Hopedale Air Station

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Hopedale Air Station (1953-1968) - A Cold War Pinetree Line Radar Station operational in 1953 near Hopedale, Newfoundland and Labrador as Hopedale Air Station. Initially manned by the 923rd AC&W Squadron and assigned an ID of N-28. This station also served as the Mid-Canada Line - Sector Control Station SCS 200 and as both a terminal and relay station for the Polevault Troposcatter communications system. Closed in 1968.

Abandoned Hopedale Air Station in 1969.

Cold War

Following the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 Jun 1950 and in response to a perceived Soviet bomber threat the United States Air Force (USAF) created the Northeast Air Command (NEAC), as a major command, to defend the Northeastern air approaches to the US. NEAC was responsible for all air defense forces in Newfoundland, Labrador, eastern Canada, and Greenland. The plan for the NEAC area included the construction of 10 permanent radar stations in Canada and 3 stations in Greenland, all as a part of the Pinetree Line. Of the 10 Canadian stations, 9 were to be manned by USAF personnel and one was to be manned by RCAF personnel The sites were selected and construction began in 1951-52.


The radar site near Hopedale was established and constructed in 1951-1953 by the contractor, Fraser Brace Construction Company Moncton, New Brunswick. The site became operational in 1953 as Hopedale Air Station manned by the 923nd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (USAF). The advanced party of USAF personnel arrived in June 1953. This site functioned for most of its life as a surveillance and ground-controlled intercept (GCI) site that identified aircraft entering their coverage and was prepared to guide armed interceptor aircraft to those it could not identify.

Hopedale Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
2 Feb 1953 - 1 Apr 1957 64th Air Division (NEAC) Pepperrell AFB, Newfoundland
1 Apr 1957 - 1 Apr 1960 4732nd Air Defense Group (ADC) Goose
1 Apr 1960 - 1 Apr 1966 Goose Manual ADCC Goose NORAD/CONAD Air Defense Sector
1 Apr 1966 - 18 Jun 1968 Goose Manual ADCC 37th Air Division

Initial equipment included the FPS-3C search radar and a TPS-502 height finder radar.

The search radar was later upgraded to an FPS-20 and then to an FPS-93A. A TPS-502 height finder radar was installed and that was later replaced with two height finders, an FPS-6B and an FPS-90. The 923rd AC&W Squadron also operated a manned gap-filler radar site as a detachment, complete with operations personnel and a commanding officer (1957-1961).


Hopedale Air Station and the 923rd AC&W Squadron were deactivated on 18 Jun 1968.

Polevault Troposcatter

The Polevault Troposcatter communications link at Hopedale was a heavy ground communications system that depended on bouncing radio waves off the troposphere for reliable long-distance communications circuits. Normal HF/LF and other radio links had proven unreliable and the Polevault system was implemented about 1954 to solve that problem.

The Hopedale Polevault site provided tropo links with Saglek Air Station to the North and Goose AFB, to the South. The system then extended from Goose AFB to Cartwright AS and then to St. Anthony and down to Gander and then on to Red Cliff at St. John's. St. John's had cable communications with the US and it served as the southern terminus of the Polevault system. The Hopedale Polevault site also provided communications to the Cape Makkovik gap-filler radar site with an FRC-39 tropo link (1957-1961). Teletype channels provided hard copy communications with Headquarters in Newfoundland and beyond.

By 1961, Detachment 9 of the 1933rd Communications Squadron (AFCS), a support organization of the 923rd AC&W Squadron, operated and maintained the Hopedale Polevault site.

BMEWS Rearward Communication System

In the planning for the BMEWS Missile Detection system at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland it was decided that the existing Polevault communications system did not meet the requirements for the BMEWS Rearward Communication System. The system would need to operate from Thule AFB to Goose Air Force Base over the same path as the Polevault system from Resolution Island to Goose AFB where existing communications services were available. The existing Polevault communication sites were physically and logistically tied to the AC&W sites and were manned and supported by US military personnel.

The Canadian Government insisted that the new facilities should be constructed by Canadian firms and that the sites should be manned by Canadian contractors where possible. The result would be entirely new facilities with more modern equipment operated by experienced civilian personnell. There was plenty of room to carry the AC&W circuits as well as the BMEWS traffic so the Polevault system could be shut down. The BMEWS system was declared largely operational at the beginning of 1961 and at that point the Polevault system began to be dismantled.

One sticky problem remained, the six USAF manned gap filler radar sites had FRC-39 tropo links that tied into the Polevault system and those links were not part of the BMEWS Rearward Communication System. The cost of maintaining these tropo links on their own now added to the case against these manned gapfillers. On 28 Jun 1961 all six manned gapfillers were deactivated and subsequently sold.

With the separation of the communications system and the AC&W sites, USAF could now consider closing individual radar sites without any impact on the communications system and they began to close radar sites.

Gap Fillers

Hopedale Air Station was responsible for the operation and maintenance of one manned remote gap-filler radar site. Gap-filler sites were placed in locations where the main search radar lacked coverage. The gap-filler site was manned by USAF maintenance and operations crews and operated as Detachment 1 of the 923 AC&W Squadron.

On-site generators furnished electrical power and were usually operated by local or contract civilians. The sites were all equipped with short-range FPS-14 search radars and FST-1 Coordinate Data transmitters that could send digitized radar target data to the main radar site but manual operations continued even after the arrival of OA-947 remote displays. Both the FPS-14 radar set and the FST-1 were dual channel sets to increase site uptime.

The Hopedale Air Station gap-filler radar was located at Cape Makkovik, Labrador. Communications between the Cape Makkovik gap-filler radar site and Hopedale AS were over an FRC-39 tropo link.

Hopedale AS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
N-28A Cape Makkovik Labrador FPS-14, FST-1 Feb 1957 28 Jun 1961 55.225,
Det 1, 923 AC&W Squadron
Foundational remains only

Hopedale Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Comm Scopes IFF/SIF
Unit Designations
  • 923rd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron
923rd AC&W Squadron Assignments
  • 13 Jun 1953 - Activated at Grenier AFB, NH, as the 4707th Defense Wing.
  • Fall 1953 - Reassigned to NEAC.
  • 1 Apr 1957 - Reassigned to ADC and 4732nd Air Defense Group.
  • 1 Apr 1960 - Transferred to Goose ADS.
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 37th Air Division.
  • 18 Jun 1968 - Discontinued.

Current Status

Foundational remains, no buildings remain.

Location: Hopedale, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Maps & Images

Lat: 55.46639 Long: -60.22972

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: ...'

GPS Locations:

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 104.
  • Wikipedia - Hopedale Air Station


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