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Author Topic: USAF Listening Station Information Required  (Read 3329 times)
G2FHF
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« on: November 14, 2011, 02:06:32 PM »

I am trying to find information on an old USAF listening station on Portland in the UK. The site is an former cold war radar station and was operational between 1954 and 59 and was later used by the USAF. Myself and my wife now farm the site and I would like to set up a permanent special event station sometime but funds are very tight at the moment. I have been unable to find any information about what the function of the USAF building was but I have removed lots of very expensive heliax cable from there and found that were about thirty antennas feeding back to listening positions within the building. The electricity supply is heavily filtered too.

If you have any information or can point me in the right direction then I would love to hear from you.

Thanks

Jon G2FHF
jon@portlandbill.com
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 11:24:45 AM by G2FHF » Logged
W5FYI
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2011, 05:34:59 PM »

You might send your request to the Managing Editor, Air Force Magazine, 1501 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209, USA or go online to www.airforce-magazine.com. She (Juliette Kelsey Chagnon) might help, might know someone who can, or might publish your request in a future issue of the monthly publication.

The Air Force also maintains a historical research center at its Air University at Maxwell AFB in Alabama. Its web site is www.afhra.af.mil. They may be able to give you the information you seek. GL.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2011, 06:59:03 PM by W5FYI » Logged
K8AXW
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 09:15:32 AM »

This information might be hard to come by!  Reason being it was probably a highly classified intercept station.

You might want to start with Army Security Agency in Wikipedia and see if the USAF has an equivalent.  (I know they did as well as the US Navy.... I just don't know what they were called)

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G2FHF
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2011, 11:39:07 AM »

Thank you both for your help, I will look into both of those leads. The site was highly classified even though it is only a small site, about one acre. There are high security doors, air filtration and the whole building is a Faraday cage. I am planning a ham radio station for myself and visiting hams as it is a perfect DX location. It is 500 feet up above the sea with sloping ground to the sea on all sides. There are underground cable ducts and a 100 foot mast that we can use too. It really is a radio hams dream location. I just have to raise funds for a HF rig as I don't have any gear any more.

For more information on the site see www.fancysfarm.co.uk or search Google for Portland ROTOR.

Thanks again guys.

Jon G2FHF
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KC9TNH
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 01:14:27 PM »

The site was highly classified even though it is only a small site, about one acre. There are high security doors, air filtration and the whole building is a Faraday cage.
Jon, be not dismayed; heck, all the old annual unit reports of the US Military Liaison Mission-Potsdam are now on "the net."  Marvelous thing, the twilight of the "cold" war.  (cold for some)

Try also these folks:

http://www.coldwar.org/

They have museum locations in several locations/countries (including a couple of old SIGINT sites) and an initial contact may well yield a rabbit trail for you to follow.

Best of luck to you.
Smiley
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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
KD6KWZ
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 07:53:16 PM »

The USAF used to have a Radar site on Mt Umunhum near San Jose CA:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almaden_Air_Force_Station

It shut down in 1980. Then, there was the "Blue Cube", tied into satellites, near Sunnyvale CA:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Cube

Note that the Blue Cube went into operation in 1960, maybe a part of an operation that was successor to that UK listening post.

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K8AXW
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2011, 09:00:11 AM »

Quote
Thank you both for your help, I will look into both of those leads. The site was highly classified even though it is only a small site, about one acre. There are high security doors, air filtration and the whole building is a Faraday cage

Doubtful if it was an intercept station.  Wrong description.  Probably radar.
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G2FHF
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« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2011, 01:15:19 PM »

It wasn't an intercept station but a troposcatter cross-channel relay link, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACE_High. That would explain the high security and the very large Heliax cable.

Thanks

Jon G2FHF

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G7MRV
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2011, 11:19:54 PM »

Unlikely to have been an ACE HIGH station. The UK leg of ACE HIGH passed onto the continent via Coldblow Lane, the signal path going across Dungeness. However, the UK terminal for the 486L MEDCOM troposcatter system was in the Weymouth area, and could well have been on the Bill. (I was looking into MEDCOM a few weeks back after seeing the site on Menorca)

Contact Subterranea Britannica http://www.subbrit.org.uk , they research just such places in the UK, and im sure Nick Catford there will be able to help.

Are there any remains of the dish antennas?


Martin G7MRV
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G2FHF
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« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2011, 11:23:06 AM »

Hi Martin

Thanks for your post and email. The  link is very interesting as this was a sister site to ours on Portland. I assume that the site was in use at the same time and just yesterday someone told me that he helped convert the guard house into horse stabled in about 1975 so the time scale is correct. Eham readers might be interested to read this link about the Troposcatter system.

If you or anyone else would like to visit the site please contact us via our website.

Thank you

Jon G2FHF
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G7MRV
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2011, 04:27:57 AM »

Jon,

From my knowledge of Portland there is a mass of old wartime sites and relics, which will be of interest to my Urbex colleagues, ive passed a link to your website and this thread across to their forum. Im sure they would be interested in visiting any extant wartime features that may remain on your land. Sadly its too far for me. The ACE HIGH site at Stenigot is however an easier visit for me, not least because its next to one of my companies transmitter towers.
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W3HKK
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2011, 05:50:54 PM »

Very interesting thread Jon.  Tnx for posting.    Maybe you could set up a Worked All US Base award for the UK. 

I was USAF in the mid 60s at a DOB base in France.  Nothing special there other than its entire existance was in case of another Berlin Crisis  a couple squadrons of  planes would fly in and begin resupplying Berlin from there.  Interesting job to be in aircraft maintenance at a base that had zero aircraft!  We played a lot of baseball  and had extra vacation(leave) that I used to live in Paris.

Been to London, Manchester ( at the Mather and Platt Works where fire protection eqpt is made) , Birmingham (  a week at the U of Birmingham at a fire protection seminar) but never had a chance to  drive around your countryside.  I enjoy working your countrymen when they drive to the ocean and operate mobile overlooking the water!

Best wishes in your endeavors.  de Bob
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G2FHF
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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2011, 11:56:35 PM »

Hi Bob

Thanks for your reply. We have a long way to go before I can set up a ham station on site as we are working full time on refurbishing the buildings at the moment. I have just given up my job in IT to work on the project so no income at present. That is making it difficult to save money to buy a HF rig but I'll get there. We are going to offer training placements for adults with learning difficulties and disadvantaged children on the farm. I love to see how happy they are around the animals. There is a 100' communication mast on site that I have permission to use, it is at the top of a 400' cliff above the sea so I should put out a great signal from there.

All the best.

Jon
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