Red Cliff Air Station

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Red Cliff Air Station (1951-1961) - A Cold War Pinetree Line Air Force Radar Station first established in 1951 near Pepperrell Air Force Base, Newfoundland. Named Red Cliff Air Station after the location. Initially assigned a temporary station ID of L-22 that later became N-22 and finally C-22. Abandoned in 1961.


Construction began on Red Cliff Air Station in 1951 but it was not completed until 1954. The site was located on a hill above the red cliffs, and the weather conditions made construction difficult. The first AC&W squadron did not arrive until March 1952 and the site was not ready for occupancy so they were quartered at the nearby Pepperrell Air Force Base.

108th AC&W Squadron

The 108th AC&W Squadron of the New York Air National Guard activated an advanced party of 13 officers and 83 enlisted men on 1 Jun 1951. The remainder were called up on 1 Aug 1951 and that is the date the unit was federalized for 24 months of federal service. The unit was moved to Grenier Air Force Base in September 1951. At Grenier AFB the unit packed their equipment for shipment to Newfoundland and in March 1952 they boarded the USNS Samuel Heintzelman for St. John's, Newfoundland.

The 108th AC&W arrived at Pepperrell Air Force Base in March 1952 and began the installation of their equipment at Red Cliff Air Station. The permanent site at Red Cliff was not completed so a temporary "Lashup site" L-22 was established below the permanent site where a World War II gun emplacement had been located. The temporary site, L-22, housed a CPS-5 search radar, an MPS-4 height-finder and a small operations building.

In late 1952 the squadron moved into quarters at Red Cliff AS and as the CPS-6B installation was brought online both the L-22 site and the main site N-22 were operational. The L-22 site became a backup to the main N-22 site as confidence in the CPS-6B installation grew. A TPS-502 height-finder was installed 7 Nov 1954

On 1 Aug 1953, the 108th AC&W Squadron was released from federal duty and returned to the New York Air National Guard. The 642nd AC&W Squadron was activated at Red Cliff AS on that date operating the N-22 site with a CPS-6B search radar.

642nd AC&W Squadron

The main site at Red Cliff Air Station was completed and became operational on 9 Jun 1954 with a designation of N-22. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying 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. The initial equipment was a CPS-6B search radar and a TPS-502 height-finder radar. The MPS-4 height-finder was phased out, dismantled and turned in January 1955 and the CPS-5 was dismantled and turned into supply in April 1955.

On 26 May 1955 the site mission changed from that of an Air Defense Direction Center to that of a Ground Control Intercept Station and it became operationally responsible to the ADDC at the 640th AC&W Squadron at Harmon AFB, instead of the former direct responsibility to the ADDC at Pepperrell AFB.

The Canadian General Electric installation team completed the installation of the FPS-502 search radar with interim acceptance on 11 July 1955. The FPS-502 operated as a backup to the primary CPS-6B radar. The TPS-502 height-finder was removed during the 2nd quarter of 1960.

Red Cliff AS and the 642nd AC&W Squadron were deactivated on 1 Oct 1961.

Red Cliff AS L-22 Site Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Red Cliff AS N-22 Site Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems

Gap Fillers

Red Cliff AS was responsible for the maintenance of one remote manned gap-filler radar site. The gap-filler sites were placed in locations where the main search radar lacked coverage. The Red Cliff AS gap-filler radar site was located at Elliston Ridge Air Station and manned by Detachment 1, 642nd AC&W Squadron Elliston Ridge. In June 1959 an OA-947 Gap Filler Monitor was installed at Red Cliff AS allowing the operations personnel to remotely monitor tracks picked up by the gap-filler at Elliston Ridge AS. Tracks picked up by the FPS-14 gap-filler radar were processed by the FST-1 Coordinate Data Transmitter and sent over phone lines to the OA-947 at Red Cliff. The Gap Filler Radar site, C-22B, was directed by Goose Air Defense Sector to cease operation on 28 June 1961.

Red Cliff AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
N-22B Elliston Ridge Air Station NL FPS-14A/FST-1 1957 1961 48.62583,
Manned Gap Filler

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 was adjacent to the main site and housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings.

Unit Designations
  • 108th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1957)
  • 642nd Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1957-1961)
108th AC&W Assignments
  • 1 Sep 51 Federalized in the ANG at Grenier AFB, NH, as the 152nd AC&W Group.
  • 6 Feb 52 Transferred to 32nd Air Division.
  • 7 Apr 52 Transferred to NEAC.
642nd AC&W Assignments
  • 1 Apr 1957 Assigned at Redcliff Air Station, Newfoundland (N-22), as the 4731st Air Defense Group.
  • 6 Jun 1960 Transferred to Goose ADS.
  • 1 Oct 1961 Discontinued.

Note: The above unit designations and assignments are from the ADC Organizational Handbook and are probably incorrect since they do not give a deactivation date for the 108th and they don't have the 642nd AC&W activated until 1957. The narrative above is probably more correct since it reflects contemporary accounts and orders issued at the time.

Red Cliff Air Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1958 1959 Major Robinson, Lorin E. N/A
1959-08-01 1959 Major Wolfe, George H. N/A
1960 1961 Major Nansen, William N. N/A
Dates are formatted in yyyy-mm-dd to sort correctly.
The Cullum Number is the graduation order from the United States Military Academy by year and class rank and links to a page for the officer on the website version of the Cullum Register. Listings without a Cullum Number indicate that the person was not a graduate of the United States Military Academy.

Current Status

Abandoned near the former Pepperrell Air Force Base, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Location: Near the former Pepperrell Air Force Base in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Maps & Images

Lat: 47.63889 Long: -52.66723

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

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 97, 108.


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