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SCR-296-A - A short-range Surface Craft Detection Radar Set - A surface craft detection Radar set built by the Western Electric Company to detect and track seagoing surface craft. Use by the Coast Artillery to provide target range and azimuth data to World War II gun batteries with 6" and larger guns.

SCR-296-A Radar Set Antenna. (1) Reflector, (2) Lobe-switching mechanism, (3) Antenna, (4) Pedestal.
SCR-296-A Radar Set in Charleston HD. Note the Wooden Antenna Housing Disguised as a Water Tank on Top of the Tower.
SCR-296-A Site Layout Drawing.

SCR-296 Surface Craft Detection Radar

Development of the SCR-296 began in 1941 when the Signal Corps Lab obtained a set from Western Electric Company and enhanced the target tracking ability with a lobe-switching modification. The modified set was designated the SCR-296-A. The Coast Artillery tested it and ordered 20 sets before the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the attack, concern for the safety of harbors and anchorages increased and the Coast Artillery looked to the SCR-296-A radar to provide a surface craft detection radar set for existing 6" and larger gun batteries then protecting all the major U.S. harbors. These harbor defenses were largely outdated and relied upon a complex network of optical spotting stations to provide target data. Advances in ship armament had produced weapons that were capable of offshore bombardment beyond the range of the existing batteries and spotting stations, especially during marginal weather. The SCR-296-A would provide an all-weather target tracking capability near the maximum range of the shore batteries.

The first SCR-296-A was delivered in April 1942, the second in July 1942. The Coast Artillery then had 176 sets on order for delivery before the middle of 1943. This capability coincided with the construction of the new 200 series 6" gun batteries at every significant harbor defense and 100 series 16" gun batteries at selected harbors.

The SCR-296-A Radar equipment was declared obsolete by AG letter on 17 Jan 1946. The tower and radar equipment were to be disposed of while the buildings were to be retained.

SCR-296-A Surface Craft Detection Radar
Element Value Notes
Nomenclature SCR-296-A
Origins SCR-296
Manufacturer Western Electric Company
Type Surface Craft Detection
Number Made 176
Frequency 700 MHz
PRF  ?
Pulse Width  ?
Rotation Speed Manual
Power  ?
Max Range 100,000 yds
Altitude < 10,000
Introduced 1942
SCR-296-A Radar Equipment Room.

Site Operation

SCR-296-A Range Operator Display.
SCR-296-A Azimuth Operator Displays

In operation, the SCR-296-A radar could only track one target at a time. Target assignments were made from the harbor HECP/HDCP command posts by telephone, citing the approximate range and azimuth of the target using the SCR-582/SCR-682 search radar and/or optical spotters. The SCR-296-A radar operators would then find the target and pass the precise range and azimuth to the plotting room at the gun battery by phone. Two operators were required, one for the range position and one for the azimuth position. The radar operators would continue to track the target and update the plotting room as the range and azimuth changed. Once the shore battery fired, the SCR-296-A could detect the water splashes of near misses and provide adjusting information by voice commands such as "300 short" or "500 long".

SCR-582 to SCR-296-A Radar, Seacoast Battery Communications Paths.

In operation, the range accuracy was about ± 30 yards while azimuth accuracy was about ± 0.20 degree under the best conditions. The set had a dependable range of 20,000 yards on a destroyer size target when properly sited between 150 to 500 feet above sea level.

The operating crew consisted of 5 men plus a power plant operator and radar maintenance man.

SCR-296-A Components (edit list)
Component Model Quantity Height Width Deep Weight Notes
Cabinet BE-82-A 1 1,375 lbs
Modulation Generator BC-720-A 1 155 lbs
Radio Receiver BC-716-A 1 120 lbs *
Power Control Panel BD-108-A 1 135 lbs
Radio Transmitter BC-717-A 1 160 lbs *
High Voltage Rectifier RA-50-A 1 155 lbs
Duplex Panel BD-106-A 1
Regulated Rectifier RA-49-A 1 *
Azimuth Indicator I-110-A 1
Azimuth Oscilloscope BC-718-A 1 80 lbs *
Control Unit RM-36-A 1 160 lbs
Range Oscilloscope BC-719-A 1 145 lbs *
Range Unit BC-723-A 1 70 lbs *
Calibrator BC-726-A 1
Cathode Ray Oscillograph RCA-155-A 1
Motor-Amplidyne Generator MG-16-A 1
Power Unit PE-84-C 2 5,000 lbs 25 KVA
Tower TR-18-A 1
Antenna AN-70-A 1 415 lbs
Pedestal FT-336-A 1 750 lbs
Radar House HO-2-A 1
Power House HQ-1 2
1,000 Gasoline Tank 2
MK 3 IFF Set RC-136  ?

* Additional unit included in spares kit.

PE-84-C Generator Set.

When crated, the total weight of the SCR-296-A was 91,763 lbs. The largest component weighed 5,270 lbs. The SCR-296-A package included a tower, a radar operations building, and two power plant buildings. The tower came in heights of 25, 50, 75, and 100 feet and included the wooden antenna housing constructed to look like a water tower. The concrete foundations for the prefab buildings and the tower were engineered by the Corps of Engineers who also erected the structures. The equipment and the equipment installation were usually provided by the Signal Corps. Primary power of 2.3 KW could be supplied by one of two PE-84C generator sets, by post power or by commercial power.

See Also:


  • U.S. Radar, Operational Characteristics of Radar Classified by Tactical Application, FTP 217, Prepared by Authority of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by the Radar Research and Development Sub-Committee of the Joint Committee on New Weapons and Equipment, 1 Aug 1943, Washington, D.C.


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