Aviation of World War II

Aviation of World War II

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German Radar System and Ways to Overcome its Actions

Guard Major N. Varvarov

In the German air defense system, radar means are currently widely used, that is, the detection of aircraft in the air using radio waves.

1. Radar Facilities and Methods of their Use

The main types of ground-based German radar installations are Freya-type radars, large and small Würzburg, and Hording. Aircraft radar installation - type "Liechtenstein".

Each of these radars consists of two main parts: transmitting and receiving, working in combination.

The transmitting part of the installation is a powerful ultra-shortwave radio transmitter that emits waves shorter than 10 m.

Waves are emitted in short pulses - shocks, the number of which ranges from 1500 to 3700, depending on the range: the greater the range, the lower the number of pulses per second.

Radio waves are emitted in a strictly directed, narrow beam, like a narrow and dense light beam cast by an ordinary searchlight.

Encountering metal masses on their way, radio waves are reflected by them, just as a light beam is reflected by opaque objects. The reflected radio waves are picked up by a sensitive radar receiver.

The time between the emission of a pulse and the receipt of its reflection - "echo" - serves as a measure of the distance between the radar and the irradiated object.

To judge the time interval between the emission and the "echo", it is enough to make a simple calculation.

If the distance to the aircraft being covered by the radar is 150 km, then the "echo" will be detected at the receiving device after 1 millisecond, since the total path of the radio waves will be 300 km. The greater the distance from the radar to the irradiated object, i.e., the greater the distance traveled by the radio waves, the greater will be the interval on the oscilloscope (locator marker), which determines the distance to the irradiated object.

The normal equipment of locator stations consists of one Freya long-range locator (up to 300 km), indicating direction and speed, and two Wurzburg locators, determining altitude and heading at short distances - 40-60 km.

It should be noted that the determination of the height and direction of flight, carried out by the German radar service, is quite accurate.

The German air defense system, which is armed with radar equipment in ground and aircraft versions, organizes a radio detection, guidance and interception service. Depending on the importance of the direction, ground-based radar stations are placed in a checkerboard pattern, so that their ranges overlap each other and create a continuous field of radio detection.

Guidance and interception with the help of radio detection equipment is carried out by the Germans mainly by two methods, which are described below in relation to the conditions of our bombers' raids on enemy rear targets.

According to the first method, observation of the enemy aircraft and its own fighter is carried out using two Würzburg installations, and the fighter is aimed at the bomber by means of a radiotelephone. If there is only one consumer in the zone, then the Würzburg station works with him until the end of his pursuit of the enemy. If there are two or more fighters in the zone, then the station sequentially directs each of them.

The Germans use the second method when it is required to intercept our aircraft at a great distance (200-300 km). Here, the Fraya installations are used and observation is carried out alternately for the bomber and for the fighter. The fighter is given data on the speed and course of the bomber from the ground.

The Freya station, having a greater range, gives less accuracy than the Wützburg station and determines only the course of the flying aircraft to its speed.

The Freya or Hording installations conduct an initial search for a target (up to 300 km). Later, when an aircraft enters the zone of operation of the Wurzburg installations (40-60 km), guidance is carried out by these stations, one of which directs fighters, and the other fires from the ground.

When a fighter follows the course of the bomber, strictly to its tail, it receives data for leveling the height, and when approaching, a command is given by radiotelephone to turn on its aircraft locator (radio sight).

When a response is received from the fighter that the target has been acquired, guidance stops. The fighter approaches the bomber and, seeing him, opens fire in a sighted way.

It should be noted that the fighter's radio sight (Lichtenstein type locator) has a depth of up to 8000 m, depending on the flight altitude. At altitudes below 3,000 m, it is practically of little use, since at a viewing angle of 30 °, which this device has, at low altitude, strokes (impulses) from ground objects appear on the oscilloscope screen. Roughly speaking, target detection using the Liechtenstein device is possible to a depth proportional to the flight altitude. For example, at a flight altitude of 4,000 m, the radar detects a target at an average distance of 4,000 m.

Fighters armed with Liechtenstein-type aircraft radar are called "cat's eye" by the Germans. For the most part, Liechtenstein devices are installed on multi-seat fighter-interceptors and cruisers Ju-88, S-6 and Me-110, operating on the principle of free flight - target search.

Having a good connection with the ground, fighter-interceptors are rudely directed by ground-based radar installations on our aircraft. Upon entering the zone of operation of the aircraft locator (at a distance of 4,000-8,000 m, depending on the flight altitude), the fighter turns it on and approaches the bomber. From a distance of 70-150 m, he opens aimed fire in a sighted way.

2. Features of Air Combat Between Bombers and Enemy Night Fighters

It was determined by the fighting that the enemy covers his large and most important objects with two groups of night fighters. In the first group there are interceptor fighters (and most of them "Ju-88" and "Me 110"), which attack our aircraft on the route. The presence of radar installations on board these aircraft makes it easier for them to find the target. Attacks in most cases are made by these fighters from below, behind, to the right or to the left, from the dark side of the horizon to the light side. If our bombers go above the clouds, fighters attack them from above from behind, since the silhouettes of aircraft are clearly visible against the background of the clouds.

The second group patrols directly in the target area, attacking the bombers from below from the dark side of the horizon to the light side or from behind from above when the bombers are above the clouds, in searchlights or in the area illumination of the SAB. With the help of radio signals and missiles, this group interacts with the SA and searchlights of the protected facility.

Observation of our bombers during raids on large railway junctions made it possible to establish that the Germans have a certain order of interaction between fighters and their ground-based air defense systems. On dark, cloudless nights, when approaching the target, the crews noted the periodic appearance of red missiles in the air. It was found that the missiles were being dropped by interceptor fighters. This was especially practiced in areas where AIA facilities were located: flashing lights, searchlights, etc.

Above the target, in the light searchlight fields, especially if they coincide with the direction of approach or departure of our bombers, rockets, twin and single SABs are ignited continuously.

Having revealed the German system of organization of interaction, our crews learned how to timely detect attacking or pursuing fighters, correctly and skillfully combine fire with anti-fighter maneuver. This gave them the opportunity to boldly and decisively repel all attacks of the enemy and timely maneuver away from him.

Air combat consists of the following stages.

The first stage is the search. Here, each side tries to be the first to detect the enemy, as this gives an undoubted advantage in battle. For the purpose of better search, the bomber crew must remember that on a moonlit night enemy fighters are located in relation to the probable flight route of our bombers on the side opposite to the moon, and somewhat lower than the probable flight altitude, so that the silhouettes of our bombers are visible against the bright background of the moon and sky .

When searching above the clouds, enemy fighters patrol above the predetermined flight altitude of our bombers.

You should not fly under thin clouds, because against the background of such clouds, through which the moon shines, the silhouette of the aircraft stands out very clearly.

On a moonless night, the search is much more difficult. Enemy fighters, armed with radar installations, are rudely pointing at our planes. The aiming is carried out below the predetermined flight altitude of the bombers, so that when approaching the fighters they could see the flame from the exhaust pipes of the bombers.

The second stage is convergence. The main task of the fighter at this stage is to achieve surprise attacks.

The main goal of a bomber under unfavorable conditions for combat is to break away from pursuit or by opening fire from a long distance to force the enemy fighter to roll off to the side, to prevent it from getting close to conduct aimed fire.

The third stage is the attack. The enemy fighter seeks to take the most advantageous position for the attack and, aiming, fires.

The goal of the fighter is to shoot down the bomber from the first stage.

The goal of a bomber is to preempt the attack by opening fire in a timely manner, by maneuvering to create favorable conditions for its shooters to conduct a defensive battle.

The fourth stage is the exit from the battle. For a fighter, it can be free when the bomber is shot down, and forced if the bomber provides fire resistance. It is advisable for the bomber to avoid air combat whenever possible.

Why do enemy fighters try to shoot down the bomber in the first place? Firstly, because if the fighter “misses” and the bomber sees the line, then the latter will take all necessary measures to the target in order to conduct an active defensive battle and, under favorable conditions, evade pursuit. Secondly, because at night it is difficult to find, but it is very easy to lose the enemy.

The bomber crew, having the main task of hitting the target with their bombs, must take all measures to avoid meeting with enemy fighters. If the meeting took place, vigorously conduct an air battle.

If the minimum requirements for the flight are met, the bomber has every chance to emerge victorious from the battle. This can be confirmed by the following air battles conducted by our bombers at night.

When flying to the target on a moonlit, cloudless night, navigators comrade. Tikhonov and shooter comrade. Antsupov was noticed on the route of enemy fighters, one of which went to the side on the right on a parallel course, and the other - on the left behind.

All crew members were immediately notified of this.

The crew commander turned to the south towards the dark side of the horizon and escaped pursuit. After 1-2 minutes, the fighters appeared again: one - strictly behind, the other - from the bottom right rear at a distance of about 500 m. The gunner and radio operator from a distance of 300-400 m opened fire on command.

After the first round, the fighters moved aside. Having made four more similar maneuvers, but unsuccessful attempts to get closer to the distance of actual fire, the fighters fell off and left, since each time they approached from a long distance - 400-600 m - the gunner and radio operator opened aimed fire.

Simultaneously with the opening of fire, the pilot applied altitude and heading maneuvers appropriate to the situation.

The second air battle is characterized by the fact that, due to poor prudence, the crew almost paid with their lives.

The crew of the bomber (pilot Koshkin, navigator Mogutov, gunner-radio operator Drozd and air gunner Gordienko) approaching the target for 30-40 km at an altitude of 3,000 m was suddenly attacked by an enemy fighter.

The attack was made from the bottom rear right at close range. The gas tanks of the right plane were pierced and set on fire in a burst. Seeing the path of fire, the pilot, with a sharp turn towards the dark side of the horizon, blew off the flame and hid from the pursuer.

As can be seen from the above examples, only continuous and vigilant observation of the air guarantees against sudden attacks by enemy fighters. The pilot must observe the front upper hemisphere, the navigator - the front lower hemisphere, the gunner-radio operator - the rear upper hemisphere, the air gunner - the rear lower hemisphere.

All crew prisoners must immediately inform each other about each aircraft seen, and the crew must immediately open fire on a detected enemy from a long distance.

The combination of fire and maneuver is a necessary condition for active defensive air combat. When moving away from a fighter, one should always try to get under the enemy, using a sharp descent and a sharp turn. You should never leave a fighter in a straight line, even if with an increase in speed, as this increases the time for an enemy attack.

On the contrary, the maneuver of increasing the difference in speeds by "deck" or reducing the speed to the evaluative justified itself, as it reduces the duration of the attack.

One must always strive to maximize the use of the moon, clouds, forests, depending on the situation and season.

3. Anti-Location Maneuver of Bombers

Knowing the location system of the enemy and skillfully applying the available practical experience in countering it, our pilots nullify all the benefits that the enemy is trying to extract from it. In this case, the construction of the route, and the profile of the flight to the target, and the maneuver used by the crews in anticipation of a meeting with enemy fighter-interceptors and "cruisers" play a role.

We now have methods and experience to effectively deal with the enemy's location system.

It is very important to throw the enemy off our trail. To do this, before entering the location zone, our aircraft do not go in a straight line, but make breaks in the route, which greatly complicates the enemy's determination of the direction of the bombers' flight, and therefore. and determining what they are aiming for. After the planes enter the zone of action of the location means, the enemy operator on his CNP sees on the tablet the position of our and his planes and begins to guide his fighters by radio commands. In order to complicate or completely deprive the effectiveness of the work of the operators of the enemy location point, it is necessary to change course as often as possible.

German radars do not register the number of aircraft: the denser our bombers go and the more of them, the more unfavorable the conditions for radar. Targeting is easier on individual aircraft, especially if they are flying higher than the others.

Consequently, the massing of our strikes is also one of the most important measures that reduce the effectiveness of both ground and aircraft radar installations of the enemy.

The more difficult it is for enemy night fighters to use the combat capabilities of a radar installation, the more often our aircraft resort to irregular defensive evolution both to the side and in height. Therefore, evolutions such as the anti-radar maneuver should be an indispensable element in the combat flight of long-range bombers. Radio gunners and air gunners must know that German pilots, with the existing equipment on their fighter planes, can open aimed fire only with sight. Locating equipment only helps to find the plane in the air.

Enemy anti-aircraft artillery, also armed with a location, seeks to hit our aircraft from the first salvo, and “invisible burst” shells are used. Anti-aircraft searchlights with the help of location can sometimes catch the target from the first beam.

But experience has shown that this "achievement" of German technology has a corresponding opposition. In the first place here are the vigilance and vigilance of the leading crews, as well as the use of effective defensive evolutions. Both during the flight to the target and when returning to its airfield, the “snake” flight justified itself, which provides a good overview of the upper and especially the lower rear hemispheres, disorients the air defense system, makes it difficult to target and limits the possibility of aimed fire from the ZA armed with radar installations.

The pursuit of a German fighter armed with a location installation is not dangerous for our bomber if the bomber knows how to apply the necessary maneuver. Steep turns, up to a turn, with simultaneous gas supply, with a decrease or climb, allow our bomber to break away from the enemy and shoot down his location guidance, i.e., get away from him, since the enemy needs a certain time for additional new guidance.

The foregoing allows us to conclude that when flying behind enemy lines, our bombers have the ability to significantly weaken, and even neutralize, the action of enemy radar equipment due to their imperfection. Modern German radar stations make it possible to detect an aircraft at a distance of up to 300 km, but these stations can, as a rule, accurately determine the flight altitude of an aircraft only at a distance not exceeding 60 km.

When flying at low altitude, radio detection does not have the desired effect. This allows our aircraft to reach targets unnoticed.

Our aircraft can and should also use the shortcomings of the Liechtenstein-type radio sight, which at altitudes of less than 3,000 and due to the reflection of ground objects gives very inaccurate readings.

Radar installations operating in conjunction with ZA, of course, increase the effectiveness of its fire, but, of course, they cannot ensure an absolute hit, since a significant time passes from the beginning of the radiation to the shot, which takes a radio wave to pass, the operator to receive the pulse, calculate, transfer to the battery and preparation of data for firing. During this period, the seen aircraft already manages to cover some distance and even change course.

To disorient the radio detection station, it is advisable to use the dropping of steel plates from aircraft. This creates a large reflection of ultrashort waves, the fixation of which on the oscilloscope gives the impression of a flying group of aircraft.

The use of devices that generate VHF radiation and create false pulses can completely neutralize location installations.

Finally, we note the simplest way to disable radars, as well as radar devices for ZPR and ZPR. All of them are very sensitive to dust. If, when processing a target, barrels with cement or dust are dropped into their location, then this can paralyze all the work of the SA and ZPR for the period of bombardment.

There is no doubt that the improvement of radar methods will cause further development of methods of protection against it.

However, regardless of this, an already skillful maneuver in flight is a sufficient means of protection against radar. You just need to skillfully use it.


  • Bulletin of the Air Fleet # 19-20. October 1944