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Old 16th Feb 2012, 13:42   #61 (permalink)
 
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Watch out Zooker.... one of BDiONU's mates will be after you!!
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 14:36   #62 (permalink)
 
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I think that's already happened Bren!
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Old 16th Feb 2012, 19:20   #63 (permalink)
 
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Decca 424

My first radar validation, on the 424, was in early 1970. Despite its quirks we used it to its “maximum” . At the board I was asked how many aircraft I would control at a time, I replied “one”, the examiner just grinned! It was always suggested that our “tels guys” altered the waveguide a little!
We often operated as a twosome , as we did with the later 430 ( we were one of the first civil users of that, it came to us with no map overlay, our engineers invented one) .
One controller vectoring on the left and on the right the half mile SRA tube. In between was the control panel with tilt switch and tuners. You’ve probably guessed the unit, about a mile and a half west there was a ridge by the M1 motorway producing a very noticeable collection of PEs.
I can remember pushing the tilt down while in the left hand seat to see inbound traffic for vectoring and receiving a very bruised right hand as the controller on the right was trying to tilt up to see his blip pass the PEs at about a mile and a half on 08. Also that was where invariably there was a marked change in drift! Good memories and always a satisfaction of completing many many “ half milers” in marginal conditions JB

Last edited by oldandbald; 16th Feb 2012 at 21:22.
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Old 18th Feb 2012, 19:26   #64 (permalink)
 
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This is starting to sound like the Springfield Retirement Castle! Hi JB, good to see you around again. As you say...
Quote:
it came to us with no map overlay
which is a pretty poor way of marketing a surveillance radar. Hence, on the HH 430:


the airspace in reverse chinagraph on the perspex overlay.

2 s
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Old 19th Feb 2012, 15:00   #65 (permalink)
 
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LBA ACR430

I probably have piccies somewhere that could identify the date of the LBA ACR 430 installation. My guess would be very early 70's. I was the Airport Ops Officer at the time. Plessey undertook the actual installation but underestimated the unpredictability of LBA. The radar head was destined for the centre of the airfield near to the 424 slte, but the first mobile crane that tried to transport it simply sank as soon as it left runway 28. The contractor brought in a larger crane, which managed to move only a little further before also bogging down. We then arranged for several loads of hardcore to be deposited on the track and rolled it in. The contractor brought in the largest crane available and the ACR430 eventually reached it's destination. I am certain to have piccies of this performance but have reached the stage of life where I have no idea where I put my glasses a few minutes since, let alone the location of photographs taken some 40 years ago !

Regards.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 09:44   #66 (permalink)
 
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Gordon, you'll not be surprised to hear that LBA is still a swamp in certain locations. A few years ago after a spell of torrential rain there was a river crossing the 32 threshold which had its source on Horsforth Golf Course. I don't recall anything landing that evening.

I assume the 430 was a brand new installation then. I was always under the impression that it had been purchased second-hand from Luton but I confess I don't know where I got that idea. The installation farce sounds like a Keystone Cops scenario. These days there'd be risk assessments, hard hats, hi viz, clipboards and so on in order to prevent all that nonsense, not to mention all the fun.

What made LBA choose the 430 over, say,the Marconi 264 ? I guess the 424 was proving not too satisfactory for general surveillance but ok for SRAs. Thinking about the soft ground at LBA, the 264 radar head could well have sunk altogether
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 10:36   #67 (permalink)
 
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We had the 430 at Luton into the mid 80s but finally the scanner and associated electronics caught fire, not sure of the exact date, and it "ceased to be". At that time the 08 ILS was being installed so it obviously felt unwanted.....
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 11:05   #68 (permalink)
 
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Living in Luton, I know the feeling

Serious question, was the Watchman the sucess that it is made out to be......
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 11:45   #69 (permalink)
 
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Luton didn't have a Watchman, they had (and I believe it's still there) an ex RAF AR15, which apparently won't interface with the display system at LTCC so it's still as they left it when they moved radar to Terminal Control.
Wonder what became of the AR15 which used to be mounted on the control tower at Dunsfold.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 11:48   #70 (permalink)
 
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Luton AR15

Realising early the shortcomings of the 430 Luton investigated a "proper" surveillance radar in the mid 70s. We became an early civil purchaser of the AR15. The RAF had experienced coverage problems with the AR15 which I think were down to their own siting decisions, we left our siting to Plessey.It was marketed as a superior AR1. I think it became operational about 1977 with SSR feed from Heathrow ( we had SSR before Gatwick ) I consider the whole package very good for its time, excellently maintained by our Tels staff. JB
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 11:52   #71 (permalink)
 
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Luton AR15

Hi chevrron
for info I think the AR15 was purchased new from Plessey, although may have been a cancelled Middle East order. JB
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 12:07   #72 (permalink)
 
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I stand corrected; someone told me when we were starting LARS North that the Luton AR15 couldn't be used (would have been perfect) but they thought it was ex-RAF. Couldn't have been RB could it?
I know the Dunsfold one was ex Brize, (maybe that's where I'm getting confused) There was some sort of 'scandal' about it too; apparently bits were 'missing' when the packing cases were opened at Dunsfold and they had been there when it was packed at Brize.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 12:26   #73 (permalink)
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Yes, the Luton AR15 was new. I held the first (might have been the second) UK AR15 validation. Before that we had a temporary Cossor 787, scanner mounted on a truck, display in the radar room in the old control tower. I validated that too.

The ACR430 melted down (literary, the box of tricks below the scanner) a few months after Chernobyl. I am not sure if there was a connection.
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Old 20th Feb 2012, 12:33   #74 (permalink)
 
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The AR15 displays were removed about a year before Approach moved to LATCC.

The scanner was only removed in December last year.
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Old 21st Feb 2012, 09:52   #75 (permalink)
 
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So which airfields used the Decca 424 ? The ones I now know for definite are Leeds Bradford, Birmingham, East Midlands, Hawarden, Liverpool and Blackpool. And latterly, Lasham.

Is that a Plessey AR15 I saw at Bournemouth about eight years ago ? I always thought it was a Watchman but the head didn't seem to be the right shape.
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Old 21st Feb 2012, 10:25   #76 (permalink)
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Luton had a 424 in the late 60s before getting the 430. I regret never having a go on it.
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Old 21st Feb 2012, 10:45   #77 (permalink)
 
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Numerous RAF airfields had the ACR7(424). Lindholme was one, possibly as late as 1972, Topcliffe was another; I saw one there in '71.
RAE Bedford had one too, maybe also A & AEE Boscombe Down but Farnborough didn't.
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Old 21st Feb 2012, 11:24   #78 (permalink)
 
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Cool

Southampton had one in the eighties. Don't know when they bought it but they advertised in Flight, as you do, to buy one in 1965 along with an ILS(see small ad top left under ground equipment).

Some other interesting ads also. Anyone fancy becoming an ATCO, max salary up to £2,036, and if you have previous aircrew or ATCO experience the Min of Aviation would consider you for training up to 40 years of age.

I would have quite fancied replying to the ad for a co-pilot wanted for round trip to Cape Town in well equipped light aircraft.

They don't make ads like those, these days.

1965 | 1454 | Flight Archive

On the beach
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Old 21st Feb 2012, 11:27   #79 (permalink)
 
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Didn't the 424 from Luton go on to Southend?
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Old 21st Feb 2012, 17:13   #80 (permalink)
 
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On the beach

Southampton bought their 424 new. Spent many happy hours doing 150 exercises before taking my radar rating. Said goodbye to it in 1971 only to find it still going (albeit with new displays) when I came back to the UK in 1987.

Finally withdrawn early nineties when the ILS came into service. Nobody wanted what was left, believe that the displays went for a song to Westlands at Yeovil.

PS add Yeovil and Leavesden to the list of users.
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