German AWACS WW2?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Glider, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    I think most of us are aware that the RAF tried a couple of times to develop a WW2 AWACS aircraft firstly with a Wellington and secondly with a B24.

    However I have been reading Confounding the Reich a book on the night fighter war of 100 Group over Germany. In the book it makes only a passing reference to a He177 that was shot down while acting as an Illumnator when operating with Me 109 and FW190 aircraft.

    I can only guess that it was an attempt at an AWACS as the concept of a flying searchlight was obsolete.

    Has anyone heard of this before?

    I admit its totally new to me and any information would be appreciated
     
  2. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    Never heard of a german AWACs but I am guessing the He was doing the Illumination over a target that Bomber Command was after. The Luftwaffe had something called "Wild Boar" missions where single seat day fighters would fly in the vicinity of a RAF Bomber Command Target and take advantage of the ambient light (produced by the raid) to attack the bombers as they came over the target. Sounds like the Germans also ran some of their own "lighting" aircraft over the target to increase the visible light. First time I've heard of it.

    Germans didn't really need AWACS, as they are known today. They held so much European real estate, and the bombers had to fly over so much of it to get to German targets that AWAC type missions were a waste of assets.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I agree.

    Germany was on the defensive in the west from June 1940 onward. Hence ground and ship based radar works just fine.

    AWACS are more of an offensive weapon. They give you benefits somewhat similiar to ground based radar while operating over enemy territory.
     
  4. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,636
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    niagara falls
    I would think it would be a great asset, ground search radar although good didn't have a lot of the refinements like MTI (moving tarhet indicator) that later radar did . If one had an aircraft with airborne radar and a discrete homing device it wouldn't be as susceptible to ground clutter or inversion like a land based system.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    A WWII era AWACS would be equipped with WWII era radar. Not the radar available during 2010.
     
  6. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,636
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    niagara falls
    As I was aying an airborne radar would be far less prone to errors of ground search radar, such as ground clutter , inversion
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,770
    Likes Received:
    801
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    Could it be a mistranslation?
    As in the He 177 was transmitting radar waves instead of visible light for a radar receiver in the single engines fighters to home in on?

    It would in a sense "illuminate" the enemy aircraft.
    I believe some German single seat fighters were equipped with receivers tuned to the tail warning radar of British bombers, FuG 227 Flensburg.
    Could they have been trying something similar?
    transmitting sets, antenna and electrical load carried by the bomber to avoid degrading the single seater performance?

    It may not be very practical but neither is a WW II AWACS plane trying to direct single seat fighters to make an interception by radioed directions.
    Getting a radar equipped night fighter into a position were the NF's radar could pick up the target would be hard enough let alone getting a single seat fighter into visual range. It was hard enough from a ground station, trying to work out bearings and distances from a moving airplane using pencils and paper or even grease pencils and a plotting chart would be a nightmare.
    No computers to do the calculations in WW II. :)
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,770
    Likes Received:
    801
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    In some cases for WW II airborne radar (early) the max range was the same as the altitude of the aircraft. Ground clutter totally swamped the radar. The lower the plane flew the lower the range the operator had to set the outer 'gate', if I have the term right.
    With zero computer power to filter the signals the operator often had to set range 'gates' manually for the set to ignore. ANY return below the minimum distance set or any return over the max would be ignored.
    It would be many years before real "look down" radar would be developed.

    Late WW II radar might be quite capable of picking up a target flying at 5,000ft with the radar plane flying at 15,000ft if the gates and other filters were set right but picking up a plane flying at 500ft might well be impossible.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    That isn't quite correct. There were analog computers as far back as WWI. They were used for things like computing naval gunfire and torpedo firing solutions.

    By 1915 German W/T Command 6 was using custom made mechanical calculators to read British ciphers.
    GERMANY'S FIRST CRYPTANALYSIS ON THE WESTERN FRONT: DECRYPTING BRITISH AND FRENCH NAVAL CIPHERS IN WORLD WAR I - page 5 | Cryptologia
    If the Luftwaffe or RAF fielded AWACS during WWII they would almost certainly design analog or mechanical devices to assist with calculations.
     
  10. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    Would that give them the ability to know the Grand Fleet sailed prior to Jutland? Seems that way if they were reading their codes.
     
  11. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2009
    Messages:
    517
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    retired
    Location:
    Northern Ireland
    On the subject of WW2 German computers a look into Konrad Zuse's work is very interesting.

    His 1941 Z3 was, apparantly, the first fully operational electro-mechanical computer and a Turing complete computer
    (according to wiki : Turing completeness means that the rules followed in sequence on arbitrary data can produce the result of any calculation. A device with a Turing-complete instruction set, and an infinite memory and infinite lifespan, is the definition of a universal computer).

    Konrad Zuse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Obviously nothing that could be put in a plane but nevertheless interesting how developments on one side often end up independently happening on the other, what with that pesky physics not recognising nationalities and all. ;)
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,770
    Likes Received:
    801
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    OK, there were calculators or "computers" but not in the modern sense, They could only perform calculations with a limited number of variables or they took a long time to work through the possible combinations. they were also rather large an unwieldy. Anti-aircraft gun directors come to mind as analog "computers". The German Kommandogerat 40 required 5 men to operate it, contained 35 differentials and 24 electric motors and weighed 1.5 tons.

    Granted this includes the optical range finders and such but then the fire control director was operating from a fixed location and was only trying to compute the predicted course of a target aircraft in relation to the fixed location so as to issue aiming directions to guns (also fixed in location) for a collision course intercept by shells with an estimated time of flight for the time fuse.

    A WW II AWACS "computer" would have to solve the course, speed and altitude of the target aircraft just like the ground director except that the sensors (radar) are moving though 3 dimensions at the same time as the target is and instead of trying to intercept using a rather predictable shell the AWACS plane is trying to "guide" another aircraft also moving in 3 dimensions but in a rather unpredictable flight path compared to the shell.

    For a picture of a US 960lb director (without pedestal) that needed 8 men to operate it see: File:M7 director.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Now you just need the ability to track two aircraft that are several miles apart at the same time and feed the data into your "computer" using dials, knobs and hand wheels.

    Given a couple decent navigators working with plotting boards you could probably get workable results to place a radar equipped night fighter in the vicinity of the target without resorting to such cumbersome pieces of equipment.

    The point was, and is, that even some of the most basic electronic equipment we take for granted didn't exist in a usable form back then, or even at time near near then.
    See: Curta calculator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Introduced in 1948 and not totally replaced by electronic calculators until 1972.

    An airborne early warning radar plane to cover holes in ground coverage might have been possible. An airplane capable of controlling interceptions performed by other aircraft was not.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Of course.

    Per Massie (Castles of Steel) Admiral Scheer received the below intelligence messages on the mornng of 31 May 1915. Taken together they paint an unmistakable picture that the RN Grand Fleet and BCs were at sea.

    Message 1.
    U-32 sighted two British dreadnoughts, two cruisers and several destroyers off May Island, 60 miles east of Firth of Forth.

    Message 2.
    U-66 reported 8 British battleships accompanied by cruisers and destroyers 60 miles east of Cromarty on an easterly course.

    Message 3.
    W/T Command 6 reported intercepting British wireless messages indicating that two British dreadnoughts or groups of dreadnoughts (call signs did not make clear) had left Scapa Flow.

    Makes me wonder what Admiral Scheer hoped to accomplish (besides getting his butt kicked by superior British naval forces). :eek:
     
  14. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    Good info. Message three is the most interesting. Is that the one you are alluding to about being intercepted and decoded. If so, it's daming. Or, more accurately, shows that neither the Brits nor the Germans did a particularly good job of working their Radio Intel during Jutland.

    Makes you wonder if Scheer actually got the info.
     
  15. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,636
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    niagara falls
    Powering a search radar would be the major factor they do suck up the Amperage.
     
  16. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    Messages:
    1,919
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    The British AWACs were used defensively to intercept He111s from Holland launching V1s.
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Off topic but...
    Both Austria and Germany had efficient code breaking services prior to the start of WWI. Strange that popular histories mention Room 40 as if only Britain had such an organization.

    Austro-Hungarian cryptology during World War I
    A hopeless struggle: Austro-Hungarian cryptology during World War I | Cryptologia | Find Articles at BNET


    DECRYPTING BRITISH AND FRENCH NAVAL CIPHERS IN WORLD WAR I
    GERMANY'S FIRST CRYPTANALYSIS ON THE WESTERN FRONT: DECRYPTING BRITISH AND FRENCH NAVAL CIPHERS IN WORLD WAR I | Cryptologia | Find Articles at BNET
     
  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,770
    Likes Received:
    801
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    Were they really AWACS aircraft or were they AEW?

    AEW= Airborne Early Warning

    It would lack the "control" function.
     
  19. HealzDevo

    HealzDevo Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2004
    Messages:
    1,345
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Self-Employed
    Location:
    Queensland
    It is interesting. I wonder whether it would have worked by spraying out radar waves from the aircraft, which could then be picked up by the receivers in the fighter aircraft if they bounced off something... If they never bounced off something would they keep on going? We know that radio waves are more of a spray feature where the signal is broadcast all around the tower and question is whether it is the same case with this aircraft...
     
  20. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    #20 norab, Jan 19, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2011
    from another forum regarding the Wellington AWACS

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
Loading...

Share This Page