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GERMANY - LATE 1970'S

FIELD PROBLEM
REFORGER 1978
THE TOWER


Friends I have been in contact with tell me that this tower was an AB-216 type, was at the Fliegelhorst Kaserne in Hanau and was 360 feet tall. Other friends, one in particular, have said that this is definitely NOT the Fliegelhorst tower. I think the latter is true. I vaguely remember this tower being in the middle of nowhere, not in some Kaserne.

Now I'm pretty sure that I was NOT the one who took these pictures. You see, even though I have been involved in communications all my life, I have also had acrophobia all my life.

I can work on mountaintops without any problem. The tops of buildings bother me not at all.

But you get me 20' up a tower and I freeze. I can't even climb the little 40' tower I have next to my own house. It sucks.

I MAY have taken these pictures though. I was young and I was going to live forever back then. Also, if you look closely, there is a set of ladders inside the tower structure itself. Maybe that gave me the bravery to overcome my fear and climb to the top of that bad boy.

Maybe I was drunk, or high, or just stupid; or maybe all three

I may never know.


William Watkins, (201st 70-71), forwarded the following info about this tower:

From Army Signal Corp school publication 11-154-2 dated 1972

Tower AB-216/U, Reference:  TM-11-5073
General information: The AB-216/U is a sectionalized and guyed rectangular tower, designed for quick assembly and disassembly. It is used to support transmitting and receiving antennas and related equipment. The AB-216/U includes guys, guy anchors, ground rods, light supports, antenna supports (antennas not included), tools and accessories required for the installation of the tower, and associated equipment. A 204-foot tower will support 4 parabolic dish antennas, and can be used for other vhf or microwave antennas. A properly balanced tower will withstand 100 mph winds. The tower can also be used with other types of vhf or microwave antennas.
Technical characteristics:
Height: 78 to 204 feet in 6 ft increments (300 ft using two towers side by side and cross-braced).
Maximum compression load: 48,000 lbs.
Mounting: four tower support base plates, AB-206/U
Sections: tower section AB-208/U (1 folding section). tower section AB-207/U (12 to 33 folding sections).
Guys: 16 to 36 guys made of nylon-jacketed steel-wire rope.
Anchors: 8 to 16 (main and back) screw or plate anchors.

Note: Basic tower AB-216/U is 78 feet high. For additional heights, tower section sets, accessory kits, and guy kits must be requisitioned. Daylight marking (orange and white tower sections). Night obstruction marking -- number and type of warning lights and beacons for indication of obstruction to aircraft depend on tower height and must be requisitioned.


Rick Williamson, ( 76-79), adds:

If it's the one I'm thinking of, it was part of a tasking that Co C had on a permanent basis. The company maintained a 24 channel system from the roof of V Corp/Abrams Building through a relay (AN/TRC-110) at that tower on out to HQ, 11th ACR stationed at the Fulda Gap. The system was 24/7/365 emergency backup comms in the event that things went stupid at the border, and the commercial and DCS systems went down. The 11th ACR was the very pointy end of the spear in case the bad guys decided to start throwing rocks. The V Corp Commander thought it might be important to be able to talk to them under those circumstances. By my reckoning, the way things were then along the border, the entire 11th ACR would have been scrap metal and toast by the time the Corp Commander got on the phone. That was the plan, though...  I can't remember the name of that site to save me. Old age...
---

Well, Rick... Maybe that's why the Commander wanted a way to call them. If they didn't answer...


John Moran adds:

I've read some of your other articles and info so thought I would just drop a line. I was a tech in Thailand and Taiwan in the late 1960 (1st Signal Brigade and USASTRATCOM, Green Hill and a couple of other places.
I see someone asking about the AB-216 towers, we had several in Taiwan with ours being the tallest on the island, about 212' at the beacon. You probably know the German tower is not an AB-216 although it's difficult to tell from the photo exactly what it is. The max for an AB-216 was 204' unless it was built as a double side by side and then it supposedly could be 300' although I've never seen that.
I climbed that tower many times to replace the beacon and do a few other things. It took a while to climb so I'd usually take lunch up with me, clip in at the top, replace the beacon (or whatever), eat, and come back down, and hopefully a wind would not come up during the process as the tower would sway several feet in each direction which made descending a little scary.
Our big antennas in Thailand were very different as the towers themselves were not that tall to support the big 60' dish.
Anyway, just a note.
Sincerely, John Moran / Lancaster, CA


 
 
 
 
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Tower
360' of tower just for our antennas.

 

Tower
Sure is a long way up there...

 

Other tower
There was a TV tower right next to our tower.

 

Trucks from above
There's our camouflaged trucks way down there.

 

Safety belt.
Thank goodness I have 2" of safety line in case I slip.

 

Looking down
JUMP! Wait... Light yourself on fire first!

 


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