Goose Bay, Labrador

1958 – Historical Report – USAF Historical Division

Historical Record
641st AC&W Squadron
Goose Bay, Labrador
1 April 1958 to 30 June 1958

Section I


  1. Unit and Location

641st AC&W Squadron
Melville Air Station, Labrador

  1. Name and Grade of Commander

Elmer E McTaggart, Lt. Col., USAF

  1. Chain of Command (Superior Echelons)
  2. United States Air Force
    Air Defense Command
    64th Air Division (Defense)
    4732nd Air Defense Group

  • Subordinate Units (Down to and including squadrons)
  • None

  • Mission (Give authority and brief statement of primary mission)
  • The mission of the 641st AC&W Squadron is to conduct Air Defense Operations within that area assigned by Headquarters, 64th Air Division (Defense) and function as a prime direction center within the Air Defense system.
    Authority: paragraph 2, 4732nd Air Defense Group Regulation number 20-2, dated 1 April 1958.

  • Personnel

















  • Equipment (Give official nomenclature and quantity of mission-type equipment)
  • AN/CPS-6B Prime Radar, AN/TPS-502 Back-up Height Radar, AN/FPS-502 Back-up Search Radar, AN/GPX-6 Radar Identification, 10 Cummins Diesel Generators (100KW) model LGA, 8 AN/GRC-27 Multi-Channel UHF Transmitter-Receiver, 6 AN/GRT03 Single Channel UHF Transmitter-Receiver, 6 AN/GRR-7 Single Channel Receiver, 5 AN/FRT-502 VHF Transmitters, 11 AF/URG-60 VHF Receivers.

    Section II



    Problems – The interim change in the operations section, performed by site personnel during the previous quarter have contributed greatly to a more efficient management of the Prime Direction Center. The combat operations team is able to function more effectively during team missions and conform more closely to the concepts outlines in ADC Manual 55-5. A contract has been let to TDK Rooney, Ltd (Nfld.) for standardization of the operations room and is programmed for completion during the period 1 August to 1 September 1958.

    Projects – A study of movements and identification procedures was begun during March to determine the possibility of improvement. One officer and one non commissioned officer were designated to study the system, contact or visit the various agencies from which flight plan data was collected or disseminated, conduct discussions with the various senior directors and their movements and identification technicians, and report findings to the Operations Officer. The study pointed out a need for further training of the movements and identification technicians and closer supervision by the senior directors. The movements and identification section of each crew received additional training and in some instances there were personnel changes. There has been an appreciable change in the number of unknown aircraft that would indicate greater efficiency, i.e. In April, 6,111 tracks were carried in the complex with 1.8% unknown; in May 6,892 tracks were carried with an "unknown" factor of 1.8%, and in June, 8,126 tracks were carried with the unknown factor decreasing to 1.5% of carried tracks. Further, personnel of the movements and identification section demonstrated better understanding and more skill in the performance of their duties than they did prior to completion of this study.

    On 13 June 1958, the communications center at this station was designated as a minor relay station in the AIRCOMNET by Headquarters, USAF, message AFOAC-S/C 31037. Concurrently, the 920th, 922nd, 923rd, 924th, and 926th ACWRON were assigned AIRCOMNET routing indicators as tributaries of this station. This change does not affect the mission of the communications center, but does facilitate the relaying of messages within the center.

    Personnel – The personnel picture for the operations section is more favorable this quarter as far as directors are concerned, however there is some reason for concern over the non commissioned officer and airman situation. The director manning at the end of this reporting period is equal to authorization and only two directors are scheduled to rotate while three are forecast for assignment to this organization. One skilled, and one qualified director arrived at the end of March, two directors arrived in April from AEW Con and two skilled directors arrived during the month of May. As of the end of this reporting period there are four Technical Sergeants, nine Staff Sergeants and two Airman First Class assigned against authorization of one Master Sergeant, four Technical Sergeants, eighteen Staff Sergeants, and fourteen Airman First Class. Two of the Technical Sergeants are due to rotate in October, five of the Staff Sergeants on 15 November and thirty four lower grade airmen are due to rotate during November and December. One Technical Sergeant and ten more airmen are due to rotate in January. In spite of the shortage of supervisory personnel this section has adequately carried out its responsibilities. The personnel picture for the radar maintenance section is similar to the above with an authorization for seventeen and ten assigned. This section is authorized two officers, one Master Sergeant, two Technical Sergeants, four Staff Sergeants and ten airmen. Assigned at the end of this reporting period are one officer, two Technical Sergeants (scheduled to rotate within 60 days), one Staff Sergeant, and seven Airman Second Class. Adequate personnel to relieve the serious non commissioned officer shortage are not presently forecast.


    Training has progressed at a very satisfactory rate in the operations section and the radar maintenance section. Two airmen, AFSC 30352D, completed a twelve day maintenance course on the AN/UPA-35, which was conducted by the Canadian Marconi Company at Pepperrell Air Force Base. This training has already resulted in increased utilization of the UPA-35 scopes.

    Equipment Performance:

    Difficulties encountered in the early warning kit were eliminated by the installation of a modified EW kit modulator on 24 April 1958. This component was modified by the Canadian Marconi Company. Modification consisted of a rerouting of high voltage cables to provide adequate separation, thus preventing arcing, and removal of the trigger amplifier to an external location. A heat-sink type door is being manufactured of aluminum by the Canadian Marconi Company to complete the modification. When complete, operating temperature should be reduced from approximately ninety-four degrees Centigrade to approximately fifty degrees Centigrade. As installed, the modulator has been providing reliable service to date. A torn diaphram in the pressurization unit for the early warning kit caused a loss in pressurization on 23 April 1958. A replacement diaphram was not available at the time therefore one was fabricated from radome patching material. Another instance of ingenuity returned the AN/CPS-6B from reduced capability to a fully operational status during the month of April. A 1000 ohm resistor (R-2150) opened in the slant upper transmitter. A replacement resistor was not readily available, therefore the maintenance technician on duty repaired the resistor by digging into the ceramic covering of the winding and soldered across the opening. The repaired resistor was checked, found to be within tolerance (995 ohms), and replaced into the slant upper circuit. This prevented the loss of the slant upper beam.

    The new preventative maintenance program outlined in TO 31-1-10 and ADC Regulation 66-12 is considered a thorough and much needed maintenance system, however the shortage of maintenance personnel at this time precludes strict adherence to the program. The present preventative maintenance card schedule requires about seventy-five percent of the scheduled off-the-air time/ Therefore, when a breakdown or major component change occurs which affects the off-the-air time the schedule falls behind. This portion of the maintenance program must be omitted or made up at the expense of performance checks and minor component changes. As a standardized preventative maintenance program, TO 31-1-10 is a very satisfactory system when an adequate number of maintenance personnel are available. To compensate for the lack of maintenance personnel to carry out the new program and maintain normal proficiency, the hours of duty per man have increased from forty hours per week to sixty and sixty-five hours per week.

    Difficulties were experienced with the backup search radar AN/FPS-502 causing it to be out of commission from 1 May to 22 May 1958. Troubles were encountered with servo-system mal-alignment, faulty magnetron, blown fuses, blower motor burnout, faulty indicator, blown AU7 tubes, faulty wiring, worn brushes in the 400 cycle generator and several cabling problems. All of these units were replaced or repaired by site personnel with the aid of a Marconi Overhaul Team. Engineering orders for this equipment arrived 23 May.

    A Marconi Test Equipment Team repaired and calibrated all test equipment during the latter part of May. The PPI Overhaul Team from Marconi corrected the overhaul deficiencies on the IP-56 indicators during this reporting period. This was not accomplished in December due to lack of replacement parts.

    Line amplifier units, AN-447A/G, were installed on eight VHF and UHF radio channels in April. The amplifiers are located in the telephone frame room adjacent to the operations room. The use of these units eliminated most of the cross-talk on the lines that came from the receiver site.

    A teletype transmitter-distributor was installed at the radio transmitter site. It is connected to three 255A relays and is capable of providing signals for testing three radio teletype frequencies simultaneously. This eliminated the necessity of providing signals from the teletype machines in the communications center therefore it is no longer necessary to close down a circuit for the purpose of providing a signal for test purposes. The Canadian Marconi Company completed the overhaul of all teletype equipment at this site during the month of May.

    Communications headsets with suitable transmit-receive switches have been bothersome for the past six months. The switches are not durable and replacement parts not available as Goose AB Supply was closed for three months beginning in March. Follow up action was accepted in June but back ordered. Toggle switches have been substituted for the more efficient snap type switches as an emergency measure, however toggle switches prove inadequate. The toggle switch is difficult and awkward for the intercept-director to handle and can become a serious distraction when the tactical situation requires his undivided attention. Further, the toggle switch is highly susceptible to inadvertent keying which resulted in the blocking of the radio channel of that position. Snap type switches were placed on emergency requisition on voucher number 4-18-1919 on 22 April 1958.


    A house trailer (27 foot) was procured from Goose Air Base and transported to the radio receiver site of this organization early in February. Main purpose of the trailer was to provide emergency shelter for the radio receiver personnel in the event severe weather should preclude their return to the squadron area. This trailer will also enable personnel on duty to prepare hot meals for themselves. Facilities for the preparation of hot meals has been a big morale booster for personnel working at the receiver site as they are unable to go to the squadron dining hall for their meals.

    Two bowling lanes were installed in the motor maintenance building during this period. This has been a great morale builder and these are the only lanes installed in any ACWRON in the Arctic to date. Contractors are scheduled to begin work on the interiors of BAQ’s and the Food Service facilities in July.

    Although a relatively light winter was appreciated, the daily thaws and nightly freezing caused the roads to become dangerously glazed with ice during March and April. The caterpillar, D-8 tractor, belonging to the base was out of commission frequently for parts, therefore it was impossible to break up the road ice as frequently as required. The Bell Telephone Company was most helpful at this time, frequently using their caterpillar to clear the access road when it was in an unusually bad condition.

    Community Relations:

    Open House activities on Armed Forces Day were an outstanding success. These activities including conducted tours of small groups were planned for two hundred visitors, actually six hundred and seventy-two (672) visitors from Goose Air Base including Canadian personnel from the RCAF and citizens from "Happy Valley", the local town, arrived and over two hundred had to be turned away for lack of transportation. All officers, non commissioned officers and many airmen were pressed into service to act as guides for the tours. Pre-planned lectures and demonstrations were utilized to expedite movement of sightseers from one area to another. Twenty dollars ($20.00) worth of popcorn was furnished for the "small-fry" and free movies were also shown to them. Many compliments were accorded the unit as a result of these friendly gestures.


    Morale has been at a high level during this reporting period. The officers and airmen assigned seem to understand this site is the best AC&W site located in the arctic.

    Typed Name and Grade of Commander

    Elmer E McTaggart, Lt. Col., USAF