Radar Stations

Radar Stations

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In 1935 Robert Watson-Watt wrote a paper entitled The Detection of Aircraft by Radio Methods. This was presented to Henry Tizard, the chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence. Tizard was impressed with the idea and on 26th February 1935, Watson-Watt demonstrated his ideas at Daventry. As a result he was appointed head of the Bawdsey Research Station in Felixstowe.

Watson-Watt's was based on the idea of bouncing a radio wave against an object and measuring its travel to provide targeting information. It was called radar (radio detection and ranging).

By the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Watson-Watt had designed and installed a chain of radar stations along the East and South coast of England. During the Battle of Britain these stations were able to detect enemy aircraft at any time of day and in any weather conditions.

Radar was also used by ships and aircraft during the war. Germany was using radar by 1940 but Japan never used it effectively. The United States had a good radar system and it was able to predict the attack on Pearl Harbor an hour before it happened.

Britain tended to have the best radar system during the early stages of the war and in 1940 the invention of the Magnetron cavity resonator enabled more centimetric waves to be transmitted. It also enabled more compact high-frequency sets to be used by aircraft in the Royal Air Force.

In 1941 the Royal Navy began employing the ASV-3 radar system that helped them locate and attack U-Boats. In December 1942, the RAF began using the Oboe navigational system. A control station in Britain broadcast a radar beam in the direction of the target, and another beam tracked an Oboe-equipped Pathfinder bomber. A person in the control station could then guide the aircraft directly to the target.

The plans for the air defence of Great Britain had as early as the autumn of 1937 been rewritten round the assumption that the promises made by our scientists for the still unproven Radar would be kept. The first five stations of the coastal Radar chain, the five guarding the Thames estuary, had watched Mr. Chamberlain's aeroplane go and come on its peace missions of September 1938. Eighteen stations from Dundee to Portsmouth began in the spring of 1939 a twenty-four-hour watch, not to be interrupted in the next six years. These stations were the watchdogs of the air-raid warning service; they spared us alike grave losses in war production and intolerable burdens on our Civil Defence workers. They spared the anti-aircraft gun crews needless and tiring hours at action stations.

They saved us from the exhaustion of man and machine that would have doomed our matchless but slender fighter force had it been compelled to maintain standing patrols. They could not give the accuracy required for night-time interception, but they enabled the day fighters to await their prey at the most favourable altitudes and aspects for attack. In their decisive contribution to victory in the day battles they were supported and supplemented by other stations of new technical design, which gave warning - all too brief, but invaluable - of the approach of the low fliers.

Seeking images of US radar stations in Fiji

The war didn't really reach Fiji but there were NZ and US radar stations that were set up in Fiji during the war in preparation for possible Japanese invasions.  I need images from US radar stations in Fiji during WWII please.

Re: Seeking images of US radar stations in Fiji
Sylvia Naylor 02.11.2020 6:34 (в ответ на Jone Niukula)

Thank you for posting your inquiry on History Hub!

We searched the National Archives Catalog for any records responsive to your inquiry and located 77 file units and 8 items in the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer (Record Group 111) that may include images from U.S. radar stations in Fiji during World War II. Please note that some of the records have been digitized and may be viewed online using the Catalog. For access to and more information about these and other records that might contain information you seek, please contact the National Archives at College - Still Pictures (RDSS) via email at [email protected] for photographs and the the National Archives at College Park - Motion Picture (RDSM) at [email protected] for the films.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDSS and RDSM. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

A History of the North Omaha Radar Station

During the 1940s and 1950s, Omaha was the location of several Cold War initiatives outwardly intended to keep the country safe from nuclear war, but ulteriorly designed to frighten and captivate a passive populace. With sparse housing around it but proximity to a major metropolitan area, a location at North 72nd and Highway 36 in far North Omaha was an ideal location for an outpost. Located at 11000 North 72nd Street, it was built in 1950 as the Omaha Air Force Station. This is a history of the facility known as the North Omaha Radar Station.

Fighting the Cold War in North Omaha

A close-up of a radar at the North Omaha Radar Station in 1954.

With exactly 40 acres on the intersection of North 72nd and McKinley Drive, the North Omaha Radar Station was part of a Cold War-focused radar network. In the late 1950s, the radar started being used for the national FAA radar network. The US Army 6th Missile Battalion, 43rd Artillery moved in in 1960. Their mission was to operate the Cold War-era Nike-Hercules air-defense missiles located across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

The station was designed to be a model military installation. It featured barracks and family housing, as well as a canteen, commissary and many other buildings in addition to the radars.

In 1968, the North Omaha Radar Station was officially closed and fully transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration. It was listed as federal surplus property afterwards.

Over the years, lots of people had schemes for the place.

Big Schemes

This is a 1950s pic of the radar at the North Omaha Radar Station.

According to The Lincoln Journal, in 1969, Omaha Mayor Eugene Leahy’s office submitted a proposal to the State of Nebraska Governor’s Crime Commission. They suggested the State apply to the federal government to take over the inactive station and operate it as a state law enforcement training center. The center was denied to Omaha though, and was sent to Grand Island instead.

This is a 1950s pic of the interior of the North Omaha Radar Station.

Nebraska’s Governor at the time, Norbert Tiemann, was asked to consider the station for a jail and educational purposes. The Douglas County Board thought it could be a prisoner work-release center or a juvenile “halfway” house and correction farm. The 40-acre radar station was turned down Friday as the site for the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center.

In 1971, possession of the North Omaha Radar Station went to Omaha Public Schools. In 1973, the State of Nebraska Department of Health, Education and Welfare began lobbying for the Indian Centers Association to take over the site after OPS didn’t do anything with the facility. However, in 1974, ownership reverted to the federal government.

Losing the Military

A 2015 shot of some of the facilities, in disrepair and likely not long in this world!

The US Army Corps of Engineers managed the station starting in 1974. The Construction Laborers Local Union #1140 has kept offices there since the 1980s, and there’s still a hall there that hosts events regularly. The CLBC Flea Market was been located on the site from the 1970s, with indoor and outdoor stalls. The Companion Dog Club of Omaha and Council Bluffs has been located there since at least 2005.

Locals report that its been a training facility for the Omaha Police Department, and was a “haunted barracks” for a local radio station around 1990.

As of 2014, the radar station was an FAA site that used the Air Force AN/FPS-66A radar as part of an international missile tracking program. Apparently though, the FPS-66A radar was removed that year and serves that purpose no more. It is still operated as an FAA site though.

The Station Today

This is a 1950s interior shot from the North Omaha Radar Station showing a personnel playing with a radar screen at Halloween.

In 2018, neighbors of the buildings raised concerns with the City of Omaha and other entities about the blighted buildings. A local news station featured the history I wrote here without crediting the site, and showed the current conditions of the buildings.

Nothings changed since then though. The City of Omaha had a demolition order against the owners of the buildings, including the Construction Laborers Building Corporation. That organization doesn’t have the money to demolish the building, and the City doesn’t have money to demolish them. So they still stand.

Today, there is no recognition of the historical significance of this Cold War installation or its buildings, and there are no plans to restore them. They will likely be demolished soon.

This is a long view showing each of the radars located at the North Omaha Radar Station in the 1950s.

Outer Banks WWII Radar Stations

It can be difficult trying to find information about what really happened on the Outer Banks in WWII. It’s certainly in our past now, a part of our national history that keeps retreating in time. Complicating the gathering of information, for some obscure reason, some of the material about the role the Outer Banks played was classified top secret until the mid-1990s.

Nonetheless, there is a fair amount of information about the role of the Outer Banks.

There are those things that have been widely reported and broadly known—-the horror of the shipping lanes the paralleled the Outer Banks coast, shipping lanes that were so well-known to German U-Boat captains that he area was known as Torpedo Alley.

There are other snippets of information that come up from time to time, and they tell the tale of how the US and its allies responded when war came so close to the shores of the country.

What emerges is a story of a country emerging from a peacetime footing and taking a little while to understand what would be necessary, but once it did, the response was quite effective.

Kitty Hawk Radar Installation

From 1942 until 1945 there was a radar installation in Kitty Hawk. Perched on top of one of the highest points in the town, it was located on the hill that the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church on Kitty Hawk Road now occupies.

Outer Banks Radar Station during WWII. Photo – Outer Banks History Center

Residents who lived in Kitty Hawk at the time recall the installation was fenced in and a guardhouse was manned at all times. The Army, who staffed the installation, paved the road from what is now the Beach Road, which was paved in the 1930s by NCDOT. However, the installation sprawled across Kitty Hawk Road and residents had to pass through the gatehouse to get on the main road.

There doesn’t seem to be much specific information about the day to day work of the radar. There are reports from a few of the people that were living in the town at the time that the commander was a Captain Walters, but that cannot be confirmed.

We do know the radar was a SCR-270/SCR-271 which was cutting edge radar technology at the time with an effective range of 110 miles, depending on the altitude of the aircraft.

It’s unclear how many soldiers staffed the installation, although documentation about staffing for the SCR-270/SCR-271 radar would seem to indicate somewhere around 50 men.

What is a bit of a mystery is how it got here.

Delivered by six trucks, the total weight of the system was almost 51 tons. The Beach Road, which had just been reclassified as US 158 in 1941, could certainly deal with the trucks. What is unclear is how the Wright Memorial Bridge, which was a wooden structure barely adequate for car traffic could handle the weight.

The installation was dismantled in 1945.

Ocracoke Island

Here’s where the mystery comes in. For some reason, almost all information about the Navy’s activities on Ocracoke Island remained classified until the mid-1990s, long after everything was dismantled and all personnel left.

At one time, though, if the reports are accurate—and there are quite a number of them—up to 500 men and perhaps women of various branches of the service were stationed on Ocracoke Island.

Soldiers from WWII on the Outer Banks. Photo – Outer Banks History Center

About a mile northeast of town, Loop Shack Hill is one of the highest points on Ocracoke. During WWII there was a radar installation there, probably the SCR-270/SCR-271. Given its range, its signal would have interlocked with the Kitty Hawk radar.

There is very little mystery about how this would have been delivered. The Navy dredged Silver Lake and constructed piers to supply the island.

The Loop Shack Hill radar was not the only military activity on the island.

Evidently, the Navy had an ongoing top-secret project that allowed them to tap into German U-boat radio transmissions back to Germany, allowing the Allies to locate the submarines.

After the U-boat threat diminished, the Ocracoke became an amphibious warfare training base for the Beach Jumpers. Special warfare units, their job was to go in close to shore and confuse enemy forces into thinking either a landing was imminent or that they were a much larger force than the three or four fast-moving boats they used.

Active from 1943-1946 and reactivated 1951-1972, they were particularly effective in operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

Although the Coast Guard continues to maintain a base on Ocracoke, it’s unclear when all other military operations ended on Ocracoke.

Map showing the DEWLine stations across the Arctic in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland.

In Memoriam

Sadly, this site’s founder, Larry Wilson, passed away on November 28, 2020 after long fight with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer diseases. The world has lost a true gentleman. He has left a hole in humanity that will never be filled. You can learn more about this incredible gentleman here.

As DEWLiners, and there are fewer and fewer of us left, we truly appreciate what Larry did for us. Without Larry’s efforts over many years, we’d be left with nothing other than our own fading memories.

This site is, and will always be, “Larry’s Site.”

Buy a book and support the site.

While maintaining this website is a labor of love for me, it does cost me money. If you would like to support this effort, please consider buying a copy of my book (proceeds go toward supporting the site), or simply make a donation (below). Either one would be most appreciated.

Range and Coverage of Radar Sites

The typical range of most radar products is 230 km from the radar site. However, mountains can block the lower sweeps of the radar beam in certain parts of the country. The Interactive Radar Map Tool provides map layers, which show the maximum distance (230 km), as well as maps derived from geospatial models, which determine areas where the mountains block the beam. The analysis, conducted by NOAA's Radar Operations Center, shows the availability of beam coverage at specified altitudes from the ground. The map tool includes layers at 4,000 (best coverage), 6,000 (better coverage), and 10,000 (fair coverage) feet.

Please contact NOAA's Radar Operations Center for more information on how the coverage products are calculated.


This radar site was established during World War II early in 1942 as a part of a chain of radar stations along the West Coast of the United States and Canada. These secret radar sites were built to provide early warning of approaching enemy aircraft and ships but also served to assist friendly aircraft that were lost or had in-flight emergencies. This site was established in the remote Cape Arago area along the southern Oregon Coast with the Cape Arago Highway providing providing one-way-in, one-way out access. The Cape Arago highway was closed to the public during World War II.

The radar site itself consisted of a concrete operations building containing the SCR-270 radar equipment and an antenna located on the side of a coastal hill. The cantonment area was located below on the former estate of Louis J. Simpson with the estate mansion serving as quarters for the officers and men of the garrison, some 35 to 50 men.

The operations building was built into the side of a hill as protection and to camouflage its functionality. The camouflage included a large pre-existing tree that overhung the building and was left in place to prevented the antenna from casting a recognizable shadow and to hide the generator and equipment exhaust vents. The operations building itself was 80' by 21' with two protected entrances and 12" thick concrete outer walls. Four internal rooms provided an operations room for the shift workers, a duty officer's room, an equipment room for the radar and a generator room with two generators.


The nationwide replacement program converting FAA legacy radar systems to the CARSR radar configuration was completed by 17 Aug 2015 and Oakdale FAA Radar Site was a part of that program. Legacy FAA radars underwent a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) that replaced key components in the vintage ARSR-1, ARSR-2, FPS-20, FPS-66 and FPS-67 radars. The CARSR program replaced legacy klystron radar transmitters with a solid-state transmitter as well as renovating the radar receiver and signal processor. The CARSR modification also included common digitizer functionality making a separate common digitizer unnecessary. The Oakdale FAA Radar Site is now operating with the CARSR radar. At the time of the CARSR changeout, the legacy radar in place was an FPS-67B and the CARSR conversion included a 1561 Antenna. The secondary radar for the site is the ATCBI-6 Beacon set.

The radar site data is now available to the USAF/NORAD Battle Control System-Fixed (BCS-F) operations centers (EADS & WADS) as well as the FAA Cleveland ARTCC (ZOB) and adjacent ARTCCs. Other federal agencies have access to the data under the Homeland Security umbrella.

  • ARSR-1 FAA
  • FPS-20
  • FPS-14 GF
  • FPS-18 GF
  • FPS-24
  • FPS-67B FAA
  • FPS-6
  • FPS-6B
  • FPS-90
  • FPS-26A
  • FST-2/A/B
  • FST-1 GF
  • FYQ-47 FAA
  • CD-2A FAA
  • GKA-5
  • 662nd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1960)
  • 662nd Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1969)
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at Ravenna, OH, assigned to the 541st AC&W Gp
  • Oct 195151 - Moved to Brookfield AFS, OH.
  • 6 Feb 52 - transferred to 30th AD.
  • 16 Feb 1953 - Transferred to 4708th Def Wg.
  • 8 Jul 1956 - Transferred to 30th AD.
  • 1 Apr 1959 - Transferred to Detroit ADS.
  • 15 Jun 1960 - Transferred to Syracuse ADS.
  • 15 Jul 1960 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 662nd Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • abt Jul 1960 - Moved to Oakdale, PA.
  • 4 Sep 1963 - Transferred to Detroit ADS.
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 34th AD.
  • 15 Sep 1969 - Reassigned to 33rd AD.
  • 31 Dec 1969 - Inactivated.

A CH (Chain Home) Radar Station on the East Coast

A CH (Chain Home) Radar Station on the East Coast, 1946, William Thomas Rawlinson.

CH Stations were radar stations covering the east and south coasts of Britain. By 1940 the chain was completed with the addition of Chain Home Low (CHL) stations, which could detect low-flying aircraft.

Britain wasn’t alone in its use of radar it had actually been invented in Germany. What really gave Britain the edge was that Germany failed to recognise how vital radar was to the country’s defence. Although they did attack some stations, only Ventnor on the Isle of Wight was put out of action for any significant period. The Germans never concentrated their efforts on destroying radar stations and so this crucial element of Britain’s air defence remained generally intact throughout the Battle of Britain.

Radar Stations - History

CADIN = Continental Air Defence Integration North DEW = Distant Early Warning

In 1951, the Pinetree Radar Line construction commenced as a joint Canada - USA project. Radar early warning stations were placed to counter the Soviet air threat against North America. This later became part of the joint US-Canada North American Air Defence (NORAD) System. Initially the radar stations were fully manual air defence systems with both aircraft control and early warning functions. The stations were organized into geographical sectors.

In 1954 it was decided to partly automate the Pinetree system and the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) System was introduced. This system was introduced in the early 1960s and utilized computers to do routine functions while retaining human decision making.

In 1957 there were 39 Pinetree sites.

NORAD was established 12 September 1957 but it was not until 12 May 1958 that Canada and the United States signed the North American Air Defence (NORAD) Command Agreement to coordinate the defence of North America.

In 1958 the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment System (SAGE) was added to the system.

By the mid 1960s the Pinetree line consisted of four administrative groupings of stations:

Group l sites funded and manned by the USAF and located in the Goose Sector Group II sites funded by the USAF and manned by RCAF Group III sites other than Group I funded and manned by USAF and Group IV sites funded and manned by RCAF.

The 1960 period CADIN/Pinetree upgrades involved:

establishment of a Combat Centre- Direction Centre in the Ottawa Air Defence Sector (ADS) SAGE tie-in of 25 existing radars of the Pinetree Line (The Goose NORAD Sector remained a manual system and was not included in the upgrade) establishment of seven new heavy radars in Canada and SAGE tie-in establishment of 45 gap filler radars in Canada and SAGE tie-in (35 RCAF responsibility and 10 USAF responsibility) construction and provision for essential ancillary equipment and establishment of two BOMARC missile sites in Canada (La Macaza and North Bay).

In 1979 the older, tube technology computer system in North Bay was replaced. 900 pounds of high technology replaced 350 tons of the old.

In 1981, in a further realignment of stations western Canada commenced reporting to North Bay rather than to the previous (American ) sector stations.

In 1985 the new North Warning system became operational. It comprised 13 long range radar sites (11 in Canada of which 8 were old sites) and 39 short range radar sites (26 in Canada). Portions of the Pinetree system were incorporated into the new North Warning system.

This was a doppler radar electronics fence, nicknamed the "McGill Fence" along the 55th parallel. There was a maximum of 27 stations along the system by 1957. Unmanned stations brought this up to 98 sites. Stations included:

Goose Bay Schefferville Great Whale River Cranberry Portage Flin Flon

On 1 January 1958, the Mid Canada Line, an air defence early warning line along the 55th parallel, became operational. The line peaked at 8 sector stations and 90 unmanned doppler detection stations with a final estimated cost of $224,566,830.

In January 1964 the western half of Mid Canada Line closed. In April 1965 the eastern half of Mid Canada Line closed. This completed the closing of this line which was considered not cost effective. Some stations were retained and integrated into the upgraded CADIN/Pinetree line.

In 1952, the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line project was initiated with the Bell System as primary contractor and Western Electric assigned the job as PROJECT 572. The first and test station was Barter Island, part of the initial Alaska Experimental Line which opened in 1953. The system ran roughly along the 70th parallel and peaked at 70 sites subsequently reduced to 31 sites between 1962-83 due to technology improvements.

On 21 February 1955 the United States Air Force made the first official announcement that Western Electric Company had been awarded the contract to build the DEW Line at about $500,000,000. Canadian subcontractors for western portion were Northern Construction Ltd and James W Stewart Ltd of Vancouver. The eastern contractor was Foundation Company of Canada. It was operational by 1956.

At 0830 hours, 8 July 1955, the first Canadian unloading of DEW line sup-plies was done by helicopters of HMCS Labrador at Cape Fisher. This was the only recorded incident of Canadian military aircraft being used to assist in the construction of the DEW line. All other Canadian aircraft involved were civilian owned and contracted by the United States Air Force.

In 1960 Canadian National Telecommunications installed a tropospheric scatterwave (troposcatter) system to link up with Distant Early Warning (DEW) line stations in Canada's north. This was also a United States Department of Defence contract. It also, in the process, improved civilian communications in the North.

DEW Line stations are American funded and primarily staffed by civilians on contract to the United States Air Force however there is a token Canadian military presence at those stations located in Canada. The DEW Line stations inside Canada included:

Watch the video: In der Sperrzone von Tschernobyl: Die riesige Radarstation! Prypjat. DUGA (August 2022).