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Chapter Fourteen









Figure 126.

Chapter 14


Constantly improved radar equipment and operating techniques have brought to fleet units and advanced shore bases a high degree of protection against enemy air and surface attacks through the early warning of the approach of such attacks. There are, however, certain weaknesses in present radar coverage. One of these is the inability of present shipboard radar equipment to detect the approach of low-flying aircraft until they are close aboard. It is this weakness that the air-borne combat information center is designed to overcome by providing early warning of the approach of low-flying enemy air attacks and the interception of such attacks at greater ranges than are now possible with existing equipments.

An air-borne combat information center, within the limits of space, weight, personnel, and equipment, is designed to function in much the same manner as a shipboard combat information center, as outlined in the various effective fleet doctrines. It is designed to operate independently or in close liaison with shipboard, or land based CIC's, or other air-borne CIC's.


An air-borne combat information center is that space aboard the airplane in which is located the radar equipment, plotting and display

devices, communications (external and internal), and the specifically trained personnel for the collection, display, evaluation and dissemination of all combat information, and for the control, as delegated, of aircraft, surface craft, and own aircraft.


The primary function of an air-borne CIC is to provide feet and/or shore units with early warning of the approach of enemy aircraft and surface forces. It keeps all interested commands informed of the location, identity, and movement of friendly aircraft and ships within their area of operation. This information may be transmitted via radio voice circuits or via the radar relay system.

The secondary function of an air-borne CIC is to exercise fighter direction to intercept and destroy the enemy. There are two types of interceptions that may be affected:

1. Controlled interceptions. Made directly from PPI scopes in the air-borne CIC according to standard air control practices.

2. Geographic placement interceptions. Made by using all available information to place intercepting fighters in the same geographic area as the enemy but leaving actual visual contact to the fighter pilot. This method is used only when radar information on


friendly fighters and enemy is so limited as to preclude a controlled interception.

Possible additional functions of an air-borne CIC are:

  1. An advanced weather station.
  2. Acting as a strike coordinator.
  3. Communications relay plane.
  4. Radar relay plane.
  5. Assist in homing lost aircraft
  6. Assist in search and rescue work.
  7. Anti-submarine patrols.
  8. Beachhead cover and ASP.
  9. Convoy ASP.
  10. Task Force cover and ASP.


The equipment within an air-borne combat information center includes one APS-20 radar, three APA-23 systems with 12-inch CRT's, one radio direction finder, radar and radio relay systems, three VHF/UHF radios, medium frequency radio, two intercommunication systems, vertical display board, combat air patrol status board, call operations status board, plotting clock, 12-hour clock, course and speed indicators, altimeter, one projection device, and various plotting and computation aids.


An air-borne CIC is manned by a team of four officers and three enlisted men.

1. CIC Officer.--Officer in charge of CIC. He is in command of the plane in the patrol operating area except when under attack and when proceeding to and from the patrol area. He handles all exterior communications (except CAP); coordinates all activities of the CIC; interprets and evaluates all information on the display board; desgnates all raids; and assigns interceptions to Air Controllers. He also keeps all interested commands informed of the tactical situation; transmits all warnings and receives transmissions from all commands; and makes amplifying reports on contacts as necese-sary.

2. Air Controllers.--Reads 120° of the APA-23 scope. Reports all contacts to display board plotter. Conducts intercepts as assigned by CIC officer. Evaluates targets. Controls CAP. Plots on scope during interception. Mans radar telling circuit. Mans primary CAP frequency. May interrogate contacts within his 120°.

3. CIC Watch Officer.--Suitably experienced officer. Maintains fighter status board. Makes conversion plots on main display board. May work Mk. V maneuvering board problems, will make changes necessary in operations board. Available to relieve at any station in an emergency. Monitors the air control channel until interceptions have been designated by the control officer and then shifts to the primary CAP frequency, or may monitor the CAP frequency while controllers are on intercommunication radar reporting circuit. May dead reckon interceptions on display board. Supervises display board.

4. Display Board Plotter.--Mans the intercommunications radar reporting circuit. Plots all radar contacts in the standard manner with computations and information. Dead reckons faded radar contacts. Plots own plane's position from projection.

5. APA-23 Scope Reader.--Mans the CIC intercommunications radar reporting circuit. Reports all contacts within his assigned 120°. May interrogate targets within his assigned area. Stands by to report the bearing responsibility of a controller engaged in an interception.

6. APS-20 Operator.--Keeps set tuned and adjusted. Maintains long-range guard. May mantain IFF guard. Mans the CIC intercommunications radar reporting circuit.


An air-borne center is designed to operate in a manner similar to that of a shipboard CIC as set forth in effective fleet doctrines, doctrines.

1. Display Board.--Operations are centered around the information display on the display board as provided by radars, radio, combat air patrol information, radio direction finder, plane's lookouts, and intelligence reports. The display board is an edge-lighted vertical


Flgure 127.--Electronic system diagrammed.

plexiglass board on which a geographical plot of the operating area, including reference points, fleet operating areas, all friendly and known enemy contacts, patrol areas of other air-borne CIC planes, search and strikes areas, patrols, and rescue facilities, is plotted on the forward face prior to take off. Projected on the forward face of the display board is a polar coordinate chart which, by means of an Air-borne Position Indicator (API), follows the track of the Airborne CIC, thus providing a DRT and, in effect, eliminating the movement of the CIC plane in relation to the ground. All available radar and radio data are plotted on the rear of this board. Should the API system go out the problem of high relative movement is introduced and the solution of courses and speeds of targets must be computed by the use of a Mk. V maneuvering board and dead reckoning the track of the CIC plane, by periodic radar or navigation fixes, on the main display board. It is the responsibility of the navigator to inform CIC of the position of the CIC plane when the API equipment fails or when the CIC plane is out of land range for radar fixes.

2. Fighter Status Board.--An edge-lighted plexiglass board for ready visual reference.

This status board contains all pertinent data relating to the combat air patrol.

3. Call Operations Board.--An edge-lighted plexiglass board for ready visual reference containing all pertinent plane and base calls, au-thenticators, codes and operational instructions and others.


Inasmuch as the air-borne CIC is still in the experimental stages of development, the information contained herein is general and will be subject to revision, amplification, and change at a later date. New problems of control undoubtedly will bring about the development of new techniques. However, by the use of the API, air-borne control of other aircraft from the CIC plane has proven not only feasible, but similar in all fundamental respects to control from ship or shore bases.

When air-borne early warning planes are used simply for relay purposes, the techniques of control differ in no way from current practices. In effect, it simply extends the radar coverage of the parent ship to greater effective ranges which will permit control and intercept work to be carried on within a considerably expanded operating area.


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Transcribed and formatted by Larry Jewell & Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation