ADA-Avro Engineering:Picton Test Range
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Avro Engineering:Picton Test Range
special addition from Peter Beadle. C.Eng MIEE
   " I was born & educated in England & emigrated
to Canada in 1953. I spent one year at Canadian Westinghouse in Hamilton, then
joined the Defence Research Board at the Picton Range in Sept. 1954 at the tender
age of 24 as a Scientific Officer. We were a satellite of CARDE at Valcartier
near Quebec City. The range was established I think in 1952 for Velvet Glove
ground launches & later air launches from a CF 100 flying from Trenton. When
I arrived the Ground launches had been concluded & the air launches were
in progress.
    My primary task was to bring the Kinetheodolite system
into an operational state. The Velvet Glove launches were moved to Cold Lake
Alberta & shortly afterwards the FFM firings began. AVRO wanted Doppler measurements
to calibrate the FFM pitot & accelerometer telemetry data. In fact AVRO paid
with project funds, for the purchase of a 3 cm Doppler Radar which was mounted
on a 90 mm gun mount. I was also responsible for that equipment.
At the conclusion of the FFM firings I think early in 57 the Range was
closed & eventually. I was transferred to Churchill Man."
Model Testing at Picton Range (Pt.Petre)
the development of the CF-105, AVRO & the Canadian government
needed performance data, particularly for drag at supersonic
speeds, for the selected design configuration. This information
was difficult to obtain due to a shortage of high speed wind
tunnels & calibration problems with them due to the interaction
of the model support inside the tunnel.
(later NASA), developed a technique at Wallops Island VA, using
a Nike Booster to bring an aircraft model up to supersonic
speed, then release it as the booster burned out.
decided to pursue this approach with the CF-105. The Canadian
Armament Research & Development Establishment (CARDE) had
a small missile range at Picton Ontario that was established
for test firing the Velvet Glove Air to Air missile they were
were initially ground launched & later air launched from
a CF-100 aircraft that operated from RCAF Trenton during the
firing trials.
1955 the ground firing program & the early aircraft launches
of Propulsion & Control vehicles was complete & Guidance
trials for the Velvet Glove program were moved to Cold Lake
Alberta due to concern in case an errant missile fell on Prince
Edward County. This decision was also politically motivated
because the RCAF had established a minimal range by moving
a Picton Radar to Cold Lake & wished to exploit it. This
allowed exclusive use of the Picton Range for AVRO & the
follows is an account of the CF-105 Free Flight Model Testing,
as recalled 40 years later by a once young (mid 20's) CARDE
Scientific Officer. Readers must excuse the details of the
Range instrumentation that are necessary to understand the
results, or lack of, that were obtained. When the CF-105 program
commenced, the Picton Range at Point Petre shared the range
with the Canadian Army School of Artillery & the Lake Ontario
Shipping !
Notices to Mariners were regularly published ahead of scheduled
firings, during the shipping season vessels often came close
to Point Petre & ignored the restricted area. This often
delayed firings, particularly if a string of boats appeared
over the horizon & created practical problems due to the
limited life of the missile/model telemetry battery packs.
This problem was eliminated in the winter months, but working
at the launch pad & camera stations was not a pleasant
experience. Fog was also an occasional problem, when the warm
summer air encountered the cold water of Lake Ontario.
between the AVRO & CARDE range personnel were always cordial,
although there is no doubt, that AVRO personnel were disappointed
with the poor results obtained. They were in a difficult position,
because they were using the facility of their customer, the
DOD. No attempt was made by CARDE to monitor, record or leak
the results of the firings.
actual range extended 20 km from Point Petre. The Launch pad
was 200 meters in front of the Control Building. This had an
upper floor for instrumentation equipment, communications & firing
control. The lower floor was for vehicle checkout & assembly.
An adjacent Quonset type assembly building next to the magazine
was used for mating vehicles to boosters. The launcher was
then towed to the Launch Pad. AVRO provided their own launcher
which appeared flimsy as shown in pictures taken at the pad
but it gave no problems in practice & the actual firings
were flawless.
the program began there were three types of range instrumentation
at Picton :
was S band Instrumentation radar. It was the best available
at the time & was a major rework of the WW2 SCR -584. These
were the very first tracking radar's, developed in the US as
part of a Anti Aircraft system using a battery of 90 mm guns.
They were very successful in destroying V 1 Doodlebugs at the
end of the war. This radar had an excellent pedestal & angular
tracking rates.
they were upgraded to have a 4 meters solid dish in place of
the mesh version supplied to the army. They were mounted in
a cab. This was the type of radar sent to Cold Lake & referred
to above. A later version known as the AN-TPQ 18 was installed
at Picton in the main two storied Control building . The radar
was installed in the building to improve accessibility for
maintenance & to provide a stable platform for the antenna.
This radar had cameras mounted on the antenna to record Azimuth,
Elevation & Boresight data through a hole in the dish.
The antenna cameras & a Range display camera were controlled
from an additional rack in the Control room. The signal processing
was quite different in this radar, in that the original, J
scopes with hand wheels, were actually an extension of a synchro
in the range tracking loop & used to manually acquire the
target in range prior to selection of automatic tracking. These
were replaced by three A scopes & a cursor (strobe) that
could be placed on the target prior to selecting automatic
'improvement' had some bearing on the poor radar results obtained
for the CF-105 model program as discussed below..
Kine Theodolites
was a four Camera system that had the capability to support
6 cameras. The Cameras were an attempt to copy the excellent
German Askania cameras that were used at their ranges during
WW II These were essentially 35 mm Cameras that took 5 full
sized frames per second. The azimuth & elevation scales
were exposed onto each frame with flash tubes. The shutters
were venetian blind & used a switch to send a 2 msec pulse
back to the control station. By sending a dedicated trigger
pulse to each camera shutter & a common flash pulse later,
it was possible by adjusting the camera pulses & observing
the result on a scope in the control building to synchronize
all the camera within 2 msec. The angular accuracy of the system
was quoted as 1 min. The focal length of the folded lens system
was 60 cm & the cameras were laid on the target by a single
operator using binoculars clamped to the elevation axis.
cameras were sited, (#1) behind the Launcher & close to
the Control Building, (#2), on a point 1.5 km from the launch
site & looking back towards the launch site, (#3), along
the lake shore 5 km East from the Launch Site & (#4) 6.5
km East along the lake shore. Cameras #3 & #4 had no visible
line of sight to the launch site.
standard FM/FM telemetry system was used, with AVRO supplying
the model package. They utilized the CARDE ground station.
This had dual receivers, multiple discriminators & tape
recorders with helical antennas on the roof. After the firing
all the records were taken to AVRO for processing & analysis
after a 'quick look' at the range.
Doppler Radar.
equipment was purchased using CF-105 funds & installed
before the drag models were fired. It was intended to accurately
measure the vehicle velocity during boost & at separation.
It was a crucial part of the program to allow the drag coefficient
to be measured by calibrating the accelerometer for the subsequent
free flight portion after separation. This was a C Band system
installed on a 90 mm gun mount close to the Control building.
Being a CW system it needed the injection of a phase & amplitude
adjustable signal to cancel out the primary ground clutter.
Once adjusted it was stable but moving the mount caused the
clutter to change and it required manual readjustment.
models were fired over a period of about a year & were
of three types. The first group used a simple model configuration
to validate the Launcher & Range Instrumentation. The drag
models (2 or 3) were superbly built to scale & the primary
reason for the model program. These are the models shown on
the photographs at the Launch Pad. The cylinder over the nose
probe protected the angle of attack indicator & was removed
just prior to launch. The Drag Models were interleaved with
the Yaw models (2). The Yaw models had a type of Gatling gun
system that fired a series of 12 ga shotgun cartridges through
small holes on each side of the fuselage below the cockpit
to create a step function in yaw both left & right. There
were at least 3 shots each side fired at about 2 second intervals.
These shots can be seen on the Video which is one of these
models. The Yaw models were a similar configuration to the
launcher validation design.
the launches were successful without any hang fires or similar
results from the first two firings were disappointing. The
radar was only 200 meters from the launcher & within the
'Main bang' or minimum range of the radar. This meant that
the target had to be tracked with an optical tracker until
acquired by the radar operator while in flight. At that close
range, the elevation rate at lift off was very high & as
shown on the Video, the operator could not generally track
the target. On one occasion when the target was acquired the
separation occurred & the radar tracked the largest target
which was the spent booster This was long before the days of
Kalman filters or leading edge tracking to smooth the range
Kine Theodolites experienced broken film when they did acquire
the model while others did not see the target. The data gathered
was insufficient for data for analysis.
Doppler Radar was not installed for these early flights.
poor early results coupled with the need to maintain the program
schedule caused AVRO to fire some FFMs at Wallops Island while
improvements were made to the instrumentation at Picton.
independent visit was made to Wallops Island to see how they
handled the radar & booster separation problem. Their technique
was to use a radar of the AN/MPQ 12 type placed 1.5 km behind
the launcher. This was the same type that was sent to Cold
Lake. The operator at Wallops locked on just after take off,
then manually forced the servo wheel onto the leading target,
as the target split into two at separation.
was not possible with the Picton radar but the system had the
ability to track a transponder (beacon) and an S band transponder
was installed in the later models by Avro with a time delay
to place the return outside the main bang & on a different
frequency. It was hoped this would allow the radar to track
the FFM from the pad & throughout flight.
Kine Theodolite system was enhanced by an additional site #5,
beam on, to the Launch Pad & about 1.5 km distant. This
used a salvaged German Askania camera which performed perfectly.
A second Askania was added alongside Kine #1 behind the launcher.
This pair of Kines can been seen at the start of the Video.
these modifications AVRO returned to Picton for the critical
Drag models. Regrettably the results were only marginally better.
Though the radar tracked the transponder well in range, it
remained firmly locked onto the launch site in angle due to
the transponder signal being reflected from the ground. This
continued till the signal faded & no useful radar data
was obtained. 
Kine Theodolites fared little better with broken film & jammed
cameras as before preventing adequate data being collected
often without a second & preferably a third camera, for
a least squares solution, very limited trajectory information
was obtained.
Doppler Radar
of the poor radar results the doppler radar was operated with
its own optical tracker. It was difficult to maintain signal
during the boost phase due to the limited servo capability
of the 90 mm Gun mount & elevation rate problems similar
to the Radar & Kine #1. The data obtained was patchy & far
below expectations.
these and every subsequent flight the Telemetry performed as
predicted & good data was obtained.
other range data was unsatisfactory as described below :
summary the radar data for the CF-105 models was practically
worthless, due entirely to the poor siting of the Radar with
respect to the Launcher.
Kine Theodolites
stated above the cameras were copies of German Askanias made
in England. However the cameras were of poor quality, did not
appear to have been tested prior to shipment from the factory & frequently
jammed or broke the film during a 'mission'. In addition two
sites, #2 & & to some degree #1 could not effectively
track the lift off due to the high elevation rate, plus the
model were small, at long range, & the actual launch was
not visible at two stations, so the system was a failure. This
in spite of an intensive effort by both CARDE & AVRO personnel
with items such as film selection & painting the models "Dayglow
Yellow" to improve visual & photographic observation.
Doppler Radar
Doppler system was also a disappointment. It was a CW system
as stated above, on a trainable mount. The signal from ground
reflections was very effectively canceled in any position,
however as soon as the antenna moved the leakage changed, potentially
masking the FFM target reflection. The system was developed
for use at White Sands & positioned there about 30 meters
behind the launcher to protect it from blast. The elevation
was fixed to the launcher elevation & good results obtained.
However at Picton where it was 180 meters behind the launcher
setting it to the launch angle of 45 degrees cut off the initial
part of the boost phase, so again the siting was poor for effective
good solution to all these problems would have been to move
the launch pad 1.5 km to the point where Kine 2 was located.
This would have required a modest capital investment for concrete
pad & assembly building plus a small security fence. The
doppler radar could have been placed on a mobile carrier, unmanned
during the firing, located close to the launcher & elevated
at 45 deg. along the projected flight path. A solution like
this was handicapped by the lack of time, as the firings commenced
shortly after they were announced.
the upper management at CARDE in Valcartier PQ knew the range
had no future & were unwilling to commit additional funds
to a losing cause.
is fair to say that AVRO did everything that could have been
asked of them with the free flight model program. CARDE failed,
but the problems were mainly due to poor equipment siting,
time & money. Certainly there was no lack of interest,
enthusiasm or support amongst the CARDE personnel at Picton.
the model flights were completed an attempt was made to establish
a calibration range for speed measurements of the CF-105. Two
of the Kines at sites #1 & #4 were elevated to 90 deg & a
CF-100 flown over them at 9 km altitude using the radar and
coupled plotting board to steer the aircraft. This provided
a 6.5 km long precise baseline & several successful runs
were made.
did not follow up on that and the Picton Range closed for lack
of work in mid 1957.
Beadle. C.Eng MIEE Oct 25 1998. Rev. Mar 8 2002 
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