Site Records

Site Name: RAF Gailes ('FUL') R8 GCI ROTOR Radar Station

OS Grid Ref: NS32963618

Sub Brit site visit 17th August 2004

[Source: Nick Catford]

In order to provide communication between the controllers at RAF Gailes and the intercepting aircraft, two VHF/UHF multi-channel radio transmitter and receiver blocks were built at remote sites at Dundonald. Transmitter and receiver blocks come in two sizes designated 'small' and 'large'; those at Gailes, were 'large'. Each block would have had a 90' wooden aerial tower alongside.

Photo:The VHF transmitter block at RAF Gailes - now a NATS relay station
Photo by Nick Catford

Each site consisted of two buildings, the operations building and a standby set house. As built, the transmitter building comprised the transmitter hall, mechanical and electrical room, store, workshop, staff room and toilet. The building still stands on Wardlaw Hill at NS36053250 although it has been refurbished and extended and now a NATS (National Air Traffic Services) microwave and VHF relay station for the Scottish Area Control Centre at nearby Prestwick.

The smaller receiver building at NS35523313 comprised a receiver room, mechanical and electrical room, store, workshop, staff room and toilet. This building has been demolished in recent years. Although some of the fencing and the concrete base for the receiver building and standby set house can still be seen. The CHEL technical buildings have also been demolished during the expansion of Hallyard's Quarry

A PDS High speed aerial
In the early 1960's Dundonald was selected to participate in the Passive Detection System. Production started in 1962 some time before development of the equipment was complete. The first successful demonstration was given to NATO in May 1964, using the experimental Type 85 radar (Blue Yeoman) at Malvern and the high speed scanning PDS aerial at Bushey Hill. The complete operational installation for ADUK (Air Defence of the United Kingdom) consisted of three base lines.

These were provided by the three Type 85 radar sites, Neatishead, Staxton Wold and Boulmer, at each of which there was also to be a PDS high-speed scanning aerial, and one further site, Dundonald at which there was to be only a PDS high-speed aerial.

The target date for the first trials to start at Neatishead was October 1965. Although that installation proceeded almost to plan, those at Staxton Wold and Boulmer proceeded more quickly and these two stations would, together, provide the first complete base-line equipment; trials there were planned for February 1966. Final-acceptance trials took place at Staxton Wold in May-June 1968 and it was handed over to the RAF in October 1968. Boulmer and Dundonald followed in November 1968 and Neatishead in December 1968 with Dundonald being remotely operated from Boulmer.

Photo:Concrete bases for the troposcatter station on Wardlaw Hill
Photo by Nick Catford

It is believed that this was located on Wardlaw Hill, close to the Gailes VHF transmitter block. There are a number of concrete bases within a large compound close to the trig. station. These bases are for the two dishes and buildings of an air defence troposcatter station which opened in 1988 and remained operational for about ten years The station at NS35943274 was known as HTS Wardlaw Hill and was continuously manned by RAF personnel from Prestwick.


  • Bob Jenner
  • Keith Ward
  • Ian Brown
  • Steve McNamara
  • Paul Ravenscroft
  • Jim Duff (NATS)
  • Various PRO files:
    Air 2/11178
    Air 8/2032 Appendix C
    Air 8/1630 Appendix B (1952)
    Air 20/7324 Appendix D (4.12.1950)
    Air 2/12116 (27.2.52)
    Air 20/11320 (27.1.53)
    Air 20/10699 Appendix J (Nov 1953)
    Air 20/10699 Chapter 3 Operational Rotor 3
    CRPC/G301 Outline plan for operational Rotor 1

transmitter block

receiver block

The base of the VHF
receiver block

The only remaining
evidence of RAF Gailes

CAA Consoles
at Gailes



Aeriel view of RAF Gailes



[Source: Nick Catford]

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