Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 55 Radar Station

Radar/signal station

Cape Edgecumbe, Bowen 4805

Evidence of RAAF 55 Radar Station can be found north of Bowen on the windswept headland of Cape Edgecumbe, overlooking Horseshoe and Murrays Bay. This installation was erected here in March 1943 as RAAF 42 Radar Station and was redesignated as 55 Radar Station several weeks later on 1 April 1943. Since May 1942 Bowen had been an important Catalina flying boat maintenance base and the radar unit was needed not only for air defence, but to assist in the navigation of Allied aircraft, particularly those lost or suffering mechanical problems.


The tower was an Australian-made transportable Air Warning (AW) radar tower, of bolted steel construction with parts prefabricated for air transport and easy erection and dismantling. The radar was a British Mk V COL set. The transmitter/receiver was designed by the Royal Air Force for coastal defence use. COL was the overseas version of the British CHL (Chain Home Low Flying). CHL stations were for the detection of low flying aircraft and formed part of the British 'Chain Home' network.

RAAF 55 Radar Station was reduced to a care and maintenance unit from January to October 1945 and the unit was disbanded in April 1946. The only remaining evidence of the radar tower are the steel tie-down bolts on the rock surface. A light anti-aircraft gun pit nearby probably contained a World War I Lewis or Vickers machine gun.


Pearce, Howard (contributing author).
Peter Nielsen. Diary of WWII North Queensland, Nielsen Publishing, Gordonvale, 1993.

Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009.

PD Wilson. North Queensland: WWII 1942–1945, Department of Geographic Information, Brisbane, 1988.