Helping Stop Hitler’s Luftwaffe, The Memoirs of a Pilot Involved in the Development of Radar Interception, Vital in the Battle of Britain

These memoirs are of an RAF pilot involved in the development of the radar-based command and control system that helped win the Battle of Britain. The author’s memoirs uniquely follow the development of a revolutionary new command and control system that was completed Just In Time Most Highly Recommended

NAME:  Helping Stop Hitler’s Luftwaffe, The Memoirs of a Pilot Involved in the 
Development of Radar Interception, Vital in the Battle of Britain
FILE: R3382
AUTHOR: Air Marshal Sir Arthur Mc Donald, KCB, AFC, FRAeS, DL
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £25.00                                              
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:   Appeasement, rearmament, RAF, homeland defence, air defence, 
Hurricane, Spitfire, Command and Control, Sector Stations, Groups, communications, 
radar, sound detection, Royal Observer Corps, WWII, World War II, World War 2, 
Second World War, development and trials, Home Chain, Battle of Britain

ISBN: 1-52676-478-4

PAGES: 286,  Many B&W images and maps through the body of the book
IMAGE: B3382.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/49y5cjhm
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DESCRIPTION: These memoirs are of an RAF pilot involved in the development of 
the radar-based command and control system that helped win the Battle of Britain. The 
author’s memoirs uniquely follow the development of a revolutionary new command 
and control system that was completed Just In Time   Most Highly Recommended

The years of appeasement almost gave Hitler the same easy victory he had already chalked up as he crushed his neighbours. Fortunately for Britain and the Free World, rearmament was initiated just in the nick of time and one of the critical parts of the jigsaw, to fight a modern war in the air, was one of the final pieces. It was not the whole story and radar initially needed some other help, making the real triumph the succesful integration of many elements, that offered potential for many teething problems.

The Hurricane was the first critical piece. Hawker achieved early entry into service by using traditional construction, effectively losing the top wing of the Hawker Fury biplane, giving the new monoplane wing eight rifle calibre machine guns and the pilot a reflector gun sight, together with a much larger stock of ammunition for the guns. The Merlin engine gave improved power and the enclosed cockpit and retractable undercarriage further streamlined the fighter. It also benefited from a wide track undercarriage to allowed it to take off and land into rough grass fields. It performed outstandingly in the Battle of France, under the most difficult conditions, and most of the aircraft deployed were flown back the British Isles as France fell, in some cases cramming a French friend into the single seat cockpit with the pilot.

The Spitfire proved to be real genius with a revolutionary structure derived from the racing float planes built to win the Schneider Trophy outright. The Hurricane gave the time to build the much more demanding Spitfire and when battle began over the fields of Kent, the Hurricane, which was still roughly equal to the German Me109s, took on the bombers, while the Spitfire, which was better than the Me109 in almost every respect, took on the bombers’ fighter escort. Aviation history books have covered the aircraft very well, the commanders, and the young pilots. Before this book, what was inadequately covered was the story of how an incredible new command system was developed to give the RAF fighter pilots and their mounts every advantage in what was, on paper, an unequal fight in the favour of the Luftwaffe.

No single element was the total answer. Radar in the Chain Home series of antennae towers along the East and South Coast of Britain was far in advance of German radar and maintained a superiority advantage through the Second World War. However, it was augmented by the Royal Observer Corps personnel manning small positions, using optical range and height finders, and sound direction detectors. They filled in what the early radar couldn’t see and also filled in when some Chain Home stations were bombed and temporarily put out of action early in the Battle of Britain.

The RAF radar could have been blinded. Certainly, some stations were disabled. The Germans intended putting all the stations out of action but their only ideal weapon was the Stuka Ju-87 dive bomber that had proved so successful in Poland and Western Europe. However, the Ju-87 was obsolescent and proved an easy target for Hurricane and Spitfires, forcing the Luftwaffe to with draw it from battle before it could hit all the Chain Home Stations. The stations were also easy to rebuild, the wooden lattice towers proving, as open structures, resistant to bomb blast and the station buildings being wooden huts, easily replaced.

Even the, optical and sound, supportive services were not the final answer, the core being a network of sector stations with plot tables, all connected together with the radar stations by a web of telephone cables back to the Group control. The country was divided into several Groups and the critical coverage was 11 Group and its squadrons.

Integrating all of those elements was a major challenge and pilots like the author were vital to the development process as they probed the coverage ahead of the German attacks, allowing the gaps to be filled. An amazing story of engineering and military command.