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Pinetree Line

A rough map of the three warning lines. From north to south: Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, Mid-Canada Line, and Pinetree Line.

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 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early detection of a Soviet bomber attack on North America, but before the early 1950s radar technology quickly became outdated and the line was in full operation only for a short time.

Contents

  • History 1
  • Radar stations 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

History

Plans for what would become the Pinetree Line were underway as early as 1946 within the 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 "classic" pulsed mode 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 Doppler radar stations somewhat further north, which would develop into the Mid-Canada Line, and just over a year after MCL, a more advanced system in the extreme north was built which would be known as the DEW Line.

The Pinetree stations were kept operational during this period, and most underwent modifications as a part of the deployment of 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

Site Number Name Province Location Unit Service Activated Inactivated
C-53 CFS Alsask SK 44 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1986
C-15 CFS Armstrong ON 914th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
38 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1952 1974
C-20 CFS Baldy Hughes BC 918th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
54 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-102 CFS Barrington NS } 672d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
23 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1957 1990
C-17 CFS Beausejour MB 916th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
48 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-11 RCAF Beaverbank NS 22 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1964
C-21 RCAF Saskatoon Mountain
CFS Beaverlodge
AB 919th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
57 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
N-28A Cape Makkovik Air Station NL 923d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-27 Cartwright Air Station NL 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1968
C-42 CFS Chibougamau QC 10 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1962 1988
C-36 CFB Cold Lake AB 42 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1991
C-35 CFB Comox BC 51 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1958
N-27A Cut Throat Island Air Station NL 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
C-52 CFS Dana SK 45 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1964 1987
C-4 CFS Edgar ON 31 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1964
N-22B Elliston Ridge Air Station NL 642d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
C-9 CFS Falconbridge ON 33 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1986
N-27C Fox Harbour Air Station NL 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
C-3 CFS Foymount ON 32 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1974
N-31 Frobisher Bay AB NU 926th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1961
N-25 CFB Gander NL 226 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1990
C-24 Goose Air Force Base NL Goose Air Defense Sector
64th Air Division
37th Air Division
USAF 1953 1971
C-49 CFS Gypsumville MB 47 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1962 1987
C-18 CFS Holberg BC 501 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
53 Radar Squadron
RCAF 1954 1991
N-28 Hopedale Air Station NL } 923d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1968
C-153 CFS Kamloops BC 825th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
56 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1957 1988
C-2 CFS Lac St. Denis QC 11 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1986
N-26B La Scie Air Station NL 921st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
C-119 CFS Lowther ON 639th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
36 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1957 1987
N-24 Melville Air Station NL 107th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
641st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
641 Aircraft Control and Radar Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1988
C-33 CFS Moisie QC 211 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1988
C-1 CFS Mont Apica QC 12 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1952 1990
C-44 CFS Moosonee ON 15 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1961 1975
C-14 RCAF Station Pagwa ON 913th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
37 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1952 1966
C-7 RCAF Parent QC 14 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1964
C-54 CFS Penhold AB 43 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1964 1986
C-19 RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain BC 917th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
55 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1952 1966
C-10 CFS Ramore ON 912th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
35 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1974
N-30 CFS Resolution Island NU 920th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1951 1961
N-29 Saglek Air Station NL 924th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1970
C-8 CFS Senneterre QC 34 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1988
C-16 CFS Sioux Lookout ON 915th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
39 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron
USAF
RCAF
1953 1987
N-27B Spotted Island Air Station NL 922d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1957 1961
N-26 Saint Anthony Air Station NL 921st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1968
N-22 Red Cliff Air Station
St. Johns Air Station
NL 642d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron USAF 1953 1961
C-5 CFS St. Margarets NB 21 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1953 1988
C-6 RCAF St. Sylvestre QC 206 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1955 1964
N-23 Stephenville Air Station NL 105th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
640th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
USAF 1952 1971
C-34 CFS Sydney NS 221 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1954 1991
C-36 RCAF Tofino BC 52 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron RCAF 1955 1957
C-51 CFS Yorkton SK 46 Aircraft Control and Warning (later Radar) Squadron RCAF 1963 1986

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • 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
  • Pinetree Line Database

External links

[http://www.trackingdistance.com 1997 video documentary by Greg Marshall - Personal stories from Canada's role in the Cold War and NORAD]

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