Williams Bay Air Force Station

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Williams Bay Air Force Station (1951-1960) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station first established as Elkhorn Radar Site during the Korean War. Renamed Williams Bay Air Force Station in 1955. Located near Williams Bay, Walworth County, Wisconsin. Assigned a Permanent ID of P-31. Closed in 1960.


Established in December 1950 and became operational late in 1951 as Elkhorn Radar Site manned by the 755th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron.

Use this link to see a description of the Manual AC&W Operation

Initial equipment included two CPS-6B combination search and height-finder radars. At some point in the 1950s, one CPS-6B was removed.

On 1 Dec 1955, the Elkhorn Radar Site was redesignated as Williams Bay Air Force Station.

A separate FPS-6 Height finder was added by 1956. There are several indications (personal recollections and assigned personnel) that a GPA-37 was in use at this site.

By early 1957, plans to close Williams Bay AFS and relocate the 755th AC&W Squadron to Arlington Heights Air Force Station were in place. The plans called for the colocation of a USAF SAGE long-range radar with each of the ten U.S. Army NIKE Missile Master command posts. Williams Bay was to be co-located with Arlington Heights Army Air Defense Command Post C-80DC. Instructions to stop the installation of a second FPS-6 height-finder and to stop the construction of a SAGE annex at Williams Bay AFS were included in the plan.

Williams Bay AFS station ceased operations by January 1960 and was later partially reactivated as a gap-filler site (RP-31), maintained by the Arlington Heights Air Force Station. It is unclear if the gap-filler FPS-18 radar was even installed or if the site ever became operational but the gap-filler building itself was built. The gap-filler site was declared excess on 4 Jan 1968 and sold to a private owner on 5 Nov 1969. The structure was modified and incorporated into a larger private dwelling.


Newspaper accounts indicate that the closure notice for Williams Bay AFS came in October 1959 and by November 1st the site was "all but deserted". Williams Bay AFS was deactivated in January 1960 and the 755th AC&W Squadron was officially relocated to Arlington Heights on 1 Apr 1960.

Most of the station was excessed to the General Service Administration, which sold it to the State of Wisconsin in 1962. It was used as a Prisoner Re-Release minimum security prison on the site until 1972. The Gap Filler Annex was declared excess on 4 Jan 1968, and sold to a private owner on 5 Nov 1969.

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 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 9 unit housing area built circa 1954 for married personnel.

Like most early radar stations, Williams Bay AFS had separate radio transmitter and receiver sites used by controllers for voice direction of fighter interceptors to their targets.

Williams Bay AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 755th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1960)
755th Assignments
  • 1 Jan 1951 - Assigned at Elkhorn, WI, assigned to the 541st AC&W Gp
  • 6 Feb 1952 - Transferred to 50th AD.
  • 16 Feb 19S3 - Transferred to 4706th Def Wg.
  • 1 Dec 1955 - Site redesignated to Williams Bay.AFS, WI.
  • 8 Jul 1956 - Transferred to 37th AD.
  • 1 Apr 1959 - Transferred to 30th AD.
  • 1 Jun 1959 - Transferred to Chicago ADS.
  • 1 Apr 1960 - Moved to Arlington Heights, IL.
  • 15 Oct 1960 - Redesignated from AC&W Sq to 755th Radar Sq (SAGE).
  • 1 Apr 1966 - Transferred to 20th AD.
  • 1 Dec 1967 - Reassigned to 30th AD.
  • 1 Jul 1968 - Reassigned to 34th AD.
  • 30 Sep 1969 - Inactivated.

Current Status

Now part of the Williams Bay Industrial Park, earlier used by the department of corrections. Many of the old USAF buildings still remain. The family housing units are now private residences. Auto junkyards occupy part of the former Air Force site.

A Wisconsin Historical Society Marker honors the 755th AC&W Squadron.

Location: Near Williams Bay in Walworth County, Wisconsin.

Maps & Images

Lat: 42.61708 Long: -88.54

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 1,122'

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 164.
  • 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 168.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2085559
  • Continental Air Defense Command Historical Summary July 1956 - Jun 1957, Originally classified SECRET now declassified Pdf, page 34-35.


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