A Snapshot of San Antonio During World War II.
Chrysler-Bell Victory Siren

The initial siren test failed, disappointing residents. The guards at the Arsenal said the siren was not loud, Ft. Sam did not hear it at all, and even inside the Majestic Theater, a few blocks away, it was not very loud. Office workers said that they could only hear it if they leaned out their windows. Downtown motorists stopped or pulled over because they thought the siren sounded like a fire engine.16

The second test attempt in June used the Victory-type siren, developed by the National Defense Research Committee. A 100-horsepower gasoline engine mounted on a truck powered the Victory Siren, giving it an auditory radius of 8-10 sq. miles in residential areas, and 3 sq. miles in the business district, where tall buildings baffled the noise.17 Anderson's crew tested the Victory model at Alamo Stadium and at the Hays Street Bridge, where it passed muster each time.

In August, the city paid $20,000 for five Chrysler-Bell Victory-type air raid sirens, a more powerful form of the initial Victory siren. According to B.L. Hazelhurst of Chrysler Corporation, the Chrysler-Bell sirens created 170 decibels of sound, generated by a 160-horsepower gas motor, and weighed 6,000 pounds, or three tons. Anderson planned to place one atop City Hall, with the other four stationed at various outlying fire stations. San Antonio became only the fourth city in the nation, along with Chicago, New York, and Detroit, to get the Chrysler-Bell sirens by 1942.18

About this Image:
1) This wooden tower holds the Victory-Bell siren, which rotated on top. These towers were stationed at key locations throughout the city.

2) A close-up of the siren. "Chrysler" is visible along the siren's base.

3) Front facade of Fire Station No. 16 at 1601 Nogalitos Street, built in 1921. Various cars and six firemen stand outside the station, where a wooden tower elevates one of the city's massive air raid sirens. Note the siren's proximity to other buildings.

To Learn More:
View Catalog Record (Main Image)
View Catalog Record (Image 3)
Click HERE to go to David Stall's website for more information on the Victory Siren and to hear more sounds. The following clip of the siren in action is available on his site. (FILE WILL NOT OPEN in INTERNET EXPLORER)

Courtesy of San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation.
Click to Enlarge
c. 1940sc. 1940s
2) Close-up of Siren2) Close-up of Siren
3) c. 1940s3) c. 1940s