKE Battery D-57/58 appears in documentation under several different names. Known initially as the Newport NIKE Battery D-57, this name derives from the facility's former function as the Newport Naval Station. The NIKE Battery is also referred to in some government documents as the Carelton NIKE Battery D-58, and in the eady 1960's became popularly known as the Monroe NIKE Base.

NIKE Missile Base D-57/58 is located south of the city of Detroit in a largely agricultural area. However, unlike many NIKE sites, which were constructed on previously unused or vacant land, NIKE Missile Battery D-57/58 was constructed on the site of the former Newport Naval Air Station at N. Telegraph and Newport Roads in Monroe County, Michigan.

The base was first utilized as an emergency landing strip and training site for Navy pilots from 1942 to 1945.[54] The site was part of the Grosse Ille Naval Center and consisted o\ 480.72 acres acquired by the United States Government in 1942 from William G. Vetter.[55] The site briefly housed German POWs in 1945 and 1946. The base was also utilized as the Airport Community High School from 1947 to 1953. The Department of the Navy transferred the entire acreage, including 18 structures, to the Department of the Army in 1954. The Department of Defense acquired the property as part of the Detroit Defense Area. [56] Thirty-three structures were built on the property during the period of Army use from 1956 through 1962.

The Newport NIKE Missile Battery (D-57 and 58), as documented consists of 36 structures, located within three discrete areas. The Control Area contains 13 structures, the Launch Area has 12 structures, and 11 structures are in the administration/housing/mess hall area formerly associated with the Newport Naval Air Station.

Integrated Fire Control Area

The former Newport NIKE Missile Battery was a dual battery, meaning there were two Contro! Areas to accommodate the six (as opposed to two or three) missile launchers. Consequently, the Control Areas were delineated as the East Control Area and the West Control Area. The entire Control Area, delimited by fences, encompasses approximately 18.75 acres. The East Control Area consists of four structures. The remains of a missile tracking radar (MTR) tower, a target tracking radar (TTR) tower, an acquisition radar (ACQR) tower, and a generator building are located in this area. The former West Contro! Area includes four radar towers• MTR, TTR, ACQR, and low-power acquisition radar (LOPAR); one corridor building; one generator building; one electrical/generator building; one HIPAR building; and one guard shack. All of the structures within and connecting the East and West Control Areas are accessible to each other by concrete walkways and roads. There are concrete pads on either side of the present corridor building and adjacent to the former location of the corridor building in the East Control Area. These pads were utilized as hardstands for the control vans/trailers.

Launch Area

The Launch Area of the former Newport NIKE Battery encompasses approximately 10.48 acres of fenced area. The topography of the land is relatively flat. The area on which the buildings stand appears to have been buiit up to a slightly higher elevation than what was originally characteristic of the pre-installation topography. The Launch Area contains the original structures dating from the period of the base's operation: a missile assembly building, a warheading building, a generator building, an enlisted men's barracks, two guard shacks, and underground missile silos.There were six underground magazines where the missiles were stored in the Launch Area. The barracks are located closest to the entrance to the base, the mjssile launchers are farthest away from the entrance, and the remaining buildings are located in between. A large hexagonal-shaped concrete airstrip is located to the immediate north of the missile launchers and the barracks are situated on top of it. The airstrip and the entire housing/administration/mess hall area are the only remnants of the Newport Navy Base and pilot training area (active 1942-1946). AH of the structures within the Launch Area are connected with concrete walkways and roads. These walkways facilitated the movement of missiles to and from the buildings during the assembly and arming process.

Remaining Structures

The remaining eleven strucures are located in an area comprised of approximately 6.65 fenced acres. This area, in addition to the airstrip, is all that remains of the former Newport Navy Base and pilot training center. The structures in this area include: an H-shaped administration and command office building, two paint sheds, two storage structures, one sewage treatment plant, one theater, two fuel pump houses, one water pump house, and one guard shack. All of the buildings are structurally unsound and entrance into them to view the interior was inadvisable.

The administration and command office building utilized during the period of the Newport NIKE Battery was converted from the building used as offices and a carpentry shop by the Newport Naval Air Station. From 1945-1946 the same H-shaped building housed German Prisoners- of-War. This building subsequently housed the Airport Community High School from 1947-1953. When the Army established the Newport NIKE Battery in 1956, the building was altered and utilized as the mess hall, missile headquarters, battalion headquarters, stockade, and PX. The building utilized as a theater during the period of operation of the Newport NIKE Battery was formerly utilized as a Navy aircraft hanger and radar station.

An officers' quarters building was also located in this area, but was demolished in 1988. The former Navy administration building, which housed temporary enlisted men's and officers' barracks, and was subsequently utilized for administration headquarters, the offices for command, a supply room, storage rooms, and an auditorium is extant but is not documented as part of this project. All of the structures in this area were easily adaptable to Army requirements. These buildings then served the battery control area as the appropriate structures typically associated with that particular area. Photos of these structures.

Mess Hall Barracks Building

The mess building was an H-shaped building located near the main entrance of the Newport base. When the Newport base was used as a naval air station, the mess hall/barracks building contained a mess hall and administrative and base offices on the first floor, and sleeping quarters on the second floor. There was a carpentry shop located in the basement. When the Newport base was converted to a NIKE battery, alterations were planned for the mess hall/barracks building. These alterations included upgrading the mess hall kitchen and service areas, and removing interior walls to create more space.

The mess hall/barracks building was a two-story, wood-frame building constructed on a concrete foundation. It consists of three wings, so that the floor plan resembled the letter "H". The main wing of the building is 100 feet x 28 feet with a flat, slightly sloped roof It had two double-doored entrances located at the east and west ends of the wing flanked by 3 feet x 6 feet windows. Three windows were 6x6 feet, and were evenly spaced between the doors in the center of the wing. The second floor contained seven evenly spaced windows. The east and west wings were similar in their layout. Each wing was two-stories, 128 x 28 feet with a flat, slightly sloped roof Three entrances were provided for both the east and west wing. A double-doored entrance leading into the main wing was centrally located on exterior elevations of both the east and west wing. Two additional entrances were located at the north and south ends of these wings. The second levels of the east and west wings had entrances at their north and south ends as well. Windows, 3x6 feet, were evenly spaced between the entrances, and on elevations which contained no entrances.

The exterior of the mess hall/barracks building was originally covered with cement asbestos shingles which were later covered over with aluminum siding. The roof of the building was covered with composite shingles.

Paint Sheds

Two paint sheds were located behind the mess hall/barracks building on the site of the former naval air station. These structures were small, wood frame buildings, approximately 7 feet x 7 feet, with sloped roofs covered by composite shingles. Walls consisted of horizontal wood planks. An entrance door was located at the front of each paint shed with centrally located windows on the other walls.

Storage Structures

Two general purpose storage structures were also located southwest of the mess building on the site of the former naval air station. These structures were elongated rectangular buildings constructed of metal. The larger of these buildings, located slightly closer to the mess hall/barracks building, had a door on its southeast end, which allowed the only access into the building. The northwest end of the building had a large, centrally placed window, and the northeast and southwest elevations each contained eight windows. The smaller storage building had a sliding door on its southeast end, and a single personnel door on the northwest elevation.

Both the northeast and the southwest elevations contained six windows. Both storage buildings have pitched metal roofs.

Sewage Treatment Plant

A sewage treatment plant was constructed at the time the naval air station was activated in order to properly dispose of and treat sewage waste generated at the base. This facility is located to the southeast of the mess hall/barracks building. The treatment facility consists of a fenced-in area, comprising 18,656 square feet. Within this area were located two concrete block structures and a concrete sewage holding reservoir. The concrete buildings most likely contained electrical equipment that ran the treatment center and served as equipment storage.

Theater Building

The theater building was originally constructed as a naval air station radar facility and hangar. The building was later converted into a theater when the naval air station was transferred to the army. The theater building is a frame building with an ell on its southeast elevation. The front of the building faced southwest toward the former airstrip. Entrances located on this side of the building consisted of two large garage-style overhead doors, and a personnel door. An additional personnel door was located on the southwest elevation of the small ell. A back door, flanked by two windows, was located on the northeast side of the theater building. Four equally spaced windows were located on the northwest side of the building, and five on the southeast. The flat roof was slightly sloped and covered with composite shingles.

Fuel Pump Houses

Two fuel pump houses were located at the Newport naval air station. The fuel pump buildings are located northeast of the theater building, at the edge of the paved area. The fuel pump group consists of two buildings. The fuel pump house, located further to the southeast, is the larger of the two buildings. It is a small concrete block building with a pyramidal hipped roof topped by a louvered cupola. The roof is covered with composite shingles. A central doorway is located on the southwest elevation of the building, and a single, centered window on the northeast elevation. The smaller fuel pump building is also constructed from concrete blocks, but has a flat roof which slopes to the rear of the building. The smaller fuel pump building has an entrance door on its southwest elevation, but does not have any windows. The smaller fuel pump building appears to have been built according to the plans of the guard house structures, but altered for a different purpose.

Water Pump Building

The water pump building was located southwest of the mess hall/barracks building at the Newport naval air station. The water pump building is a small wood frame structure with a tlat, steeply sloped roof. The walls of the structure were constructed from wood planks. An entrance door is located on the southwest elevation of the water pump building, and a small window, 1 foot x 1 foot, is located on the northwest and southeast elevations.

Guard Shack

A guard shack, or sentry box, is located at the main gate of the Newport naval air station. The guard shack is constructed from concrete blocks on top of a concrete slab, approximately 5x7 feet, and has a slightly sloping fiat roof. The guard shack has an entrance door on one side, and windows on the remaining three sides.

Decommissioning of D-57/58

Newport NIKE Battery D-57/58 was transferred to the Michigan National Guard in February of 1963. The battery had been scheduled to close in 1969; however, it remained operational until 1974. At that time the radar equipment was removed along with the missiles themselves. The property changed hands several times subsequent to the closing. Mr. Wellington Loh owns the majority of the remaining buildings. Approximately 35.8 acres are currently retained by the Department of Defense and leased to the Michigan National Guard.

The Newport NIKE Battery D-57/58 is significant because it is the best preserved example of a NIKE battery in Michigan. D-57/58 represents the physical manifestations of both the technology and the prevailing political attitudes characteristic of the Cold War of the late 1950s and early 1960s. D-57/58 is in a fairly good state of preservation due to the fact that while the base was scheduled to be decommissioned in 1969 it was operational until 1974 when the missiles were finally disassembled and removed. After the facility was closed in 1974 it was offered for sale; however, access to the buildings themselves was limited. D~57/58 retains the sense of a NIKE battery due to the preservation of the majority of the buildings associated with the operation of the NIKE battery.

In particular die Launch Area has suffered little alteration and the majority of buildings associated with the Launch Area are still standing. In addition, although the missiles themselves have been removed, the silos remain intact and cleared of debris. This portion of the site retains a high degree of integrity.

The Control Area has suffered a greater loss of integrity as a result of the removal of the radar equipment and vans when the site was decommissioned. This makes the physical manof the activities that took place while the site was operational less easy to interpret.

Taken in its entirety; however, D-57/58 is a good example of an intact NIKE site and certainly the best preserved NIKE site associated with the Detroit Defense Area, and the State of Michigan. With the addition of the documentation provided in this report, D-57/58 provides a unique look into the technology and psychology of a significant period of American history.

Photos of this NIKE site