Puntzi Mountain Air Station

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Puntzi Mountain Air Station (1952-1966) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station established during the Korean War. Located near Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada. One of the Pinetree Line radar sites. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of C-19 and a Sage ID of C-19. Turned over to the Canadians in 1963 and then known as RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain. Closed in 1966.

History

Constructed between March 1950 and May 1952 and partially accepted for occupancy on 20 Oct 1952. Established as an AC&W radar site effective 5 Nov 1952 with approximately 3 officers and 54 airmen from the 917th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron, Geiger Field, WA.

Initial equipment included the FPS-3 as the prime search set with the FPS-502 search radar as a backup and a TPS-502 height-finder radar.

Initially designated a surveillance Station, Puntzi Mountain AS was directed to become a Direction Center in the fall of 1957 with implementation during 1958. Changes were required in the operations building and the communications systems and required the assignment of additional weapons controller teams. With the eventual goal of the site becoming a full-fledged automatic SAGE site upgrades to the site and the radar equipment began.

In November 1960 the FPS-6B height-finder became operational and the old TPS-502 height-finder was removed. In November 1962 the FPS-7C search radar became operational, the FPS-3 became backup the backup search radar and the old FPS-502 was removed. In 1963 a FPS-26 was added as a second height-finder radar. The FPS-26 was to have been maintained by Air Force technicians but a last minute decision was made to contract the maintenance.

This configuration (a SAGE qualified FPS-7 long-range search radar and two SAGE qualified height-finders, one FPS-6B, and one FPS-26) met the requirements for transition to 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.

The SAGE annex to house the FST-2 and SAGE operations were started early in 1961 and completed except for air conditioning in the 3rd Quarter 1961. The FST-2 Equipment arrived on 25 Aug 1962 and installation began when the Burroughs Team arrived shortly thereafter.

On 15 Nov 1962 the FST-2 was accepted but before the site could become SAGE operational it was transferred to the Canadians and became RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain. The station actually began automatic SAGE operations on 1 Oct 1963 and reached full SAGE operations capability on 23 Mar 1964.

SAGE System Operation

Former McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12
Puntzi Mountain SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
1 Mar 1960 - 1 Apr 1966 McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 Seattle Air Defense Sector
1 Apr 1966 - 1 Oct 1966 McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 25th Air Division

The site began operation as a SAGE site in 1960 initially manually feeding the McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12. The station began automatic SAGE operations on 1 Oct 1963 and reached full SAGE operations capability on 23 Mar 1964.

Closure

On 30 Sep 1966, the RCAF abruptly ordered the site to cease operations. On 30 Nov 1966 a Western GEEIA team arrived to dismantle USAF electronic equipment and ship it out via C-124 and other USAF aircraft. Final closure of the site occurred on 28 Dec 1966.

Physical Plant

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

A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Puntzi Mountain 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. The SAGE System GATR radio site building at Puntzi Mountain AS was completed in the 1st quarter of 1961.



Puntzi Mountain AS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Comm IFF/SIF
Unit Designations
  • 917th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1952-1960)
  • 917th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1966)
917th Assignments


Puntzi Mountain Air Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1952-10-20 Major Reding, John A. N/A First Commander
1957~ 1958-11 Major Finn, Lawrence R. N/A
1958-11 1960-02-11 Major Bouchard, Edmund M. N/A
1960-03-16 1961-03-17 Major Neblett, Murrell F. N/A
1961-03-11 1962-03-01 Major Patrick, Riley E. N/A
1962-03-01 1963-01-31 Major Wigen, Robert A. N/A Last USAF Commander
1963-02-01 1966-12 Wing Commander Advent, F. D. N/A Only Canadian Commander

Current Status

Abandoned, no intact structures.

Puntzi Mountain AFS Structures (edit list)
Number Building Area Currently
Exists
Notes
1 Operations Bldg Operations No 1952 1 story, concrete block
2 Dining Hall Cantonment No 1952 Dining Hall plus Rec Area
3 Officers Quarters Cantonment No 1952 Frame 2 story 100’ x 32’
12 units ea bedroom, sitting room and bath Max 24 officers
4 NCO Quarters Cantonment No 1952 Frame 2 story 62' x 29'
8-2 man rooms, 4-1 man rooms, 20 men
5 NCO Quarters Cantonment No 1952 Frame 2 story 62' x 29'
8-2 man rooms, 4-1 man rooms, 20 men
6 Airman's Barracks Cantonment No 1952 Frame 2 story 62' x 29'
8-3-man rooms, 4-1-man rooms 28 men
7 Airman's Barracks Cantonment No 1952 Frame 2 story 97' x 29'
16-3-man rooms, 4-1-man rooms 52 men
8 Admin & Supply Cantonment No 1952 Orderly room and Unit Supply
9 Motor Pool Cantonment No 1952 4 vehicles
10 Power House Operations No 1952 Steel girder, transite siding
12 Gate Shack Cantonment No 1952 2 Cells, Latrine, Office
14 Pump House Cantonment No 1952 Water Plant
Tower #1 FPS-3 Tower Operations No 1952 Concrete block & steel girder framing
Tower #2 Operations No 1952 Steel girder
Tower #3 Operations No 1952 Steel girder
Radio Transmitter Site Radio Sites No 1952 Concrete block & 6,600' Access Road
Radio Receiver Site Radio Sites No 1952 Concrete block & 8,000' Access Road
GATR Building Radio Sites No 1961
FPS-7C Tower Operations No
FPS-26 Tower Operations No

Location: Puntzi Mountain in British Columbia.

Maps & Images

Lat: 52.16139 Long: -124.20611

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 104.

Links:

Visited: No


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