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Scale Model of the USAF MPN-13 GCA Radar

USAF radar technician Elbert Cook worked on a lot of MPN-13 ground controlled approach (GCA) radar units during his career. He knows it inside and out. You might think that after retirement Elbert might not want to see an MPN-13 again, but his model building hobby has him working on a scale model. As you can see by these first couple photos, it is just getting under way. Elbert promises to send updates as the MPN-13 progresses. It should be an interesting project to follow.

Elbert sent the following brief description of the project:

"As near as I can figure the scale is 1:32. As it stands now there is nowhere else I am posting the pictures. After it is done I will send pictures to Virtual Aerodrome but right now I don't think they would understand what I am doing. I could be wrong. Currently I am working on the ASR Antenna. If I remember right there were two that we used. The 924 and the 1197. Most of the time In the MOB we used the 924 because it had a better low level beam pat and was easier to pass a flight check. ;The 924 was more square, that's the one I am working on. The plan is to checkerboard the radar. I think it will make some of the detail stand out more. We will see."

- Elbert Cook (August 2013)


AN/MPN-13 ground controlled approach (GCA) mobile radar - RF CafeThis is an MPN-13 with its separate
(left) and Operations
(right) trailers.

April 2014 Update: Elbert submitted photos (see below) of his completed MPN-13 GCA model with a spiffy real-looking camouflage paint job! It includes both the maintenance trailer and the operations trailer, complete with airport surveillance radar (ASR) antenna, precision approach Radar (PAR) antennas (azimuth and elevation), VHF and UHF antennas, and navigation hazard lights. The "M" part of "MPN" stands for "mobile." As such, I and hundreds - maybe thousands - of USAF radar technicians have over the decades disassembled, transported, and reassembled these radars many times. My radar shop at Robins AFB, Georgia, participated in what were code-named "Healthy Strikes" two or three times each year, whereby a claxon in the barracks rudely awoke 5th Combat Communications Group (5CCG) members at around 5:00 am to signify the beginning of what would be about a week in the field, simulating an emergency deployment to anywhere in the world. If memory serves me correctly, we had 12 hours to pack, eat dress, out-process, disassemble and pack the radar (the big ASR parabolic antenna and IFF "tootsie roll" antenna got stuffed inside the trailer), gather our maintenance gear, roll up external trailer interconnect cables, hook the trailers to 2-ton trucks, and report to the "ready line" for moving out. We then drove to the local civilian airport, surveyed the site and set up the radar, fired it up and got it checked out and aligned, then performed a qualification procedure with a specially equipped USAF jet that verified the surveillance radar was accurate and that the glide slope and course line were properly aligned for a precision approach. Those were the days before GPS approaches. Elbert did the same kind of thing, only for the 3CCG at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma.


January 2014 Update: Former USAF radar technician Elbert Cook, who last year sent photos of a scale model he was building of the MPN-14 ASR/PAR radar system, has submitted photos of when the 3rd Combat Communication Group (aka 3CCG or 3rd MOB) sent one of its systems to Minot AFB, ND, for a TPX-42 secondary radar system installation. The TPX-42 is the unit that interrogates an aircraft's transponder to paint the familiar 3-digit octal IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) code on the PPI (Plan Position Indicator) display for ATC (Air Traffic Control) use. The purpose of the photos is to show how improvisation with a "suitable substitute" lift kit saved the USAF, and in turn the U.S. taxpayers, a lot of money. A boat lift kit was purchased - in lieu of a formal USAF issued lift kit - for use in moving the radar trailers from the lowboy trailers onto the ground.


MPN-13 ASR Antenna, PAR Az/El Antennas, UHF & VHF Antennas (Elbert Cook photo) - RF Cafe

MPN-13 ASR Antenna, PAR Az/El Antennas,
VHF & UHF Antennas
(April 2014)


MPN-13 ASR Antenna Front  (Elbert Cook) - RF Cafe
MPN-13 ASR Antenna Front
(April 2014)



MPN-13 Radar Model Chassis - RF Cafe
MPN-13 Radar Model Chassis
(August 2013)



MPN-13 Radar Maintenance & Operations Trailers (another view) - RF Cafe
MPN-13 Radar Maintenance & Operations Trailers
(August 2013)

MPN-13 GCA Model w/Spiffy Camouflage Paint Job! (Elbert Cook photo) - RF Cafe

MPN-13 GCA Model w/Spiffy Camouflage Paint Job!
(April 2014)


MPN-13 ASR Antenna Rear  (Elbert Cook) - RF Cafe
MPN-13 ASR Antenna Rear
(April 2014)



MPN-13 Radar Model Chassis & Shelter - RF Cafe
MPN-13 Radar Model Chassis & Shelter
(August 2013)



MPN-13 Radar Maintenance & Operations Trailers - RF Cafe
MPN-13 Radar Maintenance & Operations Trailers
(August 2013)

Elbert was kind enough to send these photos from his time at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. The radar techs procured an inexpensive boat lift kit from an MPN-13 for moving the trailers off a lowboy flatbed.

Elbert said, "The boat lift kit we used came with the MPN-13. We used it because the moving company wanted to spend a lot of money getting the trailers off the trucks. We had never used one before but we put it together and got the trailers of the trucks quick and save a lot of money and time. "

MPN-14 being unloaded from a lowboy - RF Cafe
MPN-14 being unloaded from a lowboy trailer for transportation for transportation to Minot AFB, ND. (Elbert Cook photo, 2014)



Attaching the boat lift kit to the MPN-14 trailer - RF Cafe
MPN-14 at Minot AFB, ND - RF Cafe
MPN-14 at Minot AFB, ND. (Elbert Cook photo, 2014)

Attaching the boat lift kit to the MPN-14 trailer.
(Elbert Cook photo, 2014) 





Posted  August 28, 2013

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