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Command and Control
Nike Sites

Purpose of "Command and Control"
To direct the available forces to maximum effect.

In the air defense world of Nike, this would include:

NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Current Representation
Detection of aircraft - note:
"DEW" Line, Mid Canada Line, Pine Tree,
not shown are "Texas Towers", now out of service
Note the aircraft. We in Nike depended upon the Air Force knocking down a high percentage of attacking aircraft. Each Nike site could control only one missile at a time !!
(Images from Richard Levine)

I presume the nightmare of any Nike Missile area commander would have been that all available Nike batteries attacked the lead aircraft, killed it multiple times, and let other aircraft sneak in and obliterate his area.

Unfortunately, when I (Ed Thelen) was in the service [1954-early 1957], Command & Control of Nike batteries was essentially non-existent.

My limited knowledge and experience with Nike Command & Control. Chicago, pre-1957

We installed our Nike site in Jackson Park, on the Chicago waterfront, in the spring of 1955. We did not "coordinate" with anyone - the various battery commanders were competitive, not cooperative!!

"ELKO" (an Air Force installation north of Chicago in Elkhorn, Wisconsin) called and terminated our alerts. Unfortunately, ELKO did not see the various aircraft we saw, and we rarely saw aircraft that they wanted us to track, and they didn't seem to care. They might as well have been on another planet (or in Iraq).

So much for the Air Force command and control of Nike in early 1957.

We, our Army Nike battery at Jackson Park on the Lake Front of East Chicago, occasionally communicated with the adjacent battery to the north (C-40, Burnham Park). Period, that was all. There was a warrant officer at C-40 who had a private plane and was gung-ho about getting our two batteries tracking practice. We seemingly couldn't even coordinate that reliably :-( He also tried to verify the zones that our radars couldn't "see" by flying low patterns to determine the radar shadow volumes - but got nasty notes from the FAA, and seemingly everyone else also :-))

I am told that the situation got MUCH better a few years later.
Almost all Command and Control information on this web site is from other sources.

Thomas Page, March 2017, sent this of a Missile Master (with some radar from Elkhorn, Wisconsin? 8 miles from Williams Bay, Wisconsin). As I understand, the two radar towers with radomes seen in the first photo each contained an Army AN/FPS-6A height-finder radar. The AN/FPS-20 search radar and the two Air Force AN/FPS-6, -6B height-finder radars were yet to be installed, although their respective towers were in place. The Air Force's 755th AC&W (Radar) Squadron relocated here from Williams Bay AFS, WI, to support the Army's Nike Missile operations. In the first photo, the view is looking east. - also see Air Force Radar Museum Association

from Chuck Zellers
Regarding the FUIF (Fire Unit Integration Facility). It was designed and supported by Martin Marietta. The system was connected to Missile Master [ see above Table of Contents ] by phone lines! It consisted of a digital (transistor) computer that received h, x and y coordinates from MM which in turn sent the coordinates to a "ground slant computer" (vacuum tube) before being sent to a PPI scope.

from Jim Carlile who worked at SAGE at Truax AFB, near Madison, Wis
"The rules of engagement for Nike Missiles were simple and clear. The targets would be engaged at the maximum range of the missile, regardless of who or what was in the target area. This would include Air Force interceptors and hence, the need for a safe exit method."

and in a continuing dialog with Mark Morgan


Our main problem at Truax was that the air field is INSIDE the maximum range of all of the Nike Missile batteries in Milwaukee and many in Chicago. Many of the F-106 Pilots were reluctant to break off, especially when they were in a tail chase following their targets towards our batteries. When we explained why it was necessary (a combination of the warhead and engagement rules) they were a little surprised. The next exercise they broke off quickly! Their procedure was to roll out with the belly of their aircraft (strongest part) towards the target.

---- Original Message ----- 
To: "Jim Carlile" ; ...

> Jim: I'm a former Naval Flight Officer, A-6 B/N, understand your phrasing 
> and am fully aware of the battles between ADC and ARAACOM/ARADCOM during 
> the 1950s over how to separate the sheep from the goats once the "weapons 
> free" call went out.  I've got a few friends who fought in Vietnam in 
> Intruders who were on the receiving end of friendly fire, although usually 
> it was from rambunctious fighter pukes...MK

Command and control systems used in the [U.S.] Nike world - overview, US Army Air Defense Digest, 1966, US Army Air Defense Digest, 1972.

Missile Master notes

Locations - From Thomas Page, April 11, 2003
Here is a list of Nike Missile Master sites
  • Fort Heath, MA (MM-1) (Missile-Master blockhouse and radar site are no longer extant)
  • Fort Meade, MD
  • Highlands AFS, NJ (Missile-Master blockhouse and radar site are no longer extant)
  • Arlington Heights (MM-4)
  • Pedricktown, NJ
  • Selfridge AFB, MI
  • Lockport AFS, NY
  • Oakdale AI, PA
  • Fort Lawton, WA
  • Fort MacArthur, CA (Missile-Master blockhouse is no longer extant)

The Missile-Master blockhouse is seen in these aerial images as a large, square building with two parallel raised ridges running the length of the building. (You can find these sites on the "MapQuest" web site, too, which has color aerial imagery from "GlobeXplorer" in many cases.)

In case you're wondering, my interest is actually from the Air Force side of the story. All ten Missile Master operations were supported by Air Force long-range radar operations, usually collocated at the same site. (So were a number of Missile Mentor sites and manual Nike missile operations.) You can find more about these Army - Air Force joint-use sites on our Online Air-Defense Radar Museum web site at

On the left-side menu, under "Contents," click on "Radar Sites" to get a search window. Then enter a name (such as "Fort Lawton") and hit . Click on the link that appears, and you're there. Scroll down, and click on links such as "Photographs," "Recent Photos," etc., for more information. Enjoy! Let me know what you think. Thanks.

-- Tom Page

Early installation history - From Tom Smith
The first Missile Master site was at Ft. Geo. G. Meade, Md., the second was at The Highlands, NJ. Our site at Ft. Meade was operated by Martin until 1960, in May of that year, they turned it over to the Army. The first unit was Signal Missile Master Support Detachment. Personnel for this site came from Ft. Huachuca and White Sands. All were either Radar techs or Microwave techs.

The data, TDDL, group went thru school at the Air Force base at Buffalo, don't remember name, and the display group went thru school at the Air Force base in Detroit. We all attended prep classes at Ft. Monmouth in1959. Those classes were in basic storage and display circuits.

The group in NY was assigned to Ft. Niagara for rations and quarters. We were there from Jan. 60 to May 60. All classes at both sites were taught by Martin engineers. After the classes were set up at Monmouth, graduates were assigned to Illinois and Missile Monitor school was set up at Bliss.

Ft. Meade had the Baltimore-Washington defense area and The Highlands had the New York-New Jersey-Philadelphia defense area. I assume Illinois had the Chicago-Detroit area.

All for now.
Tom Smith

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Updated Sept, 2015