Winston-Salem Air Force Station

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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.

History

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.

Initial equipment included the MPS-11 search radar and a FPS-6A height-finder radar. The MPS-11 radar was replaced by an FPS-8 radar that saw service between 1960 and 1962.

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

Former Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04
Winston-Salem SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
1 Jul 1961 - 1 Apr 1966 Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04 Washington Air Defense Sector
1 Apr 1966 - 19 Nov 1969 Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04 33rd Air Division
19 Nov 1969 - 31 Jul 1970 Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04 20th Air Division

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.

Closure

Winston-Salem AFS and the 810th were deactivated on 31 Jul 1970.

Gap Fillers

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.

Winston-Salem AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
M-130B Z-130B Allen NC FPS-18, FST-1 1964-03 1967-12 35.22549,
-80.63530
Building exists
Tower gone

Physical Plant

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.

Winston-Salem Air Force Station Composite Plan.


A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Winston-Salem 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.


Winston-Salem AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Radio
Unit Designations
  • 810th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1956-1960)
  • 810th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1970)
810th Assignments
  • 20 Jun 1953 - Activated at Dobbins AFB, GA, assigned to 35th AD.
  • Jul 1956 - Moved to Andrews AFB, MD and assigned to 85th AD.
  • Dec 1956 - Moved to Winston Salem AFS, NC.
  • 1 Sep 1958 - Transferred to 35th AD.
  • 15 Nov 1958 - Transferred to 32nd AD.
  • 1 Jul 1961 - Transferred to Washington ADS. (Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04)
  • 1 Mar 1962 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 810th Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 33rd AD. (Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04)
  • 19 Nov 1969 - Reassigned to 20th AD. (Fort Lee SAGE Direction Center DC-04)
  • 31 Jul 1970 - Inactivated.


Winston-Salem Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1957 Major Keith, Clifford N. N/A
1957~ Lt. Colonel Schuenke, Russell J. N/A
1961~ Major Charlton, William S. N/A
1962~ Lt. Colonel Brookbank, William C. N/A
1963~ Major Starbuck, Elliott N/A

Note: Reported dates overlap and may be incorrect or reflect periods of intermittant temporary command.

Current Status

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.

Winston-Salem AFS Structures (edit list)
Number Building Exists Notes
1 Recreation Hall Yes
2 Pool No
3 Office No Foundation
4 Bachelor Officers Qtrs (BOQ) No
5 Commissary No
6 Motor Pool/Air Police Yes
7 Headquarters Yes
8 Supply No
U Radio Site ? Yes Possibly TX or RX Radio site
9 2 Story Barracks #1 Yes
10 Quonset Hut Barracks #2 No
11 Quonset Hut Barracks #3 No
12 Quonset Hut Barracks #4 No
13 Dining Hall Yes
14 Water Plant No
15 Diesel Power Plant No
16 Operations Building No
17 Sage Annex FST-2 No
18 FPS-26 Tower No
19 FPS-8 Tower No
20 FPS-6 Tower No
21 FPS-24 Tower Yes
22 NCO Club No
U Radio Site ? Yes Possibly TX or RX Radio site

Notes:
After site map at Radomes by Stan Toler, Jr. augmented by current satellite views from Google and Bing.


Location: Union Cross Road, Winston-Salem in Forsyth County, North Carolina.

Maps & Images

Lat: 36.04361 Long: -80.13621

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 170-171.
  • 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 144.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2090230

Links:

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