Thursday, 29 March 2012

Contents List

CONTENTS LIST – A History of RAF Saxa Vord (Updated 2/7/18))
I have finally added links to this contents list - it will be updated at intervals. The sections are dated and can also be located using the Blog Archive on the right-hand side of the opening page. If anyone notices mistakes I’d appreciate it if they would let me know: (replace AT with @)).
The Google Search facility near the top right of the opening page searches just within this blog and seems to function quite well.

A History of RAF Saxa Vord- Intro (19/11/2009)
A Day at the Beach – Raft Race (19/3/2010)
Ace High in Shetland (30/4/2011)
Admiralty Building & Underwater Cables Part 1 (18/9/2011
Admiralty Building & Underwater  Cables Part 2 (2/10/2011)
Admiralty Building & Underwater Cables Part 3 (16/10/2011)
Admiralty Building & Underwater Cables Part 4 (30/10/2011)
Admiralty Building in 2012
Admiralty (or Navy) Annex in 2012
AES4 -1940 to 46 Part 1
Air Marshal Sir Kenneth Hayr Visit – 1989 (18/7 2011)
Air Ministry Experimental Station (AMES) 713 – LORAN on Unst
Air Training Corps Visit to Unst - 1991
Air Transport Within Shetland (21/11/2009)
Alan Stackman - Saxa Vord 1962 to 64 - Ground Radar Fitter
Andy Stewart - BBC Christmas Recording at Saxa 1964 (4/1/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1964 (13/2/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1966 AVM CM Stewart (13/11/2011)
AOC’s Inspection 1967 (9/3/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1968 ( 2/2/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1970 AVM Broom (8/8/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1971 – AVM IG Broom CBE DSO DFC (27/12/2011)
AOC’s Inspection 1972 AVM IG Ivor Broom (21/10/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1979 – Inspecting Officer Sqn Ldr Batchelor (22/4/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1983 AVM Ken Hayr (31/5/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1984 or 85 (1/8/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1988 AVM RH Palin (20/8/2010) - Updated 20Jul 2017
AOC’s Inspection 1989 Sir William Wratten (11/9/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1990? AVM Sir WilliamWratten (30/4/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1992 (1/4/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1994 or 95 AVM Anthony Bagnall #1 (12/19/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1994 or 95 AVM Anthony Bagnall #2 (17/12/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1996 AVM Cliff Spink (17/10/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1997 Air Cdre Doble (9/11/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 1998 (18/5/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 2000 AVM Filbey Part 1 (1/9/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 2000 AVM Filbey Part 2 (5/9/2010)
AOC’s Inspection 2004AVM White (17/9/2010)
AOCinC Strike Visit 29 Mar 1989 (29/6/2010)
AOSNI May 1998 (26/9/2010)
Arctic Circular - Midsummer 1977 (16/5/2012)
Arctic Circular - Christmas 1980 (12/9/2012)
Arctic Circular - December 1981 (11/12/2012)
Arctic Circular  - October 1982 (9/6/2013)
Arctic Circular - Mar 1983 (31/10/2014)
Arctic Circular - July 1983 (31/10/2015)
Arctic Circular - Sep 1984 (31/5/2016)
Arctic Circular - February 1985 (1/10/2013)
Arrival of Radar Equipment on Unst 1955 Part 1 (21/11/2009)
Arrival of Radar Equipment on Unst 1955 Part 2 (19/9/2010)
Arrival of Radar Equipment on Unst 1955 Part 3 (14/11/2010)
Article about RAF Saxa Vord in the Tengah Times ( 25/11/2009)
Article in the Shetland Times 1990 (12/12/2011)
Article in the Shetland Times - 12 Aug 94 (26/5/2012)
AVM Bagnall Visit Photos – 1994 or 95 - #3 (18/12/2010)
AVM Bagnall Visit Photos – 1994 or 95 - #4 (3/1/2011)
AVM John Allison Visit – 1994 (14/8/2011)
Baltasound Hotel & The Storm of 91/92 (8/9/2010)
Bob Abbott - Posted to Saxa Vord 1962 - 66 (28/1/2017) -
Bob Abbott - Northern Front-line of UK Air Defence (30/3/2017)
Battle of Britain and Remembrance Day Parades (27/6/2010)
Bill Borthwick - Saxa Vprd, 1963/64
Catering Section Part 1 (25/11/2009
Catering Section Part 2 (17/7/2010)
Charity Events Part 1 (7/6/2010
Charity Events Part 2 (24/2/2011)
Charity Events Part 3 (29/5/2011)
Charity Events Part 4 (4/5/2012)
Christmas 1960 – Parties, Pantos & Food (27/4/2010)
Christmas Parties for Children & Senior Citizens (18/12/2011)
Closure of RAF Saxa Vord 2006 (7/2/2010)
Closure Presentations & Shetland Times 2006 (26/8/2010)
CO’s Rogues Gallery – Additions Welcomed (24/11/2009)
Commanding Officers (23/11/2009)
Commissioning of 91 SU – Sep 57 (8/12/2010)
Contents List (29/3/2012)
Cresta Run 1985 – SAC Tony Isherwood (15/3/2010)
Dave Childs - RAF Police -  Saxa Vord 1957 to 59 (30/7/2017)
Da Voar Redd Up (3/10/2010)
Derek Ingram - Saxa Vord 1961/62
Domestic Site from the Air (20/6/2010)
Dorwards - RAF Saxa Vord, Sep 82 to Feb 84 (30/1/2015)
Dr Albert Hunter Visits Unst & RAF Saxa Vord (30/11/2017)
Earl of Zetland (22/11/2009)
Earl of Zetland Again (25/9/2011)
Eddie Ziemski – Photos 1962/63 (13/2/2012)
Equipment at 91SU – RAF Saxa Vord – Early Days (5/03/2012)
Event with Children – 1998 (14/1/2011)
Faroese Invasion – 1972 (19/2/2010)
Fire - Memories of a Fireman – Nick Broom (27/02/2012)
Fire - Neale Bulbeck - Firefighter 1998 o 2000
Fire Practice at Inner Skaw (27/11/2009)
Fire Section - Accidents Sometimes Happen
Fire Section Part 1 (5/12/2010)
Fire Section Part 2 (4/2/2011)
Fire Section Part 3 (5/6/2012)
First Radar on Unst (30/01/13)
Flag Officer Scotland 1969 (27/10/2010)
Fortieth Anniversary (14/2/2011)
Fortieth Anniversary – Information Gathering (18/2/2011)
Fred Pope - Sailing 1967 to 69
Fred Pope – Some Recollections of Saxa 1967 to 69
Freedom from Hunger Campaign 1963/64 (8/1/2011)
From Scotland to Shetland by Sea (21/11/2009)
Function in the NAAFI -Dance Christmas/New Year 1967/68 (10/7/2011)
Functions in the “New” Sergeants’ Mess (20/11/2011)
Functions in the “Old” Sergeants’ Mess (6/11/2011)
Functions in the “Sergeants’ Mess Again” (5/12/2011)
Functions in the Officers’ Mess in the 60’s (3/4/2011)
Functions in the Officers’ Mess in the 70’s (14/5/2011)
Functions in the Officers’ Mess in the 80’s (19/6/2011)
Functions in the Officers’ Mess in the 90’s (31/7/2011)
Function in the Officers' Mess - The Last Function (20/7/2010)
Gala Day - 24 May 1969 (29/12/2009)
Haroldswick School (16/1/2010)
Heroes of Saxa 1968 (5/12/2009)
HF200 (4/8/2010)
Hustlers (22/3/2010)
Hustlers Saxa 1962 to 1964(3/4/2014)
If God Had Not Made The Island of Unst – Then MOD Would Have (25/1/2010)
Information Booklet – 1973 (26/1/2012)
Information Booklet - 1977 (8/4/2012)
Information Booklet - 1983 (19/6//2012)
Interim Ops Room (In use from Feb 1984) (12/1/2011)
Joe Cross 1955-58 - Advance Party
John Courtis – Saxa Vord 1960-62
Last Rugby Match Sep 1999 (7/7/2010)
Lerwick 1959 to 1961 ( 22/11/2009)
Les White - Radar Operator - Saxa 1961/62 (30/11/2015)
Life on Camp – The Early Days (1959/61)  (15/12/2009)
Life at RAF Saxa Vord 1963/64 (6/10/2010)
Link 11 at Saxa (13/10/2010)
Memories of Saxa Vord 12/4/2010)
Midsummer Madness (3/11/2013)
Mick (Ginge) Churchward, Saxa Vord '63- '66 : How I came to be posted there and my subsequent journey into the ‘unknown’!
Mike McEwan - Saxa Vord 1959 to 1961
Mike Tooms - Saxa Vord 1957-58
More Shetland Air Travel (21/8/2011)
Most Intimidating Golf Course In the World? (11/12/2009)  Updated 3 Oct 12
MV/SS St Clair in the time of RAF Saxa Vord (3/2/2012)
MV/SS St Clair - The Trip from Lerwick to Aberdeen (15/4/2012)
North Unst – Viewed from the Sea (28/11/2009)
Opening of the Skittle Alley – Penguin Club 1970 (9/1/2010)
Ops Site - Apr 2011 Pt 1 (17/4/2011)
Ops Site - Apr 2011 Pt 2 (24/4/2011)
Ops Site Questions (3/7/2011)
Ops Site Questions Pt 2
Overland (22/11/2009)
Overland Part 2 (4/9/2011)
Penguin Clubs & Skittle Alleys (29/11/2011)
Pete Brindley – More Recollections of Posting to Saxa (7/8/2011)
Peter Barnes – Recollections from 1957/8 (10/4/2011)
Power to the People (26/1/2010)
Presentations – Again (30/1/2011)
Presentations To Civilians - Part 1 (8/12/2009)
Presentations to Civilians Part 2 (5/2/2010)
Queen Visits RAF Saxa Vord & Unst (updated 23 May 10) (24/11/2009)
Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations 1-4 May 2002 (29/9/2010)
R10 in 2012  (6/8/2012)
R101 - from the Outside (14/3/2011)
R101 – The Interior ( 3/1/2012)
Radar Equipment at the Top Site (updated 1 Sep 10) (22/12/2009)
Radio Norwick (amended 30 Mar 15)
Radio Saxa Vord (5/6/2011)
RAF Clett 1942 - 1945, AMES 96a
RAF News 8 to 21 Nov 1982 (25/4/2012)
RAF News - 2 to 15 Oct 1987 (25/7/2012)
RAF Saxa Vord Domestic Site 1967 to 69 (22/11/2009)
RAF Saxa Vord Domestic Site- Rebuild Early 80’s (22/11/2009)
RAF Skaw (AMES 56) - Part 1 - Inception to Jan '41 (15/o4/18)
RAF Skaw (AMES 56) - Part 2 - Advance CH - From Jan 41 to May 42 (16 May 2018)
RAF Skaw (AMES 56) - Part 3 - CH Ops
RAF Skaw (AMES 56) - Part 4 - Transmitters & Receivers
RAF Watsness 1942 - 1945, AMES 55a
Ray “Dickie” Dawson – 91 SU (Saxa Vord) 1957 to 59
Ray Foster-Westgarth and the RUT 1979
Rebuild of the Airmen’s Accommodation 1981 to 1994 (26/11/2010)
Recollections of Saxa Vord – Harry Cairns (9/10/2011)
Red Star Board (29/11/2009)
Road to the Top Site 1976 -79 (21/3 2011)
Rod Pye - Saxa 1964/65 & Attachment 1967 (31/7/2015
Ron Ping Photos  1967 - 1971 (25/4/2013)
Rugby at Burrafirth – Ladies Day? (27/5/2010)
Rugby at Saxa Vord (22/5/2011)
Russian Trawler Wrecked on Skaw (23/11/2009 - amended 8/7/2015)
S259 Radar at Saxa Vord (12/8/2010)
S649 (Type 96) Radar (27/7/2010)
Sailing at Saxa Vord (26/10/2011)
Saxa – Groups/Bands – Late 60s, Early 70s (20/4/2010)
Saxa – LS&GCM 1977-84 (25/1/2011)
Saxa & the South Atlantic Medal (16/1/2011)
Saxa in 1960 – Article by Mal Smith (23/7/2010)
Saxa - Mid Site for Sale (8/6/2012)
Saxa Regains Independent Status 1 Apr 04 (22/8/2010)
Saxa Voice Spring 1998 & Station Magazines (16/03/2012)
Saxa Voice Summer – 1998 (17/6/2012)
Saxa Voice Autumn 1998 (17/11/2012)
Saxa Voice Winter - 1998 (26/12/2014)
Saxa Voice Spring - 1999 (26 Sep 2014)
Saxa Voice Autumn 1999 (31/5/2014)
Saxa Voice Christmas 1999 (4/7/2010)
Saxa Voice Spring 2000 (29/08/2015)
Saxa Voice Summer2000 (31/10/2016)
Saxa Vord - The First Commanding Officer
Saxa Vord - The Construction Years
Saxa Vord - The Second Commanding Officer
Saxa Vord – The Landmark ( 26/11/2009)
Saxa Vord – The Retail Experience (9/2/2011)
Saxa Vord & Archaeology (14/9/2010)
Saxa Vord in the Snow (23/12/2010)
Saxa Vord Resort (24/2/2010)
Seeking Information (Sqn Ldr Le Cheminant, Golf & Equip) (22/9/2010)
Senior Sky Pilots (28/8/2011)
Sharyn Louise at Norwick (6/11/2010)
SHE – 74/75 Rebuild (26/6/2011)
SHE – Rebuild 1993 to 1995 (17/11/2010)
SHE – Setters Hill Estate (30/1/2010)
SHE – Setters Hill Estate 1993 (10/10/2010)
Shetland Radar (24/11/2009)
Shetland Radar Part 2 (1/7/2013)
Shetland Radar Part3 - A Somewhat Different Experience (30.6/2017)
Snow Scenes - Fred Pope (23/12/2012)
Soccer at Saxa Vord (12/6/2011)
Some Helicopter Operations (21/02/2012)
Special Deliveries (4/5/2010)
Springfield Hotel – Now the Baltasound Hotel (l2/3/2010)
Sqn Ldr Nick Gordon – Presentation of Medals & Awards (21/1/2011)
Sqn Ldr STJ Hampson _ Commanding Officer 1960/61
SSAFA Fun Day 2001 (4/4/2010)
Stage Shows & More Pantos (27/3/2011)
Saxa Voice Spring 1998 & Station Magazines (16/03/2012)
Saxa Voice Summer 1999  (30/6/2016)
Station Personnel 2005 (22/5/2010)
Stephen Jones - Saxa Vord 1987 - 89
Storm New Year 91/92 Part 1 (10/7/2010)
Storm New Year 91/92 Part 2 (12/7/2010)
Storm New Year 91/92 Part 3 (13/7/2010)
Storm New Year 91/92 Part 4 (15/7/2010)
Sunrise in Unst
Sunsets in Unst #1
Sunsets in Unst #2
Surface Travel in Shetland before the mid 70’s (22/11/2009)
Surface Transport in Shetland after the mid-70s (22/11/2009)
TACAN on Unst (13/5/2010)
Terry Luxford - 91SU/Saxa Vord - Summer '57 to August '58
Three Steps to Heaven – or 221 Steps to the Radar Heads (29/3/2010)
Tony Sparkes - Saxa Vord Dec 63 to Jun 65 (20/3/2015)
Top Site after Closure (24/1/2010)
Top Site from the Air (21/6/2010)
Top Site Watch Changeover (24/11/2009)
Transmitter/Receiver Sites at Closure (24/1/2010)
Travel To & From Shetland by Air (21/11/2009)
Treasure Island – RAF News 1969 (18/1/2010)
Trips to Lerwick & Specials 1963/64 (29/8/2010)
Type 13 (10/6/2010)
Type 80 - Erection of the Radome (6/4/2010)
Type 80 is off (literally) - 27 Jan 61 (27/3/2010)
Type 80 is Off – Part 2 (23/3/2011)
Type 80 - What Goes Up Must Come Down – Demolition T80 Radome (17/4/2010)
Type 93 (9/9/2011)
Type 93 - Departure of the Radar (10/5/2010)
Type 93 Radome - 1989 (25/7/2011)
Unst Airstrip (12/1/2010)
Unst in the Snow (27/12/2010)
Updates (24/5/2010)
Views from the Top Site (25/11/2009)
Views of & from Transmitters/Receivers (24/11/2009)
Views of Shetland, Unst & Saxa from Above (8/3/2011)
Views of the Domestic Site Just After Closure (20/1/2010)
Views of the Top Site Before the Radome (25/11/2009)
Visit by Gp Capt ADGE 7 Jan 98 (31/10/2010)
Visit by the AOC in C ACM Sir Andrew Humphrey 1972 (10/10/2010)
Visit of AOCinC Strike Sir Michael Graydon (15/8/2010)
Visit of Gp Capt Mike Shields 1993/95
Visit of the Lord Lieutenant Mr JH Scott (10/4/2010)
Visit to Unst by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh 1995 (24/10/2010)
What Goes Up Must Come Down – Demolition of the Type 80 Radome (17/4/2010)
WRAF – A Short History of WRAF Saxa Vord (7/5/2011)
WWII - Air Defence Radars in Shetland - an introduction

Friday, 16 March 2012

Saxa Voice - Spring 1998 & Station Magazines

I have been gathering issues of station magazines with a view to publishing them over the coming months/years. So far the collection stands at:

Saxa Voice:
Saxa Voice Spring 1998
Saxa Voice Summer 1998
Saxa Voice Autumn 1998
Saxa Voice Winter 1998
Saxa Voice Spring 1999
Saxa Voice Summer 1999
Saxa Voice Autumn 1999
Saxa Voice Winter 1999
Saxa Voice Spring 2000
Saxa Voice Summer 2000 (last Issue)

Arctic Circular:
Arctic Circular Midsummer 1977
Arctic Circular Christmas 1979
Arctic Circular December 1981
Arctic Circular October 1982
Arctic Circular March 1983
Arctic Circular April 1983
Arctic Circular June 1983
Arctic Circular September 1984
Arctic Arctic Circular March 1983
Arctic Circular November 1984
Arctic Circular February 1985
Arctic Circular November 1984
Arctic Circular June 1985
Arctic Circular April 1986

RAF Skaw Out-Post
RAF Skaw Out-Post November 1941
RAF Skaw Out-Post January 1942
RAF Skaw Out-Post Feb- Mar 1942
RAF Skaw Out-Post April 1942

Should anyone have other issues and be prepared to let me have a copy I would be pleased to hear from them:
The first of the re-issues is below. The quality of the reproduction is not great (to conserve space). Should anyone be featured and would like a higher resolution copy of an article, I may be able to send them one by email. (Left click on pictures to enlarge).

Saxa Voice -Spring 1998


Monday, 5 March 2012

Equipment at 91 Signals Unit – RAF Saxa Vord - Early days

Any radar unit with an operational life of nearly 50 years will see its original radar and communications equipment extensively modified and updated. Indeed, by closure it is hard to think of any equipment still in use at Saxa which had been there since 1957. In the pages which follow I hope to detail what equipment was planned for Saxa and produce evidence for what was actually constructed - when the Unit was declared fully operational in Oct ’57 and, when appropriate, show where it was located. I will also add a few comments on its operational life.
Plans for 91 SU go back to the beginning of the 50’s and, in the light of changing operational requirements and the introduction of new equipment; those plans were frequently updated and altered. With the onset of the Cold War and Soviet nuclear testing from 1949 onwards, major UK wide plans were approved to modernise national defence systems. In the air defence world the biggest programme was called ROTOR. Many radar sites were planned and built under this programme which, due to its size and the availability of resources, had to be implemented in stages. A good article on the ROTOR Plan can be found here:
One of the significant factors of the ROTOR Plan was the decision to use, wherever possible, standardised buildings and equipment. This simplified manufacture and expedited construction. One of the late Stages of ROTOR called for 3 Centimetric Early Warning (CEW) sites, at Aird Uig (on the west side of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides), at Faraid Head (just east of Cape Wrath) and at Saxa Vord on Unst.(Left click on pictures to enlarge).
Within the ROTOR plans each unit was assigned a three letter code:
Aird Uig - WIU
Faraid Head - RAI
Saxa Vord - AXA
I freely admit that when I first saw the Saxa code AXA I thought that it had something to do with the Admiralty Experimental Station – we live & learn!

However, these 3 units were all planned at the same time, all with R10 Ops Buildings and all to be supplied with similar radar. With all things which take time to reach fruition, various elements such as weather, production modifications/delays and changes to operational requirements led to the plans being altered. Whilst it is tempting for me to try and go into the details at each of the 3 sites I am trying to confine this blog to Saxa (& a little bit of Shetland). Besides, there are many people better qualified than I to cover the rest of the Rotor scheme in depth.

The 3 CEW sites were originally scheduled to be opened in 1955/56 but this proved to be over ambitious. The main search radar for the 3 sites was to be the Decca Type 80 (code named “Green Garlic”). This radar was a great leap forward in UK air defence radars and was therefore ordered in large numbers – not only for the UK ROTOR system but for 2ATAF in Germany. The first Type 80 was installed in 1955 at Trimingham. As experience in operating the radar accumulated a number of modifications and upgrades were incorporated and this caused some hold ups in production. Another reason for the CEW operational dates slipping was the fact that the early Type 80’s were not capable of withstanding the high wind speeds experienced in Northern Scotland. The main height finder was to be the Type 13.

The Air Ministry, unlike today’s MOD, believed in a “belt & braces” approach. The ROTOR programme was deemed to be of sufficient importance that in 1952 orders for 2 types of American radar were placed:
12 AN/FPS3 search radars were acquired, in case there was a slippage in the Type 80 programme
12 AN/FPS6 height finders were purchased to augment the Type 13’s.
Early plans for the site on Saxa Vord made provision for the possible siting of an AN/FPS3 and an AN/FPS6, though neither was ever installed.

Very high winds early in 1956 damaged the T80 aerial at Faraid Head revealing basic weakness in the design of the aerial framework and therefore significant strengthening of the centre section of the main frame had to be carried out on the aerials for all 3 CEW sites. Then, I believe towards the end of 1956, gales severely damaged the aerial on the Type 80 at Saxa. Once again the centre section of the main frame had been unable to withstand the wind and the under frame was also damaged.

Late in 1956 the Air Staff decided that the site at Faraid Head would no longer be required and the site was put on care and maintenance, the site permanently closing early in 1958 with all personnel being posted out. The document shown below, also kindly provided by Bob Jenner, shows how the 3 units were being developed to the same plans. Some minor variations are included, in Saxas case mainly involving the Admiralty Buildings. The original plan was dated 1953 but this version must have been considerably later as Amendment List 10 has been incorporated.
Work continued on Aird Uig and on 91 SU but I will leave Aird Uig to someone else to follow up and from here on concentrate on what happened at the top of Saxa Vord.
In seeing what was actually constructed on the Tech Site at 91SU/Saxa we are fortunate that list of Building Numbers and a copy of a plan of the radar site is available, albeit in poor resolution! An extract of the list of Buildings, once again supplied by Bob Jenner, is below. I have inserted an asterisk alongside some of the building numbers which correlate with some on the plan which follows.
I have marked those Building Numbers on the plan of the Tech Site which follows and, for clarity, added the equipment located at those sites.
I should point out that the 3 diagrams on the plan, which I took to be representations of 2 x T13 and 1 x T14 gantries, are in fact marking the pattern of earth electrodes. (Thanks again to Bob Jenner),

To help visualise these sites I have marked them on this over flight photo, taken in 1963.

In a little more detail, starting at the top left:

V. FPS6 Foundations. The foundations were put in place when the site was constructed as it was envisaged that an American FPS6 height finder might be installed in the future. The following picture, from Bob Jenner, is of an FPS6.
 In the event no radar was ever placed there but for many years, starting in the 70’s, anemometer masts were attached to the concrete foundations (I say masts because the wind is believed to have removed a number of them). A photo, taken in the early 80’s is below:

W. FPS3 - Proposed Site. In the early stages of planning 91 SU, provision was made for an AN/FPS3 radar. The W. marks where it would have been placed; however, I have found no evidence of any construction taking place – unlike the AN/FPS6 there appear to be no foundations on the site. Once again Bob Jenner has kindly provided a picture of an FPS3:

Type 14 Radar. The Type 14 was installed and operational when the Unit opened in the autumn of 1957. It was “old technology” and at Saxa it was only ever meant as a standby for the Type 80 (which was also an “S” Band Radar). I believe that the Type 80 was developed from one of the earlier versions of the Type 14. The 2 main periods of use for the Type 14 were in 1961, when the Type 80 was off the air following January gales which removed the reflector; and again in 1963, when the over flight picture above was taken (during the erection of the Type 80 Radome). The Type 14 was removed from the site after it was finally switched off in Sep 1964.

Unfortunately I don’t have a decent picture of the Type 14 on site - if anyone can help out it would be much appreciated –
The picture below is an enlargement of part of a photo  taken in 1968 or early 69, and shows the Type 14 Gantry (top right).
The next photo, taken in 1983 also shows where it had been sited and remains of the gantry legs can be seen. The HF 200 Radome on the left of the picture was constructed long after the Type 14 had been dismantled.

A picture of Saxas original Type 14 being landed at Baltasound in 1955 follows:

Type 13 Plinth and Cables only. Like the FPS 6 foundations – another “phantom radar”. I believe that there was never a radar mounted on this plinth/gantry.  In the past various things have been attached to the gantry, but never a Type 13.  In the early years it definitely had an anemometer attached to it – which I think had to be replaced due to wind damage on a number of occasions. A picture of the site, taken in 2011 is shown below:
Until recently this gantry was reputedly the last surviving Type 13 Gantry. However, having just returned from a visit, I can confirm that it was demolished and removed over the winter 2011/2.

Type 80. The Type 80 was the primary search radar for around 20 years. Twice the massive 75’ x 25’ (22.9m x 7.6m) reflector was so badly damaged by winds it had to be replaced (late ‘56 and early ’61); fortunately the latter occasion was the only time when the Unit was operational. This “operational” event could possibly have been prevented – a third line servicing party from No 3 Ground Radar Servicing Squadron at RAF Norton reported hair-line cracks radiating from many bolt holes on the turntable/main spar of the superstructure, thought to have been caused by wind damage, in the summer of 1960.
A number of stories have been told about the Type 80 which have given the radar a “mythical status”. In 1956, during the construction phase, the reflector was detached from the turntable but it came to rest very close by. In 1961 the reflector was also detached during severe gales (Friday 27 Jan). Once again the 18.5 ton reflector came to rest a few metres away. On neither occasion was the radar “blown over the cliff” – in fact the nearest cliff is about 600m from the Type 80 site. I suspect the legend grew up from a little embellishment/exaggeration – but it was a good story. It’s possible the story started at Saxa – I wouldn’t have gone out on a winters night, when the wind speed was well in excess of 100knots, just to see what had happened.

There is also another story which has circulated in a number of places that the Type 80 was “blown out of it’s radome” in 1965. I arrived at Saxa in 1967 and no one mentioned it during my tour but, more significantly, I have examined the official “Operations Record Book” - F540 - paying particular to the technical entries for 1965. I am confident that this did not happen. An event which may have given rise to this legend happened on 12 Feb 65 when a severe gale blew one of the radome doors off its hinges – the damage was repaired locally. That year the Type 80 serviceability record was reasonable – the only major down time being for periods of preplanned maintenance.

I have already written a couple of sections about the Jan 1961 event:
The earliest picture I have (where the radar is identifiable) was taken by Dave Goodall around 1960 from the area of the most northerly house in UK, at Skaw.
In 1963 a Radome was at last constructed and, if you think I want to be a scaffolder, think again!

Type 13. Like the Type 80 the Type 13 gave valuable service for around 20 years. Whilst it did not have the same range as the main search radar or of later height finders, it stood the test of time. Very early on it the ROTOR plans it was envisaged that there would be up to 3 Type 13’s at Saxa – in the end only this plinth-mounted version was constructed. This Type 13 suffered plenty of wind damage and a complete cabin change was required in 1970 – at least with large numbers manufactured there seemed to be no shortage of spare parts. The earliest photo I have of the Type 13 was taken, once again, by Dave Goodall in typical Saxa winter weather around 1960:
RN CHL/CDU Buildings. These will be the subject of a later section in the blog.

Communications -VHF. The Ward of Norwick (about 600ft) and Sothers (or Sodders) Field (about 700ft) were selected as the sites for the original VHF Transmitters and Receivers as early on as Dec ’52 . The plan was for Saxa to have 10 VHF channels on commissioning, with allowances for the sites to add or convert to UHF as and when the equipment became available. Both Transmitter and Receiver sites were to have their own standby power supply. A VHF triangulation facility – to be controlled by the SOC – was also fitted (I presume this was on 121.5 MHz, the VHF emergency frequency). A Bomber Command VHF forward relay facility was installed in Apr 59 followed by 2 forward relay channels for SOC Buchan the following August. The first UHF Channels became available towards the end of 1959. The earliest pictures I have of Transmitters and Receivers were once again taken By David Goodall in about 1960.
Communications -Telephone links. From 1957 until 1962 all ground links were in the hands of the GPO – though numerous circuits were provided. It was a great advance over the WWII Royal Navy site on the hill – in the beginning they had a single landline which had to be routed though the civilian exchange in the Haroldswick Post Office. The GPO used a fixed multi-channel VHF radio link to carry the telephonic communications. It was constructed on the Ward of Norwick at the Transmitter site. It was not until 1962 that an RAF controlled ACE High Link to the Forward Scatter Site at Mossy Hill was established. A later picture of the ACE High Microwave Tower at Saxa (pointing at Collafirth Hill on the Shetland Mainland) is below. Collafirth Hill then linked to the Forward Scatter Station at Mossy Hill. The ridged building to the right of the tower also belonged to ACE High.
TACAN.  The TACAN (Tactical Air Navigation System) beacon arrived at Saxa somewhat later than I had originally thought. Construction work commenced early in 1960 and, after a few problems, it was successfully tested in December of that year.  It was declared fully operational on 5 Jan 61. Almost immediately a number of problems arose. No 2 GRSS were asked to investigate and a team arrived at Saxa on 20 Jan. Apart from a minor fire having to be dealt with, the antenna shaft had to be replaced and a new klystron fitted.  The equipment was returned serviceable on 25 Jan, just in time for the severe gale on the evening of Friday 27 Jan 61 – the gale which removed the 18.5 ton Type 80 antenna. Once the weather had died down a bit it was thought that the TACAN Tower had developed a slight “list”. Eventually it was found that one of the wedges helping to secure one of the Towers feet had loosened and the problem was easily rectified. The history of the TACAN after that was typical for any item left out to face the elements at that latitude – somewhat chequered.

1. Firstly, an appeal to anyone with pictures and data relating to Saxa Vord to pass the items on, either to me or to an organisation such as the Air Defence Radar Museum at Neatishead. Practically everything covered in this section concerns events which occurred more than 50 years ago. Many service units have disappeared almost without trace and our forbears deserve better treatment.

2. Secondly, I can totally recommend a visit to the Air Defence Radar Museum during its opening season:
There are not many places where you can still see a Type 14 Radar: