Claysburg Air Force Station

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Claysburg Air Force Station (1952-1961) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station established during the Korean War. Located near Blue Knob, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of P-63 qnd later a Sage ID of Z-63. Closed in 1961 and relocated to Gibbsboro Air Force Station.


Established in December 1951 and became operational in April 1952 as Blue Knob Radar Site manned by the 772nd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron.

Initial equipment included the FPS-3 search radar and one CPS-4 height-finder radar. The CPS-4 height-finder was replaced by an FPS-4 in 1956. In 1958 the FPS-3 search radar was replaced with a FPS-20 search radar and the FPS-4 height-finder radar was replaced by two FPS-6 height-finder radars. This configuration (a SAGE qualified long range search radar and two SAGE qualified 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 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 Hancock SAGE DC-03 (Left) and CC-01 (Right).
Claysburg SAGE Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
15 Aug 1958 - 1 May 1961 Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03 Syracuse Air Defense Sector

The site began operation as a SAGE site on 15 Aug 1958 initially feeding the Hancock SAGE Direction Center DC-03. In February 1959 the squadron designation was changed from the 772nd AC&W Squadron to 772nd Radar Squadron (SAGE) indicating the new SAGE System role.

In 1959 one FPS-6 height-finder was upgraded to a FPS-6A and the search radar was upgraded to a FPS-20A.

This site was deactivated in 1961, and the squadron and the site designation relocated to Gibbsboro, New Jersey (RP-63/Z-63), to be colocated with the Pedricktown, NJ, Nike Missile-Master control center at Gibbsboro Air Force Station.


Claysburg AFS was deactivated on 1 May 1961 and the 772nd Radar Squadron (SAGE) relocated to Gibbsboro Air Force Station.

Gap Fillers

Claysburg AFS was originally slated to have two unmanned gap-filler radar sites but these were never built. The Claysburg AFS site itself was slated to become a gap-filler site after the 772nd Radar Squadron (SAGE) relocated to Gibbsboro Air Force Station. A gap-filler building was constructed on the site of the old radio transmitter building but reportedly never became operational. This gap-filler was to have been site RP-62F operated by the 662nd Radar Squadron (SAGE) at Oakdale Air Force Station.

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 9 unit housing area for married personnel, first occupied circa 1956.

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

Claysburg AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 772nd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1952-1959)
  • 772nd Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1959-1961)
772nd Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at Connellsville, PA, assigned to 503rd AC&W Gp.
  • by Dec 1951 - Moved to Blue Knob Park, PA.
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Transferred to 26th AD.
  • 16 Feb 1953 - Transferred to 4710th Def Wg.
  • 1 Dec 1953 - Site redesignated Claysburg AFS, PA.
  • 1 Mar 1956 - Transferred to 4708th AD Wg.
  • 8 Jul 1956 - Transferred to 30th AD.
  • 15 Aug 1958 - Transferred to Syracuse ADS.
  • Feb 1959 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 772nd Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 May 1961 - Transferred to NY ADS and moved to Pedricktown At, NJ
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 21st AD.
  • 1 Dec 1967 - Reassigned to 35th AD.
  • 19 Nov 1969 - Reassigned to 21st AD.
  • 1 Feb 1974 - Redesignated 772nd Radar Sq.

Claysburg Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1954~ Major Dee, John F. N/A

Current Status

Now Blue Knob Ski Resort.

Location: Blue Knob in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

Maps & Images

Lat: 40.2875 Long: -78.56389

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 3,146'

See Also:


  • 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 166-167.
  • 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 152.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2086960


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