Fort Miles Operations 2014  

    I have had the pleasure of working with the 261st Coast Artillery Reenactment group at Fort Miles, Delaware. I was invited to setup my military radio equipment during their April 2014 meet as I have done in the past and it has always been an enjoyable experience working with these WWII reenactors.

  Information about Ft. Miles and the 261st Coast Artillery Reenactment organization can be found at:   


    Please Note: My operations during this event is another example of the cooperation between Military Collectors/Reenactment groups and Military Radio Collectors.

Many thanks to:

     Mr. Jason Garver KB3ATV - 261st Electronics and Telephone Maintenance Chief, Battery Display Planner Gun Crew, and many other assignments. A Jack
of all Trades.




                                                     Ft. Miles is located in Southern Delaware.

                       I made several trips from the home QTH to the Ft. Miles site as my APRS data demonstrates.

              Observation tower #7 located near the main gate. A Possible location for a BC-611 distance record attempt. Visitors are allowed to climb the interior stairs to the top. Several ham clubs have operated from the top during events by using battery powered equipment and end fed half wave antennas which can be thrown over the side. (Don't forget to secure one end before throwing).


                  A view from Observation Tower #7.  I set up my radio equipment in one of the buildings on the left.


                                                        Topo map of the area.

                 Area enlarged. My location is the Red X. Note again the high contour lines off to the East. An excellent location for a BC-611 distance record across the water to Cape May. The ridge line easily accessible if you do not mind getting a little exercise. Very steep.



                               A portion of my operating display. Kind of crowded on the table.
   Primary Mission: Use the BC-611 to allow one of the unit's Officers to communicate with the Gun Battery via a single phone line utilizing the RM-29 and BC-1306. Frequency 3.885 Kcs. Note the AVR-20A receiver on the left which was used as an audio monitor during RM-29 operations.

   Problem: The BC-1306 was a poor choice for this operation due to the 1-2 second lag time for the transmitter to come up to power after PTT activation. This time delay created a lot of confusion when using the RM-29 and the beginning of the transmissions were often lost. However the audio was excellent and once the users got used to the delay good commo was established. Next year we will use the BC-474.


            Improvise-Adapt-Overcome         I forgot insulators for the end fed half wave antenna.  

               Power for the BC-1306 and the AVR-20A was obtained from a home brew inverter supply using repackaged GE VHF mobile power supplies obtained at ham fests. Standard regulator circuits were used for the 1.5 and 6.3 volt filament buss.  

              I have power cords for several radios including the RS-1 and RS-6, GRC-9, GRC-109 etc.

                 The RCA AVR-20 is a great little receiver. Visitors also enjoyed cruiseing the band with it to listen to "short wave".    

                               K4CHE Ft. Miles Ops April 2014. CLICK to enlarge.


               Cracker Jacks are an important accessory to any display as well as a 50 cal swagger stick.


            The 100 pF high voltage cap came in handy when matching the end fed half wave.

                                      A simple wall charts get a lot of questions from visitors.


                                                     A hand out for visitors. When kids would ask questions about the CW signals they were hearing I would pull out a key and a practice oscillator powered by a 9 volt battery and teach the simple letters: E I S H T M O then remind them that they can now send SOS. Most adults recognize the sequence of  dit  dit  dit Dahhh (V) of Beethoven - Symphony No. 5. Its always refreshing to see a kid learn something and stop punching letters into their phone. Some kids came back for a second lesson.



          Like all military rallies and air shows it is always great to hear from fellow aviators and especially the ground crew that made it possible to fly the missions.

                         My loyal sponsor.
                                                        CLICK to enlarge


    07:15 hours. Soon the whistle will blow and all non WWII vehicles will have to leave and the area will be sterile. You off load anything that is needed for a display and then drive your vehicle to a designated parking lot approximately 2 klicks away. Either walk back which I prefer or transportation will be provided back to the Fort. Water bottles, I phones, coke cans, ear rings,back packs, base ball hats - - anything that is not WWII will disappear and Ft. Miles is transformed from 2015 back to 1943. It is an interesting metamorphosis.

         The WWII vehicles stay- the pick up truck goes.

                            CLICK to enlarge

    Another shot of my BC-1306 fixed base ops after installation of a temporary phone line. Had to use Vietnam era WD-1A/TT Field Wire on D-8-AR Spool. A major display "period" violation but I wanted to use the RM-29 BC-611 combo and needed a phone line to the main compound switch board at HQ.

         Phone installation video can be seen here.

                                Phone line video. PhoneMissionT.mp4


             Jason Garver KB3ATV and able assistant install a drop line. Note the WWII work uniform and leggings. Photo taken during set up on Friday.


         The phone lines at Ft. Miles are a combination of buried cable and over head lines. Jason has donated hundreds of hours to the restoration of numerous punch down panels and lines as well as various pieces of land line equipment.

        One nice thing about setting up on Friday is that you can look at all the equipment without the crowds. This search light is fully functional.



              Years ago some one on the Milsurplus list provided a list of coordinates of decommission low frequency radio beacons, while I was setting up on Friday I took a short break and tracked down a set of coordinates hiking through very thick brush for about 1 klick and this is what I found. Must have been a small beacon perhaps to augment C band Loran.


                                  It never fails to amaze me that there is cactus in Delaware
                                 Main target plotting room.

            Plotting room video click here.


                     The switch board is a future project.


                       Bearings from 3 observation towers plotted and the result is a range and bearing which can be relayed to the firing position.


    Jason restored each of these phones located in the main firing battery.


        The main access hall of the bunker. Gray side panels can be removed for access to utilities.
Storage rooms for the massive shells on are the left.

                               Access hall video click here.



                                   Shot truck- one each- Type 12 B.C.


                               While touring the bunker I made a trip to the "Necessary Room". I guess that since I held both ranks I can be allowed to use either one.

         Anybody that completed a tour of duty in the 1950's and 60's will recognize the functional style.

              Note that the toilet on the left is at attention. Remember "No Time for Sergeants" ?

         The original gun and mounts are missing, this Naval gun came from the U.S.S. Wyoming. The area is enclosed with glass windows.

                         Wyoming video click here.



                    On top of the bunker you can easily see Cape May buildings across the bay. This is probably the best site for a BC-611 to BC-611 distance record.
                                                                          Any volunteer's to set up at Capt May N.J.?
                                     Short video looking at Cape May.


                         You know you have buddies when they help you change a tire on my 86 Suburban "War Wagon".

                        New recruits

            If you ever bivouacked in field you will remember this drill of quadruple wash for your mess kit.


    A Fort Miles Battery 519 Challange Coin. Years ago it was common for military special units to issue these coins to its members. Every year during the annual April Meet Battery 519 has a new coin. Its a great memento and it enhances morale. Years ago if you were a member of a special unit and challenged if you did not present your coin then you would purchase a round for all members present.

         On Friday night the troops with vehicles form up a convoy and proceed for dinner in town. A nice tradition.

              Friday night Convoy Video click here.
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