Cross City Air Force Station
|Cross City Air Force Station
Cross City Army Airfield
|Part of Air Defense Command|
|Dixie County, near Cross City, Florida|
Cross City AFS in the 1960s
Cross City Army Airfield, 1944
|Type||Long Range Radar Site|
|Code||ADC ID: TM-200, NORAD ID: Z-200|
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
|Built by||U.S. Air Force|
|Garrison||Cross City, Florida|
Closed after the war and returned to civil control, in 1958 the United States Air Force exercised a right of return and a portion of the airport became an Air Defense Command ground interceptor radar site. Closed by the Air Force in 1970, the radars were turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Today it is part of the Joint Surveillance System (JSS), designated by NORAD as Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) Ground Equipment Facility J-10.
World War II
The airport was opened as a public airport in April, 1940. In August 1942, the facility was requisitioned by the United States Army Air Forces, and construction began to convert the Civil Aeronautics Administration airport in Cross City to a dive bomber military training airfield. The construction included the addition of and improvements to buildings, taxiways, roads, and hard stands. Historical documents list three ranges at the Cross City AAF: a shoot-in-butt, a rifle range, and a skeet range.
Known as Cross City Army Airfield, it was used as part of the Army Air Forces Center (AAF Center)'s combat simulation school in Central and Northern Florida and as a unit training center by Third Air Force.
Activated on 27 October 1942 as part of the Air University Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics, Cross City AAF was assigned as a sub-base of Orlando Army Air Base, and came under the jurisdiction of the 50th Fighter Group stationed at Orlando.
The 50th assigned the 305th Fighter Squadron (Single Engine), flying Bell P-39 Airacobra aircraft to the field on 21 October 1942. to fly training missions from Cross City. In June 1943, this squadron was replaced by the AAF Center's 81st Fighter Squadron (Single Engine), flying P-47 Thunderbolts until 1 February 1944.
In support of the training mission, the Horseshoe Point Auxiliary Airfield () was used by the school as an auxiliary and emergency landing airfield. No personnel were permanently assigned to Horseshoe Point.
Third Air Force
The Air University training mission ended in late June 1944, when Cross City was officially reassigned to III Fighter Command. With the transfer, Cross City was assigned to Third Air Force and became a sub-base of Alachua Army Airfield, near Gainesville, assigned to the Commando Squadron Fighter Training School.
A different mission of sorts was ordered by III Fighter Command, the training of Air Commando fighter units for the China Burma India Theater and the invasion of Burma. Cross City was initially assigned squadrons of the 2d and 3d Air Commando Groups training with North American P-51 Mustang fighters. However, it was decided by Third Air Force to consolidate the Commando fighter Squadron training at Alachua AAF. Instead, the Liaison Squadrons of the 2d Air Commando Group were moved to Cross City from Lakeland Army Airfield in late June. Through the summer and early fall of 1944, six liaison squadrons were trained at the airfield with L-4 and L-5 Grasshoppers and C-64 Norseman observation aircraft in short field landings and tactical reconnaissance missions.
With the Air Commando units moving out at the end of 1944, the flying mission wound down at Cross City and it was used as an auxiliary of the Air Technical Service Command facilities at Alachua AAF. The airfield remained open; mostly seeing transient training aircraft from various training bases in Florida and South Georgia. The number of personnel were reduced, being reassigned to other bases.
In January 1945, Third Air Force sent down orders to close the facility, and it was placed on inactive status on 1 February 1945. Jurisdiction of the airfield was transferred to Air Technical Service Command (ATSC), whose mission was the transfer of any useful military equipment to other bases around the country. Under ATSC, buildings and equipment were sold and any useful military equipment was transferred to other bases around the country. The base was declared as surplus in 1946 and was turned over to the War Assets Administration (WAA) for disposal and return to civil use. After the war, the airfield was returned to civil control and the Cross City Airport was re-established.
World War II units assigned
Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics
- 305th Fighter Squadron, 21 October 1942 – 13 June 1943 (P-39 Airacobra)
- 81st Fighter Squadron, 18 June 1943 – 1 February 1944 (P-47 Thunderbolt)
Third Air Force
- 1st Fighter Squadron (Commando), 12–21 June 1944 (P-51 Mustang)
- 2d Fighter Squadron (Commando), 9–21 June 1944 (P-51 Mustang)
- 127th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 21 June-17 August 1944
- 155th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 21 June-17 August 1944
- 156th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 21 June-17 August 1944
- 157th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 19 August-6 October 1944
- 159th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 19 August-6 October 1944
- 160th Liaison Squadron (Commando), 19 August-6 October 1944
Air Defense Command
In 1958, the United States Air Force reestablished a presence on the airport under the operational control of Air Defense Command (ADC). The portion of the field used by ADC was renamed Cross City Air Force Station. The 691st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (AC&W Sq) moved from Dobbins AFB, Georgia with an AN/FPS-20A search RADAR and a pair of AN/FPS-6A height-finder RADAR sets on 1 July, and initially the station functioned as a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and warning station. As a GCI station, the squadron's role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit's radar scopes.
During 1959 Cross City AFS joined the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, feeding data to Direction Center DC-09 at Gunter AFB, Alabama. After joining, the squadron was re-designated as the 691st Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 October 1959. The radar squadron provided information 24/7 the SAGE Direction Center where it was analyzed to determine range, direction altitude speed and whether or not aircraft were friendly or hostile.
In 1962 the search radar was upgraded to an AN/FPS-66 radar, and then to an AN/FPS-66A in 1967. In addition to the general radar surveillance, Cross city AFS supported CIM-10 Bomarc antiaircraft missile testing by the 4751st Air Defense Missile Squadron at Eglin Auxiliary Field #9 (Hurlburt Field), Florida.
In addition to the main facility, Cross City operated two AN/FPS-14 Gap Filler sites:
- Perry, Florida (TM-200A):
- Bridgeboro, Georgia (TM-200B/TM-199B):
On 1 April 1966 the Montgomery Air Defense Sector was replaced by the 32d Air Division. In 1969 one AN/FPS-6 was removed. The Air Force inactivated the 691st Radar Squadron on 30 September 1970 and closed the facility.
Today what was Cross City Air Force Station is now the Florida Department of Corrections' Cross City Correctional Institution. Access by the general public is not permitted. Many former Air Force buildings are utilized by the prison. The radar site is still used as part of the Joint Surveillance System (JSS).
Post-War Air Force units and assignments
- 691st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, assigned 1 July 1958
- Activated 1 March 1958 at Dobbins AFB, Georgia (not equipped or manned)
- Redesignated 691st Radar Squadron (SAGE), 1 October 1959
- Inactivated 30 September 1970
- 35th Air Division, 1 December 1957
- 32d Air Division, 15 November 1958
- Montgomery Air Defense Sector, 1 November 1959
- 32d Air Division, 1 April 1966
- 20th Air Division, 19 November 1969 – 30 September 1970
- Florida World War II Army Airfields
- Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics
- List of USAF Aerospace Defense Command General Surveillance Radar Stations
- Maurer, Maurer. (ed.), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, Office of Air Force History, Washington, DC, 1969 (reprint 1982), p.369
- Id., p.285
- USAFHRA Document 00171241
- USAFHRA Document 00117882
- USAFHRA Document 00171240
- Cornett, Lloyd H. and Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson AFB, CO (1980), p.161
- USAFHRA Document 00463594
- This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.
- Cornett, Lloyd H. and Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson AFB, CO (1980).
- Maurer, Maurer. (ed.), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force Office of Air Force History, Washington, DC, 1969 (reprint 1982) ISBN 0-405-12194-6.
- Maurer, Maurer (ed.), Air Force Combat Units of World War II, Office of Air Force History, Washington, DC, 1961 (reprint 1983) ISBN 0-912799-02-1.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History's Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., 2004.
- Winkler, David F. & Webster, Julie L., Searching the Skies, The Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program, US Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories, Champaign, IL (1997).
- Information for Cross City AFS, FL