Antigo Air Force Station

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Antigo Air Force Station (1952-1977) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1952 in Langlade County, Wisconsin. Named Antigo Air Force Station after the nearby town. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-19, later a Sage ID of Z-19. Abandoned by the Air Force in 1977.

History

Established in 1952 and became operational in June 1952 as Antigo Air Force Station manned by the 676th AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning misssion. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifing 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 the FPS-3 search radar and an FPS-4 height finder radar. By 1958 the site was operating a FPS-20 and a FPS-6A. In 1959 a second FPS-6A was added to establish the normal pre SAGE System configuration of a long range search radar with two height finders.

SAGE System Transition

The transition of the manual GCI system to the automated SAGE system began with 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 airconditioning, 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 K.I. Sawyer SAGE Direction Center DC-14 now Repurposed. FAA Radar on Top of Blockhouse.
Antigo SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
1 Apr 1960 - 1 Oct 1963 K.I. Sawyer SAGE Direction Center DC-14 Sault Ste Marie ADS
1 Oct 1963 - 1 Jun 1964 Duluth SAGE Direction Center DC-10 Duluth ADS
1 Jun 1964 - 1 Dec 1967 Truax SAGE Direction Center DC-07 Chicago ADS/ 20th AD
1 Dec 1967 - 1 Jul 1968 Sioux City SAGE Direction Center DC-22 30th AD
1 Jul 1968 - 14 Nov 1969 Custer SAGE Direction Center DC-06 34th AD
14 Nov 1969 - 30 Jun 1977 Duluth SAGE Direction Center DC-10 29th AD/23rd AD

The site began operation as a SAGE site in 1960 initially feeding the K.I. Sawyer SAGE Direction Center DC-14. The search radar was upgraded to an FPS-35 in 1962 and later a FPS-90 height finder radar was added.

By February 1973 the Air Force had completed an 18 month replacement program, swapping the aging vacuum tube FST-2s with integrated circuit FYQ-47s and FYQ-49s. Antigo received a replacement FYQ-47 and the FST-2 was removed.

Closure

The Air Force publicly announced the closure of Antigo Air Force Station on 9 Mar 1977. At the time of the announcement the station had 79 military personnel assigned and 28 civilian employees. Antigo AFS and the 676th Radar Squadron were deactivated on 30 Jun 1977.

Gap Fillers

Antigo AFS was responsible for the maintenance of three remote unattended gap filler radar sites. 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 Antigo AFS gap filler radars were located at Norway, MI, Two Creeks, MI and Brooks, WI. Three other gap fillers were planned but not constructed.

Antigo AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
P-19A Z-19A Norway MI FPS-18, FST-1 1958-10 1968-06 45.78861,
-87.86833
No trace
P-19B Z-19B Two Creeks WI FPS-18, FST-1 1959-08 1968-06 44.32361,
-87.57972
Building exists
P-19C Z-19C Brooks WI FPS-18, FST-1 1960-05 1968-06 43.8275,
-89.715
Building & tower exist

Physical Plant

The physical plant of the site was divided into a 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 housing area for critical married personnel.

A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Antigo originally had separate radio transmitter and receiver sites 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.


Antigo AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Comm
Unit Designations
  • 676th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1960)
  • 676th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1974)
  • 676th Radar Squadron (1974-1977)
676th Assignments
  • 1 May 1951 - Activated at Antigo AFS, WI, assigned to 543rd AC&W Gp.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Transferred to 31st AD (CADF).
  • 16 Feb 1955 - Transferred to EADF and 4706th Def Wg.
  • 8 Jul 1956 - Transferred to 37th AD.
  • 1 Apr 1959 - Transferred to 30th AD.
  • 1 Apr 1960 - Transferred to Sault Ste Marie ADS. (K.I. Sawyer DC-14)
  • 15 Jul 1960 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 676th Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 Oct 1963 - Transferred to Duluth ADS. (Duluth DC-10)
  • 1 Jun 1964 - Transferred to Chicago ADS. (Truax DC-07)
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 20th AD. (Truax DC-07)
  • 1 Dec 1967 - Reassigned to 30th AD. (Sioux City DC-22)
  • 1 Jul 1968 - Reassigned to 34th AD. (Detroit DC-06)
  • 14 Nov 1969 - Reassigned to 29th AD. (Duluth DC-10)
  • 19 Nov 1969 - Reassigned to 23rd AD. (Duluth DC-19)
  • 1 Feb 1974 - Redesignated 676 Radar Sq.
  • 30 Jun 1977 - Inactivated.


Antigo Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1952~ Major Byrne, John R. N/A
1953~ Major Frantz, D. G. N/A
1955-02-04 Captain Watkins, Harry N/A
1955-02-04 Major Steele, Wendell N/A
1960 1962 Major Hardcastle, Frank L. N/A
1963-01-18 1967-03-02 Major Scott, F. G. N/A
1967-03-02 1969-01 Lt Colonel Stiles, Kenneth C. N/A
1969-01 Major Jones, Francis E. N/A
1972 1974 Major Kessel, Donald N/A
1975 1977 Captain Harvey, Robert J. N/A

Current Status

Abandoned in Antigo, Langlade County, Wisconsin.


Location: Antigo, Langlade County, Wisconsin.

Maps & Images

Lat: 45.04838 Long: -89.23488

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 159.
  • 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 168.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2086833


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