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RAF SOPLEY

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  GROUND CONTROLLED INTERCEPTION STATION 02G, GCI (A) ROTOR STATION 'AVO'
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The site of a Ground Controlled Interception (GCI) radar station at Sopley. GCI stations were developed by the Air Ministry from 1940 to detect, locate and track enemy aircraft and provide inland radar coverage for Britain. Sopley opened in January 1941 and originally functioned as a Mobile station reporting to Middle Wallop Fighter Sector. Mobile stations comprised transmitter and receiver aerial arrays mounted on trailers spaced no more than 220ft (67.1 metres) apart, with equipment stored and operations carried out from trucks. By January 1943 the site had been developed into a Final station. Final GCI or AMES Type 7 stations comprised a single rotating aerial array with transmitter equipment stored beneath in an underground well, plus an operations block, a standby set house for reserve power and a guard hut for the site entrance. In 1946 Sopley was classified as a master GCI station and reserve Sector Operations Centre. In the early 1950s the station was remodelled as part of the Rotor programme to modernise the UK's radar defences. The station was fitted with a Type 7 Mark 2 radar head for local search and control, two Type 14 (Mark 8 and Mark 9) plan positioning radar heads, and two Type 13 Mark 6 and three Type 13 Mark 7 height finder radar heads, all mounted on plinths and 25 feet gantries. The site was equipped with a guardhouse designed to resemble a bungalow, which gave access to a two-storey, underground R3 operations block. In 1956 the new Type 80 radar and its associated modulator building was built at the site. The station continued in use until 1974, from when it was occupied by the Army's signal command. It closed in circa 1991. The R3 bunker is still extant at the site and owned by a private company. The guardhouse has been refurbished and is currently in use. The only other surviving surface features at the site include a generator building and a small blockhouse that houses the emergency exit of the bunker.

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