View Full Version : Radar on other fronts than the WF?

05-07-2007, 12:42 PM
Hi, a question about something that has been bugging me for a while. I am well aware of the use of radar during the battle of britain, but how widespread was its use in other theatres, such as africa and the eastern front? And how much had it advanced to by the end of the war?

Its just something i havent ever come across, cheers in advance,


05-07-2007, 12:51 PM
The RAF had a radar set working in Burma by December 1941. They used it frequently and it had some success but was considered unreliable. For some time, when the RAF was working with the AVG in December of '41 and early '42, the AVG would actually get their first warning of an inbound raid as RAF fighters scrambled at Mingaladon- the RAF had been alerted by radar

05-07-2007, 12:57 PM
RAF radar also found it's way into Java, placed near the capital Batavia (djakarta nowadays).
This being during Febr '42 I believe. Short use though as they had to pack quickly in order to keep it out of japanese hands.

05-07-2007, 01:06 PM
IIRC one famous case of the use of radar on the EF was during the battle of Kursk, where German radar gave early warning on the first Soviet surprise aerial attack on Axis airfields, and as a result the tables were turn. The Soviets also had some working radar around Moscow IIRC. Otherwise I believe radar was seldom used, which was more influenced by the nature of air combat on the Eastern front, ie. Sturmoviks generally flew extremely low below the radar screens anyway. I presume it was probably relying on the more mobile radar sets like Wurzburgs and their many many deriviates.

In other theatres, where the air warfare was more 'static', mainly the MTO and Balkans, radar networks were extensively used in defense. IIRC the Ploesti raid also called for very low flying B-24s for that reason, to avoid being detected early by radar.

The US also had working radar at a lot of places, ie. Pearl Harbour had a mobile radar set (or two?) that detected Japanese plans, but the operators simply dismissed it as false signals(!!).

Contrary the popular myth, radar was fairly widespread in use in WW2 by most combatants, including the smaller ones. For example, already at the start of the war all major combatant's (ie. British, German, French, Japanese, Italian, US) large surface units were equipped with some sort of radar equipment, and radar was used well before the Battle of Britain, ie. some Spitfire squadrons were vectored onto a poor flight of Blenheims and Hurricanes which led to friendly fire accidents in 1939, similiarly the German Freya radar sets gave early warning of the first Bomber Command attempts at naval ports and targets, fighters and destroyers were vectored onto the bombers which resulted in a blood bath with 50% losses also in 1939, after which Bomber Command quickly ceased such dangerous daylight operations, as no fighter escort with sufficient range was available.

05-07-2007, 02:21 PM
The use of radar by itself is not the issue -no doubt many nations had the capacity to design and produce such material. They only became worthwhile as part of an air defence system, wher information obtained could be acted upon in a timelymanner.
The development of the German air defense system is very instructive, with the early system of standing patrols being vectored to individual targets being superseded by the "Himmelbett" system and finally by the "Wilde" and "Zahme Sau" tactics.
This illustrates how the possesion of radra in itself is not enough -there has to be an accompanying infrastructure which is best suited to static campaigns. The protectionof major Soviet targets was the responsibility of PVO-Strany which had the makings of an integrated air defence system, but these were not easily replicable at constantly moving front lines. For the same reason, radar had much less of a role to play in the Med (apart from Malta, which, being an island rarely moved.


05-07-2007, 02:35 PM
Related question: It sounds like radar was not commonly used on the EF, so how did Luftwaffe airbases get notified of incoming attackers? Did they rely on ground spotters or listening posts? It just seems like it would be easier to have a mobile radar set at the field (why not then?).

05-07-2007, 03:49 PM
Radar on the EF was not too comon, although it was present. Russians had two main types - Rus' (and Rus'-2) and Redut, they were first used in the Defence of Moscow, then they helped to repel attacks on Leningrad. Starting from late 42 they became available for frontal units, although some commanders for some reason did not use units available to them. Good description about radar use in 1943 we can see in General Savitskii's books

About countermeasures we can read in here

http://www.iremember.ru/index.php?option=com_content&ta...iew&id=415&Itemid=20 (http://www.iremember.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=415&Itemid=20)
from gunner Redushev

05-07-2007, 05:29 PM
By the end of the war Radar was everywhere.

Among the major players the British and the American used it the most.

Britain, USA, Germany, Japan, and even the Russians all operated what was then called AI radar on night fighters. thought the Japanese sets were poor quality and had a poor reputation.

Italy operated hand me down AI equipped Dornier night fighters.

The US equipment was the best and most widespread. However, at the beginning of the war the German equipment was superior to the British CH, and CHL system.

Two excellent books on the subject are:

A radar History of WW2: technical and military imperatives.





Which is an encyclopaedic (bordering on dull) treatment of the development of the British CH system.

RDF-1 is the book Oleg should read to get the CH Radar chain right for BOB.

05-07-2007, 06:26 PM
Radar systems during the early war years tended to be large, bulky, and tempramental (with the emphasis on the 'mental' part). They needed a lot of power, and sometimes interfered with friendly radio voice communications (which were a fairly recent development as well).

The British sharing of the magnatron technology made Allied radars more easily transportable and reliable sooner, but the use and tactical applications had to be worked out over time.

Early radars did not have the bearing, altitude and range decoded on the screen for the operator's convenience; he or she had to watch a crude display and interpret for his or herself what it meant.

As in Kurfurst's example, the Pearl Harbor attack group was approaching from the northwest, and were detected by an Army radar station on the north shore of Oahu, remote from their parent unit. The operator/technicians were still in training, and had been posted to work that Sunday morning for practice reading & interpreting their 'scopes.

When they called in their big contact to officers on the main base, the officers apparently looked at the expected arrivals board, saw that a group fo B-17s were due from the mainland to the US north east, and assumed that the noobs had gotten their directions mixed up (parabolic reflectors had yet to become fashionable at that point). So they chewed out the noobs and went back to the Officers Mess for a hearty breakfast of ham, eggs, and a bombing attack witha side of strafing.



05-08-2007, 03:00 AM
I remember a story on TV of a british pilot (or radar operator) who in '40/'41 flew in a Blenheim I believe. As they approuched a german bomber and got closer in the dark all the sudden the german plane was getting away from them at ever increasing speed. Totally spooked it was later realized that they had actually overshot the bomber and the distance was getting bigger between them and the lagging bomber. The radar not just looked forward but even backwards. Airborne radar devices still had its problems at that time.

05-08-2007, 03:34 AM
Originally posted by Waldo.Pepper:

Two excellent books on the subject are:

A radar History of WW2: technical and military imperatives.


I read that book, top notch and goes over the use of radar in every theatre and branch (naval and ground as well) during the war. Kurfurst already explained what the book says as to why radar was not as widespread on the Eastern Front. I will correct what he said about Pearl Harbour, the radar set which was just installed picked up the raid yes...and the inexperienced operators phoned their superior to let him know only to be told it was a flight of B-17s due in from the mainland.

05-08-2007, 04:53 AM
I am reading right now the story of The Free French Fighter squadron in the Desert in 1942. In the pilots account, it is mentionned a radar having to be dismantled everytime they'd change airfield.
Since it is based on pilots and mechanics experience the type or model is not mentionned. They do say it was unreliable and didn't work in bad weather.

05-08-2007, 08:03 AM
On a related note, this is what preceded radar for detection of aircraft in flight -


05-08-2007, 08:45 AM
It was common enough that in the Pacific "both sides" used it...I "believe" the Japanese even having it in NewGuinea (though would have to re-check that)......and developed enough even "counter-measures" like chaff/window which was very well developed yet poorly made use of was used by the Japanese.


05-08-2007, 10:25 AM
"both sides"

A Radar History of World War Two, mentions that the Japanese used "deceiving paper" at a date BEFORE the British used it in Europe.

05-08-2007, 10:42 AM
Thanks for all the replies everybody, especially for the links and book references http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Theres plenty there to keep me going for a while. Just of the top of anyones head, how 'mobile' were mobile radars by the end of the war, 1 vehicle?

Sometimes, general discussion does just what it says on the tin! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/clap.gif

once again,

cheers fruitbat

05-08-2007, 12:14 PM
Very mobile if mounted on a vehicle, say an aeroplane, ship - submarine - PT-boat etc. LW EW were infact a single tent!

But I recon you mean truck born.

Mobility in fact was not the hampering factor. The setup time is still lengthy.

The ground must be chosen carefully and it must be leveled by a bull dozer for maximum accuracy.

I like pictures! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Here is a pic to illustrate.


05-08-2007, 12:24 PM
A small mentioning in a P-61 article, Ernest Thomas 548th NFS, Iwo Jima.
"After yet another 360-deg turn we found we had lost the bogie altogether, and in great frustration then asked ground radar for help. We were vectored toward base and on the way my radar operator observed old "window", wich consisted of foil strips dropped by enemy aircraft to confuse our airborne radar".

05-08-2007, 01:03 PM
Without me introducing too much speculation... (I do toward the end a bit But I think it interesting anyway.)

Two points in the interests of accuracy. (from A Radar History of World war Two)

The Radar in the P-61 was the SCR-720 (in British service this set is called the AI Mark X) and operated on 10cm. This 10cm point is important when it comes to vulnerability to Window/Chaff/Deceiving Paper. (whatever term we use for it).

"Window introduction was postponed when it was learned that AI Mark X (Or SCR-720) which had a different kind of indicator, was much less susceptible."


"the 50cm beam (of the Wurzburg set) was large enough to pick up thousands of the little dipoles as they drifted through the sky, whereas the 10cm beam would intercept only about 1/25th as many.

The page then goes on to tell that the larger sweep of (say 50cm Wurzburgs) sweeps the whole sky. But the very narrower beam of the SCR-720 set was akin to a pencil, and again inherently almost immune to Window.

The Japanese plane was lucky to be missed by the Radar. A single plane tossing out some Window, by hand no doubt, rather than with a large capacity dispenser (as used in Europe) would have benefited little from this action. The RAF dropped literally tons of the stuff.

Possibly (perhaps more likely even) the P-61 Operator just blew it. (He may have been tired/poorly trained, or had a minor equipment failure (which was VERY common - who knows!? ) Still he did say that he saw the effect of the Window! So who knows maybe the Japanese plane was really lucky! Bound to happen.

As for noticing Window, when the Japanese first used their deceiving paper the US Radar Observers never knew it - so little was the effect on their screens! (Unlike over Europe when the RAF first used it.) Nevertheless, the Japanese judged their initial use of the Deceiving Paper as a success. Presumably because they suffered a loss that was reduced.

05-08-2007, 01:59 PM
The British had a radar station at Changi on Singapore island and also a set located at Mersing on the east coast of Malaya in December 1941.
In February 1942 several sets arrived on Java but the first did not become operational until Feb. 26th- too late to be properly integrated into the warning system and ground control. The sets were destroyed when Java fell to prevent capture by the Japanese.

05-08-2007, 11:19 PM
And I guess everyone here has heard of the radar station on a tiny island called Hawaii?