CFS Beaverlodge

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CFS Beaverlodge (1953-1988) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station initially established as Saskatoon Mountain Air Station at the end of the Korean War. Located 12 miles east of Beaverlodge in Alberta, Canada. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of C-21. Turned over to the RCAF on 1 Apr 1963 as RCAF Station Saskatoon Mountain. Name changed on 15 Nov 1963 to RCAF Station Beaverlodge and again in 1966 to CFS Beaverlodge. Closed in 1988.

History

Established in 1953 and became operational in 1953 as Saskatoon Mountain Air Station manned by the 919th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron.

Initial equipment included the FPS-3 search radar with a FPS-502 search backup and a TPS-502 height finder radar. In March 1959 a FPS-20A search radar became operational replacing the FPS-3 and and the FPS-502. The TPS-502 remained the only height finder until February 1961 when a FPS-6B height finder was accepted. A second FPS-6B was added in the third quarter of 1961.

This configuration (a FPS-20A SAGE qualified long range search radar and two SAGE qualified FPS-6B height finders) 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 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 Larson SAGE Direction Center DC-15, now a Commercial Data Center.
Kamloops SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
1 May 1960 - 1 Apr 1963 Larson SAGE Direction Center DC-15 Spokane Air Defense Sector
1 Apr 1963 - 1 Apr 1966 McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 Seattle Air Defense Sector
1 Apr 1966 - 1 Mar 1983 McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 25th Air Division
1 Mar 1983 - 1 April 1988 North Bay ROCC Canada West Sector

The site began operation as a SAGE site on 15 Mar 1960 initially feeding the Larson SAGE Direction Center DC-15 at Larson Air Force Base with manual radar data.

With the abrupt shutdown of DC-15 on 29 May 1963, control was switched to the McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 but under manual control until DC-12 was able to reconfigure. Design deficiencies with the primary and secondary communication lines to Seattle further caused the SAGE operational date to slip to 15 Jan 64. Manual SAGE operation continued until DC-12 was able to complete all the SAGE links and the data lines were reengineered.

On 15 Jun 1964 manual SAGE operations ceased and automatic SAGE data (FST-2 data) was accepted by McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12. On 15 Jul 1964, Beaverlodge was officially "SAGED". On 17 Jul 1964, FPS-6B height finder #0 was converted to a FPS-507. On 9 Sep 1964, the FST-2 installation was formally accepted by the RCAF.

CFS Beaverlodge was operationally responsible to the 25th NORAD Region at McChord AFB Washington. The station was administratively accountable to Canadian Forces Air Defence Command, and its successor Fighter Group. With the shutdown of the SAGE System in 1983 it is assumed that CFS Beaverlodge was incorporated into the McChord ROCC. In August 1984, CFS Beaverlodge became part of the North Bay ROCC at North Bay until CFS Beaverlodge closed in 1988.

Closure

The first announcement of the closure came in April 1985. CFS Beaverlodge was deactivated on 1 April 1988 and the gates officially closed on 31 Aug 1988.

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 cantonment area were trailer park areas that provided housing for married personnel. The main housing for married personnel was the DND owned Mobile Home Court in the Town of Beaverlodge. This court was located between 10th and 11th streets at 7th Avenue in Beaverlodge and consisted of 36 sites and a playground.

A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, CFS Beaverlodge 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.


CFS Beaverlodge AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Comm IFF/SIF
Unit Designations
  • 919th AC&W Squadron (1953-1963)
  • 57 AC&W Squadron (RCAF)
  • 57 Radar Squadron (RCAF)
919th Assignments
  • 16 Apr 1952 - Activated at Geiger Field, WA, as the WADF.
  • 16 Feb 1955 - Transferred to 25th Air Division.
  • 1 Jun 1953 - Moved to Saskatoon Mountain, A.S., Canada.
  • 15 Mar 1960 - Transferred to Spokane ADS.
  • 1 Apr 1963 - Discontinued, site turned over to RCAF.
Beaverlodge Air Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1952-05-24 Captain Jones, Thomas J. N/A First USAF Commander
1958~ 1960-07-01 Major Barnett, James G. N/A
1960-07-01 1961-07-03 Major Hagan, Ben M. N/A
1961-07-03 1963-04-01 Major Williams, Jack E. N/A Last USAF Commander
1963-04-01 1965 Wing Commander Hynds, W. J. N/A First Canadian Commander
1965 1967 Squadron Leader Clair, D. C. N/A
1967 1969 Squadron Leader Park, R. S. N/A
1969 1971 Major North, R. L. N/A
1971 1973-05-06 Lt Colonel Battye, Dave N/A
1973-05-06 1975 Major Clements, Grant N/A
1975 1977 Major Stater, Maynard N/A
1977 1980 Major Sawchuk, Ray L. N/A
1980 1983 Major Willhauk, Ray A. N/A
1983 1986 Major Andrews, Paul N/A
1986 1988 Major McDonald, Lorne N/A Last Canadian Commander

Current Status

All evidence of the radar base has been removed. The quonset huts were sold and relocated. All rubble was removed from the site. The site was seeded down to grasses and left to regenerate. In 1992 the site of CFS Beaverlodge was officially returned to the Province of Alberta.

On 26 Jul 1995 Saskatoon Mountain was designated a Natural Area encompassing a total of some 1767 acres. Now a part of Saskatoon Mountain Park, a Provincial Park.


Location: On Saskatoon Mountain near Beaverlodge in Alberta, Canada.

Maps & Images

Lat: 55.23083 Long: -119.30528

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:

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