Operation Moonlight Sonata: The German Raid on Coventry

By Allan W. Kurki | Go to book overview

6
The Flying Beams

". . . the first World War was fought by chemists, the Second by physicists." Brian Johnson, The Secret War, p. 61


BACKGROUND

By the 1930s, electronics were starting to play an increasingly important role in aerial warfare. In this arena, however, the Germans and the British had progressed along two entirely different courses of development. The British, who were preparing primarily for a defensive stance, had placed their major emphasis on the development of radar for the detection of incoming aircraft. By 1940, they had two types of radar stations in operation: the CH, orchain home, for detecting high-flying aircraft; and the CHL, or chain home low, for detecting aircraft flying at low altitudes. (See Chapter 7.)

Unlike the British, the Germans preferred to rely on electronic navigational aids. Before World War II started, they established a series of medium frequency beacons that transmitted a call sign followed by a 20-second continuous note on the 176-580kc/c band. 1 Aircraft could home in on these signals, and by taking bearings from these transmissions they could establish their precise location. By March of 1940, the Germans had forty-six of these beacons in operation in Germany. After their advances in the west, they installed an additional thirty-eight beacons and eleven broadcasting stations outside of Germany. These were all in operation by September of 1940. The British, however, quickly developed electronic countermeasures for use against these beacons. They transmitted masking beacons, called meacons, to confuse the Luftwaffe flight crews by giving them false bearings.

While the British were perfecting their radar and their defensive measures, the Germans were preparing their offensive electronic equipment and techniques.

-39-

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Operation Moonlight Sonata: The German Raid on Coventry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Glossary of Abbreviations, Codenames, and Terms Used in the Text xv
  • Part I - Overview 1
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - Coventry Before the Raid 9
  • 3 - The Raid in Brief 15
  • Part II - The German Air Force (GAF) 21
  • 4 - Gaf Development and Strategy 23
  • 5 - The Bombers and Ordnance of the Gaf 29
  • 6 - The Flying Beams 39
  • Part III - The RAF and the Battle of Britain 47
  • 7 - Raf Fighters and British Defenses 49
  • 8 - Ultra and British Electronic Countermeasures 63
  • 9 - The Battle of Britain 71
  • Part IV - The Coventry Raid 87
  • 10 - Coventry's Defenses 89
  • 11 - Advance Knowledge About the Raid 97
  • 12 - Operation Cold Water 103
  • 13 - The Raid: Operation Moonlight Sonata 109
  • Part V - The Aftermath 121
  • 14 - The Results of the Raid 123
  • 15 - Public Reaction to the Raid 129
  • Appendix A Luftwaffe 3 Bombing Report of Coventry Raid 147
  • Appendix C - U.S. Army Military Attache's Report on the Coventry Raid 153
  • Notes 157
  • Bibliography 167
  • Index 173
  • About the Author 179
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