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Master Radar Station

Radar Type 80

Radar Type 80 (C) East Anglian Daily TimesThe first radar I worked on when I completed my RAF apprenticeship in 1972 was this Type 80 (shown in photo to the left) at RAF Bawdsey near Felixstowe in Suffolk, England. This was a 2.5 Mw (peak) S-band (3 GHz or 3,000 MHz) search radar with a range of around 200-250 miles. The transmitter and receiver equipment and IFF equipment rack was housed in the square cabin just below the antenna that rotated with the antenna. After working in here for a while whilst the radar was rotating you could feel quite ill! One novelty trick was to toss a screw driver across the cabin to your mate. It would describe a curved course as it flew and you had to aim a little clockwise if he was to be able to catch it! If you look at the large version of this photograph you might be able to make out the IFF aerial mounted just below and in front of the feed array. The building below was known as the modulator building and housed the high voltage power supplies for the transmitter modulator. The cabin was connected to the modulator building by a tube containing slip rings that carried power and signals up to the rotating parts.

Radar Type 80 (photo - Searching the Skies)The aerial rotated at 4 rpm and you'll get an idea of the size of this beast from the size of the stairways in the top picture and the people standing to the left in the lower picture. When the propagation conditions allowed we could see the power lines across northern France. The Type 80 was developed in the early 1950's from an experimental design based on the Type 14 Mk VI under the project code name Green Garlic. Almost overnight this radar made the "Rotor" air defence system redundant, offering superior range and performance over existing "Rotor" equipment that formed a chain of air defence radar stations that covered the United Kingdom. The Type 80 was so successful that many of the old "Rotor" stations closed within a few years of commencing operation and the stations equipped with the Type 80 became Master Radar Stations (MRS).

Mercury Arc Rectifier (Photo: Ken Fyson - received from Trevor Reynaert)One feature of the Type 80 modulator that never failed to impress visitors was a large twelve phase mercury arc power rectifier known as the "Mekon", after Dan Dare's mortal enemy in the "Eagle" comic. In operation the "Mekon" shone a bright violet colour and gave off high levels of UV radiation. The "Mekon" was housed in its own cubicle with a darkened glass observation window; it was an impressive sight to see the arc dance around on the pool of mercury. (This photograph appears to be signed "K. J. Fyson, Oct 85" Ken Fyson was a civilian instructor in 2T block at RAF Locking for a number of years. He was also a keen amateur photographer - Ed)

Concise details of Radar Type 80: (From Annex A to AP 3401, Chapter 22)

1.      Class of Equipment.
The Type 80 is a long range fixed radar operating in the E/F band (S-band) of frequencies.

2.      Purpose of Equipment.
Long and medium range control and surveillance.

3.      Frequency.
One of several frequencies in the band from 2,850 to 3,050 MHz.

4.      Coverage.
a.      Azimuth. 0
o to 360o on continuous rotation.
b.      Elevation. Cosec
2 radiation pattern from 0o to about 30o

5.      Range Performance.
See Fig 22 - 2. 90% probability of paint on Canberra-sized target at about 210 nm at 45,000 ft; continuous tracking on the same target from about 200 nm.

6.      Discrimination.
The Type 80 should discriminate between two targets one mile apart at 150 nm.

7.      Aerial Characteristics.
a.      Polarization. Horizontal.
b.      Beam Shape. In elevation Cosec
2; in azimuth 0.3o at 3 dB points.

8.      Aerial Reflector. 75 ft long by 25 ft high, of distorted parabolic section, producing Cosec2 radiation pattern. Mounted on 25 ft gantry.

9.      Aerial Feed. Slotted wave guide.

10.     Scanning Rates. Normally 4 rev/mm, but up to 6 rev/mm possible.

11.     Transmitter.
a.      Type. Magnetron.
b.      Pulse Width. 5 (normal) or 2 uS.
c.      PRF. 235 to 300 pps.
d.      Peak Power Output. 1 MW (Mks 1, 1A, and 2), 2.5 MW (Mk 3).

12.     Receiver. Two output channels: linear and logarithmic.

 Editors note: I am indebted to Kelvin Holmes for providing the technical details of the Type 80

Type 80 S-Band Search Radar at RAF Sopley (Photo: via John Levesley)
 Type 80 S-Band Search Radar - RAF Sopley

 Type 80 S-Band Search Radar - Germany (Photo: from Yahoo Military Radars Group)
Type 80 S-Band Search Radar - Germany


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Updated 04/06/2003

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