Lyndonville Air Force Station

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Lyndonville Air Force Station (1956-1963) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1956 near Lyndonville, Essex County, Vermont. Initially named North Concord Air Force Station renamed Lyndonville Air Force Station after the nearby location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of M-103, later a Sage ID of Z-103. Abandoned in 1963.

History

Established in 1956 and became operational in 1956 as Lyndonville Air Force Station manned by the 911th 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 included the MPS-11 search radar and an MPS-14 height-finder radar. In 1958 a FPS-6A height-finder radar was added to the site. In 1959 a FPS-3 search radar was added.

This configuration established the basic requirements for the transition to the SAGE System operation.

SAGE System Transition

The transition of the manual GCI system to the automated SAGE system began with the installation of the FST-2 coordinate data transmitter and search radar upgrades. 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 usually a large new addition to 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

Former Stewart SAGE Direction Center DC-02
Lyndonville AFS SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
15 Aug 1958 - 1 Aug 1962 Topsham SAGE Direction Center DC-05 Bangor ADS
1 Aug 1962 - 1 Aug 1963 Stewart SAGE Direction Center DC-02 Boston ADS

The site began operation as a SAGE site in 1959 initially feeding the Topsham SAGE Direction Center DC-05. Two new radar towers were built in 1962, one for a FPS-27 search radar and one for a new FPS-26 height-finder radar. The FPS-26 was installed in early 1963 just before the March 1963 announcement of the site closure. The FPS-27 was never installed.

Closure

Lyndonville AFS and the 911th were deactivated on 1 Aug 1963.

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 9/27 unit housing area for married personnel.

A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Lyndonville originally had a radio transmitter site and a separate radio receiver site used by local controllers for voice direction of fighter interceptors to their targets. With the SAGE System, the SAGE Direction centers had the primary task of directing intercepts and the local radio sites were reconfigured, usually into a single site that was known as the Ground to Air Transmitter Receiver (GATR) site. The GATR site communicated with the interceptors from either the local site or the SAGE direction center via voice commands and/or a digital data link.


Lyndonville AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Radio
Unit Designations
  • 911th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1956-1959)
  • 911th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1959-1963)
911th Assignments
  • 26 May 1953 - Activated at Hancock Field, NY, assigned to 32nd AD.
  • 1 Dec 1953 - Redesignated Syracuse AFS, NY.
  • Jun 1955 - Transferred to 4711th AD Wg.
  • early 1956 - Moved to North Concord, VT.
  • 1 Mar 1956 - Transferred to 32nd AD.
  • 15 Aug 1958 - Transferred to Bangor ADS. (Topsham DC-05)
  • 1 Oct 1959 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 911th Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • Mar 1962 - Site redesignated to Lyndonville AFS, VT.
  • 1 Aug 1962 - Transferred to Boston ADS. (Stewart DC-02)
  • 1 Aug 1963 - Discontinued.


Current Status

Abandoned by the Air Force and sold to private parties. Most of the upper main site radar towers remain in place but in deteriorated condition. The cantonment area has some buildings remaining also in deteriorating condition. The housing area is in private hands.


Location: Near Lyndonville in Essex County, Vermont.

Maps & Images

Lat: 44.66528 Long: -71.77111

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 173.
  • 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 160.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2089502


Links:

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