A HISTORY OF ROYAL AIR FORCE NEATISHEAD
The Station Badge is related to the origin of the name 'Neatishead', a word derived from the old Anglo Saxon 'Nethes Herda' meaning the 'abode of the keeper of cattle'. The Station motto 'Caelum tuemur' - We watch over the sky - highlights the activities of the personnel of the modern Royal Air Force Station in contrast to those of the inhabitants long ago.
Royal Air Force Neatishead was established during World War II. Its function was to carry out ground controlled interceptions with the aid of plan position radar displays. A chronological list of some of the key events at RAF Neatishead is given below:
-September 1941 - The first radar (Type 7) at Neatishead was installed and operational with an establishment of two officers and forty airmen and airwomen who were billeted in a local village. Training commenced with 255 Squadron, equipped with the Beaufighter Mk2.
-March 1942 - Two Beaufighters were vectored on to a Heinkel 111 causing it some damage during the attack.
-28 April 1942 - The Station achieved its first kill when a Czech Warrant Officer Pilot of 68 Squadron shot down an enemy aircraft while being controlled by Neatishead.
-During the war the Station also participated in the legendary 'Windows' trials. 'Windows' consisted of strips of aluminium dropped in bundles by aircraft. It was designed to produce false targets on enemy radar displays as well as hiding friendly aircraft on bombing raids.
-March 1943 - Neatishead was visited by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
-March 1947 - The Station was established as a Sector Operations Centre.
-01 July 1953 - Neatishead was renamed 271 Signals Unit.
-July 1959 - Type 7 Mk 4 radar became operational and, in the following year, FPS 6 height finding radars were commissioned.
-1961 to 1963 - The Station was non operational under a state of 'care and maintenance' and was then reopened as a Master Radar Station, equipped with a Type 84 radar.
-February 1966 - A serious fire completely destroyed the underground operations complex, necessitating closure of Station Operations.
-April 1974 - Neatishead became an operational base again operating with a new data-handling system above ground in the original 'Happidrome', the old World War II operations room. At this time Neatishead was responsible for the control of fighter aircraft located at Royal Air Force bases Coningsby, Wattisham, Coltishall and Binbrook, as well as Victor tankers based at Marham and Shackleton Airborne Early Warning aircraft from Lossiemouth.
-1974 - Present day - Neatishead has also provided control for United Kingdom based American fighter aircraft.
-1980s - Introduction of an Integrated Command & Control System (ICCS). The concept was designed to upgrade the existing air defence system into the most advanced anywhere in the World. The concept required the refurbishment of the underground bunker (known as R3s) with an advanced data-handling system, as well as the purchase of new digital, phased array, and transportable radars. These radars were to be capable of rapid deployment to pre-prepared sites and transmit their data back via secure communications. Modern 90 series radars were located at Trimingham and Hopton.
-1991 - Type 85 radar dismantled.
-1992 - The move back underground began.
-April 1993 - Neatishead became operational with the new ICCS equipment.
-1994 - Type 85 (radar still standing) decommissioned.
-Oct 1994 - Air Defence Radar Museum opened.
-September 1996 - the Type 91 was moved from Trimingham to Weybourne.
-April 1997 - Type 93 radar at Hopton moved to Trimingham.
-October 1997 - The Type 91 at Weybourne de-built and the Type 93 at Trimingham became operational.
AIR DEFENCE RADAR MUSEUM
The old operations building which housed the old equipment has been preserved as a museum called the Air Defence Radar Museum. It covers the secret history of radar and command & control from 1935 to 1990. The Type 85 radar was dismantled in 1991, however, it is hoped that the old Type 84 radar, although still operational in 1994, will eventually form part of the museum exhibits.