Sunday, February 14, 2016

Gun Battery Davis, a World War II 16" gun emplacement located at Fort Funston, San Francisco: 14 February 2016

On 7 February I went to the Marin Headlands to visit the site of Battery Townsley. Among the many things I learned from that little adventure, was that Battery Townsley is one of two identical gun batteries built in the San Francisco Bay Area between 1937 and 1940. In addition to Battery Townsley in the Marin Headlands, the Government constructed Battery Davis in San Francisco. Battery Davis is located in Fort Funston and is sited on sand dunes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Fort Funston is located in the southwestern quadrant of San Francisco.
The massive guns weighed almost 200 tons each, and it required 2 to 3 years to build each weapon. The 16" gun batteries were designed to protect San Francisco Bay from an enemy attempt to bombard San Francisco from ships far out to sea.


The approximate distance of the ramble was 6.6 miles. The approximate cumulative elevation gain was 513 feet. Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track. Click the image to see the full-size map.
A sign located at Fort Funston. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
And another sign located at Fort Funston. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Fort Funston is located on sand dunes. In the Nineteenth Century, the western portion of San Francisco was known as the "Outside Lands." The Outside Lands consisted of many hundreds of acres of rolling sand dunes and were sparsely populated. The Outside Lands area is now known as either the Richmond District or the Sunset District. The area is now full of houses, streets, stores, parks and people. The site of Fort Funston is the only sizable area in the city today that consists of sand dunes. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
A Google Earth view of that part of Fort Funston, which housed Battery Davis. 700 feet east of Battery Davis' Gun #1 is the location of the underground Plotting Room. Battery Davis contained two guns; each gun was 68 feet long and capable of firing a 2,100-pound armor-piercing round approximately 25 miles out to sea. Gun #1 is the northern gun, and gun #2 is the gun on the southern side of the battery. Click the image to see the full-size map.
Gun #1 entryway. The view is looking west, towards the former physical location of Gun #1. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
A view inside the entryway to Gun #1. The doorway to the underground rooms of the battery is visible. The door is now covered with a sheet of steel and it is welded shut. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Gun #1 firing side; looking east. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
The location of Gun #2. It is now completely overgrown with brush. This view is looking southeast. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Gun #2 entryway. Mount Davidson at 928 feet is the tallest natural point in San Francisco. The mountain is framed in the entryway to Gun #2. This view is looking east. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
The primary access location to the underground portion of Battery Davis. This entryway is now being subsumed by the sand dunes. The entry is covered with a steel plate which is welded to the frame. Someone cut a small opening is the steel plate. I took a photo of the inside through the cut section of steel plate. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
I took this picture using my camera's flash to illuminate the pitch black interior. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
The entrance to the Plotting Room is sealed with a wall of concrete. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
The inside of Battery Davis' Plotting Room. 1942. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
I was fortunate to locate the following black and white photographs. They show different stages of the construction of Battery Davis. Most, if not all, of the following photos, were initially classified as SECRET, and they were not viewable by the general public. They were eventually released from their secret classification and are now in the public domain
A 16 inch gun in transit to Battery Davis. This location is in Daly City, and many people are looking at the huge gun. 1937. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
The gun is traveling through Daily City on its trip to Fort Funston. 1937. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
The gun is now in Fort Funston, and they are preparing to off-load the gun from the truck, 1937. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
Gun Block # 1. The gun will eventually be mounted on the top of this concrete structure. 16 April 1937. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
The concrete mount for Gun #1. The gun barrel had been originally manufactured for mounting on the 35,000-ton battlecruiser USS Saratoga. The construction of the battlecruiser was halted by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. The government found another use for the gun. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
The #1 gun mount is now complete, and the gun is mounted. 18 December 1937. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Battery Davis' #1 gun before the Battery was casemated. December 1937. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
An aerial view taken during 1937 shows Battery Davis under construction. The arrows point to the two gun mounting locations. Gun #1, at the top, has been mounted. Gun #2 at the bottom is laying on the ground. When the mounting area construction is completed, Gun #2 will be mounted. This photo also shows the underground bunker area under construction. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
A crew working on the casemate of Battery Davis' # 1 gun, September 15, 1938. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
This aerial view of Fort Funston was taken in 1940. The construction of Battery Davis is now complete, and the battery is nicely camouflaged. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
The battery camouflage as seen during WWII. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
Soldiers are training to load Gun #1 at Battery Davis. Circa WWII. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Chain hoists and shell room at Battery Davis, February 28, 1939.Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
The end of Battery Davis. Gun #1 is being prepared for scrapping in "Operation Blowtorch". 1948. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Workers are scrapping Battery Davis guns after the battery was deemed obsolete. 1948. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
General Frederick Funston is shown with his aides at Fort Mason, San Francisco on 18 April 1906. This photo was taken on the afternoon of the Great San Francisco Earthquake. General Funston was the commander of the Presidio of San Francisco at that time. Chaos and anarchy were rampant on the street of San Francisco. Although he did not have the legal authority to do so, General Funston declared martial law and had the Mayor of San Francisco issue a proclamation stating that looters will be shot and killed. General Funston died in Texas in 1917 at the age of 51. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
The San Francisco 1906 Earthquake Proclamation by E.E. Schmitz, Mayor of San Francisco.
A view from Fort Funston, looking east. Mount Davidson at 928 feet, is straight ahead on the right. Twin Peaks (Eureka Peak at 904 feet is on the left, and Noe Peak at 910 feet is on the right) is in the center. Mount Sutro at an elevation of 909 feet, is to the left of Sutro Tower. During the Cold War, the summit of Mount Sutro was the location of radar tracking site SF-89C. It worked in conjunction with Nike missile launching site SF-89L which was located in the Presidio of San FranciscoClick the image to see the full-size photograph.

“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”-Dorothea Lange

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