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Battle of Britain

-The Battle of the Beams-
Home
-The London Blitz-
-Tactics on Both Sides-
-Key Ingredients to Battle-
-The Dowding System-
-The Battle of the Beams-
-Phases of Battle-
-Canada Contributes-
-End Results-
-Bibliography-

The British were using radar more effectively than the Germans realised for air defence, but the Luftwaffe had their own electronic means to increase their air attacks' effectiveness. One system was called Knickebein ("crooked leg"), was used in which carefully positioned radio transmitters were placed in friendly territory broadcast specially targeted navigational beams that intersected over specific bombing targets in enemy territory. Bombers equipped with technology to detect these beams were guided towards a target and received a signal to drop their bombs when they were (roughly) overhead. This allowed for somewhat more accurate bombing at night when British air defence was at its weakest.

Although British intelligence had heard rumours about this system they were not taken seriously until a British science advisor to MI6, Reginald Victor Jones, gathered evidence of its existence and its threat. Jones convinced the high command of the system and confirmed it with special examination flights. Jones was put in charge of developing solutions which often involved interfering with the beams to make attacking aircraft go widely off course. Germans resorted to other navigational systems, but Jones and the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) were able to neutralise each of those as well. The bombing effectivness for the Germans decreased. But with the beams no longer accurate many civilian areas that would not normally have been targeted were bombed.

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A British radar tower

Maggie Smith (June 2006)
History Summative