A Conversation for The History of Radar

WW2 Radar etc

Post 1


Comments on the article http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A591545:

The H2S was initially a British innovation.
The aircraft lost over rotterdam was British. When the Germans dug the remains of the H2S out of the wreck they rebuilt it and called it the "Rotterdamgerate" They were surprised at the amount of empty space and when they rebuilt it it took up only half the original volume.

RE: Operation BITING to capture bits of the Bruneval Wurzburg radar. As well as C Company, 2 Para, there was a section of Royal Engineers and an RAF Flt Sgt Charles Cox - a radar technician.

Other radar museums:

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/patisseriedelabasilique/radar.htm this is "LE MUSEE RADAR" at Douvres and has a giant Wurzburg.

http://users.erols.com/radarmus/ is the Historical Electronics Museum, Baltimore has inter alia an SCR-584 tracker like the ones used (with the mk 10 predictor and radar proximity fuse) to down the majority of V1 flying bombs. It also has an SCR 270 like the one that detected the Japanese assault force on Pearl Harbour.

WW2 Radar etc

Post 2

Monsignore Pizzafunghi Bosselese

smiley - yikes
I thought I was subscribed to the conversation forums of all the entries in the project but you proved me wrong there. Thanks for commenting and in particular for the additional museum links!

WW2 Radar etc

Post 3


An excellent history of WWII ground radar is "RDF1: The Location of Aircraft by Radar Methods 1935-1945" by Michael Bragg ISBN 0953154408. Well researched and tells the story chronilogically from the mod-1930's.

WW2 Radar etc

Post 4


I took a marine radar course in London in 1963. We were told that the resonant cavity magnetron, invented by the British, was the most important scientific invention of WWII. It allowed radar equipment to be small enough to carry on ships and planes. These radars operated on the 3cm waveband. In order to speed up production of this equipment the British gave the specifications to the Americans so that American mass production methods could churn out the parts. When the first order of 3cm waveguide arrived in Britain from America it was discovered that the manufacturer had used the 3cm specifications as the outside dimension, when it was meant to be the inside dimension. The British were devistated, thinking all this material was waste, and precious time was lost. They hooked it up anyway to see how bad it would be, and much to their surprise it worked just fine. The waveguide has been made that way ever since.
smiley - tit

WW2 Radar etc

Post 5

Monsignore Pizzafunghi Bosselese

hmm, that makes me wonder! If a waveguide is built for a wavelength of x cm then it allows only small variation from there. Plus, what with the fittings & plumbery? Even if you somehow glue different waveguides together, you'll lose power and the reflected power might kill your transmitter smiley - yikes

smiley - popcorn

I've learned that the first rectangular waveguides in use had the same dimensions as the curtain rails of the time. No wonder, because they *were* curtain rails smiley - smiley

WW2 Radar etc

Post 6


You have missed out the other part of our 1939 radar net, Chain Home Low (CHL). This was to cover a low altitude threat not covered by CH. More info at http://www.radarpages.co.uk/mob/chl/chl.htm

Another factor is that radar was only a part of a well developed fighter control system that also included the Observer Corps. Whether it would have been as effective without it is another matter.

After the entry of the USA into the war, a number of centimetric airborne radar models were used in UK designed aircraft (usually a distinct Mark number of an existing aircraft)as our production could not cope with demand. This was continued post war until at least 1960.

To cover up the existence of airborne radar, it was said that British night fighter pilots ate carrots, the Vitamin A improving their night vision. This was started after the first successful interception and kill by John 'Cat's Eye' Cunningham, the nickname being another cover up!

WW2 Radar etc

Post 7

Monsignore Pizzafunghi Bosselese

Yes I know I left out the CHL, and I left out quite a few more bits and pieces. Well, I had to draw a line somewhere as the source text file approached 20kB and I didn't want to double the info given in A612334. After all, going the full length with early acoustic locators, the Observer Corps and dirigibles would have resulted in yet another entry smiley - winkeye

As to the carrots - I haven't heard anything about that ruse itself or whether the Germans believed it. Surely my mother does! I guess it was the combination of disguise, deception, a couple of double agents and the willingness of the Germans to believe that CH/CHL stations were indeed 'harmless' radio stations contributed to its success story.

There was one reference which stated that the Germans refrained from systematically bombing them because they saw it as a 'waste of ammunition', given that it would be easy to repair a wooden mast with a couple of wires hanging from it.

WW2 Radar etc

Post 8


The Luftwaffe did not attack the stations because they felt that it would not intimidate the British as much as bombing large poorly defended areas like airfields, towns and cities. The main aim of the air offensive was to frighten the Brits into talking terms for peace rather than destroying the defences, although they had a pretty good try at taking out airfields.

Another factor was that they did not think that they could damage wire and metal framework towers without using large quantities of accurately aimed bombs. The only accurate bombers were the Stuka dive bombers and our fighters and flak made rather a mess of themearly on in the campaign.

WW2 Radar etc

Post 9

Confusing Manifestation

I think I read somewhere that Hitler had forbidden research into electronics (including radar) because he deemed it "Jewish science".

WW2 Radar etc

Post 10


The Germans were well on the way to developing their own radar but were not as successful as the Brits for a number of reasons.

Overconfidence - Remember, Hermann Gõring had promised that enemy aircraft would never fly over, never mind bomb, Germany and as a consequence the air defence of the Reich was not as developed as the British system was.

Deployment - The aircraft of the Luftwaffe were used as an offensive weapon in support of the army, not a defence measure. The first line of defence was anti-aircraft artillery (FlAK - Fleigerabwehrkanone), also a Luftwaffe responsibility. By 1942, the German radar was used to direct fighters and FlAK against night bombers.

Hitler did have this thing against technology for the reason you suggest, but it was more a case of not believing in it rather than banning it.

WW2 Radar etc

Post 11

Monsignore Pizzafunghi Bosselese

Who (posting 8) - yes indeed. All those points added up and thus prevented the CH from being subjected to dedicated raids.

smiley - popcorn

Confusing Manifestation,
"I think I read somewhere that Hitler had forbidden research into electronics (including radar) because he deemed it "Jewish science"."

That's not quite correct. It was the research into nuclear technology that he deemed 'Jewish science', because many of the researchers working in this field were of jewish origin. With hindsight, it's been better that way. Had the Germans put more effort into nuclear science, and had they persisted longer into the year 1945, the first American bomb surely would have hit Germany and the German regime wouldn't have flinched from using the V-2 rocket as a nuclear carrier against London.

As to radar: in 1942, things were looking good for the Nazis. Hitler had most of the research into electronics and radar stopped and had researchers sent to the front. Any project that wouldn't be finished within (I think) six months' time was discontinued. He thought the war would be over before any of the new devices were put into the field. Don't call him a megalomaniac. The word should be gigalomaniac.

Then came Stalingrad... research and development was intensified, but this time indeed the war was over before the newly developed devices (like the 'Wasserfall' and 'Rheintochter' radar controlled air defence missiles) had an effect.

smiley - popcorn

Göring? His name changed to Meier when the first allied bomber flew over Germany, because alledgedly he said 'I shall be called Meier if any enemy bomber appears over Germany'. As you say, they were rather successful as support for the army. But overall, the Luftwaffe had a constant history of promising all and achieving little.

WW2 Radar etc

Post 12


You know, I never expected this to be finished.
Don't forget that German Intelligence assumed that no serious damage had been done to any of the radar stations that were attacked. Intelligence assumed that the radar operations room and the equipment were deep underground, and that further heavy bombing would be wasted, as well as them being very difficult to destroy.
Perhaps if Hitler hadn't have become fanatic about bombing London things would have been different.


Key: Complain about this post