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TOPIC: 8AF Radar Bombing Ranges

8AF Radar Bombing Ranges 27 Apr 2013 00:44 #11

  • P Bellamy
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Two 1st Air Division radar ranges to add to the list, as given in a report dated week ending 7th May 1945:

Plotting Unit type and location: SCR-584 at Bassingbourn
Range Target: Cambridge

Plotting Unit type and location: SCR-584 at Hucknall
Range Target: Derby

Both units were closed down during week ending 20th May 1945.

The two Division SCR-584 Plotting Units located at Hucknall and Bassingbourn have been closed down.
During its two and a half months of operation the Hucknall Unit has recorded approximately 500 H2X practice runs.
The Bassingbourn Unit had only three operational days before the close-down order was given.

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Paul Bellamy
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ARG Archive, Alconbury

8AF Radar Bombing Ranges 27 Apr 2013 12:42 #12

  • Peter Kirk
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Great stuff. I wonder how many more there are to find? I assume this is from the 1st AD archives again?

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8AF Radar Bombing Ranges 27 Apr 2013 13:02 #13

  • P Bellamy
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Yes, it was buried deep inside one of the files in the 1AD Archive.

Reading between the lines, a fair assumption would be that by VE Day there was intended to be at least eight 8AF radar bombing ranges in the UK.
Two for the Pathfinder School and two for each of the three Air Divisions.

8AF Pathfinder School:
Peterborough
Nottingham
1st Air Division:
Cambridge
Derby
2nd Air Division:
?
?
3rd Air Division:
?
?

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Paul Bellamy
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ARG Archive, Alconbury

8AF Radar Bombing Ranges 27 Apr 2013 21:49 #14

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Looks to be one fairly local and one further afield. If they were allocated simultaneously there may be a record of the 2nd and 3rd AD locations somewhere but if it was in sequence perhaps not.

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8AF Radar Bombing Ranges 02 May 2014 16:08 #15

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The SCR 584 was also used for a trial in close air support. The 584 was located at RAF Honeybourne and its position accurately mapped. The target was the Longdon Bombing range and this was also accurately mapped. Once both location were plotted the 584 was pointed at the target with only a 15 second error in angle. A Wellington armed with practice bombs was to fly on a predetermined course and to drop the practice bombs on command by the 584 unit.
To do this the intended height and ground speed of the aircraft, along with the direction was used to calculate the release point so that the 584 unit could mark the point on their screen when release was required. Unfortunately the SCR 584 was not available for long so only four runs could be made. The results showed an average range error of 64yds and 109yds in azimuth however some drops used two bombs to determine the direction the aircraft actually flew about 20deg from the briefed path in one run.

No date was given but it was in 1944. Presumably the idea was to allow for close air support in low or zero visibility?

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8AF Radar Bombing Ranges 18 Jun 2014 15:54 #16

  • Peter Kirk
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I have just received a copy of "Operational Analysis in the U.S. Army Eighth Air Force in World War 2" by Charles W. McArthur [published in 1990] (reasonably priced at $15.99 including shipping).

This confirms that the experiment was originally to be based on result of photographic bombing but with the English weather it would have taken too long for the ideal conditions. They were pointed in the direction of a British Army Captain who had been involved with using gun laying radar to track aircraft with reasonable accuracy and this was the solution to their problem of the weather. As this equipment was already set up around Oxford for RAF trials the USAAF merely made use of it.

I haven't had time or the energy to fully read the chapter on the Oxford Experiment but will post any additional information when I do.

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