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Author Topic: German Late War Radar Development  (Read 11164 times)

Offline Basil

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Re: German Late War Radar Development
« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2019, 08:40:46 am »
Thank you for this summary, Maury.

While at the beginning of the war Germany had a lead in this field of technology (stated by R. V. Jones and others and manifested e.g. by the Wuerzburg radar and its long range pendants, the development of proximity fuzes - see the „Oslo Report“, etc.), they at the latest lost the lead with the introduction of the centimeter wave and the use of the magnetron by the allies.

As mentioned above there were several factors responsible for this trend; the main reason was the shortsightedness of the german leadership (stopping work on advanced electronic projects, drafting a huge amount of technical staff into frontline war service and the resulting thinning of the human technical resources - at the end of the war the allies had the tenfold number of research personnel in electronics). From the point when the „Rotterdam Geraet“ was found a newly found working group „Arbeitsgemeinschaft Rotterdam“ was created and focus was laid on the centimeter wavelength – although surprisingly at the beginning not with the necessary effort in regards for its use in the air defense role. One reason might be that the german leadership still emphasised offensive (bomber) capabilities instead concentrating solely on air defense until sometimes in 1944.

However also in the UK progress in radar was tied to a small number of researchers. An example is the abandoning of the AI MK IX radar after losing Downing as the lead technician for this work via friendly fire and instead adopting the american SCR-720 and relying on the vast american production resources.

The allied lead in microwave technology could not be caught up by the Germans and because of the deteriorating war situation it was an unrealistic aim to get any significant number of microwave sets into frontline service during the last 10-12 months of the war. Instead great effort was laid on introducing anti jamming circuits for the available decimeter wave radars because this was needed most immediately.

If one states that centimeter radar would not have been in widespread use by Germany until the later second halve of 1945 this may be true in regards to the destruction of production facilities and infrastructure by the massive day and night bombing raids but it cannot be said about the general research status. In the laboratory environment Germany was closing the gap in the race for smaller wavelengths and high microwave power outputs (charts by F. Trenkle and also mentioned by R. V. Jones). Additionally there was a surprisingly number of innovative concepts for microwave radar and radar based fire control systems on drawing boards down to millimeter waves.

In contrast to german aircraft and propulsion projects which are more or less well documented (although Newsdeskdan still manages to surprise) the german microwave field seems yet to be an area for further historical analysis (besides Trenkle). Much of the electronic research was focused in the region around Berlin which was overrun by the Soviets who captured both the documents and the research personnel and many details may have been lost in this process.

Offline yellowaster

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Re: German Late War Radar Development
« Reply #31 on: January 02, 2019, 01:54:50 am »
just a nitpick, but the UK did not abandon AI Mk IX following the introduction of AI Mk X - rather, development was continued but at a reduced priority.

Offline Basil

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Re: German Late War Radar Development
« Reply #32 on: January 02, 2019, 03:19:56 am »
Thx, Yellowaster, correct. Afaik, the research model mk IX c was the most advanced with lock-on etc.
However, even postwar it was not adopted by the RAF because of a weak low-level performance. Ian White's book "The History of Air Intercept Radar" is a good read for this topic.

Offline yellowaster

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Re: German Late War Radar Development
« Reply #33 on: January 02, 2019, 05:12:57 am »
Ian White's book is not completely accurate when discussing some bits of the post-war AI story. To cut a long story short, AI Mk 9B had many deficiencies and was rejected. It's successor was AI Mk 9C, which originally was just AI Mk 9B with an add-on predicted aiming facility using GGS. (AI Mk 9D, which provided predicted aiming via a gyro prediction unit, was a failure). The rejection of AI Mk 9B, and the requirement for high altitude operation, led to a redesign of AI Mk 9C to fix (some of) the failings of 9B. The resulting radar (essentially an improved, high-altitude version of AI Mk 9) was redesignated AI Mk 17.

Offline Basil

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Re: German Late War Radar Development
« Reply #34 on: January 02, 2019, 12:16:50 pm »
Thank you for clarification. Are there weblinks or books which describe the AI mk 9 development in detail?

Offline yellowaster

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Re: German Late War Radar Development
« Reply #35 on: January 02, 2019, 02:52:05 pm »
Basil,  I haven't come across any published (web or otherwise) detailed history of AI Mk 9. My summary comes from perusing various docs at the TNA and other places.  I've still not got the complete story though ...