The bunkers of Point Loma

New guns came in 1943

Remaining bunker
  • Remaining bunker

During World War II, anti-motor torpedo boat guns at Point Loma protected San Diego harbor from attack. Capable of downing enemy vessels or aircraft over four miles distant, the more accurate and rapid-firing 90mm guns were installed in 1943 to replace the World War I-era 155mm cannons that previously guarded the port.

Open Bunker Day

When the war began, the battery was tagged to serve as anti-submarine, but the rolling guns needed to be mounted for accuracy at distance. The emplacements, installed by April of 1942, were called Panama Mounts because they were first used in defense of the Panama Canal. But the old guns were slow to fire, and though they had a greater range, their accuracy, even with the mounts, was suspect. The new guns were ordered, built and installed by August of 1943.

The new battery’s effective range was about 4.5 miles. Each weapon required a crew of 15, nine in the gun squad and six in the ammunition squad. No battle visited San Diego during the war, and though there were sixty-one reports of possible enemy submarines or other vessels within range of the guns on Point Loma, they were only fired in practice at benign targets. The guns were deactivated in 1946 and most of the placements were razed and graded over in the 1960s. Only a few of the bunkers for the supporting crews, observation, and ammunition storage remain.

Every Saturday, WWII re-enactors bring the coastal defenses of Point Loma to life.

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In 1943, the Army decided that any threat to US coasts and ports was small. A great many troops were staffing guns all along the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts. So, it decided to take those artillerists and move them to the field artillery. (While the guns used were different, guns were guns, and those trained people could quickly transition. Many of them ended up overseas before the war ended.) Then at the end of the war, the Army took a long, hard look at the need for coastal artillery and decided that it was obsolete. The conclusion was that aircraft could attack and eliminate invading enemy ships far out to sea, and that guns would not come into play. And so the Coast Artillery branch of the Army was eliminated in the 1940's.

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