Report: **BIG** Boatanchor visited!!!

Wed Sep 16 05:50:26 EDT 1998

Hello gang,

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be inside a 1950s working mobile Radar
van at a local military air base (Manises, Valencia, Spain; Wing 11). This
base is going to be dismantled in a couple of weeks, so it was the last
opportunity to look at those nice glowing tubes (somebody told me there are
near 2000 tubes in the set, but I didn't count them ;-)). That radar
assembly, model AN/MPN 11D is used to safely land Mirage F-1 combat planes.
I was able to get into the cockpit of a (landed, of course) Mirage F-1.
Wow!!!. It should be as difficult to manage as Windows 95 ;-)!. So many
knobs, buttons, switches, indicators, ... I really admire pilots!.

Yesterday, they had scheduled a night flight. I was at about 30 meters of
the runway, just where the planes take off. It was a really astounding
experience!. BTW, one of the pilots did a nice take off, with a very high
elevation angle, as he knew we (just three visitors and five ot six
military men) were there. Incredible!.

Well, come back to BAs!. The radar is mounted in a truck, with two
different sections: one is for storage/repair and part of the power supply,
and there is a duplicate of each rack-mounted radar assembly (about 25), in
working order, to fastly replacement in case of failure. There are lots of
spare tubes, relays, ... The power supply included some three phase
elements, a BIG 28VDC selenium rectified PS and some other gear.

The other section of the truck, which has air conditioning at about 14
degrees C (cold place!!!), has the working radar, with a soft light
illumination. Six big round CRT displays, in groups of two, enable three
simultaneus operators. We watched the evolution of the military planes and
also some commercial ones. I could see, by opening some front covers,
hundreds of glowing tubes!. Nice view!. And the final power amp (X-ray
warning!), looked just so pretty... I asked to the technicians about the
reliability of that radar: 90,000 approximations in about 40 years, with a
very low failure rate and no plane crashes. Not bad at all :-)!.

The antennas, apart of the usual rotary parabollic offset reflector,
included some small discones (UHF) and some vertical antennas (VHF), which
where used to communicate with the planes and the main control tower. By
the way, all the VHF and UHF gear is not of same vintage as the radar
assembly. But I estimate near 75% of original gear (including a 1 meter
tall oscilloscope!).

Then I went to a separate storage area and saw _lots_ of NIB tubes in
shelves (I can remember just some: 304TL, 3B28, 807, 829B, magnetrons,
thyratrons, lots of miniature types, ...). There were also hundreds of
encapsulated relays, oil filled transformers, sub-assemblies, ... And they
used no less than a TV-7 tube checker :-)

Sad part of the story is that ALL of this is going to be _trashed_ in some
days :-(. Including spare tubes and parts!!!. Yes, here in Spain there are
not military surplus sales. Things are just smashed or stored... to be
smashed in the future... No, I have no military relatives to help on this :-(

Well, hope this report has not bored you too much!. It has been a very
interesting experience for me. I had never saw so many glowing bottles
working at once... and working so fine!.

Best regards from an (still) impressed boy.

  73 EB5AGV / EC5AAU
     Ausias March 46, 15
     46910 Benetusser - VALENCIA

** VISIT MY VINTAGE RADIO SITE - updated 9-September-1998 ***
  e-mail: eb5agv at & eb5agv at

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