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From the Archives: 14-inch railroad guns fired near Oceanside

June 12, 1936: United States Army Coast Defense 14-inch railway gun is is fired during target practi
June 12, 1936: An Army coastal defense 14-inch railway gun is is fired during target practice near Oceanside. Spectators stuffed cotton in their ears for protection.
(J. H. McCrory / Los Angeles Times)

In June 1936, the U.S. Army coastal defense force moved its 14-inch railway guns to an isolated location near Oceanside. When last fired – eight years earlier near Los Angeles Harbor — windows were broken.

Los Angeles Times staff correspondent Mark Finley reported in the June 13, 1936 edition:

OCEANSIDE, June 12. (Exclusive)–With throaty bellows of defiance, the twin fourteen-inch railroad rifles of the United States Army Coast Defense roared for the first time in eight years twelve miles north of here today.

They spat out shells weighing three-quarters of a ton. Minutes later, twenty-two miles and more to sea, towering waterspouts marked the landing places of the great projectiles, crammed with high explosives.

Thousands of feet in the air a tiny scout plane marked the splashes in relation to an imaginary enemy dreadnaught and reported their exact location by radio.

A quarter of a mile from the great guns experts in mathematics hastily corrected calculations in a railway plotting room, then telephoned new orders to the gunners. The great barrels of the 365-ton rifle was elevated and they spoke again in a billow of smoke and a torrent of flame…

The rifles hadn't been fired for eight years because of the cost of shells and damage to windows in their previous location at Los Angeles Harbor.

A week ago they were taken to their new location, twelve miles north of here, a railway stop named Don, which is a bean field…

There between the highway and the ocean they were anchored to the rails with outriggings on either side, and prepared for the terrific explosion and recoil. A quarter-ton of powder is used to send the shells on their way. Some 2000 persons gathered in the vicinity this afternoon, army and navy men and civil. ...

All three of these photos were taken by staff photographer J. H. McCrory. The top photo accompanied Finley's report in the June 13, 1936, Los Angeles Times.

The two 14-inch guns were based at Ft. MacArthur in San Pedro. Following World War II, the guns were scrapped.

This post was originally published on March 21, 2014.

June 12, 1936: United States Army Coast Defense 14-inch railway gun is is fired during target practi
June 12, 1936: An Army coastal defense 14-inch railway gun is fired from a site near Ocaenside. J. H. McCrory / Los Angeles Times
June 12, 1936: United States Army Coast Defense 14-inch railway gun is prepared for target practice
June 12, 1936: An Army coastal defense 14-inch railway gun is prepared for target practice near Ocaenside. J. H. McCrory / Los Angeles Times

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