Pinetree Line

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Pinetree Line
Dew line 1960.jpg
Active1951–1991
CountryCanada
BranchRoyal Canadian Air Force
United States Air Force
TypeEarly-warning radar
RoleContinental Air Defense
Part ofNorth American Aerospace Defense Command

The Pinetree Line was a series of radar stations located across the northern United States and southern Canada at about the 50th parallel north, along with a number of other stations located on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Run by North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) (after its creation), over half were manned by United States Air Force personnel with the balance operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force. The line was the first coordinated system for early detection of a Soviet bomber attack on North America, but before the early 1950s radar technology quickly became outdated and the line was in full operation only for a short time.

History[edit]

Static display of an AN/FPS 508 radar antenna, one of the types used on the Pinetree Line. The antenna rotated at 5 revolutions per minute and could detect aircraft up to 200 mi (320 km) away and at altitudes of 100,000 ft (30,000 m). This antenna is on display at Air Force Heritage Museum and Air Park, Winnipeg

Plans for what would become the Pinetree Line were underway as early as 1946 within the Permanent Joint Board on Defense (PJBD), a Canadian-U.S. organization. However, the costs of running such a system in the post-war era was too high, and instead Canada concentrated on the areas around Ontario and Quebec, while the United States set up stations in the Midwest and along the eastern seaboard. With the successful test of an atomic bomb in the USSR, plans changed considerably. In 1949 Congress agreed to a $161 million construction program in co-operation with the RCAF, for a continuous line of stations across southern Canada. The USAF's Continental Air Command and the RCAF met in October 1950 to start planning, and in January 1951 the PJBD presented Recommendation 51/1 for the Extension of the Continental Radar Defence System. The USAF later requested an additional set of six (potentially) mobile stations to provide low-level coverage. It was later learned that the original radar systems performed better than expected, and a number of the mobile sites were never deployed.

The system was eventually deployed as a series of 33 main stations and 6 smaller "gap fillers". The majority of these ran in a line at about the 53rd parallel in the west (to offer coverage of major Canadian cities) and about the 50th parallel in the east. A second line ran up the eastern seaboard from the southern tip of Nova Scotia to the southern tip of Baffin Island. Of these, 22 of the main stations and all of the gap fillers were paid for by the USAF, leaving 11 to the RCAF. However 16 of the main stations were manned by RCAF personnel. On 1 January 1955, the system was officially handed over to RCAF command, and over time an additional 10 stations were added.

The Pinetree Line had several technical problems that limited its usefulness almost immediately. For one, the system used a pulse-Doppler radar, which made it unable to detect targets close to the ground due to "clutter". Another was that its location near population centres meant it offered only a "last minute" warning, and as the USSR moved to jet-powered bombers the warning time was falling. Studies were already underway in 1951 to build a much smaller series of much more capable Dopplar bistatic radar stations somewhat further north, which would develop into the Mid-Canada Line. By 1957, just over a year after the Mid-Canada Line was operational, a more advanced long-range search radar, mainly in the Canadian north and Alaska were deployed comprising the Distant Early Warning Line.

The Pinetree stations were kept operational during this period, and most underwent modifications as a part of the deployment of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE). SAGE dramatically reduced the workload at the stations, cutting staff requirements by well over half. By the later 1950s some were being mothballed as newer systems came on line to the north. Nevertheless, many of the Pinetree stations were kept operational into the 1980s, particularly on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Radar stations[edit]

Initial sort is based on location from west to east.

Site number Name Province Location Unit Service Activated Deactivated
C-18 CFS Holberg BC 50°38′25″N 128°07′48″W / 50.64028°N 128.13000°W / 50.64028; -128.13000 (Holberg C-18) 501 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
53 Radar Squadron
RCAF 1954 1991
C-36 RCAF Tofino BC 49°04′55″N 125°46′51″W / 49.08194°N 125.78083°W / 49.08194; -125.78083 (Tofino C-36) 52 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron RCAF 1955 1957
C-35 CFB Comox BC 49°42′39″N 124°53′12″W / 49.71083°N 124.88667°W / 49.71083; -124.88667 (Comox C-35) 51 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1958
C-19 RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain BC 52°09′41″N 124°12′22″W / 52.16139°N 124.20611°W / 52.16139; -124.20611 (Puntzi Mountain C-19) 917th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
55 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1952 1966
C-20 CFS Baldy Hughes BC 53°37′06″N 122°56′08″W / 53.61833°N 122.93556°W / 53.61833; -122.93556 (Baldy Hughes C-20) 918th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
54 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-153 CFS Kamloops BC 50°48′08″N 120°07′36″W / 50.80222°N 120.12667°W / 50.80222; -120.12667 (Kamloops C-153) 825th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
56 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1957 1988
C-21 RCAF Saskatoon Mountain
CFS Beaverlodge
AB 55°13′51″N 119°18′19″W / 55.23083°N 119.30528°W / 55.23083; -119.30528 (Beaverlodge C-21) 919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
57 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-54 CFS Penhold AB 52°11′16″N 113°34′41″W / 52.18778°N 113.57806°W / 52.18778; -113.57806 (Penhold C-54) 43 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1964 1986
C-36 CFB Cold Lake AB 54°26′05″N 110°10′47″W / 54.43472°N 110.17972°W / 54.43472; -110.17972 (Cold Lake C-36) 42 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1991
C-53 CFS Alsask SK 51°23′31″N 110°00′12″W / 51.39194°N 110.00333°W / 51.39194; -110.00333 (CFS Alsask AS C-21) 44 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1986
C-52 CFS Dana SK 52°16′42″N 105°46′09″W / 52.27833°N 105.76917°W / 52.27833; -105.76917 (Dana C-52) 45 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1964 1987
C-51 CFS Yorkton SK 51°17′41″N 102°36′21″W / 51.29472°N 102.60583°W / 51.29472; -102.60583 (Yorkton C-51) 46 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1963 1986
C-49 CFS Gypsumville MB 51°39′51″N 098°44′31″W / 51.66417°N 98.74194°W / 51.66417; -98.74194 (Gypsumville C-49) 47 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1962 1987
C-17 CFS Beausejour MB 50°08′53″N 096°13′24″W / 50.14806°N 96.22333°W / 50.14806; -96.22333 (Beausejour C-17) 916th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
48 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-16 CFS Sioux Lookout ON 50°04′59″N 092°00′08″W / 50.08306°N 92.00222°W / 50.08306; -92.00222 (Sioux Lookout C-16) 915th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
39 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1987
C-15 CFS Armstrong ON 50°18′19″N 089°00′49″W / 50.30528°N 89.01361°W / 50.30528; -89.01361 (Armstrong C-15) 914th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
38 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1952 1974
C-14 RCAF Station Pagwa ON 50°01′04″N 085°15′06″W / 50.01778°N 85.25167°W / 50.01778; -85.25167 (Pagwa C-14) 913th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
37 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1952 1966
C-119 CFS Lowther ON 49°33′21″N 082°59′31″W / 49.55583°N 82.99194°W / 49.55583; -82.99194 (Lowther C-119) 639th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
36 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1957 1987
C-9 CFS Falconbridge ON 46°37′34″N 080°50′36″W / 46.62611°N 80.84333°W / 46.62611; -80.84333 (Falconbridge C-9) 33 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1986
C-44 CFS Moosonee ON 51°17′10″N 080°37′23″W / 51.28611°N 80.62306°W / 51.28611; -80.62306 (Moosonee C-44) 15 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1961 1975
C-10 CFS Ramore ON 48°25′37″N 080°14′30″W / 48.42694°N 80.24167°W / 48.42694; -80.24167 (Ramore C-10) 912th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
35 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1974
C-4 CFS Edgar ON 44°31′47″N 079°39′33″W / 44.52972°N 79.65917°W / 44.52972; -79.65917 (Edgar C-4) 31 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1964
C-3 CFS Foymount ON 45°26′01″N 077°18′08″W / 45.43361°N 77.30222°W / 45.43361; -77.30222 (Foymount C-3) 32 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1974
C-8 CFS Senneterre QC 48°21′41″N 077°13′21″W / 48.36139°N 77.22250°W / 48.36139; -77.22250 (Senneterre C-8) 34 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1988
C-7 RCAF Parent QC 47°53′15″N 074°40′09″W / 47.88750°N 74.66917°W / 47.88750; -74.66917 (Parent C-7) 14 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1964
C-42 CFS Chibougamau QC 49°56′53″N 074°20′03″W / 49.94806°N 74.33417°W / 49.94806; -74.33417 (Chibougamau C-42) 10 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1962 1988
C-2 CFS Lac St. Denis QC 45°56′15″N 074°18′41″W / 45.93750°N 74.31139°W / 45.93750; -74.31139 (Lac St. Denis C-2) 11 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1986
C-1 CFS Mont Apica QC 47°58′41″N 071°25′51″W / 47.97806°N 71.43083°W / 47.97806; -71.43083 (Mont Apice C-1) 12 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1990
C-6 RCAF St. Sylvestre QC 46°22′04″N 071°13′51″W / 46.36778°N 71.23083°W / 46.36778; -71.23083 (St. Sylvestre C-6) 13 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1955 1964
N-31 Frobisher Bay Air Base NT[a] 63°45′21″N 068°32′23″W / 63.75583°N 68.53972°W / 63.75583; -68.53972 (Frobisher Bay N-31) 926th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1961
C-33 CFS Moisie QC 50°11′39″N 066°05′16″W / 50.19417°N 66.08778°W / 50.19417; -66.08778 (Moisie C-33) 211 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1988
C-102 CFS Barrington NS 43°27′06″N 065°28′17″W / 43.45167°N 65.47139°W / 43.45167; -65.47139 (Barrington C-102) 672d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
23 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1957 1990
C-5 CFS St. Margarets NB 46°54′31″N 065°12′31″W / 46.90861°N 65.20861°W / 46.90861; -65.20861 (St. Margarets C-5) 21 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1988
N-30 CFS Resolution Island NT[a] 61°35′47″N 064°38′18″W / 61.59639°N 64.63833°W / 61.59639; -64.63833 (Resolution Island N-30) 920th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1951 1961
C-11 RCAF Beaverbank NS 44°55′49″N 063°43′33″W / 44.93028°N 63.72583°W / 44.93028; -63.72583 (Beaverbank C-11) 22 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1964
N-29 CFS Saglek NL 58°29′19″N 062°35′08″W / 58.48861°N 62.58556°W / 58.48861; -62.58556 (Saglek N-29) 924th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1970
N-24 Melville Air Station NL 53°17′45″N 060°32′24″W / 53.29583°N 60.54000°W / 53.29583; -60.54000 (Melville N-24) 107th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
641st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
641 Aircraft Control and Radar Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-24 Goose Air Force Base NL 53°19′09″N 060°25′33″W / 53.31917°N 60.42583°W / 53.31917; -60.42583 (Goose Bay C-24) Goose Air Defense Sector
64th Air Division
37th Air Division
USAF 1953 1971
N-28 Hopedale Air Station NL 55°27′59″N 060°13′47″W / 55.46639°N 60.22972°W / 55.46639; -60.22972 (Hopedale N-28) 923d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1968
C-34 CFS Sydney NS 46°10′03″N 060°09′52″W / 46.16750°N 60.16444°W / 46.16750; -60.16444 (Sydney C-34) 221 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1991
N-28A Cape Makkovik Air Station NL 55°13′30″N 059°08′45″W / 55.22500°N 59.14583°W / 55.22500; -59.14583 (Cape Makkovik N-28A) 923d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-23 Stephenville Air Station NL 48°35′21″N 058°39′51″W / 48.58917°N 58.66417°W / 48.58917; -58.66417 (Stephenville N-23) 105th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
640th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
USAF 1952 1971
N-27A Cut Throat Island Air Station NL 54°29′47″N 057°08′00″W / 54.49639°N 57.13333°W / 54.49639; -57.13333 (Cut Throat Island N-27A) 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-27 Cartwright Air Station NL 53°43′28″N 056°57′51″W / 53.72444°N 56.96417°W / 53.72444; -56.96417 (Cartwright N-27) 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1968
N-27B Spotted Island Air Station NL 53°31′05″N 055°44′56″W / 53.51806°N 55.74889°W / 53.51806; -55.74889 (Spotted Island N-27B) 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-27C Fox Harbour Air Station NL 52°22′12″N 055°39′52″W / 52.37000°N 55.66444°W / 52.37000; -55.66444 (Fox Harbour N-27C) 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-26 Saint Anthony Air Station NL 51°20′57″N 055°36′39″W / 51.34917°N 55.61083°W / 51.34917; -55.61083 (Saint Anthony N-26) 921st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1968
N-26B La Scie Air Station NL 49°58′50″N 055°31′48″W / 49.98056°N 55.53000°W / 49.98056; -55.53000 (La Scie N-26B) 921st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-25 CFB Gander NL 48°56′36″N 054°34′57″W / 48.94333°N 54.58250°W / 48.94333; -54.58250 (Gander N-25) 226 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1990
N-22B Elliston Ridge Air Station NL 48°37′33″N 053°03′31″W / 48.62583°N 53.05861°W / 48.62583; -53.05861 (Elliston Ridge N-22B) 642d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-22 Red Cliff Air Station
St. Johns Air Station
NL 47°38′20″N 052°40′02″W / 47.63889°N 52.66722°W / 47.63889; -52.66722 (Red Cliff N-22) 642d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1961
  1. ^ a b These stations were originally in the NT but are presently located in Nunavut

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  • A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946–1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  • The Pinetree Line

External links[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX