Midland Radar, RAF ATCRU, North Luffenham

Midland Radar 1964

The following is from memory and hearsay – please correct where possible – atchistory

The facilities used by Midland Radar, like Northern and Eastern Radars, was formerly used as part of the Bloodhound air defence guided missile system. All three were virtually identical sites when handed over for use as long range area radar units.

The three stations used the Type 82 radar, with a stacked beam design that enabled height finding without needing  separate additional height finding radars. Unlike Northern and Eastern there was no civil ATS cell. I vaguely remember that Midland perhaps provided a Centralised Approach Control Service for a number of military airfields. The photo above shows the cinema style ops room very well, just off screen was a shared data wall. The four console control position suites are shown very well, with the right hand display used for height finding. Some sectors have an additional high level display showing either a longer range display or a second remote radar picture.

Both Northern and Eastern radars feature elsewhere on this site as does the Type 82 radar.

8 thoughts on “Midland Radar, RAF ATCRU, North Luffenham”

  1. I was there for the closing of Midland Radar – most of us had our postings but some were staying on to close up the place and be de-mobbed from there – I remember a SAC(W) who had a Morris Minor – think she was moving to the States!

    some really good people there

    there was an impromptu bonfire, which caused the fire brigade to turn out – a few exuberant SAC’s brought out wooden boards to burn

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  2. I was there late 60s. Climb outs let downs Waddington, scampton, bassingbourn, w. Raynham, Markham plus other bits of crap. Anything under 10,000′ was indistinguishable from hailstones, still there was only a couple of fatalities! I have a vague memory of a Hastings doing a regular trip that we had to track… Something like a chapter out of catch22….God, it was boring there!!!

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  3. I was stationed at Midland Radar from 1981 to 1983, having previously been at Northern. (Same setup, but Northern was larger, and had civvy controllers as well as RAF)

    I was never banished to HF 3, as in view of my 4 yrs experience at Northern, I was given a training role when I first arrived at Midland, later to move to the ‘Stats’ room – a bit of a General Dogsbody role, maintaining/repairing the backlit data wall (not operating it, that was even worse than any HF role….), providing stats info to the Sqn Ltr Ops, etc. So I was quite lucky, as we were quite autonomous, with a cushy job, could walk around for hours with a clipboard……

    I recall that Midland, unlike Eastern and Northern, didn’t operate 24/7, but closed at weekends, and approx 11.30pm during the week, which reflected its role as climbout/letdown rather than mainly transit control

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  4. From memory we provided approach and climbout services to: Binbrook, Finningley, Scampton, Waddington, Marham and Coningsby.

    The highest desk at the back or the room (Console 3) was for general radar services including aircraft crossing airway Blue 1, which were mainly F-111s and A10s going to & from the bombing ranges. I spent many a snoozy hour on ‘Heights 3’, the most dreaded position in the room as there was no escape from the tedium – the other consoles were only staffed as needed but 3 was always open.

    The building is still there and I often wonder what is left of the inside..

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  5. Midland radar provided a CAC(centralised approach control) facility for airfields in Lincolnshire and for Finningley and for Marham in Norfolk. There was always a bit of banter about Midlands overhead, but the reason why it did the CAC for Marham was due to Easterns overhead!

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    1. Midland’s overhead was legendary. There were stickers all over the place saying “Midland’s Overhead Ends Here”. I remember seeing one in one of the loos at West Drayton and I understand another appeared at Port Stanley in the Falklands!

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  6. Wasn’t Highland Radar part of the same defence system. I worked there as a cadet in 1975. It also had. Type 80/82 but if memory serves me right it also had a height finder.

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