After Action Report

Operation “NIAGARA 2004” 


Executive Summary 

1.         During the period 16-18 July 2004, the Signals/Telecom Section of the Museum of Applied Military History provided a display of 2nd World War communications equipment in support of Parks Canada’s “Military Timeline” event at Fort George, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  The display consisted of both a static display for visitors to the Fort and some on-air activity for members of the Wireless Set No. 19 Group.  Of particular interest was an evaluation of the ground-wave range of the Wireless Set No. 48.


2.         All objective of the operation were met.  While the number of visitors was smaller than anticipated (probably due the wet weather), those who did attend were enthusiastic and genuinely interested in the material on display.  The on-air radio activities were successful and provided valuable information concerning the working range of the W.S. No. 48.


Operations (Display) 

3.         The display of vintage equipment was centred on the bell tent and consisted of an operating 19 Set (c/w ¾ wavelength horizontal antenna), 48 Set, UC-6 switchboard, D Mk V field telephones, Signal Lamp and Signal Flags.  This proved to be a good combination as it demonstrates the range of communication options available during the 2nd WW.  The Remote Control Unit was not on display but would have been useful to demonstrate the interconnectivity between wireless and line.  The addition of a SLIDEX device would also have been useful to show the difficulty of providing security to wireless messages.


4.         It was useful to have some examples of wartime communications successes and failures to relate to the visitors.  The “WILLIAM” artillery shoot against the village of Aquino (23 May ’44 in Liri Valley) is valuable as it shows the speed with which messages could be distributed.  The use of the 19 Set (vice 18 Set) by the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment at Mount Assoro (22 July 1943) shows the value of understanding equipment capabilities and radio propagation.  Younger visitors can readily understand the difficulty of transporting the sets up a 1,000 foot mountain.  Details of these types of “war stories” need to be well understood by the presenter and must be related in a simple and concise manner.


Operations (Radio Skeds) 

5.            Propagation conditions for this event were highly variable with a Solar Flux of 149.2 (17 Jul) and 155.1 (18 Jul).  The A Index was high at 24 (17 Jul) and 9 (18 Jul).  The K Index varied from an extreme of 6 (17 0000Z Jul) to a much quieter level of 1 (18 0200Z Jul).  The foF2 during the ground-wave tests was 5.55 MHz (18 0200Z Jul) and 5.30 MHz (18 1400Z Jul).  QRN levels were high, especially during the early hours of 18 Jul, due to local thunderstorms.


6.         Check-ins during the DX skeds were limited, however contact was established as far as London, Ontario and Ottawa, Ontario.  There was some interference, possibly due to out-stations trying to call Net Control without being properly zero-beat.  All stations must remember that during the check-in process, their task is to search aggressively for NCS, zero-beat precisely and transmit only when directed to do so by NCS.  Side conversations amongst out-stations, especially during the check-in period, create great confusion and significant delays.


7.         It was surprising that contact was made with VE3EZP (London, Ontario) at 17 0036Z Jul.  The distance was only 175 km (reasonable for a 19 Set in sky-wave) but the conditions were highly unsatisfactory (SF 149.2, Ap of 24 and Kp of 6:  foF2 at the time is not known).  This unexplained result suggests that sky-wave propagation is extremely difficult to predict.  The procedure of having scheduled definite operating periods for each of the 80 and 40 M bands proved to be highly effective. 


8.         The results of the W.S. No. 48 Ground-Wave tests were better than expected.  In AM the ground antenna worked out to 3.57 km (night) and 7.0 km (day).  In AM the 11 foot whip antenna worked out to 5.74 km (night) and 11 km (day).  In CW the 11 foot whip antenna worked out to 16 km (night) and produced a 599 signal report at 11 km during the day.  Extreme daytime range in CW with the 11 foot whip was not confirmed but likely would have been in the 25 to 30 km range.  These ranges are consistently 1.5 times the estimates produced by “Signal Training Pamphlet 2. Part VIII – Ground-wave Range of Wireless Set, 1944”.  This difference may be due to a “safety factor” built into the 1944 range calculations or may be due to the soil conditions of the present test being virtually perfect.  These results suggest that the 1944 range calculations are reliable.  (Note: field notes from the ground-wave tests are attached to this report)     



9.         No technical problems were encountered.  The ready availability of 110 vac “shore power” permitted the 19 Set to be left on speaker watch during the time visitors were attending.  For the evening radio skeds the 19 Set was run on battery power and it was easy to keep the battery fully charged by use of a battery charger.  Careful packing and the use of checklists was a benefit.



10.       Details of the operation had been distributed via email in the form of an Outline Plan (24 June ’04) and an Operations Order (12 1950Z Jul 04).  This proved to be a fully satisfactory method of disseminating information to members of the 19 Set Group.  To reach the general amateur radio population an alternative method would be required (i.e. an announcements on the Trans-Provincial Net).


11.       Service Support requirements had been submitted to the organizers through the MAMH point-of-contact (Tim Sullivan).  This proved to be fully satisfactory with all requirements having been met.


12.       Rations for this event were provided by the organizers.  These were excellent.  Credit goes to the “Friends of Fort George” for their service in preparing all of the meals.

Camp discipline was generally good, however informal discussions carried on late into the night and tended to be distracting to some participants. 



13.            Operation “NIAGARA 2004” was highly successful.  This location provides an excellent “radio range” for evaluating ground-wave propagation.  The overall organization of the weekend was very good and the event provided an interesting location for the Signals/Telecom Section to bring its displays to the public.


14.       This event should be supported in the future. 



D.G. Lawrence, VA3ORP

O/C Signals/Telecom Section

Museum of Applied Military History


30 July 2004


Operation “NIAGARA 2004”

Field Notes - W.S. No. 48 Set  Ground-Wave Tests


- 48 Set was installed on grounds of Fort George, Niagara-on-the-Lake with 25 foot ground antenna laid out to south.  Set was sitting on a chair (18 inches above ground) and connected to single spike ground connection (six inches into the ground).

- finding a clear frequency was difficult due to other signals on the band.

- frequencies used were between 7.006 MHz and 7.020 MHz.

- bearing and distance was measured with GPS receiver, times are EDST

- mobile station experienced heavy hydro noise in several locations

- mobile station used six foot, bottom loaded whip mounted in centre of Dodge Caravan.  Radio used was ICOM 725 with 80 – 100 Watts output


17 July 2004, 10 pm EDST

Bearing            Distance          Sig Rpt            Mode               Antenna

003 deg            1.12 km          ok                    AM                  gnd                   21:15 hrs

007                  1.81                 ok                    AM                  gnd

021                  2.59                 ok                    AM                  gnd

014                  3.57                 poor                 AM                  gnd

011                  4.48                 S-5                  AM                  11 ft whip

008                  5.74                 ok but QRM   AM                  11 ft whip

008                  6.13                 ok                    CW                  11 ft whip     AE @320

006                  7.77                 ok                    CW                  11 ft whip

005                  9.43                 rst 439             CW                  11 ft whip

019                  10                    ok                    CW                  11 ft whip

031                  12                    rst 439             CW                  11 ft whip

039                  13                    ok                    CW                  11 ft whip

032                  16                    ok                    CW                  11 ft whip     22:20 hrs

18 July 2004, 10 am EDST

Bearing            Distance          Sig Rpt            Mode               Antenna

026                  2.1                   59                    AM                  gnd               09:30 hrs

017                  3.21                 59                    AM                  gnd

010                  4.69                 35                    AM                  gnd

008                  5.83                 47                    AM                  gnd

006                  7.0                   25 QRN          AM                  gnd

006                  7.0                   57                    AM                  11 ft whip

005                  8.33                 57                    AM                  11 ft whip

008                  9.49                 good                AM                  11 ft whip     QRN @ 58

012                  9.75                 35                    AM                  11 ft whip     his RS=33

017                  10                    37 QRN          AM                  11 ft whip     his RS=35

016                  10.4                 37                    AM                  11 ft whip     his RS=45

022                  11                    25                    AM                  11 ft whip     his RS=33

022                  11                    599                  CW                  11 ft whip     10:10 hrs



Return to The Wireless Set No. 19 Homepage