Radar's Significance During World War Ii

2198 words - 9 pages

Radar's SignificanceDuring World War IIAndrew Simpson250335535History 020Dr. AcresJuly 23, 2007The Allied forces use of radar during World War II can be considered one of the most important factors in helping to turn the tide of the war in favour of the Allies. Radar finds its origins decades before the outbreak of fighting the Second World War but the form with which it was used during the war stems from the work of Sir Robert Watson-Watt. His experimentation with radar was "just the first preliminary step in a long series of experiments before it would become Britain's shield." (Zimmerman 59) This development of radar technologies provided the advantage that the Allies direly needed in order to win World War II's battle of attrition. It provided necessary advantages in the aerial defense of Great Britain throughout the war, during the Allies strategic bombing campaigns of occupied Europe, and in naval engagements in the Pacific and Atlantic.During the arms build up prior to the war the decision was made to create a series of radar towers along the British coast in order to provide early warning of an enemy attack. As war became imminent they were quickly technically improved so that by 1940 they could detect enemy aircraft 150 miles away. This defense system protecting Britain became known as the Chain Home Radar system. (Russell 137) This system would play a pivotal role in protecting Britain from the Luftwaffe in 1940 during the Battle of Britain. This was the name for the air war that occurred between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe in the summer of 1940. Germany had planned an invasion of Britain and it was their belief that they would need air superiority in order to have the upper hand on the Royal Navy for a successful sea invasion. The effect of the Chain Home system was that it provided the crucial extra few minutes needed to scramble fighters to intercept the incoming German bombers and fighters. This radar system was put to the test and nearly faced destruction from intense German attacks until Germany, luckily for the Allies, changed their tactics of bombing radar stations and airfields and chose to bomb British cities. Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding, who was commander of Bomber Command, stated that "the system operated effectively, and it is not too much to say that the warnings that it gave could have been obtained by no other means and constituted a vital factor in the air defence of Great Britain." (Bragg 221)While Britain was using their radar system to detect incoming enemy planes, the Germans had set up radar in occupied Europe to aid with their missions. The Allies had catching up to do when it came to using radar to guide bombing missions. German bombers held the advantage in 1940 by using Knickebein, which was a system of intersecting radio beams that would guide them to their targets. British bombers did not have this luxury and made there way to Germany by using maps, sextets and when those fail, dead reckoning...

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