NO. 18 RADAR STATION RAAF, KIAMA, NSW
An UNIDENTIFIED PLOT AT KIAMA
Jo Dunbar (nee Lehmann)
Comment: Kiama was one of the early AW installations which was subsequently replaced by a Mk V COL but it retained the old AW aerial. It was the highest air warning set operated by the RAAF being at 1321 feet above sea level. Noel McCormack feels that the main lobe "slid down the hill and stayed close to the water" - good for shipping and low flying aircraft but little else.
It was 19 February 1943. The place 18RS on Saddleback Mountain near Kiama. I was on duty in the dark old doover hut, on the tube gazing at the black screen and pulsating green light. Nothing but permanent echoes were showing on the screen. The aerial swept round monotonously; the same assorted PE'S came up from the same mountains.
Then I detected a tiny blip not seen before. I called the plot and began tracking it. The blip was so tiny that it kept getting lost in the regular "grass" and than it would show up again. When it was time for me to leave the tube the following operator was unable to locate the mysterious blip. So, I went back "on the tube" and was able to follow a broken course for some time. Fighter sector advised that they had no aircraft in that area and that the plots were too erratic todo anything about them.
Unkind suggestions came back, such as "one should not drink alcohol from the compasses" and other distressing implications. The station was put on alert as the plot showed that an unidentified plane was coming our way. We never actually saw it and that whole thing was forgotten.
Graeme Steinbeck loves a mystery and always wanted to solve the above mystery. Fifty years later, he was reading the Sydney Morning Herald. David Jenkins had written an article about a Japanese Pilot who had made two flights in Australia and never been challenged. The first was over Sydney Harbour before the midget submarine attack in May 1942. The second was on 19 February 1943 when he flew very low right down the NSW coast and then returned to his submarine off the coast.
Susumi Ito said that he flew low between the mountain peaks, so as to remain undetected. He did not go undetected after all. Jo Lehmann plotted him while on duty at 18 Radar Station, Kiama. But Susumi was able to take his photographs and went home.
Today, Susumi Ito is the president of an office equipment and computer firm in Japan. He was interviewed by David Jenkins and the full report of this venture is to be found in his book, Battle surface:- Japan's submarine War Against Australia, 1942-45.
Kiama is about 100 kms south of Sydney.
Can you help me with more information on No. 18 Radar Station?
Did you work there during WW2? If you did, I'd love to hear from you.
RAAF Radar Stations in the SWPA during WW2
over Australia during WW2
"More Radar Yarns"
Edited by Ed Simmonds
I'd like to thank Graeme Steinbeck for his assistance with this home page.
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"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 20 April 2001
This page last updated 13 January 2020