Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tinian's Japanese Radar

When most people think of World War II and radar, they only think of the radar that was used in England to alert the English, during the Blitz, about German bombers. I was surprised to learn that both the Germans and Japanese had radar by the time the war ended. A great web site about the development of radar and its use during War World II is The Wizard War: WW2 & The Origins of Radar (click here to visit this site).

Below is a picture, from Tinian - 60 Years Ago We Were Here by Andy Nazario, that shows the Japanese radar antenna installation on Mt. Lasu, Tinian. I had always thought that this hill was a base for a large gun, but now I know I was wrong after finding this picture.
For this posting to my blog, I will be discussing the remains of this radar antenna as they appear today. I will discuss each part of the antenna as they are found, as if one was hiking from the Mt. Laso Shinto Shrine to where the radar antenna is now located, below the cliff.

Antenna Base
The base of the antenna is right next to the Mt. Laso Shinto Shrine. As you walk up to the cliff behind the shrine, you will notice a small hill to the left (north). Follow the trail to the top of the hill, which is a very short hike. As you climb the hill you will notice that it is faced with stones, sort of like a wall.

At the top of the hill is a flat cement area, with a large raised circle, about 2 inches high, of cement in the middle of it. In the picture below, you can see the cement top of the hill that the person is standing on. As with most things on a tropical island, they get quickly overgrown with weeds and vines.

The picture below is taken just as you near the top of the small hill. You can see some of the rocks that make up the facing of the side of the hill. Also, near where the people wearing the blue jeans are standing, is some cement that has been broken up from top's flooring.

Another picture of the top of the hill. In the top right corner of the picture, you can see part of the arc of the raised circle that is a major part of the top's flooring.

If you continue to the north, across the top of the hill, there is a small trail that goes down to the base of the hill on the west side. Going down the hill, there is a cut off telephone pole in a square cement base.

On the west side of the antenna hill is the metal base plate that used to hold the antenna, and may have allowed it to rotate. Below is a picture of the metal base plate. Visible in the picture is an electric motor and a gear head of some sort. This picture was taken just a little bit to the south side of the base plate.

The picture below is taken from the north side of the base plate. It gives a clear picture of the gear head on the base plate. Also it shows the rock face of the hill that once held the radar antenna.

In the picture blow is my friend Judy standing next to the base plate.

If you look carefully in the picture of the radar antenna, from World War II, at the start of this posting (click on it to enlarge the image), you will notice a metal frame just below the top of the hill, on the side of the hill. This frame is now located right next to the metal base plate, just to the north of it. I am not sure what it was used for, but it was part of the radar antenna. Below are three pictures of this metal frame.



Radar Antenna
The radar antenna is now at the bottom of the cliff below the hill that was its base. To get to the antenna, you need to go back to the shrine and down the steps, which you had to climb to get to it. As you get to the bottom of the steps, look for a trail to the left (south) going into the jungle. Follow this trail for about 100 yards to an old cattle guard. Go across the guard and follow the old road down the hill. About 100 to 150 yards down the hill, the cliff, on the left (north) side of the road, will become less and less until it almost disappears. You will have to go down a small stone embankment at the edge of the road, toward the north, to get to the antenna. Stay next to the cliff that will be on your left.

As you follow the cliff you will come to an old wheeled crane. Go past the crane until you get to the antenna, and try to stay near the cliff. About 100 yards past the crane, at the base of the cliff, is the radar antenna.

The picture below shows part of the gear mechanism that was used to turn the antenna. Just past the middle of the picture is part of the antenna's frame. It is hard in this picture to see the wire mesh that made up the antenna.


The next two pictures show the metal wire mesh that made up the antenna.

The mesh of the wire is about 3 to 4 inches square. The aluminum can in the picture below can be used to get some idea of the wire's mesh size.

The picture below shows the metal slats that held the wire mesh to the frame, with part of the fame showing at the right side of the picture.

In the remains of the radar antenna are two large brown insulators.

The picture below has my hand in it to show the size of the insulators.

Below is a video of the remains of the radar antenna. This video is taken from the upslope side of the antenna.



Mount?
About 50 to 100 feet past the radar antenna, and a little down slope, is a mount of some kind. I really don't know if it was part of the radar or not, but I have decided to include pictures of it, since it is so close to the radar antenna's remains.


The picture below shows a person's legs next to the mount to give an idea of its size.

This is the base of the mount, with the metal arms extending to the other side of the base (The arms are not visible in this picture).

Just below the mount, is a large metal ring. It is about 15 to 20 feet down slope from the mount.

I highly recommend this short hike to experience and learn a little bit about the unknown history of World War II.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Very cool. I'm going to have to come over and join one of these hikes. Looks fun.