Military History/Radar in ww2


QUESTION: My nameís Endaf and Iím a design student (not a history student just in case you think that some of the questions are a bit simplistic) I'm writing a dissertation on "What role did technology play in the outcome of World War 2, focusing on aviation." One of my subheadings will be about Radar however it's proving a bit difficult to make head and tails of it all. So this help will be much appreciated.

1) Firstly do you know of any good reading material that I could have a look at?

2) I've found out that the Germans had better RADAR systems but how was it better than Chain Home and what did they use it for?

3) During the Battle of Britain it's obvious that Chain home played a big part in the defence but was it mostly down to the technology or was it more down to German mistakes for not bombing the stations and the efforts of Air Marshall Dowding and his filter room systems?

4) Why did the Germans not bomb the Chain Home stations properly?

5) How much of a factor do you think that Location played in the battle of Britain? (in the fact that aircrafts didn't have to travel as far and that British pilots could fly again and the German pilots would be captured)

6) What were the main problems with Chain Home?

7) Where was the RADAR during the night blitz period of the war?

8) Could you explain to me please or give a suggestion to where i could find out what AI and AF was? And the role that played in WW2?

9)  Again could you direct me to a book or a website that explains what happened with the Lancaster bombers over Germany during 1943 - 1945 I've read they had heavy losses thanks to German Radar.

10) Did the Japanese get through to bomb Pearl Harbour purely due to human error in Hawaii?

Thank you very much.


ANSWER: Glad to help
1.    I have included several links that will help.

2.   Indeed the Germans at the beginning of war had better radar.  They had radar directed guns on ships and mobile radar stations.   The early units called Freya were smaller then the British Home chain units and in general had better range.  The First real use of this radar was in protecting the German navy from air attack.  In December of 1939 the British attempted to attack the German battle fleet.  Due to the warning from a Freya unit the Luftwaffe incepted the raid which inflicted almost no damage on the fleet.
3.   What made the Home Chain system work was a control center and the fact that if a radar was damaged the British had a few mobile radars that could replace damaged sections of the system.  At RAF Uxbridge the British built a command and control system that took in data from the radar station and directed fighters to respond to bombing raids.
4.   The Germans did bomb some radar stations and did manage to damage several.  But the stations were protected and were fixed fast.  Also mobile systems could back up a system while it was being repaired.
5.   The Germans by attacking London lost the battle.  London is a huge city; the Germans had mainly medium bombers.  There was no way the Luftwaffe could destroy London with their bomber forces.  London could absorb huge amounts of damage.  The Germans in August had attached airfields, shipping and aircraft factories.  When they stopped this it gave the British breathing space.  The German ME-109 had a very range and normally could only be over London for 15 minutes or less before having to return to France.  More and more bombers fell as London burned but London was too big to burn down.  
6.   The Chain Home system transmitters were huge and expensive; but once you had a control system it made the system effective.
7.   The Home Chain was active during the night Blitz but fighters needed their own radar to intercept the bombers.  Home chain could put you in the general area or warn of an attack but until the British put radars on the fighters intercepting the bombers at night was a very hit and miss system, During the Battle of Britain Home chain would guide the fighting to within a few miles of the target the Pilotsí eyes would go from there.
8.   AI refers to air intercept or airborne radar on a fighter.  AF would be ground based radar.  Night fighters equipped with AI radar made bombing at night a less survivable option.
10.   An early radar station did detect the Japanese attack when the radar operators reported the incoming aircraft they were told it was a flight of B-17s coming in from California.  So human error.
I hope this helps and Thank you.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: This is Just a quick question:

Is there an example of the British getting past Freya as a result of no command and control system on the German's side?

Was the Berlin Bombing in the 1940 an example. Because, even though the British didn't do significant damage at all. apparently despite a load of anti aircraft weaponry going off, "not a plane was brought down"

I'm aware of the Window and the tin foil strips later on in the war. But what I'm looking for is an example of the Luftwaffe not utilizing the potential of the radar they had.

Thanks again.



Freya was still being developed into a combat control system in 1940 so it still had gaps.  Also the August 1940 raid on Berlin was done by a few bombers that were scattered all over Berlin.  German night fighters didnít have radar in 1940 and had to rely on seeing bombers in search lights in order to target them.  Colonel Josef Kammhuber was directed in July 1940 to beginning to setup night fighter system with aircraft and radars but this was not complete by the time of the 1940 attack on Berlin.  Also due to the curve of the Earth the lower you fly the less time radar has to see you.  

Enjoy the Link

Thank you  

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Paul Sutton


I can answer questions on World War Two weapons, tactics, and strategy. I can answer questions on Weapons systems and their development. I can answer guestions on Space exploration history. I am a World War 2 expert. I study Military Weapons Systems and the usage of those systems.


I work for Saint Petersburg College as a TRS or Technology resources specialist. I read 10 to 15 books a year on World War 2 and weapon systems. I also have a BA in History from USF.

I have a BA in history from USF.

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