Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Cambria Air Force Station
(Cambria Radar Site B-86, Cambria Aircraft Warning Site)

Cambria Air Force Station is a closed United States Air Force General Surveillance Radar station. It is located 3 miles (4.8 km) south-southeast of Cambria, California. It was closed in 1980. During World War II, it was an air defense radar site operated by the Army Air Forces as part of the San Francisco Control Group.

Cambria AFS History

Cambria Air Force Station was one of twenty-eight stations built as part of the second segment of the Air Defense Command permanent radar network. Prompted by the start of the Korean War, on July 11, 1950, the Secretary of the Air Force asked the Secretary of Defense for approval to expedite construction of the permanent network. Receiving the Defense Secretary’s approval on July 21, the Air Force directed the Corps of Engineers to proceed with construction.

The 775th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was initially assigned to a temporary "Lashup" site (LP-2) that was established in November 1951 at Cambria equipped with an AN/TPS-1C radar. On 1 December 1953 the permanent station was activated with AN/FPS-3 search and AN/CPS-4 height-finder radars, replacing the earlier site, 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.

In 1955 the height-finder radar was replaced by an AN/FPS-6. An AN/FPS-8 search radar also operated for a short time from 1955 to 1956. In 1959 the site featured two AN/FPS-3, and AN/FPS-6 and AN/FPS-6A radars. In 1961 the site received an AN/FPS-7 radar featuring ECCM capability. In 1961 the site also replaced the AN/FPS-6A height-finder radar with an AN/FPS-6B model. In April 1961 Cambria AFS joined the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, feeding data to DC-17 at Norton AFB, California. After joining, the squadron was redesignated as the 775th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 May 1961. 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 1963 an AN/FPS-26A replaced the AN/FPS-6B height-finder radar, and continued routine radar surveillance throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Cambria AFS was re-designated as NORAD ID Z-2 on 31 July 1963.

In addition to the main facility, Cambria operated the AN/FPS-14 Gap Filler site:

Lockwood, CA (P-2A)

Over the years, the equipment at the station was upgraded or modified to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the information gathered by the radars. In 1979 Cambria came under Tactical Air Command (TAC) jurisdiction with the inactivation of Aerospace Defense Command and the creation of ADTAC. Operations ceased on 30 September 1980 as a result of budget restrictions, and the general phase down of air defense radar stations.

Today, what was Cambria Air Force Station is in private hands. It was operated by the Coast Guard as a NAVTEX (Navigational Telex, broadcasting safety notices & weather info to ships) station. The station sold 1/13/05 for $2,000,000. Most buildings are in reasonable condition with most of the towers still remaining.

Air Force Units and Assignments


Constituted as the 775th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
Activated at Cambria, California on 7 March 1951
Site renamed Cambria Air Force Station on 1 December 1953
Redesignated as 775th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 May 1961
Redesignated as 775th Radar Squadron on 1 February 1974
Inactivated on 30 September 1980


542d Aircraft Control and Warning Group, 7 March 1951
28th Air Division, 6 February 1952
27th Air Division, 1 October 1954
Los Angeles Air Defense Sector, 1 October 1959
27th Air Division, 1 April 1966
26th Air Division, 19 November 1969 - 30 September 1980

Source: Wikipedia


World War II Cambria Radar Site B-86 History
by Daniel M. Sebby, Military Historian, California Military Department
At sometime during World War II, the Army Air Forces established an air defense radar site south of the town of Cambria in San Luis Obispo County. This site should not be confused for the Cold War era Cambria Air Force Station which was established on the same site in 1950 . The leased 17-acre site housed 21 enlisted soldiers and one officer in "Permanent" buildings, probably concrete block structures built to resemble rural farm structures. The Army is known to have built such buildings in coastal California. (i.e. Klamath River Radar Site B-71) . The site was operated by an element of the 656th Signal Aircraft Warning Company. The 7 May 1945 Army of the United States Station List indicates that a detachment of the 68th Army Air Forces Base Unit (1st Weather Region) was also located at Cambria and possibly operated from this same site. This site was closed after World War II and does not appear as one of the 11 radar sites assigned to the Hamilton Field based Squadron B, 412th Army Air Force Base Unit (Western Aircraft & Control Group) that was formed on 28 February 1947.
Sources: War Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities, December 1945
SCR-271-D and SCR-271-E Fixed Long Wave Aircraft Warning Set
Description: Fixed long wave early warning aircraft detector. Azimuth and range supplied on "A" scopes. 271-D has a 100' tower; 271-E, a 50' tower.
Uses: To establish a screen of warning which gives data on aircraft as early as possible, but with a sacrifice of accuracy in range, azimuth and elevation. IFF equipment RC-151 is used.
Performance and Siting: Maximum range on a single medium bomber flying at indicated altitudes, when set is on a flat sea level site:
 Altitude, feet  1000  5000  20,000  25,000
 SCR-271-E Range, miles  20  50  100  110
 SCR-271-D Range, miles  25  60  120  135
Sets should be sited so that the mean antenna height is between 100 and 1000 ft. above an unobstructed flat surface. The 100' tower should be used when it is desired to get additional low coverage, or to insure clearance above surrounding trees or other obstructions.
Transportability: Sets are packed in 106 units, weighing a total of 42,279 lbs. Largest unit is 176" x 25" x 20". Total volume is 4008 cu. fit.
Installation: Requires a weatherproof building approx. 20' x 40' for housing radar components and a building approx. 20' x 20' for housing the power units and switchboard. A 100 foot tower on concrete footings is required for an SCR-271-D and a 50-ft. tower for an SCR-271-3. Buildings and tower are built by engineers in about 3 weeks. Radar can be installed by five men in about two weeks.
Personnel: 7 men are operating crew. For 24 hour operations, about 50 men are required for radar, communication radio, and camp.
Power: 15.3 KW supplied by PE 74, 25 KVA gasoline-driven generator. Consumption is 4 gal. per hour, non-leaded standard commercial gas.
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Updated 23 June 2017