Williams Bay Air Force Station
Williams Bay Air Force Station (1951-1960) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station first established as Elkhorn Radar Site during the Korean War. Renamed Williams Bay Air Force Station in 1955. Located near Williams Bay, Walworth County, Wisconsin. Assigned a Permanent ID of P-31. Closed in 1960.
Established in December 1950 and became operational late in 1951 as Elkhorn Radar Site manned by the 755th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron.
Use this link to see a description of the Manual AC&W Operation
Initial equipment included two CPS-6B combination search and height-finder radars. At some point in the 1950s, one CPS-6B was removed.
On 1 Dec 1955, the Elkhorn Radar Site was redesignated as Williams Bay Air Force Station.
By early 1957, plans to close Williams Bay AFS and relocate the 755th AC&W Squadron to Arlington Heights Air Force Station were in place. The plans called for the colocation of a USAF SAGE long-range radar with each of the ten U.S. Army NIKE Missile Master command posts. Williams Bay was to be co-located with Arlington Heights Army Air Defense Command Post C-80DC. Instructions to stop the installation of a second FPS-6 height-finder and to stop the construction of a SAGE annex at Williams Bay AFS were included in the plan.
Williams Bay AFS station ceased operations by January 1960 and was later partially reactivated as a gap-filler site (RP-31), maintained by the Arlington Heights Air Force Station. It is unclear if the gap-filler FPS-18 radar was even installed or if the site ever became operational but the gap-filler building itself was built. The gap-filler site was declared excess on 4 Jan 1968 and sold to a private owner on 5 Nov 1969. The structure was modified and incorporated into a larger private dwelling.
Newspaper accounts indicate that the closure notice for Williams Bay AFS came in October 1959 and by November 1st the site was "all but deserted". Williams Bay AFS was deactivated in January 1960 and the 755th AC&W Squadron was officially relocated to Arlington Heights on 1 Apr 1960.
Most of the station was excessed to the General Service Administration, which sold it to the State of Wisconsin in 1962. It was used as a Prisoner Re-Release minimum security prison on the site until 1972. The Gap Filler Annex was declared excess on 4 Jan 1968, and sold to a private owner on 5 Nov 1969.
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 unit housing area built circa 1954 for married personnel.
Like most early radar stations, Williams Bay AFS had separate radio transmitter and receiver sites used by controllers for voice direction of fighter interceptors to their targets.
Now part of the Williams Bay Industrial Park, earlier used by the department of corrections. Many of the old USAF buildings still remain. The family housing units are now private residences. Auto junkyards occupy part of the former Air Force site.
A Wisconsin Historical Society Marker honors the 755th AC&W Squadron.