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Historical Notes on Cards, Part 2

British Cards

DRUMSTICK: See the German entry on MORSE. The British countermeasure to this was ‘Drumstick’, which began to broadcast random morse letters over the airwaves in January 1944.

RADIO SILENCE: In July 1944, the capture of a Ju88G with the latest German electronics gear made it clear to Bomber Command that many of their bomber transmissions—in particular tail warning radars and navigation radars—were being tracked. Soon, a policy of ‘radio silence’ was employed to limit transmissions as much as possible.

MONICA: ‘Monica’ was a tail warning radar fitted to bombers, intended to warn of approaching nightfighters. However, within the bomber stream it would give false warnings and so was often ignored. When in the summer of 1944 it was discovered that FLENSBURG could home in on the broadcasts, the use of ‘Monica’ was discontinued.

PHOTO: Just below the tail guns of this Halifax can be seen the Yagi aerial of a Monica radar.

BOOZER: ‘Boozer’ was a passive radar receiver that picked up broadcasts from enemy nightfighter radars. However, it also detected the beams of ground-based Wurzburg radars, which like Monica resulted in many false warnings. Use of ‘Boozer’ was discontinued in September 1944 at the same time as ‘Monica’.

FISHPOND: Fishpond used the H2S navigation radar carried by many bombers to try and detect incoming nightfighters. It generally worked only where a fast-moving contact could be tracked.

REAR GUNNER: When all else failed, it sometimes took an alert rear gunner in a bomber to detect the approach of a nightfighter and engage it.

VILLAGE INN: Late in the war attempts were made to fit bombers with a radar-directed rear gun turret. The Automatic Gun Laying Turret (or AGLT, codenamed ‘Village Inn’) was never completely debugged and did not enter widespread use.

HIGH-ALTITUDE BOMBERS: Lancaster and Mosquito bombers were able to fly too high and fast for older nightfighters such as the Me110 to catch.

PHOTO: The Lancaster bomber's high speed and great altitude made it significantly harder to kill than it's nearest comparable 'heavy', the Halifax. An Operational Research Section cost analysis in March 1944, comparing survivability and bomb carrying capacity, expressed the relative usefulness of the Halifax and Lancaster in the ratio of 1:2.6.

SERRATE & PERFECTOS: ‘Serrate’ was a device that allowed Mosquito intruder fighters to home in on the transmissions from German nightfighter radars and shoot them down. However, when the long-wavelength SN-2 radar appeared in numbers Serrate’s inability to detect it meant that attacks soon fell off. Later in the war improved Serrate appeared that could find the SN-2. ‘Perfectos’, a passive homer that zeroed in on the German fighter’s Identification Friend Foe transponders soon earned the Mosquitos even more trade.

MAHMOUD: Mosquito patrols codenamed ‘Mahmoud’ often took take place well away from the bomber stream and were known to catch the occasional stray nightfighter.