Battery Townsley

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Battery Townsley (1940-1948) - Battery Townsley is a reinforced concrete World War II 16" gun battery located on Fort Cronkhite, Marin County, California. Named after Major General Clarence P. Townsley, a World War I veteran and superintendent of the United States Military Academy. Battery construction was begun in Jan 1938, completed 1 Jul 1940 and transferred to the Coast Artillery for use 24 Jul 1940 at a total cost of $595,000. Deactivated in 1948 after World War II.

Battery Townsley Construction Gun Position #2, 1938
Battery Townsley Completed Gun Position
Battery Townsley Gun Emplacement #1 Today. Note the gun pit filled with water.

World War II (1941-1945)

Part of the Harbor Defense of San Francisco. Battery Townsley and Battery Davis (2) at Fort Funston were two 16" batteries planned to guard the entrance to San Francisco harbor.

Battery Townsley was a casemated battery with two naval MarkII-M1 16" guns mounted on long-range Barbette M1919 M5 carriages, each capable of shooting a 2,100 pound, armor-piercing projectile 25 miles out to sea. The guns and their associated ammunition magazines, power rooms, and crew quarters were covered by dozens of feet of concrete and earth to protect them from air and naval attack.

The central traverse magazine, in addition to the two casemated guns, included two separate magazines. Each magazine included:

  • 2 Powder Rooms
  • 2 Shell Rooms
  • 2 Powder Service Rooms
  • 4 Storerooms

The central section of the Battery included the power room, radiator room, latrines, a shop, and a storeroom.

In 1943, additional latrine facilities were installed in the main entrance to the Central Traverse Magazine and prison style bunk facilities for 150 people were installed in the corridors, storeroom, and shop at a cost of $4,570.44.

Reserve Magazine Plan

A large reserve magazine was built about 2500 feet southeast of gun emplacement #1 on the reverse slope of the battery, not visible from the sea. The reserve magazine construction began June 1938, was completed 1 Jul 1940 and was accepted for service 24 Jul 1940 at a cost of $52,950.

Battery Townsley PSR Plan

A separate PSR (Plotting, Spotting & Radio Rooms) was built about 1,200' away from the Battery to isolate it from the concussion of the 16" guns firing. The PSR construction was accepted for service 24 Jul 1940 at a cost of $76,400. In 1943, prison style bunk facilities for thirty people were installed in the PSR at a cost of $420 and accepted for service on 16 Aug 1943.

The total cost of the Battery including the reserve magazine, PSR, BC stations and real property improvements rose to $1,007,500 by 1940.

Test firings in 1940 with live ammunition proved the range to be over 30 miles.

Battery Townsley Armament (edit list)
Model Serial
Manufacturer Carriage Service
1 16" Rifle 68' MarkII-M1 87 U.S. Navy Barbette, M2, #15 1940-1948 See note 1
2 16" Rifle 68' MarkII-M1 88 U.S. Navy Barbette, M2, #16 1940-1948 See note 2
Display Guns
2 16" Rifle 68' MarkVII 386 Naval Gun Factory None yet 2012 See note 3
Source: CDSG, Berhow, Mark A. ed, American Seacoast Defenses: A Reference Guide, 2nd Edition, CDSG Press, McLean, VA, 2004, ISBN 0-9748167-0-1 page 176-177
Note 1: Carriage shipped 16 Jan 1939, gun shipped 7 Aug 1939 Watertown CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Note 2: Carriage shipped 2 Jun 1939, gun shipped Jun 1939 Watertown. CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Note 3: Gun arrived at the Battery on 1 Oct 2012 from US Navy Weapons Station, Hawthorne, Nevada.
Battery Townsley 16" Display Gun Muzzle
Battery Townsley 16" Display Gun Breech Repainted
Battery Townsley Repainted 16" Gun
Battery Townsley Navy 16" MarkVII Display Gun as Received on Temporary Mounts
Battery Townsley Plan

Current Status

Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Partly restored but without guns or carriages. On 1 Oct 2012, a surplus 16" Naval MarkVII gun tube was delivered on site for use as a display gun (pictures above & below). The external elements of the Battery, PSR and Reserve Magazine are open for self-guided tours during park hours. Parts of the interior of the Battery are open to the public on one day of the month. The interior of the PSR and the Reserve Magazine are not open to the public. The newly acquired 16" gun tube is displayed at the back entrance to casemate #2.

Location: Battery Townsley is located one ½ mile up from the
Fort Cronkhite parking lot in Marin County, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 37.8362253 Long: -122.5440574

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 345'

GPS Locations:

See Also



Visited: 26 Nov 2012, 19-20 Aug 2009

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