Posts Tagged ‘1950’

So its that time! Time to look at communication, specifically an old over-the-horizon radar system called the Duga from the former Soviet Union (Russia/Ukraine for the purposes of this article.) Over The Horizon (OTH) or Beyond The Horizon (BTH) are radar systems for long range use. Most were used in the 1950’s and 1960’s because they were early warning systems, just think about the Cold War and the idea of it being a necessity; the ones I am looking at here are the Duga system but they were used all over the world and still are, if modern reports online are correct. I am no expert so correct me where you can if I get things wrong.

The system operated from July 1976 up until December 1989, there were two deployed in Chernobyl and Chernihiv. Chernobyl is in the Ukraine and Chernihiv is Siberian. They were powerful and appeared without warning, sounding like a repetitive tapping on 10Hz, they became nicknamed by the listeners as the Russian Woodpecker.

They seemed to pop up pretty randomly and could interrupt legitimate broadcasting and all variations of stations. Complaints were sent in about them but I can’t imagine it being easy to prevent them. Some of the radio and television users began including blockers in the circuit to try and filter out interruption.

The first type of Duga was built in the Ukraine and did successfully detect rocket launchers from 2,500 kilometres. With its success they worked on the larger project. The first signal was picked up in 1976 and amatuer radio users gave it the name woodpecker, some people had reported it as early as 1963. Regardless of the date the Russian Woodpecker was traced back to the Soviet Union. The sources were found in Kiev, Minsk, Chernobyl, Gomel and Chernihiv but eventually narrowed down through speculation has been made that there was more than one transmitter. Wireless World, 1977 muses that along with the OTH system the Russians might be trying to utilise radar returns or another source that worked along side it, or around two or more spots.

I wondered if this was plausible or were we just putting more technical knowledge to that in retrospect or are we accepting that NATO might not have been entirely accurate? The NATO name for DUGA-1 is quoted as STEEL YARD, some sources also use STEELWORK. It is officially recorded name may well be different but not disclosed for security purposes.

Some points of interest are that they realised when listening that it was not used as a form of jamming because Moscow and pro-Soviet Stations were also caught by it, so it couldn’t be reliable enough for that. The signal used three repetition rates of 10Hz, 16Hz and 20Hz, but the most common was 10. They used a fairly wide bandwidth, usually 40Khz.

An attempt to stop the signals causing interruptions came along, one of the ways was tor try and use signals at the same pulsing rate, people formed a club called The Russian Woodpecker Hunting Club. The transmissions slowed down in the 1980’s by 1989 they had disappeared. This slow down and eventual end does coincide with the Cold War closing down, the official end being 8th December 1971 when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Another factor in the close would be a further advancement in early warning systems, satellite systems are far more advanced and less likely to be affected by adverse weather.

The original Duga system was experimental and it lies outside of the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. It was restored in 2002 after it was badly damaged by fire. As of October 2013 there is a possibility to visit the Ukrainian site via tour operators for Chernobyl who know how to get the correct paperwork.

For those who like modern reference here are some ways the Duga has been imported into modern media.

If, like me, you enjoy games like Metro Last Light or S.T.A.L.K.E.R then you may already know this… Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a heavy feature in S.T.A.L.K.E.R and specifically around the nuclear accident. The Duga array is in Clear Sky after the main campaign game. It is in the fictional city of Limansk-13 you can see it and visit it in game. The ‘Brain Scorcher’, a military installation, is inspired by the idea that Duga-1 was used for mind-control.

Call of Duty:Black Ops the map ‘Grid’ is placed in Pripyat and the array can be seen in game there too.

A documentary by Chad Garcia looks into the Chernobyl disaster and the potential links to the structure. The documentary interviews people directly involved in the building and operation of the installation.

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The phrase for the area was coined by Joseph A Citro, an author, in 1992 when a radio broadcast discussed the area in Southwestern Virginia in which people had gone missing. A number of people went missing between 1920-1950 and has similar characteristics to the ‘Bridgewater Triangle’ in nearby state Massachusetts.

12th November 1945 – 74 year old Middie Rivers disappeared. He was with four hunters and got ahead of them but he never showed up again or met with the other four. It was a local area that he was familiar with so it felt as though there was little to suggest he had got lost.

1st December 1946 – 18 year old Paula Weldon disappeared, she went out for a hike. She was seen by a couple and they say she was 100 yards ahead, she went around the corner and they too walked that way but when they got around the corner they found no sign of Paula. She never showed up, nor any trace, despite a $5000 reward and the FBI’s involvement.

1st December 1949 – James Tedford a veteran went missing three years to the day later. He had been visiting relatives and was returning home on the bus to Bennington Soldier’s Home when he went missing. He was according to witnesses, on the last stop before his destination. His belongings were still in the luggage rack, the open bus timetable was on the seat and he was nowhere to be found.

12th October 1950 – 8 year old Paul Jepson was with his mother in a truck. She left her son in the truck to go feed the pigs, she was gone for about an hour. When she got back he was gone, search parties were formed and with Paul in a bright red jacket he should have been easy to spot.

28th October 1950 – 53 year old Frieda Langer and her cousin Herbert Elsner left the family campsite to hike. She slipped and fell into a stream and said she would go back to change her clothes if he could wait there. When she did not return he went back to the camp and was told that she had not been back there, and for the next two weeks search parties extensively combed the area. 12th May 1951 her body showed up in a spot that had been searched very well at the time, there was no chance for it to have been there at the time. Unfortunately due to the time lapse a cause of death could not be determined.

A quick analysis of these and I would conclude that given today’s forensics there might well have been clues, also there have probably been other missing people cases locally over the years but they had been singled out as a phenomena suddenly making them extra-ordinary as a collective.

Paul Jepson may not have vanished, he may well have been kidnapped, for instance if he had been taken away and the abductor was gone by the time the alert was raised that would mean he was another victim of child abduction and not so much a paranormal/mystery event.

Frieda Langer’s mystery might also have a more mundane and grizzly explanation. Abducted and killed away from the scene with the speculation high and searches constantly going on, there is a chance that the killer waited and kept the body concealed until the hype died down enough to dump it back there.

However given the the disappearances seem to have stopped after a spate that went up until the 1950’s, one may have to wonder why.