Poston Air Force Station

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Poston Air Force Station (1953-1962) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station planned in 1953 during the Korean War to be located near the town of Poston, La Paz County, Arizona. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of SM-160 as an AC&W radar site and later as unmanned gap-filler radar sites M-128D and SM-162I. Appears to never have been equipped, manned or operated as either manned or unmanned radar site. The unmanned gap-filler building was constructed but not equipped.

Poston WWII Classrooms Designated to be Part of the AF Station Cantonment Area.
Poston WWII Classrooms Designated to be Part of the AF Station Cantonment Area. Note the Adobe Brick inside the Walls.
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Remains of the Original WWII Auditorium at the Center of the Proposed Poston Air Force Station. Designated to become a Gym.

Manned AC&W Radar Site History

Planned in 1953 as Poston Air Force Station to be manned by the 862nd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron. Initial equipment was planned to include the TPS-1D search radar and a TPS-10 height-finder radar.

A 1953 USAF planning document shows that a plan existed to utilize a two-block area of the abandoned WWII Poston War Relocation Center (WRC) for Japanese-Americans as USAF AC&W Radar Site (blocks 20 and 29 of Camp 1). The site is located on the Colorado River Indian Tribal lands.

Original Elementary School Building in August 1943.

This particular two-block area had been constructed during WWII by the Japanese-American internees as an elementary school for their children. The internees had to use available materials to construct the school buildings and as a result, the walls were constructed with adobe brick with a plaster finish. The buildings had sloped flat roofs instead of the peaked roofs of the rest of the center. The quality of construction was sufficient for these buildings to outlast the temporary structures of the center and because the load-bearing walls were adobe brick the structures could not be sold and moved. Although repairs and modifications would be necessary the former school complex offered a complete infrastructure for the planned radar site.

Nothing found indicates that USAF actually occupied the site or activated the 862nd AC&W Radar Squadron.

Un-Manned Gap Filler Radar Site History

Poston Gap Filler Radar Site Building Looking Northwest.
Poston Gap Filler Power Room.
Poston Gap Filler Radar Equipment Room.
Poston Gap Filler Internal Door Between the Equipment Room and the Power Room. The FST-1 and FSW-1 Would Have Been to the Right and the Radar Equipment to the Left.
Poston Gap Filler Radar Antenna Pad.
Poston Gap Filler Equipment Room Air Vent.

A January 1995 USACE FUDS Report indicates that a .3 acre site in the school area fire break was transferred from the Department of Interior to the Defense Department on a short term withdrawal use permit on 20 Jul 1958 for use as a gap filler radar site.

A standard "L" shaped gap-filler radar site building was constructed on the site and was planned for the installation of an FPS-14 radar about March 1961. The cinder block building had two rooms, one for the radar equipment and one for backup generators. The power room included internal pads for three generators but had air handling vents for only two. A roof-mounted firewall separated the power room from the radar equipment room. Outside the west end of the radar equipment room, three antenna pads were poured each with six mounting bolts for the standard gap filler radar antenna. A physical inspection of the building in 2019 indicated that it was unlikely that radar equipment was ever installed or that a tower was installed. Generators may have been put in place but that could not be verified or discounted.

A December 1961 communication indicated that an FPS-18 radar would be installed instead of the FPS-14 about May 1963. That was quickly followed by deactivation of the site on 28 Feb 1962 and later by DoD release of the property on 30 Sep 1965 to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.



Poston AFS/GFR Major Equipment List (None Installed)
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems Comm

Current Status

A View of the Poston Elementary School Block South End in 2019 (outlined with Palm Trees).

The gap-filler radar building remains intact with some damage to doors and air-handling vents. The roof is intact. All of the electrical wiring is gone but some of the electrical boxes and inter-room conduits remain. A large tank remains on the north wall of the power room.

The elementary school buildings that were to form the AC&W radar site infrastructure are enclosed in a fenced-in-area but are rapidly decaying and have moderate graffiti. The walls of some of these buildings have decayed to the point where the original internal adobe brick walls can be seen. The largest of the original WWII buildings, the elementary school Auditorium, was destroyed by a fire some years ago and only a shell remains. These buildings are often mistaken for more modern or even cold war military buildings but they are definitely WWII buildings as vintage photographs show.

The two elementary school area blocks have the only remaining buildings of the WWII Poston War Relocation Center in the original locations. A few other buildings remain scattered in surrounding communities and on private land.


Location: Poston in La Paz County, Arizona.

Maps & Images

Lat: 33.99357 Long: -114.40613

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 333' AC&W Radar Site
  • Elevation: 330' Gap Filler Site


GPS Locations:

See Also:

Sources:

  • Formerly Used Defense Sites Findings and Determination of Eligibility for Poston Gap Filler Annex, La Paz County, Arizona, Site No. J09AZ055200. Radomes

Links:

Visited: 3 Apr 2019, 31 Mar 2019


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