WW2 Aerial Reconnaissance Studies
Copyright © John M. All rights reserved.
The Luftnachrichtendienst employed a network of radar and control sites (stellung) to detect enemy bombers and control responding fighter-interceptors. Radar and control sites --Flugmeldmess and Jägerleit stellungen-- were deployed as companies subordinate to Luftnachrichten regiments, with each company having an assigned a code name. First established in 1941 for daytime operations, the network evolved to support night operations. By 1942 the radars sites were supplemented by Jägerleit stellungen with tower-mounted Heinrich Peiler and Hans E-Mess Gerät antennas to establish the position (control) of friendly fighters through radio range measurement. This system, known as 'Y-Verfahren (Jagd)', was in widespread use by autumn-1943. By mid-1943 the system was upgraded for night operations by installing the Peiler and E-Mess Gerät antennas at the radar sites; this was known as 'Y-Verfahren (Nacht)': the combination of the two systems was called 'Y-Bodenstelle' (FuSAn 733). Later, in response to Allied countermeasures, modified radars (Freya-EGON) replaced some Y-Bodenstelle at some Jägerleit stations and more radars were also deployed. A wide variety of radars were developed; some of the most widely used included: intermediate search (Freya-type), long-range search (Mammut, Wasserman and Elefant), panoramic search (Jagdschloss) and acquisition radars (Würzburg).
According to available information Stellung 'Kuckuck' was at Berensch, near the city Cuxhaven (Graphic 13). The site was resubordinated from LN Regt. 202 to LN Regt. 232 on 2 September 1944, but was missing from a map depicting the disposition of radar sites in January 1945. Partial coverage of 'Kuckuck' on 22 March 1945 shows it had an extensive layout, although antennas could not be identified.
The coverage of 'Dachs-Mitte/III' on 22 March 1945 shows it was a large site with at least eight radar positions. Many of the radars appeared to have been removed, but a probable Wasserman radar was still intact. Dachs-Mitte/III's barracks/communications facility was configured differently and may have been somewhat larger than those of other sites; an associated bunker could be seen in the forest to the northeast. The site was defended by several anti-aircraft positions.
Jägerleit Stellung 'Rübe' was located on the Baltic near Sassnitz (Graphic 7 - 9). Coverage of 26 June 1943 revealed the site was equipped with five Peiler towers. No other antennas were observed. The site appeared to have been well-established but. new buildings in the barracks/communications area suggested impending upgrades.
Stellung Grosshau was an enigma. It seems to have been identified as one of two Stellung III's' belonging to LN Reg. 233 and for this reason was thought to be be a Flugmelde-Messzug (rail-mounted radars). However, analysis of low-level oblique imagery from16 July 1944 revealed a Wasserman radar at the site; it appeared to be the only radar present.
Stellung 'Hummer', was deployed on the North Sea islands of Helgoland (Graphic 20) and Helgoland Dune. The islands were home to two major facilities, Kriegsmarine Submarine Pen, 'Nordsee III and Helgoland Dune Airfield (not shown). On 15 April 1945, only two radars could be confirmed on Helgoland although several other possible radar positions could be seen around the island. One of the radars was deployed near a group of buildings and a coastal defense battery on the west end of the island and the other was on the roof of the sub pen along with three anti-aircraft positions. A large excavation near the former position indicated construction for a bunker or another artillery position was planned ('Hummer' had been selected for deployment of a Jagdschloss radar).
Revised May 2021
The history of Stellung 'Dachs-Mitte' (Graphic 11) reflects the changes in the Luftwaffe air defense system late in the war. As 'Dachs-Mitte', the site was originally part of a three-site complex --along with 'Dachs-Nord 'and 'Dachs-Sud'-- that supported a command post at Darmstadt: the Kombinierte Nachtjagd (KONAJA), codename 'Dachs' (see Luftwaffe Bunkers at Darmstadt). By 1945 the KONAJA had been dissolved and the site had been renamed 'Dachs III', being resubordinated to LN Regt.233. 'Dachs-Mitte/III' was one of only a few inland radar sites equipped with a long-range Wasserman radar.
A good example of a radar station can be seen on April 1945 coverage of 'Stellung Ricke', near the Thuringian village of Mötzelbach. (Graphic 1). The station, which displayed all of the features of a typical Flugmeldmess stellung, was originally part of Luftnachrichten Regiment (LN Reg) 202, but was resubordinated to LN Reg 231 during a reorganization in September 1944. A central barracks area (Graphic 2) housed the company personnel and communications equipment connecting the site to the air defense command and control network. The communications equipment was housed in the 'Stellungs Zentrale' or ‘T-Hütte.’ The radar sets were deployed in widely-dispersed positions connected to the barracks by landline. In the case of Stellung 'Ricke', the radars --at least two Freyas-- were sited near the village 800 meters south of the barracks (Graphics 3 & 4) along with a possible Hans E-Mess Gerät at another position (Graphic 5). At least one and possibly two unidentified antennas were deployed 270 meters southwest of the barracks (Graphic 6).
Coverage of sites 'Rheinsalm' and 'Hahn', at Saerbeck and Melkof, Germany (Graphics 14 & 15) was poor, but showed the layout of the sites. Both sites were defended by light anti-aircraft positions.
A search of available imagery yielded coverage of a number of radar and aircraft control sites operated by the Luftwaffe intelligence service, the Luftnachrichtendienst. The sites included examples of the main types of stations as well as a number of configurations.
In a related development, at least two radars belonging to another element of LN Regt. 233 appeared to have been deployed on the landing area of Darmstadt/Grieshein Airfield --the site of a major command post, Jafü Mittel Rhein (see Luftwaffe Bunkers)-- sometime between 26 August and 19 September 1944 (Graphic 12). According to available information, this element was known as Luftnachrichten-Betriebs-Abteilung Jafü Mittel Rhein and was formed in September 1944; this area also controlled controlled four companies of LN.Rgt. 213.
Construction appeared to be in progress at Jägerleit Stellung 'Minerva' at Stefansberg on 27 March 1944, indicating the site was being ugraded (Graphic 10). Four Heinrich Peiler towers (of five known) could clearly be identified, but at least seven small huts suggested the locations of other antennas. An unidentified antenna or pedestal was located at the end one communications/power line southwest of the barracks/communications area. Two areas with construction activity south of the barracks were probably for additional antenna positions. 'Minerva' was initially operated by LN Regt. 205; later in September 1944 it was resubordinated to LN Regt 217.
Radar sites deployed on coastlines had somewhat different layouts. Some exampes of these sites were 'Tiger' and 'Wal' on the North Sea. Located on the west end of Terschelling Island, Stellung 'Tiger' had a large bunkered opearations center codenamed 'Bertha' (Graphic 17); the radars were deployed in the vicinity, although they could not be seen on the image. Stellung 'Wal' was deployed on Wangerooge island. The main part of the site, with a Wasserman radar and unidentified radar was was located at the west end of the island (Graphic 18; another radar was located further east (Graphic 19).
A review of available imagery provided coverage of a number other sites: