Later war UK radar defences.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by beitou, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. beitou

    beitou Member

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    #1 beitou, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
    I am quite familiar with the Battle of Britian Chain Home Low network of radars and control stations that vectored the RAF onto attacking German formations. In its time this was a world leading command and control sytem but how did it develop during the later war years? How did it compare to the German wild and tame boar sytems? What are the esteemed mebers of this forums views on its ability, I take it that it would be able to cope with massed raids if Germany was ever in a position to mount them. Any links would be most welcome.
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    If I can find my copy of Jack Gough's "Watching the Skies" I'll let you know. It is the definitive account of British radar from ww2 onwards.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Biggest problem would be sorting incoming German raids from returning USA and RAF raids. I've got to assume Britain would sink a lot of money into IFF development.
     
  4. beitou

    beitou Member

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    #4 beitou, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
    As I remeber the CHL stations were coastal looking outwards, once the raiders had crossed the coast it was down to the observer corps to track the raids, battle bowlers thermos flasks and protractors, was this weakness ever resolved, did the uk ever develop inwards looking radar and control?
     
  5. beitou

    beitou Member

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    I've heard about the Ifra red IFF on late war bombers but I presume this was only for air to air, did the uk ever utilise the air to ground navigation radar emissions as IFF in a similair way the Germans used them to find raiders?
     
  6. beitou

    beitou Member

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    Nice one, that would be most welcome.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Britain was responsible for defense of the Adriatic seaport and they failed miserably. Don't know if that was typical for late war RAF or if they simply had a bad day.
     
  8. beitou

    beitou Member

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    What radar and control did they have? How long to set it up and calibrate it or were the defences just standing patrols. Were there mobile effective air defence radars available in late 1943?
     
  9. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #9 Juha, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
    What you mean "to be able to cope"? British were not able to prevent LW attacks during its last big bombing offensive against GB but could hinder LW efforts fairly effectively by forcing it to use less effective tactics in oder to keep losses on more sustainable level and even so LW losses were on unsustainable level for a long run

    Operation Steinbock in Jan 44 loss rate was 7,8%, 57a/c lost
    in Feb 5,2%, 72a/c
    in March 8,3% , 75a/c
    in April 8,7%, 75a/c

    Juha

    PS tactics were ground controlled interceptions but there were so many attacking bombers that many NFs had to rely on searchlighs etc I meant looking independently bombers caught by searchlights to find out where to began their search for the targets.

    Juha
     
  10. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    11 Sep 1943. British Army occupy Bari.
    2 Dec 1943. Luftwaffe air raid on Port of Bari.

    Britain had about 11 weeks to secure their most important Italian seaport.
     
  12. Hop

    Hop Member

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    The first IFF sets entered service in 1939. They only worked with Chain Home radar. The MkII sets added other radar frequencies, but needed modifying every time a new radar type entered service. In the end they came up with IFF MKIII. That required a separate interrogator on the transmitting radar, so it worked with any new radar type that entered service. The US adopted the MKIII as well.
     
  13. beitou

    beitou Member

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    Pretty poor show then.
     
  14. beitou

    beitou Member

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    Thanks for that.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree. But was Bari typical of late war British air defenses or did the RAF simply have a bad day?
     
  16. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    Bari was a combination of good planning by one side and bad luck and complacency by the other.

    Bari was considered safe from attack. It was around 180 miles beyond the front lines and German bombing in the area had come to almost a complete stop about two weeks earlier, concentrating on the West coast instead. Bari was underdefended by AAA and the RAF and what fighters there were had been tasked with escort and interdiction, rather than defence of the port. Port facilities were running at full capacity to supply the VIII army and US forces and the harbour was crammed with ships. The port was fully lit at the time of attack, contrary to standard wartime procedures.

    The German attack was well conducted, consisting of medium altitude spoofing/deception followed by a wavetop attack with Ju-88s coming in from the North, an unexpected direction. The bombing attack also got lucky, as it managed to hit not one, but two munitions ships, including one with 2000 mustard gas bombs. Hitting these produced more damage than the actual bombs of the raid itself. It also severed and set alight a major oil pipeline, which only added to the damage.
     
  17. beitou

    beitou Member

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    Do you know if there was any radar coverage set up for Bari or on any likely approaches and if so what type was it. I remeber the US had a mobile radar set up at the time of PearlHarbour so I presume their must have been some development since 1941?
     
  18. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    In these things it is 'not able to prevent', it is being able to inflict unsustainable attrition. Those numbers for Steinbock were unsustainable for the Luftwaffe, or any air force for that matter. Numbers of that level were the reason the RAF and the USAAF pulled back from their long range attacks in late 43 (and in the case of BC) early 44.

    Don't forget the impact of intelligence as well. RV Jones (in his book Most Secret War) told that his area has so much information that they warn the authorities of, at least, 6 weeks notice of any Luftwaffe bombing campaign. Which they did for Steinbock so they were well prepared. He also predicted, to the day, when the 1st V1s would launch, but that, as they say, is another story.
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #19 stona, Sep 11, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
    Late in the war the Home Chain radar, essentially an early warning system looking out from the coast, was being run down. In May 1944 there were 208 radar stations in the reporting system, including 6 naval stations, and 20 were already on "care and maintenance". In early 1945 a further 18 were shut down relinquishing all radar coverage on the west coast from Cape Wrath to St David's Head.

    The Home Chain was not particularly useful for night time interception in any case as the controllers could rarely get the intercepting aircraft within three miles of the target. It was not designed as a Ground Control Interception (GCI) radar, though it was certainly used as such.

    In May 1944 there were 33 GCI stations in the control system. The first GCI station was essentially a Chain Home Low (CHL) aerial, modified for height finding, mounted on a turntable. 6 of these experimental stations were built and the first was delivered to the RAF and went operational at Sopley in January 1941. Each CGI station was integrated into its respective sector, whose controller directed a night fighter to a suitable position for it to be taken over by the GCI controller. The GCI controller would now direct the fighter until its airborne radar detected the target, or visual contact was made with the target.
    Between December 1940 and May 1941 losses for Luftwaffe night time raiders went up from about 1/2% to 7% so they were doing something right.

    This was the extent of coverage for the GCI stations in early 1941.

    [​IMG]

    It was these GCI radars, which had developed throughout the war into a sophisticated and effective system, comprising 33 stations, that would have been used against any renewed German night time efforts. They were used successfully in countering the "Baedecker" raids in April and then late May and early June 1942 and the "Steinbock" raids of 1944. Someone already posted the Luftwaffe's losses from the latter.

    Despite the jet at the bottom this is a schematic of the command and reporting system used during the war.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  20. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Not luck. Just a bit of logical deduction.

    Bari was primary supply port for Foggia airfield complex. On any given day some of the ships will almost certainly be carrying aircraft bombs and aviation fuel.

    Mustard gas was an unexpected bonus but the seaport would have been wrecked almost as bad without it.
     
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