Curlew Air Force Station

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Curlew Air Force Station (1950-1959) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1950 as Mount Bonaparte Air Force Station on Mount Bonaparte, Washington. Moved in 1953 to a permanent site on Bodie Mountain near Curlew, Ferry County, Washington. Named Curlew Air Force Station after the nearby town. Initially assigned a Lashup/Permanent ID of LP-6 and later just a Permanent ID of P-6. Abandoned as a long-range radar site in 1959 and reestablished as a short-range unattended gap-filler site with an ID of P-60C in 1960, serviced by Colville Air Force Station. Completely closed later in 1960.

History

First established 5 May 1950 on Mount Bonaparte using Lashup System equipment (TPS-1B). Moved to a permanent site on Bodie Mountain that became operational 1 Dec 1953 as Curlew Air Force Station manned by the 638th AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying all aircraft entering their airspace while the GCI mission involved guiding Air Force interceptors to any identified enemy aircraft. Controllers at the station vectored fighter aircraft at the correct course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using voice commands via ground-to-air radio.

Initial equipment at the permanent site included an FPS-3 search radar and an FPS-5 height-finder radar. The search radar was upgraded to an FPS-20 and the height-finder was later upgraded to an FPS-6. The site and the 638th AC&W were discontinued on 1 Dec 1959 as newer SAGE capable sites came on-line. The site was then retrofitted in 1960 as an unmanned gap-filler radar site, serviced by Colville Air Force Station. The gap-filler site was only operational from April 1960 to December 1960 before being completely closed down.

Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, a housing area and a radio site. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings. Apart from the main site was a small trailer park & housing area for married personnel.



Curlew AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 638th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1959)
638th AC&W Assignments
Curlew Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (work in progress) (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1954~ Captain Davis, Frank N/A
1954~ Captain Hanford, Waite L. N/A
1959-11 Major Greene, Robert F. N/A
Dates are formatted in yyyy-mm-dd to sort correctly.
The Cullum Number is the graduation order from the United States Military Academy by year and class rank and links to a page for the officer on the website version of the Cullum Register. Listings without a Cullum Number indicate that the person was not a graduate of the United States Military Academy.

Current Status

The cantonment and housing area is now used as Curlew Civilian Conservation Center. The upper main site buildings are all leveled with some foundations and concrete steps remaining. The three concrete footings for the gap-filler radar antenna can still be clearly seen on the Google satellite maps.


Location: Near Curlew in Ferry County, Washington.

Maps & Images

Lat: 48.87722 Long: -118.78556

See Also:

Sources:

  • Cornett, Lloyd H. & Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization (1946-1980), Office of History ADC, Peterson AFB, Colorado, 31 Dec 1980, 179 pages, Pdf, page 97.
  • Winkler, David F., Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program, USAF Hq Air Combat Command, 1997, 192 pages, Pdf, page 165.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2087519


Links:

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