North Truro Air Force Station

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North Truro Air Force Station (1951-1985) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1951 on Cape Cod, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Named North Truro Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-10 and later a Sage ID of Z-10 and finally a JSS ID of J-53. Station decommissioned in 1985 and part turned over to the FAA. Now known as North Truro FAA Radar Site.

North Truro Air Force Station Former SAGE & BUIC Operations Building 29.
North Truro Air Force Station Former AC&W Operations Building 33.
North Truro Air Force Station Site, FAA ARSR-4 Radar.


North Truro AFS Power Building 33.
North Truro AFS NCO Barracks Building 39.
North Truro AFS Bachelor Officer Quarters Building 23.

Established in 1951 and became operational as North Truro Air Force Station manned by the 762nd 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 two CPS-3 transportable search radar.

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

The site began operation as a SAGE site in 1958 initially feeding the Stewart SAGE Direction Center DC-02 at Stewart AFB. The search radar was upgraded to an FPS-7 and FPS-6 height-finders were installed.

BUIC System

North Truro AFS played a significant role in the development of the BackUp Interceptor Control (BUIC) program. The BUIC program came about as budget cuts forced the closure of radar sites and SAGE direction centers. The BUIC concept allowed the BUIC equipped sites to take over the functionality of one or more direction centers should they become inoperative. This capability was to have been achieved by adopting more advanced computer systems and software but it also required each BUIC site to have a full complement of highly trained weapons controllers, a very expensive proposition. At the same time the threat from manned bombers was reduced and the vulnerability of radar sites and direction centers increased. In 1974 all of the BUIC III capability was mothballed except the site at Tyndall AFB, Florida. North Truro was the first BUIC II site activated and first radar station to be designated a BUIC III site. BUIC operations ended at North Truro AFS in 1974.

The FST-2 was probably replaced by February 1973 with a FYQ-47 Common Digitizer. The initial 18-month FYQ-47/49 USAF/FAA replacement program was completed in February of 1973 and the North Truro FYQ-47 would have been in place by then.

Gap Fillers

North Truro AFS was responsible for the maintenance of three remote unattended gap-filler radar sites. The gap-filler sites were place in locations where the main search radar lacked coverage. These sites sent digitized radar target data directly to a direction center. Maintenance teams were dispatched from North Truro AFS for regularly scheduled maintenance or when fault indicators suggested the site had problems. North Truro was responsible for gap-filler sites at Westboro and Chilmark Massachusetts and the site at Fort Dearborn, New Hampshire.

North Truro AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
P-10A Z-10A Westboro MA FPS-14, FST-1 1957 1962 42.239825,
Tower Remains
P-10B Z-10B Fort Dearborn NH FPS-14, FST-1 1957 1968 43.044698,
Located on Fort Dearborn
No remains
P-10E Z-10E Chilmark MA FPS-14, FST-1 1957 1968 41.355278,
No remains

Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a housing area, a radio site and a troposcatter communications site. The main site housed two operations buildings (AC&W & SAGE), 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 married personnel. A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. A troposcatter communications site was used for communications with Texas Tower 2, a radar platform 90 miles out in the Atlantic.

North Truro AFS Plan
North Truro AFS Structures (edit list)
Number Building Area Currently
T2 Chapel Cantonment No
T5 NCO Club/Mess Cantonment Yes
7 Water Plant Cantonment Yes
9 Headquarters/Admin Cantonment Yes
10 Barracks Cantonment Yes
11 Barracks Cantonment Yes
12 Barracks Cantonment Yes
14 Library Cantonment Yes
15 Bowling Alley Cantonment No Foundation
16 Gym Cantonment Yes
17 Post Exchange Cantonment Yes
18 Dining Hall Cantonment Yes
19 Central Heating Cantonment Yes
23 Bachelor Officer Quarters Cantonment Yes
24 Radio Site Radio No
29 Operations Bldg Main Yes
30 Radar Tower, CPS-6B Main No
31 Power Plant Main Yes
32 Office/Storage Main Yes
33 Old AC&W Operations Bldg Main Yes
34 Supply/Shop Main Yes
35 Maintenance shed Main Yes
36 Supply/Shop Main Yes
37 Auto Shop Cantonment Yes
38 NCO Barracks Cantonment Yes
39 NCO Barracks Cantonment Yes
40 Radar Tower, FPS-7/107 Main No Base
42 Radar Tower, FPS-6 Main No
44 Shed  ?
45 Commissary Cantonment Yes
47 Operations building storage Main  ?
48 Radar Tower, FPS-26A Main No
49 Radar Tower, FPS-6 Main No Base
60 Former gas station Cantonment
74 Theater Cantonment No
101 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
102 House, 2bdr Family Housing Yes
103 House. 3bdr Family Housing Yes
104 House, 2bdr Family Housing Yes
105 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
106 House, 2bdr Family Housing Yes
107 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
108 House, 2bdr Family Housing Yes
109 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
147 AT&T Main Yes
201 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
202 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
203 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
204 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
205 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
206 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
207 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
208 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
209 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
210 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
211 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
212 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
213 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
214 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
215 House, 4bdr Family Housing Yes
216 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
217 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes
218 House, 3bdr Family Housing Yes

Current Status

North Truro AFS, NPS Interpretive Signage of the Site Role with Texas Tower II

North Truro AFS was decommissioned in a 14 Jun 1985 ceremony at the station. A small part of the property was transferred to the FAA and that now houses their ARSR-4 Radar and is now known as North Truro FAA Radar Site. The remainder of the site, including most of the buildings, was transferred to the National Park Service in 1994 and is now part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

North Truro AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Radio
Unit Designations
  • 762nd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1958)
  • 762nd Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1958-1970)
  • 762nd Air Defense Group (BUIC) (1970-1974)
  • 762nd Radar Squadron (1974-1979)
762nd Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at North Truro AFS, MA, assigned to 540th AC&W Gp.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Transferred to 52nd AD.
  • 16 Feb 1953 - Transferred to 4707th Def Wg.
  • 18 Oct 1956 - Transferred to 4622nd AD Wg.
  • 8 Jan 1957 - Transferred to Boston ADS. Stewart SAGE Direction Center DC-02
  • 15 Dec 1958 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 762nd Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 35th AD. Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03
  • 19 Nov 1969 - Reassigned to 21st AD. Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03
  • 1 Mar 1970 - Inactivated 762nd Radar Sq (SAGE) and reactivated as 762d Air Defense Group.
  • 1 Jan 1974 - 762d Air Defense Group inactivated and redesignated 765th Radar Squadron.
  • Nov 1979 - Reorganized into TAC (ADTAC)
  • 14 Jun 1985 - North Truro AFS decommissioned.
  • 1994 - USAF operations ended.
North Truro Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1956~ Maj Sherwin, John F. N/A
Maj Perry, Robert J. N/A
1971 1974 Ltc Prince, Robert E. N/A

Current Status

North Truro AFS NPS Overview of the Site

Part of the Cape Cod National Seashore administered by the National Park Service on Cape Cod, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Most of the buildings are still standing but closed. Several interpretive signs are located on the site.

Location: Cape Cod, Barnstable County, Massachusetts.

Maps & Images

Lat: 42.03347 Long: -70.05427

See Also:


  • 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 44, 122.
  • 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.
  • NORAD/CONAD Historical Summary Jan-Dec 1966, dated 1 May 1967, Command History Division, HQ NORAD/CONAD, Unclassified (originally classified Secret), pdf, pages 28-31, Backup Intercept Control Systems


Visited: 3 May 2018, 17 May 2012

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