Originally posted by lost_shaman
..your forgetting that White Sands Proving Ground has had a RADAR for several years by this time. ( 1948 -1949 )
There were lots of radar units around at the time, but only two operational long-range (200 mile) stations 1
, and one of those (Half-Moon Bay)
was dismantled and the operating unit moved to New Mexico under secret orders, specifically to provide coverage for Los Alamos, Kirtland, and Roswell
(I can't believe I'm doing footnotes now
This was before MIT got involved and started testing advanced radar at White Sands; the White Sands units up through 1950, at least, were either
airport-approach type, or specific-purpose telemetry systems inadequete for tracking the anticipated fleets of heavy bombers.
What I was getting at is fairly simple: they (USAF) needed to test these new, inland radar installations under anticipated conditions (ie, detection
of fast, high-flying Soviet bombers).
Since blimps were being used as both flying test beds and calibration targets, both then and up through the late 1950s, it's reasonable, for me at
least, to think they may have been used in New Mexico; a plane has to fly around, and you can't control a balloon -- only a blimp can park in one
spot while the radar operators and engineers adjust the equipment.
How would you site-test? Because, at that time, radar and
eyeballs were more-or-less line-of-sight, a flare or rocket could be a good way to
test whether a proposed site's coverage was adequate. One way might be to fire rockets up and over the facilities you intend to protect, while
aerial observers watch for the exhaust plumes and try to establish the perimeters of possible radar detection. A blimp would make a good observing
Then again, you could tow or release flares around the outer perimeter while ground observers watch from your proposed radar sites. Eventually you
might even want to fire off the same sort of rockets around the outer limits of the area, reaching altitudes approximating the bombers you think might
come someday. Winged aircraft could certainly fire rockets, but there seems to be no reason a blimp could not.
They HAD to test; this wasn't a game, it was nuclear warfare, bet-the-farm and hope to die. They had to be right and they had to be right the first
time, because it would also be the last. Since it took the better part of two years, in most cases, to bring a new radar site on-line, there was no
room for error in site planning. Again, they HAD to test the new sites; the only question is HOW they tested.
For anyone who's at all interested, it might be constuctive to correlate the green fireball sightings against the timeline of radar construction in
the New Mexico; if I get time I might get back to it, but for now, I'm still stuck in 1947.
BTW, I noticed in the La Paz/AFOSI Catalog (PDF)
of the entries are not green fireballs, but silvery disk/cigar-shaped objects. Apparently the brief wave of sightings that swept the country in 1947
kept going in the green-fireball areas. Gee, imagine that.
Remember that Roswell debris was supposed to be a RAWIN RADAR reflector?
I'm relying on it. A blimp would be the only conventional aircraft that would need
to carry a radar target.
So from a Historical perspective , we did not even have "Aircraft " that could travel 3 miles per second , much less 10 miles per
Only 3 sightings had half-way resonable trajectories and those had timing estimates that covered at least a 467% range and the distance estimates were
By the time the equipment was in place to (inadequately) assess the phenomenon (Project Twinkle, February 1950), the needed inland radar sites
providing coverage to NM and Texas were either completed and operational, or under construction 3
, so there were no more tests to be done.
And I enjoy a good discussion, too
You and a few others have
forced me firm up my ideas quite a bit and continue to get
my votes and thanks.
-- "[A.]t the end of 1947...ADC operated only two radar stations: one at Arlington, Washington, and one at Half Moon Bay near San Francisco,
California." Searching the Skies: The Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar
-- "March 48 -- 636th AC&WS received orders to...[i.]nstall, maintain and operate an Air Defense Control Center in the vicinity of
Kirtland...[and.] install, maintain and operate...early warning stations in the vicinity of Roswell AFB and Los Alamos."
Half Moon Bay EWS, CA - Chronological History
, hosted at Online Air Defense Radar Museum
-- Lashup Sites, again courtesy of Online Air Defense Radar Museum
: look for Lashup
the Early Radar
menu item. You can also look up records of all US air defense radar sites.