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Cold War Radar


Transmitting Tube Base

Transmitting tube base, used to cool radar equipment in Chain Home Low stations

The Second World War drew strongly on technology.  Of the different weapons using technology, radar was one of the most important, proving itself vital in both defensive and offensive arenas. 

Both sides in the War, the Allies and the Axis, had radar at their disposal, but it proved to be especially significant for Britain and the Allies.

Within England itselft, radar played an important role.  After the development of radar, early warning radar stations called Chain Home stations were built on England's east coast. 

These were followed by an improved version of these stations, called Chain Home Low stations, which provided better coverage against low-flying aircraft.

The Battle of Britain:

During the Second World War, the British did not have enough resources to watch over their entire coast from the air.  Their ground radar system thus became important, especially during the Battle of Britain. 

They could keep aircraft on the ground and then fly them to where the radar informed them the enemy was.  Therefore, it made it seem like they had many more planes than they actually did since they were always in the right place during an attack.

Radar, Second World War England

1963 image showing the use of radar in Second World War England

This strategy was important in fighting off the German Air Force, or the Luftwaffe, who actually had the advantage.

The success of this defence caused Germany to start their attacks at night instead of in the daytime, but with airborne radar this was still of little consequence.

Ground Control Interception:

One important advent of the War was the creation of a type of Ground Control Interception (GCI) aircraft which used long and short range radars.

GCI, Second World War

Ground Control Interception radar during the Second World War

The long range radars were used as an alert mechanism while the short ones reached about 45 miles and were used to control fighters. 

This invention was invaluable in defeating the German Luftwaffe’s attempts on Britain. 

Using this type of radar required a specialized staff of Controllers who used what was viewed on their radar scope to bring the fighters to the enemy.