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 Post subject: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:18 pm 
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Hi All,

Looking for detailed information on how Dowding organized his night fighter units, aircraft types, squadron designations, AC counts, radars (ground and airborne), and control methods during the Battle of Britain (July to November 1940).

Do any of you know of such a source(s)?

Thank you,

Randy


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 Post subject: Re: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:23 am 
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Senior Airman
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Hi Randy

I have checked my Battle of Britain books and blundered around the internet to try to help. I'm afraid I had no success in locating the detail you are looking for.

There is a Wikipedia page giving RAF order of battle for 15 September 1940. If you scroll down to 'Stations and Squadrons' it is possible to identify night fighting squadrons and their bases as at that date. Here's a link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Fight ... er_Command

This seems to be a neglected area in relation to histories of the battle. As you will know, Fighter Command was essentially unprepared for night fighting and in the early part of the war and attempts were made to use Spitfires and Hurricanes as an essentially improvised night fighter defence with almost total lack of success (although I believe that Sailor Malan was credited with 2 He111's destroyed in the early of hours of 19 June 1940 when flying a Spitfire. The Blenheim & Defiants became the basis of the night air defence. A small number of Blenheims were equipped with airborne interception radar but this was a device in its earliest form and the Blenheim's lack of performance led to a general lack of success. It was only when Beaufighters with updated radar appeared in 1941 that the RAF had anything resembling an effective night fighter.

However,from 1940 to 1941, the Defiant was the RAF's most successful night-fighter, its four squadrons shot down more enemy aircraft than any other type (source: Taylor, John W.R. Boulton Paul Defiant: Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present. New York: Putnam, 1969. p. 326).

According to a Wikimedia regarding the Blitz: "Between 20 June 1940, when the first German air operations began over Britain, and 31 March 1941, OKL recorded the loss of 2,265 aircraft over the British Isles, a quarter of them fighters and one third bombers. At least 3,363 Luftwaffe aircrew were killed, 2,641 missing and 2,117 wounded. Total losses could have been as high as 600 bombers, just 1.5 percent of the sorties flown. A significant number of the aircraft not shot down after the resort to night bombing were wrecked during landings or crashed in bad weather." Here is a link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blitz#cite_note-127

Chapter 6 of John Ray's book 'The Battle of Britain' has a chapter called 'Night Air Defence.' However this is an overview in a book about Dowding and his contribution to the victory in the Battle of Britain and his subsequent removal from the post of C in C Fighter Command. It does not go into the operational detail that you are seeking.

Sorry mate, but its the best I can do. Good hunting!

Cheers

Keith

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 Post subject: Re: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:13 am 
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BDG
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Quote:
Looking for detailed information on how Dowding organized his night fighter units, aircraft types, squadron designations, AC counts, radars (ground and airborne), and control methods during the Battle of Britain (July to November 1940).

Do any of you know of such a source(s)?


I'd be interested in that too.

However, as Lofty says and as far as I've read there probably wasn't much of an 'organised' night defence during the battle and Dowding didn't last much longer than the official dates.

The proper radar equipped Defiant night fighter squadrons came later in the year and up until then it looks to have been a bit of an 'Ad hoc defence.

I'm just reading Brian Lanes book Spitfire! in which he descibes his night fighter operations and it seems to have been just an extension of what they were doing during the day - same methods of the controllers putting fighters onto plots etc.

An interesting snippet came from that chapter in the book - the Spitfires undercarriage indicator was linked to the throttle so that it only lit up green when the throttle was pushed forward to take off - he describes this and the intensity of the light. I never knew that!

Cheers,

Clive

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 Post subject: Re: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:37 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:02 pm
Posts: 1061
Thank you for your replies.

From what I've found so far, this was the earliest stage of learning how to conduct air operations at night. RAF was using the chain home system of radars to get the night fighters w/in 4-5 miles of the target raid. Then two ideas were tested. A radar equipped AC would try to engage, which didn't work well. More a problem of armament I think than failure of the radar. Or, using a radar equipped AC to use a search light to illuminate a bomber for a Spit or Hurr, which was also inadequate. I imagine once the light came on every bomber that could fired on the illuminating AC.

Randy


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 Post subject: Re: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:12 pm 
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BDG
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Lofty Anstruther wrote:
According to a Wikimedia regarding the Blitz: "Between 20 June 1940, when the first German air operations began over Britain, and 31 March 1941, OKL recorded the loss of 2,265 aircraft over the British Isles, a quarter of them fighters and one third bombers.

I wonder what the other 42% were.

(...maybe Ju87s and Me110s were considered outside the two specific categories...)


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 Post subject: Re: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:31 am 
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BDG
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Not technically BoB but night fighting i really enjoyed these books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/395 ... ht-fighter

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Rawnsley

And https://www.amazon.com/Night-Flyer-Figh ... 0907579779

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Brandon


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 Post subject: Re: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:47 am 
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Location: Queensland, Australia
two27 wrote:
Looking for detailed information on how Dowding organized his night fighter units, aircraft types, squadron designations, AC counts, radars (ground and airborne), and control methods during the Battle of Britain (July to November 1940).

Do any of you know of such a source(s)?


Here is the section of Dowding's own official report on the Battle of Britain where he covers night operations:

http://spitfiresite.com/2010/04/battle-of-britain-in-the-words-of-air-chief-marshal-hugh-dowding.html/6


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 Post subject: Re: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:25 am 
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Location: Rayleigh, Essex, England
Here is the section of Dowding's own official report on the Battle of Britain where he covers night operations:

http://spitfiresite.com/2010/04/battle-of-britain-in-the-words-of-air-chief-marshal-hugh-dowding.html/6[/quote]


Very interesting. Thanks for posting.

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 Post subject: Re: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 8:54 am 
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Lofty Anstruther wrote:
Very interesting. Thanks for posting.


A pleasure. :) It's good that poor old Dowding, after being right royally shafted by lesser men in the RAF and the Ministry, at least got his views on the record.



Image

"A Hawker Hurricane Mark I night fighter of No. 85 Squadron RAF taxiing by the light of a flare at Debden, Essex, before taking off to intercept night raiders." Imperial War Museum


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 Post subject: Re: BoB night fighting
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:42 am 
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Indeed! And don't get me started about how Sir Keith Park was treated....... :wink:

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