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Fort Miles AAR




 
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KA3EKH
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« on: April 29, 2019, 11:41:48 AM »

Delaware Goes to War or Fort Miles Historic Park AAR.

For the past three years I have taken part in this annual event. Past events have included operation on the scheduled M&S Net at twelve hundred hours local. This is also a public event showcasing the facilities and hosted by the Fort Miles Historical Association and a large contingent of re-enactors. The Ft. Miles facility consist of several WW2 period barracks, Battery 519 with its 14 inch gun and plotting room and a large number of WW2 vehicles, weapons and personal equipment.
Although my resources are all Vietnam and Cold Ware era I have been invited and set up at the side of there event and have the opportunity to play radio.

This year I set out with the following objectives.
1 Participate in the weekly MMRCA Net at 10:00 on 7.296 USB.
2 Participate in the weekly M&S Net at 12:00 on 5.357 USB.
3 Establish contact to remote FDT Tower located in Cape May County NJ and establish communications between the two locations for the first time in over seventy years.
4 Participate in local communications at the site on 3.885 AM

This year I did accomplish task 1 and 2, I was not able to accomplish task 3 and 4.

The M151A1 and GRC-106 worked without issues on the weekly radio nets. I did use an external inverted V antenna for both nets that was supported by fiberglass mast attached to the mutt. The mast was lowered between nets to allow changing of the elements that were cut in advance, one for each net. I did not use the external generator (MEP-035) and all power was provided by the batteries in the mutt and ran the engine when long periods of time transmitting were required. The only issue was because of the long time between transmitting periods I would turn off the power to the amplifier and when you need to transmit again you have to turn the amplifier back on and let it run thru its start timer and go thru a tune cycle before normal operation.
Used a new H-33 handset and had no complaints about audio quality along with a new storage system for all the microphones and handsets to keep them from being exposed between field operations, itís a fifty caliber ammo box.
The only other item that may have affected operation is that the new location that I was set up in this year is next to where the live fire demonstrations take place. There were small arms firing taking place on the early net that also included larger weapons including a BAR and a fifty caliber simulator mounted on a WW2 period jeep. At 11:30 they had a public display that ends with the firing of a 3 inch gun that was around 100 feet from my location by noon things were quieter. The staff had there weapons carrier over at the 3 inch battery and were doing something with there group of captured German re-enactors.

One thing I always try to think of is there any value that I can add to an event such as this. With the others like Dave KB3ELD and Jason and his collection of WW2 Telephone equipment they are using period correct equipment and there value to the event is obvious, but in my case I show up with my Vietnam mutt and lots of wires and have to think what possible benefit can I have to there event? So I tend to sit around and try to think up ways I can be of service to the overall event.
This year I thought perhaps we can establish a radio link between The Historic WW2 Lookout tower located over in Cape May New Jersey and the plotting room located in Bunker 519. That tower was one of the FDT towers that were used as part of the defiance network during the war. The tower over in New Jersey has been restored and is open to the public so I contacted the people over in New Jersey and they were happy to allow us, the military Ham Radio community access to there facility but unfortunately I was not able to recruit anyone to go there and activate the site and arrange a call.
This was never intended or promoted to the FMHA and was only intended as an example of what we as collectors may be capable of doing in the future. At this point I would have been content to do this on 51.0 FM just as a proof of concept so perhaps we can plan on a larger scale event in the future that has a benefit in promoting both the historic facilities and Military radio collecting. Perhaps with a year available we can coordinate something for next year, it would also be a benefit if we were capable of doing this with period correct equipment?
The final objective of netting with local radios failed in the respect that the only resource I had available at the site was the high powered GRC-106 and in close proximity to the older smaller radios they were overloaded by proximity on 3.885 KB3ELD did have his BC-654 along with a working Pogo stick radio on 3.885 but because of the high power issue was not able to work satisfactory.

Lessens learned include next year bring a pack set for 3.885 Have a PRC-103 that will do 3.885 AM so can include that. Also try to recruit additional support for the operation over in Cape May. Think K4CHE did a contact between Ft. Miles and Ft. Mott at one point several years back but Ft. Mott was not active as part of the defensive network where the Historic Tower site in New Jersey was part of the original FDC system.

In conclusion for next year, if invited back intend to bring at least one man pack HF AM radio for local QSO. Do not know if I can go full way to using WW2 equipment but that may be a possibility. I will investigate the possibility of getting something like a BC-699 for use on the battery 519 side or maybe both sides? The advantage is that the BC-699 is that it is WW2 period, allows remote control over telephone lines so perhaps an EE-8 can be carried up the tower in New Jersey and a telephone line to the FDC in Battery 519 can be set up using existing telephone equipment within the FDC.
Also want to investigate what type of chair would have been used in Vietnam? The mutt and all the equipment on board are period correct and installed accordingly. I have gone so far as to also have a Mermite cooler but using a modern nylon fold up chair by the mutt just isnít doing it. The question is what would be an appropriate chair for field operations?

Ray F/KA3EKH
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