Military Review

From the history of radar and electronic warfare


The origin and development of radar refers to a later period compared to radio communications before the war. And, nevertheless, by the beginning of World War II, the armies of the countries of the fascist bloc, as well as of England, the USA and the Soviet Union, were armed with various types of radar stations, which primarily provided air defense. Thus, the German air defense system used the Freya radar for detecting air targets (range to 200 km) and Big Würzburg (range to 80 km), as well as the Small Würzburg anti-aircraft artillery target radar (range to 40 km). Somewhat later, powerful stationary radar stations of the Wasserman type (range to 300 km) were put into operation. The presence of these tools allowed by the end of 1941, to create a fairly slim radar air defense system, consisting of two belts. The first (external), began at Ostend (in 110 km north-west of Brussels) and stretched to Cuxhaven (in 100 km west of Hamburg). The second (internal) line went from the north-eastern border of France along the German-Belgian border and ended at Schleswig-Holstein. With the launch of the Mannheim-type anti-aircraft artillery fire control radar (range to 70 km), additional posts began to be established between these two belts in 1942 in the year. As a result, by the end of 1943, a solid air defense radar field was formed.

During the war, England built a network of stations along the south coast, and then along the entire east coast. This is how the Chain Home line came about. However, German intelligence soon revealed not only the deployment, but also the main parameters of this network. In particular, it was found that the directional patterns of the English radars with respect to the surface of the earth (sea) make up a certain angle, forming in the detection system blind zones. Using them, fascist aviation carried out the approach to the coast of England at low altitudes. The British had to create an additional radar line, providing a low-altitude field.

Thanks to the created system, which worked in close cooperation with other types of reconnaissance, the British were able to detect enemy planes in time, take up fighter aircraft in the air and alert anti-aircraft artillery. This eliminated the need for continuous air patrols, as a result of which fighter-interceptors were used with greater efficiency. The loss of Hitler’s aviation increased sharply. So, only 15 September 1940, the Germans lost 185 500 aircraft that participated in the raid. This made them go mainly to night raids.

At the same time, the search began for ways and means that make it difficult for enemy aircraft to detect aircraft in the air. The solution to this problem was found in the use of passive and active interference from radar by aviation.

Passive interference was first used by British bomber crews during a raid on Hamburg on the night of 23 on July 24 of the year 1943. Metallic tapes (aluminum foil), known as “Window”, packed in special cassettes (packs), dropped from aircraft and “scored” screens of enemy stations. In total, approximately 2,5 million 2 cassettes were used in the raid on Hamburg each. As a result, instead of 790 bombers involved in the raid, German operators counted thousands of aircraft, failing to distinguish real targets from false ones, which disrupted the fire control of anti-aircraft batteries and the actions of their fighter aircraft. Particularly successful was the effect of interference on the anti-aircraft artillery radar. The overall effectiveness of Germany’s air defense after the widespread use of passive interference has decreased by 75%. The losses of the English bombers were reduced by 40%.

In order to divert and wear down air defense forces, aviation sometimes imitated passive interference with false massive attacks on diverting directions. For example, on the night of 18 August 1943, during a raid on the Peenemünde Rocket Center, the British took a diversion: several Mosquito planes that used passive jamming tapes imitated a massive raid on Berlin. As a result, a significant part of the fighter aircraft from the airfields of Germany and Holland was raised to meet the jamming planes. At this time, the aircraft operating on Peenemünde, almost did not meet opposition to enemy air defenses.

From the history of radar and electronic warfare

The means of passive interference is constantly improved. Thus, anti-aircraft artillery shells filled with passive reflectors were used for jamming by airborne radar. Suppression of ground and shipborne radar was carried out using missiles equipped with "Window". Sometimes, instead of cassettes with foil, the planes hauled special metal nets, which are false targets for the operators of the fire control and aviation guidance stations. German aircraft first applied passive interference in August 1943, during raids on objects in England and ships off the coast of Normandy.

The next step in the development of anti-radar equipment was the use by the belligerents of active jamming, that is, special electromagnetic radiation that suppress radar receivers.

The Karpet-type aircraft jamming transmitters were first used by the Anglo-American aircraft in October 1943 of the year during the raids on Bremen. By the end of the same year, all heavy bombers B-17 and B-24 8 and 15 of the US air armies operating in Western Europe were equipped with onboard active jamming transmitters. British bomber aircraft was equipped with such transmitters only 10%. True, the British had, in addition, special planes - jammers used for group cover of aircraft squads. According to the foreign press, on one downed bomber, prior to the use of radio interference, German air defense spent an average of about 800 anti-aircraft missiles, while under active radial and passive interference, up to 3000.

Against the airborne radar bombs (radar reconnaissance and precision bombing), active interference and corner reflectors were most successfully used in the complex. For example, it became known to the Germans that during the night raids on Berlin, bombers were using the Weissensee and Mügelsee lakes located near the city as radar-contrasting landmarks. After numerous unsuccessful experiments, they managed to change the coastal outlines of the lakes with the help of corner reflectors installed on the floating crosses. In addition, false targets were created that imitated real objects, on which Allied aircraft often bombed. For example, during the radar camouflage of the city of Kustrin, the corner reflectors were arranged in such a way that characteristic marks of two “identical” cities were observed on the screens of the aircraft radar, the distance between which was 80 km.

Combat experience gained during the war by the Air Defense Forces and the Air Force, showed that in conducting electronic warfare the greatest effect is achieved with the sudden, massive and complex use of means and methods of suppressing radar. Characteristic in this regard is the organization of electronic warfare during the landing of the Anglo-American troops on the Normandy coast in 1944. Impact on the German radar system was carried out by the forces and means of airborne, naval, airborne and ground forces of the allies. They used 700 aircraft, ship and ground (vehicle) transmitters around 50 to create active interference. A week before the landing of the expeditionary forces, most of the German radar stations uncovered by all types of intelligence were subjected to intensive bombardment. On the night before its commencement, a group of planes with jammers jammed along the coast of England, suppressing German early warning radars. Immediately before the invasion, air and artillery strikes were inflicted on the radar posts, as a result of which over XNUMX% of the radar turned out to be destroyed. At the same time, hundreds of small ships and ships in small groups headed towards Calais and Boulogne, towing metallic balloons and floating corner reflectors. Ship's cannons and rockets fired metallized ribbons into the air. Passive reflectors were dropped over the marching ships, and a group of bombers under the cover of interference imitated a massive raid on Berlin. This was done in order to disorganize the work of the surviving radar surveillance system and mislead the German command about the true landing place of the allied forces.

In the main direction of the landing, British bombers with jammers eased German radars and threw smoke bombs in order to impede visual observation of the enemy. At the same time, air strikes were carried out on large communications centers in the landing area, and the airborne and sabotage groups destroyed many wire lines. On 262 ships and ships (from the landing barge to the cruiser, inclusive) and on the 105 aircraft, jamming transmitters were installed that practically paralyzed the work of the German radar systems of all types.

In the conduct of active offensive actions by the Anglo-American forces, it became necessary to use radar to organize interaction between ground forces and aviation. The difficulty lay in the fact that the radio, missiles, signal panels, tracer shells and other means by which interaction took place in the first period of the war could ensure the coordinated actions of the ground forces and aviation only with good visibility. The technical capabilities of aviation already at that time allowed it to be used practically at any time of the day and year, in any weather conditions, but only with the presence of appropriate navigation equipment.

The first attempts to use radar partially to ensure uninterrupted interaction between ground forces and aviation were undertaken by Americans during operations in North Africa. However, they managed to create a system of radar interaction only at the beginning of the invasion of the European continent.

Organizationally, such a system was built on the use of a group of stations that performed various functions depending on their type. It consisted of one MW early warning station (range up to 320 km), three or four TPS-3 short range detection stations (range up to 150 km) and several SCR-584 ground guidance stations (range to 160 km) . The MEW station as an operational information center was provided by telephone, telegraph and VHF radio communications with all radar and visual observation posts, as well as with aviation headquarters, whose function was to make decisions on the current air situation and control aviation units. Station SCR-584 took the plane directly to the area of ​​the object, so that the search for the target was greatly simplified. In addition, each radar system had a VHF radio station to communicate with aircraft in the air.

A more difficult task than using radar to ensure the interaction between ground forces and supporting aviation was the use of radar to detect ground targets and firing enemy artillery (mortar) batteries. The main difficulty lay in the very principle of operation of the radar station - the reflection of the radiated electromagnetic energy from all objects encountered on the path of its propagation. And, nevertheless, the Americans managed to adjust the SCR-584 gun-tracking stations to monitor the battlefield. They were included in the general system of artillery surveillance and provided reconnaissance of ground moving targets in medium terrain to a depth of 15-20 km. The share of ground-based radar detection, for example, in corps artillery, accounted for about 10%, in the divisional - 15-20% of the total number of explored targets.

Closed artillery and mortar positions using radar were first detected during the fighting on the bridgehead in the Anzio region (Italy) in 1943 year. The use of radar for these purposes proved to be a more efficient way than acoustic and visual observation, especially in conditions of intense shelling and rugged terrain. Noting on the radar indicators the trajectory of the projectile (mines) from several directions, it was possible to determine enemy firing positions with an accuracy of 5-25 and to organize a counter-battery struggle. First, the stations SCR-584 and TPS-3 were used, and then the modified version of the latter - TPQ-3.

The relatively successful use of radar by the Americans for conducting ground reconnaissance is due primarily to the fact that the Germans did not at all assume that the enemy was using these means for these purposes. Therefore, they did not take the necessary countermeasures, although they had experience of conducting electronic warfare in the air defense system, in the Air Force and Navy.

In the Soviet armed forces, radar and electronic warfare systems were used by air defense forces, aviation and the naval fleet. The ground forces primarily used radio reconnaissance equipment and radio communications interference. The first radar for detecting air targets in the observation, warning and communications troops was the station RUS-1 (Rhubarb), which was put into service in September 1939 and was first used during the Soviet-Finnish War. By the beginning of World War II, 45 sets of RUS-1 were manufactured, which subsequently operated in the air defense system of Transcaucasia and the Far East. During the war with the Finns on the Karelian Isthmus, the combat test of the early warning radar RUS-2 ("Redoubt") passed into service with the air defense forces in July 1940.

It should be noted that the station RUS-2 possessed high technical characteristics for that time, but in tactical terms it did not fully meet the requirements of the troops: it had a two-antenna system, bulky and complex rotational drives. Therefore, only an experimental batch entered the troops in the hope that the single-antenna version of this station, named RUS-2 (Pegmatit), passed ground tests and should have been launched into a series.

In the development of domestic radar, the creation of RUS-2-type stations as compared with РУС-1 was a significant step forward that radically affected the effectiveness of air defense. Obtaining data on the air situation (range, azimuth, flight speed, group or single target) from several stations, the command of the air defense zone (area) was able to evaluate the enemy and make optimal use of the means of destruction.

By the end of 1942, two prototypes of gun guidance stations, called the SON-2 and the SON-2, were created, and their mass production began in the 1943 year. The SON-2 stations played a very positive role in anti-aircraft artillery fighting. So, according to 1, 3, 4 and 14 corps, 80 and 90 divisions of the air defense, when shooting using these stations, 8 projectiles were consumed less than without stations in each downed enemy aircraft. In terms of simplicity of the device and reliability in operation, the cost of production and the conditions of transportation, as well as the time of coagulation and deployment, domestic radars exceeded the German, British and American radars created in the late 30-x and early 40-s.

The formation of radio engineering units began with the creation of the first radar unit near Leningrad in the autumn of 1939. In May, the 1940 radio band in Baku was formed in 28, in March and April, the 1941 radio battalion near Leningrad and the 72 radio battalion near Moscow formed in March-April. Radar technology was successfully used not only in the air defense of Moscow and Leningrad, but also in the defense of Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Sevastopol, Odessa, Novorossiysk and other cities. In 337-1942 So-called "high-altitude" attachments (VPM-1943, -1, -2) were made to the RUS stations for determining the height of targets, as well as instruments for identifying air targets using the "friend-foe" system, which made it possible to use them also for targeting fighter aircraft on enemy aircraft. In the 3 year alone, according to the radar, the number of fighter aviation targets in the air defense forces covering the front-line targets increased from 1943% to 17%.

A great achievement of the Soviet radar was the creation of Gneiss series aircraft stations for detecting and intercepting air targets. In 1943, these stations were equipped with aircraft first in stories World War II division heavy night interceptors. The radar Gneiss-2m was successfully used on the torpedo bombers of the Baltic Fleet. In parallel with the creation of intercept aircraft stations, radar sights were being developed. As a result, radar interception and aiming were created (only radar interception was abroad) on aerial targets, as well as a radar bomb-sight, which allowed precise bombing of ground targets under any conditions, day and night.

When attacking enemy targets, our bomber aircraft also used passive radio interference to suppress its early warning radar, target designation, targeting anti-aircraft artillery and fighter aircraft. As a result of the massive use of enemy radar in anti-aircraft artillery and night fighters, the loss of our bombers increased. This necessitated the organization of countermeasures to the enemy’s radar system. When approaching the radar detection zone, our planes moved to low altitudes, using “dips” in the enemy radar radiation patterns. In the vicinity of the target, they gained a given altitude, changed the direction and speed of flight. Such a maneuver, as practice has shown, led to a violation of the calculated data of the fire-control batteries of the anti-aircraft batteries and the disruption of the attacks of enemy fighters. With the approach to the radar zone, the crews of the bombers threw metallized ribbons, which created passive interference with the enemy's radar. In each air regiment, 2-3 aircraft, which flew above and in front of the strike groups, were allocated to create interference. As a result, discarded tapes, falling, hid the latter from radar detection.

The continuous development of means and methods of radar and electronic warfare during the Second World War had a significant impact on the methods of military operations and the effectiveness of the air defense forces, air force, navy and ground forces of the parties. During the war, the use of ground, ship and aircraft radar equipment and means of interference was constantly growing, and the tactics of their combat use developed and improved. These processes were characterized by a double-edged struggle of the parties, which in the post-war period abroad were called “radio war”, “war on the air”, “radar war” and “radio-electronic war”.

Boltunov M. “Golden ear” military intelligence. M .: Veche, 2011. C.66-71, 88-102, 114-117.
Lobanov M. Beginning of the Soviet radar. M .: Soviet Radio, 1975. 144-146.
Nazarenko V. Some Issues of the Development of Means and Methods of Radar and Electronic Warfare in the Second World War // VIZH. 1982. No.3 C.46-50.
Gordienko V. Century of electronic warfare // Independent Military Review. 11 April 2003
Paliy A. Radio-electronic warfare in wars and armed conflicts. M .: VAGSh, 2007, S. 64-72.
Klimovich E., Gladkov A. From the history of Russian radar // Technique and armament. 2007. No.8. C. 2-5.
Articles from this series:
Domestic means of aerial reconnaissance during the war.
Electronic warfare in World War II .
From the history of electronic warfare .

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  1. Aeneas
    Aeneas 12 September 2016 07: 43
    while the Italians and Japanese had a very bad radar, the Germans did not want to share with the allies, because they feared leakage of secrets, especially the Italians. The presence of radars on the ships of the British, and their use at night, led to the "one-wicket" beating at Cape Matapan. The Americans, using radar, were always the first to spot the Japanese in the dark, but the Japanese also fought well at night. Well, and a funny case, this is the story of the British wooden bomb. At the end of the war, the Germans built an airfield with mock-ups and corner reflectors, at this very target the British dropped a wooden bomb, somehow reconnoitering that the target was false.
    1. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 12 September 2016 10: 40
      Quote: Aeneas
      The presence of radars on the ships of the British, and their use at night, led to the "one-wicket" beating at Cape Matapan.

      According to Pack, the "one-wicket beat" only happened because "Stewart" visually noticed the cruiser Cattaneo - just at the moment when the ABC LK were already ready to work on the previously discovered "Field" radar. If not for this, the ABC LCs would have unmasked themselves with fire at the "Field" and could have flown under the distribution of torpedoes from the "dark sector".
      At 22.20 p.m., the “Valiant” reported the ship along the 19 G bearing at a distance of 4,5 miles. This target was on the left nose. Therefore, the “Greyhound” and “Griffin”, located on the left, were ordered to go to the starboard side of the battleships. This order was barely given when at 22.23 the Stuart, on the right, transmitted an alarm. Almost directly on the bow from the port side, along the 250 ° bearing in the completely opposite direction from the standing ship, massive silhouettes of darkened ships appeared, crossing the course of our fleet from right to left at a distance of about 2 miles. These were 2 large ships, a small ship was ahead, and 3 more small ships closed the line.

      At 22.15 p.m. my new chief of staff, Commodore Edelsten, was looking through binoculars to the horizon on the right on the nose. He calmly said that he saw 2 large cruisers and one small in front of them, which cut the nose of our fleet from right to left. I also looked there with binoculars. They were there. Captain 2nd rank Power, a former submariner and an incomparable silhouette recognition specialist, said they were 2 Zara heavy cruisers with a light cruiser in front of them.
      © ABC
      Moreover, the fire was also fought under visual control:
      Never in my whole life have I experienced such excitement as when I heard a calm voice from the KDP: “The KDP gunner sees the target.” This indicated that the guns were ready, and his finger was already on the trigger. The enemy was no further than 3800 yards - very close by.
      © ABC
    2. ICT
      ICT 12 September 2016 22: 08
      Quote: Aeneas
      dropped a wooden bomb

      they say the Germans then placed real planes there, and only then they bombed them for real ,
      like continuation of stories
  2. midshipman
    midshipman 12 September 2016 08: 05
    On the effectiveness of using the first station of the first radar (RUS) on the Leningrad front, I wrote an article in "VO" "Crisis month in the defense of the city." Then they managed to repulse on September 21-23, 1941, three star raids by fascist aviation (378 bombers each). The station was installed at a position in B. Izhora. I saw a photograph of this radar in the 60s in the office of my mentor in science Vekslin I.M. Already in 1942 my second mentor S.V. Spirov. managed to ensure the transfer of the radar situation from the radar indicator to the front air defense headquarters. They created this technique in their youth. Then we worked together at NII-33. Secondary radar was invented at NII-33 after the Second World War. Low bow to these Soviet scientists. I have the honor.
  3. Monster_Fat
    Monster_Fat 12 September 2016 09: 37
    Oh, again "we are the best", "the very first", etc. The fact that we were far from being so "rosy" with radar, as the author writes, can be seen by reading this book: "The Swastika over the Volga. The Luftwaffe is against Stalinist air defense "
  4. Alexey RA
    Alexey RA 12 September 2016 10: 30
    During the war, England built a network of stations along the south coast, and then along the entire east coast. This is how the Chain Home line came about.

    Was there a war in 1938? belay Didn't know, didn't know ...
    The basic network of the Chain Home radar was built before the war (1935 - the first stage of 5 stations, 1938 - already 20). In 1939, they began to "attach" a network of NLC detection radars - Chain Home Low to it.
  5. Hapfri
    Hapfri 12 September 2016 19: 21
    Interesting article. I learned a lot.
    Although on this topic you can write endlessly
  6. Volga Cossack
    Volga Cossack 12 September 2016 20: 57
    Informative article. Thank you - I didn’t know about metallized foil that was already used then.
    1. Mooh
      Mooh 13 September 2016 19: 45
      Not only used, but also assembled by zealous Germans on an industrial scale. The allies dumped tons of expensive aluminum on Germany choking on the shortage of raw materials.
  7. certero
    certero 12 September 2016 23: 13
    Alas, the USSR was far behind in radar. How many pilots read memoirs about the Second World War, there were no references to the radar. Then I thought that we had no stations at that time. The navy was even sadder.
    So the technological gap in many areas was very large. But then they overcame it. Now they are also trying to catch up.
    1. Duisenbay Bankankulov
      Duisenbay Bankankulov 13 September 2016 05: 23
      Pokryshkin in his book described the work of the radar, because the number of free-hunting flights immediately decreased.
  8. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 13 September 2016 10: 10
    Very interesting stuff. About the first radar networks, the first electronic warfare, the first
    Thanks to the author.