Winston-Salem Air Force Station
Winston-Salem Air Force Station (1956-1970) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station established in 1956. Located near Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of M-130 and later a Sage ID of Z-130. Closed in 1970.
Established in October 1956 and became operational in October 1957 as Winston-Salem Air Force Station manned by the 810th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron.
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 1961 initially feeding the Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04. On 1 Mar 1962 the squadron designation was changed from the 810th AC&W Squadron to 810th Radar Squadron (SAGE) indicating the new SAGE System role. In 1962 FPS-24 search and FPS-26A height-finder radars were in operation along with the previously installed FPS-6A radar.
Winston-Salem AFS and the 810th were deactivated on 31 Jul 1970.
Winston-Salem AFS was responsible for the maintenance of one remote unattended gap-filler radar site. 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 Winston-Salem AFS gap-filler radar was located at Allen, NC.
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 27 unit housing area for married personnel.
Note: Reported dates overlap and may be incorrect or reflect periods of intermittant temporary command.
FPS-24 tower remains on main site but many USAF buildings are gone, the building list below identifies the building status. The recreation hall now used by Addiction Recovery Care Association. Housing area is in private hands. GATR Site building appears to be still in use by a private party. The two unidentified buildings (U) may be the original AC&W era radio receiver and radio transmitter buildings based on their locations.