North Bend Air Force Station

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North Bend Air Force Station (1951-1980) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1951 near North Bend, Coos County, Oregon. Named North Bend Air Force Station on 1 Dec 1953 after the nearby town. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-12 and later a Sage ID of Z-12. Abandoned in 1980 and turned over to the State of Oregon.

North Bend AFS 1960s

History

Established in 1951 with the 761st AC&W Squadron assigned to the newly constructed radar station. Initial equipment included the FPS-8 search radar and an FPS-4 height-finder radar. The radar equipment evolved into one FPS-3 search radar with two FPS-6 height-finder radars while the site was still a manual Ground Control Intercept (GCI) site.

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.

SAGE System Transition

SSgt John Stanton showing off the FST-2.

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 Adair AFS SAGE Direction Center DC-13
North Bend SAGE Direction Centers
Assigned Direction Center Sector
1 Mar 1960 - 1 Apr 1966 Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13 Portland ADS
1 Apr 1966 - 15 Sep 1969 Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13 26th AD
15 Sep 1969 - 31 Mar 1980 McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 25th AD

The site began operation as a SAGE site March 1960 initially feeding the Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13 at Adair AFS. The search radar was upgraded to an FPS-7, one FPS-26A height-finder radar and one FPS-90 height-finder. With the closure of the Adair SAGE Direction Center in 1969 the site was connected to the McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 at McChord AFB near Seattle.

Closure

The public announcement of the closure of North Bend AFS came in April 1978. North Bend AFS and the 761st Radar Squadron were deactivated on 11 Feb 1980 and the site was subsequently turned over to the State of Oregon.

Gap Filler Radars

North Bend AFS was responsible for the maintenance of three remote unattended gap-filler radar sites. The unattended gap filler sites were placed in locations where the main search radar lacked coverage. These sites were equipped with short range FPS-14 or FPS-18 search radars and FST-1 Coordinate Data transmitters that sent digitized radar target data to a SAGE direction center and to the main radar site. Both the radar set and the FST-1 were dual channel to increase site up time. Maintenance teams were dispatched for regularly scheduled maintenance or when fault indicators on the FSW-1 remote monitoring equipment suggested the site had problems. The FSW-1 also allowed remote operation of specific functions such as channel changes for the radar and for the FST-1, it also allowed remote operation of the diesel generators at the gap filler site. The gap-fillers maintained by North Bend AFS were located at Port Orford, Disston and Placer, Oregon.

North Bend AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
P-12A Z-12A Port Orford Oregon FPS-14, FST-1 1957 1967 42.73694,
-124.50972
P-12B Z-12B Disston Oregon FPS-18, FST-1 1960 1965 43.58583,
-122.6525
Fairview Mountain
P-12C Z-12C Placer Oregon FPS-18, FST-1 1960 1965 42.69190,
-123.23038
King Mountain

Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a housing area and a radio site. The main site housed the operations building, the radar towers, the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the chow hall, the motor pool and the backup generators. Apart from the main site was a small, 27 unit, housing area for critical married personnel.

A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, North Bend 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.

North Bend AFS Main Site Plan


North Bend AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Comm
  • GKA-5
Unit Designations
  • 761st Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1960).
  • 761st Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1974).
  • 761st Radar Squadron (1974-1980).
761st Assignments
  • 7 Feb 1951 - Activated at Reedsport, OR, assigned to 505th AC&W Gp.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Transferred to 25th AD.
  • Jan 1953 - Transferred to 4704th Def Wg.
  • 1 Dec 1953 - Site redesignated to North Bend AFS, OR.
  • 8 Oct 1954 - Transferred to 25th AD.
  • 1 Mar 1960 - Transferred to Portland ADS. Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13
  • 15 Jul 1960 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 761st Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 26th AD. Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13
  • 15 Sep 1969 - Reassigned to 25th AD. McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12
  • 1 Feb 1974 - Redesignated 761 Radar Sq.
  • Oct 1979 - Transferred to Air Defense, Tactical Air Command (ADTAC)
  • 31 Mar 1980 - Final Closure.


North Bend Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1960 1963 Maj Schmidt, Simon H. N/A
1963~ Maj Stiles, Kenneth C. N/A
1974 1976 Maj Farman, Michael S. N/A
1977 1979 Maj Jones, William E. N/A
1979~ 1980 Capt Thomas, Roy 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

Currently operated by the State of Oregon as the Shutter Creek Correctional Institution (minimum-security prison) in North Bend, Coos County, Oregon. Some buildings remain, no public access.


Location: Near North Bend, Coos County, Oregon. Zoom out to see Housing Area and GATR site map points.

Maps & Images

Lat: 43.53333 Long: -124.17639

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 165.
  • 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 149.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2089734


Links:

Visited: 1962-1964


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