Crystal Springs Air Force Station

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Crystal Springs Air Force Station (1959-1968) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1959 near Crystal Springs, Copiah County, Mississippi. Named Crystal Springs Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of TM-195, later a Sage ID of Z-195. Abandoned in 1968.

History of Crystal Springs Air Force Station

Established in 1959 and became operational in 1959 as Crystal Springs Air Force Station manned by the 627th 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-27 frequency diversity search radar, one FPS-6A height finder radar and one FPS-90 height finder radar. This site served as a test site for the Westinghouse FPS-27 program and the contractor facilities were located in a large Quonset hut next to the radar tower.

Crystal Springs was also near enough to the radar maintenance and FST-2 schools at Keesler Air Force Base to be used to supplement several courses with demonstrations of actual radar site operation.

SAGE 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.

The FST-2 was installed between July and October 1959 by Burroughs Tech Rep Charlie Haubrich. The site began operation as a SAGE site on 1 Nov 1959 initially feeding the Gunter SAGE Direction Center DC-09.

Gap Fillers

Crystal Springs AFS was responsible for the maintenance of one 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 Crystal Springs AFS gap filler radar was located at Summit, Mississippi.

Crystal Springs AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
TM-195A Z-195A Summit MS FPS-18, FST-1 1961-10 1962-06 31.29111,
-90.45806

Closure

Crystal Springs AFS and the 627th were deactivated 8 September 1968.

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 three 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 critical married personnel. All of the housing units were 3 bedroom and furnished with appliances. Five units were set aside for officers and twenty-two for enlisted. A small 10 unit trailer park supplemented the married personnel housing area. A separate Ground to Air Transmitter/Receiver (GATR) radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts.


Crystal Springs AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 627th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1958-1959)
  • 627th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1959-1968)
627th Assignments
  • Sep 1957 - Activated at Dobbins AFB, GA, assigned to the 35th AD.
  • Sep 1958 - Transferred to Crystal Springs AFS, MS.
  • 15 Nov 1958 - Transferred to 32nd AD.
  • 1 Oct 1959 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 627th Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 Nov 1959 - Transferred to Montgomery ADS.
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Reassigned to the 32nd AD.
  • 8 Sep 1968 - Discontinued.


Current Status

Now Mississippi Job Corps center in Crystal Springs, Copiah County, Mississippi. Many USAF buildings and about half of the housing units remain. The radar towers are gone.


Location: Crystal Springs in Copiah County, Mississippi.

Maps & Images

Lat: 31.97917 Long: -90.34444

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 154.
  • 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 128.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2087478


Links:

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