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  RAF Orby - Ground Controlled Interception Station 06G

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Updated: 1 Oct 13

Opened: Jan 1941

Closed (operationally): Aug 1945

Location:

TF505676 - mobile and intermediate GCI sites

TF525677 - final site.

Orby was one of two ground controlled intercept (GCI) radar stations operated in Lincolnshire during the war, the other being RAF Langtoft. It was assigned to RAF Digby. It also operated as a satellite bomb dump for RAF Market Stainton.

Ground Controlled Interception (GCI) radar stations were developed by the Air Ministry from 1940 to detect, locate and track enemy aircraft and provide inland radar coverage of Britain, taking over from the Chain Home which was located around the coast and looked out to sea, not providing cover inland. Their primary function was to guide night fighters onto attacking bombers. There were three phases of GCI site development, described as mobile, intermediate transportable and final. Early stations (from 1940) had equipment on wheeled caravans and temporary wooden hutting; these were replaced by intermediate stations which had the aerial arrays mounted above and below a wooden gantry, with operations carried out from wooden huts. Final stations, built from 1942 onwards, had brick operations blocks, known as 'Happidromes'. These stations had a single rotating aerial array with the transmitter and receiver housed in a well underneath.

Mobile GCI - Jan 1941

The GCI site at RAF Orby opened in January 1941 as a Mobile station, telling its reports to the Fighter Command sector operations rooms at Digby (L Sector), Wittering and Church Fenton. As a mobile station it was equipped with separate trailer-mounted transmitter and receiver aerial arrays which were never more than 220ft (67 metres) apart. Operational activity was all contained in associated trucks.

Intermediate Transportable - 1942/3

By 28 Jan 1943 the Orby site had been developed into a Intermediate Transportable (IT) station. IT sites typically comprised a single aerial array mounted on a gantry and a 50ft by 18ft non-metallic operations hut. Additional on-site buildings included a small power house, huts for offices and recreation, and a guard hut for the site entrance.

Final GCI station - 1943

A Final GCI station was built nearby in Orby at TF525677 (visualise in WheresthePath) and was already active in Jan 1943. Aerial photography from 1968 shows 1-2 ancillary buildings surviving at the site.

Post-War

In later life Orby was reduced to a stock car racetrack.

Mr John Hicklin provided some information in 2012 about life at Orby after the war:

"Re RAF Orby, you say it was closed in 1945, but I was there as a Radar Mechanic from 1952-53 when it was used as a training camp for Marconi engineers who were installing underground radar stations round the coastline.

It is true to say it is still used as a stock car racing track,(as of 2 years ago) as I revisited it to see what had happened to it. Not much is left of the original except the operations block (derelict) and part used as a toilet block!

Thanks for the memories"

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