Gibbsboro Air Force Station

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Gibbsboro Air Force Station (1961-1984) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1961 near Gibbsboro in Camden County, New Jersey. Named Gibbsboro Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of RP-63, later a Sage ID of Z-63 and a JSS ID of J-51. Abandoned as an Air Force Station in 1984 but a portion was retained by the FAA and is now Gibbsboro FAA Radar Site.

History

The Gibbsboro Air Force Station site was originally a gap-filler site P-9A operated by Highlands Air Force Station, New Jersey, configured with a FPS-14 radar and FST-1 data transmitter. Purportedly the first Gap Filler site in the nation.

Construction of Gibbsboro AFS began in May 1960 and the site became operational in June 1961 as Gibbsboro Air Force Station manned by the 772nd Radar Squadron (SAGE). The Air Force moved the 772nd from Claysburg Air Force Station, Pennsylvania to Gibbsboro to provide radar data to both the SAGE System and the nearby Pedricktown Army Air Defense Command Post PH-64DC, a NIKE Missile Master site.

SAGE System

Initial equipment included the FPS-66 search radar, FPS-6 height-finder radar and the FST-2 Coordinate Data Transmitter. The FST-2 equipment digitized the radar returns and transmitted the digital returns to the SAGE direction center. Under the SAGE System, interceptor aircraft were directed to their targets by the direction center computers and controllers, greatly reducing the need for local controllers and equipment at every radar station.

The FST-2 was a very large digital system using vacuum tube technology. Over 6900 vacuum tubes were used in each FST-2 requiring 21 air conditioned cabinets, 40 tons of air conditioning, 43.5 kva of prime power and a large space in the operations building. The FST-2B modification added two more cabinets but with newer solid state (transistor) technology to process coded responses from aircraft transponders.

SAGE System Operation

The site began operation as a SAGE System radar site in June 1961 initially feeding both the McGuire SAGE Direction Center DC-01 and the U.S. Army NIKE Missile Master site at Pedricktown. In February 1962 an FPS-26A height-finder became operational followed by an FAA FPS-27 search radar in May 1963. The site became a joint use FAA/USAF site about 1966. With the closure of McGuire SAGE Direction Center DC-01 in December 1967, control switched to Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 where it remained until the site closed.

In January 1972 the FST-2 was replaced by the FYQ-47. Air force personnel assumed responsibility for maintenance of the FPS-27 in June 1973. In September 1976 the FPS-6 height-finder was deactivated.

On 1 Oct 1979 ADCOM was deactivated and the site was transferred to Tactical Air Command (TAC). The 772nd Radar Squadron became the 772nd Radar Squadron (TAC).


CEM Workcenter Manpower in the 1980s
Workcenter Function Officers Enlisted Civilian Total
CEM Office Communication Electronics Maintenance 1 2 0 3
QC & TNG Quality Control & Training 0 3 0 3
FPS-26 Height Finder Maintenance 0 12 0 12
FPS-27A Search Radar Maintenance 0 15 1 16
FYQ-47 CDT Maintenance 0 4 1 5
GATR Radio Maintenance 0 11 0 11
Totals 1 47 2 50

Closure

Gibbsboro AFS and the 772nd were deactivated in 1984 but by 1986 a FPS-117 minimally attended radar was in place supported by contractors. This FPS-117 was the prototype for the radars to installed in Alaska. In 1992 the FPS-117 was shut down and shipped to Murphey's Dome Air Force Station in Alaska.

Gibbsboro FAA Radar Site

A part of the Gibbsboro site was transferred to the FAA in 1995 and the FAA installed a ARSR-4 3D radar set.

Physical Plant

Gibbsboro AFS Plan

The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, and a radio site.

The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. A separate building that once was a gap-filler radar building was converted to a civil engineering building.

For much of the site's history, the cantonment area was not located on the Radar site. Initially, the cantonment was at the Pedricktown Army Installation including the commander, administration, and the orderly room. In November 1964 many of the cantonment functions were moved to McGuire Air Force Base and in 1968 they were moved to the site itself but in a limited fashion. There never were barracks on the radar site but there was a mess hall (closed in 1977).

Housing was another issue, because there was no married housing associated with the radar site a number of arrangements were made for married personnel that included a small 11 unit on-site government trailer park for the lower ranks (E-1,2,3), a housing area from a closed NIKE site (24 units), leased houses (16 units), and 11 two bedroom apartments for single enlisted personnel.

A separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio site housing the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts was located near McGuire Air Force Base but was maintained by Gibbsborro AFS.


Gibbsboro AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Scopes Comm IFF/SIF
Unit Designations
  • 772nd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1959)
  • 772nd Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1959-1974)
  • 772nd Radar Squadron (1974-1979)
  • 772nd Radar Squadron (TAC) (1979-1984)
772nd Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at Connellsville, PA, assigned to 503rd AC&W Gp.
  • by Dec 1951 - Moved to Blue Knob Park, PA.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Transferred to 26th AD.
  • 16 Feb 1953 - Transferred to 4710th Def Wg.
  • 1 Dec 1953 - Site redesignated Claysburg AFS, PA.
  • 1 Mar 1956 - Transferred to 4708th AD Wg.
  • 8 Jul 1956 - Transferred to 30th AD.
  • 15 Aug 1958 - Transferred to Syracuse ADS.
  • Feb 1959 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 772nd Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 May 1961 - Transferred to NY ADS and moved to Pedricktown AI, NJ.
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 21st AD.
  • 1 Dec 1967 - Reassigned to 35th AD.
  • 19 Nov 1969 - Reassigned to 21st AD.
  • 1 Feb 1974 - Redesignated 772nd Radar Sq.
  • 1 Oct 1979 - ADCOM Deactivated, reassigned to 21st AD (TAC) as the 772nd Radar Squadron (TAC).
  • 1984 - Deactivated.


Gibbsboro Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1967~ Major Granberg, Martin J. N/A
1978~ Major Gault, Freeman N/A
1982~ Major Pritt, N/A

Current Status

Now an FAA ARSR-4 radar site at the former Gibbsboro AFS in Camden County, New Jersey.


Location: Near Gibbsboro in Camden County, New Jersey.

Maps & Images

Lat: 39.82471 Long: -74.95427


GPS Locations:

See Also:

Sources:

Links:

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