No. 100 Group RAF

No. 100 (Bomber Support) Group was a special duties group within RAF Bomber Command. The group was formed on 11 November 1943 to consolidate the increasingly complex business of electronic warfare and countermeasures in one organisation. The group was responsible for the development, operational trial and use of electronic warfare and countermeasures equipment. It was based at RAF stations in East Anglia, chiefly Norfolk.

The group was a pioneer in countering the formidable force of radar-equipped Luftwaffe night fighters, using a range of electronic 'homers' fitted to de Havilland Mosquito fighters which detected night fighter radar and radio emissions and allowed the RAF fighters to home in onto the Axis aircraft and either shoot them down or disrupt their missions against the bomber streams. Other Mosquitoes would patrol around Luftwaffe fighter airfields ready to attack night fighters as they landed.

This constant harassment had a detrimental effect on the morale and confidence of many Luftwaffe crews and indirectly led to a high proportion of aircraft and aircrew wastage from crashes as night fighters hurried in to land to avoid the Mosquito threat (real or imagined).

From 1944–45, the Mosquitos of 100 Group claimed 258 Luftwaffe aircraft shot down for 70 losses. The gradually increasing threat from the RAF fighters also created what the Luftwaffe crews nicknamed Moskito Panik as the night fighter crews were never sure when or where they may come under attack from the marauding 100 Group fighters.

Lancaster I NG128 Dropping Load - Duisburg - Oct 14 - 1944
A Lancaster with Airborne Cigar (ABC) radio jamming equipment - the two vertical aerials on the fuselage

Top Mosquito ace with 100 Group was Wing Commander Branse Burbridge of 85 Squadron, with 21 claims from 1944–45.

The bomber squadrons of 100 Group utilised various specialist electronic jamming devices to disrupt German radio communications and radar. During 100 Group's existence over 32 different devices were evaluated and used. Specially equipped 100 Group aircraft would fly in the bomber stream. Much of this equipment was developed at the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE).

Special equipment used included Airborne Cigar (ABC) jammer, Jostle (jammer), Mandrel (jammer), Airborne Grocer (jammer), Piperack (jammer), Perfectos (homer), Serrate (homer), Corona (spoofer), Carpet (jammer) and Lucero (homer), used against German equipment such as Lichtenstein, Freya, and Wurzburg radars.

The combination of the Pathfinders' operations, the activities of No. 100 Group, the British advantage in radar, jamming and Window techniques, combined with intelligent attacking tactics, as well as the discipline and bravery of the RAF crews, have been remarkable. We had our (sic) severe problems in trying to defend Germany in the air
— General der Jagdflieger, Adolf Galland., Lancaster - the Biography[3]
No. 100 Group RAF
Active1943–1945
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchRoyal Air Force
RoleElectronic countermeasures
Part ofRAF Bomber Command
Motto(s)Confound and Destroy[1]
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Edward Addison
Insignia
Group badgeThe head of Medusa azure/or/sable.
The group specialised in electronic countermeasures, so used the head of Medusa who confounded her enemies.[2]
Aircraft flown
Electronic
warfare
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator, Handley Page Halifax, Short Stirling, Vickers Wellington
FighterBristol Beaufighter, de Havilland Mosquito

Order of battle

Boeing Fortress ECM aircraft 214 Sqn RAF at Prestwick 1944
An electronic warfare Fortress III of 214 Squadron with nose-mounted H2S radome

No. 100 Group was headquartered at Bylaugh Hall, Norfolk from January 1944, a central location from which to administer the group's airfields in north Norfolk. No 100 Group operated from eight airfields with approximately 260 aircraft, 140 of which were various marks of Mosquito night fighter intruders with the remainder consisting of Handley Page Halifaxes, Short Stirlings, Vickers Wellingtons, Fortresses and Liberators carrying electronic jamming equipment. The group also operated the Bristol Beaufighter for a short time.

The group disbanded on 17 December 1945. During its existence it had one commander, Air Vice-Marshal Edward Addison.

100 (Special Duties) Group order of battle[4]
Squadron Aircraft First 100 Group operation Base
192 Mosquito II, B.IV, B.XVI, Wellington B.III, Halifax IV December 1943 RAF Foulsham
141 Beaufighter VI, Mosquito II, VI, XXX December 1943 RAF West Raynham
239 Mosquito II, VI, XXX 20 January 1944 RAF West Raynham
515 Mosquito II, VI 3 March 1944 RAF Little Snoring, RAF Great Massingham
169 Mosquito II, VI, XIX 20 January 1944 RAF Little Snoring
214 Fortress II, III 20/21 April 1944 RAF Sculthorpe, RAF Oulton
199 Stirling B.III, Halifax B.III]] 1 May 1944 RAF North Creake
157 Mosquito XIX, XXX May 1944 RAF Swannington
85 Mosquito XII, XVII 5/6 June 1944 RAF Swannington
23 Mosquito VI 5/6 July 1944 RAF Little Snoring
223 Liberator VI, Fortress II, III September 1944 RAF Oulton
171 Stirling II, Halifax III 15 September 1944 RAF North Creake
462 (RAAF) Halifax III 13 March 1945 RAF Foulsham

Other units and stations:

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 37. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ Delve, Ken (2005). Bomber Command 1939-1945 : a reference to the men - aircraft & operational history. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Aviation. p. 174. ISBN 1-84415-183-2.
  3. ^ Iveson & Milton 2009, p. 122.
  4. ^ Moyes 1976, p. 307.

Bibliography

  • Bond, Steve & Forder, Richard Special Ops Liberators 2239Bomber Support0 Squadron, 100 Group and the Electronic War. Grub Street 2011 ISBN 978-1-908-11714-4.
  • Bowman, Martin W. 100 Group (Bomber Support): RAF Bomber Command in World War II. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen & Sword/Leo Cooper, 2006. ISBN 1-84415-418-1.
  • Bowman, Martin W. and Tom Cushing. Confounding the Reich. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen & Sword/Leo Cooper, 2004. ISBN 1-84415-124-7.
  • Iveson, Tony, DFC; Milton, Brian (2009). Lancaster - the Biography. London: Andre Deutsch. ISBN 978-0-233-00270-5.
  • Moyes, Philip J. R. (1976) [1964]. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft (rev. ed.). London: Macdonald and Jane's. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Peden, Murray. A Thousand Shall Fall: the True Story of a Canadian Bomber Pilot in World War Two. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd., 1988 (reprinted in 2000). ISBN 0-7737-5967-0.
  • Streetly, Martin. Confound & Destroy. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishing) Company Ltd., 1978. ISBN 0-354-01180-4.

External links

Bomber stream

The bomber stream was a saturation attack tactic developed by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command to overwhelm the night time German aerial defences of the Kammhuber Line during World War II.

The Kammhuber Line consisted of three layers of zones of about 32 km long (north–south) and 20 km wide (east–west). In each zone there were two German night fighter aircraft receiving ground-directed guidance from their own Himmelbett controller within each zone. While the Himmelbett control center could only handle two fighters, this was adequate for dealing with the RAF Bomber Command tactic of sending its night time bombers individually, with each bomber plotting its own route to the target, to avoid flak concentrations.

At the urging of British scientific military strategist R. V. Jones, Bomber Command reorganized their attacks into streams carefully positioned to fly right down the middle of a cell. The introduction of the GEE navigation system allowed the RAF bombers to fly a long, tight, formation in the dark—a 'stream of bombers' flying a common route at the same speed to and from the target, each aircraft being allotted a height band and a time slot in a bomber stream to minimize the risk of formation collision.

In one of the first applications of statistical operational research, the RAF estimated the number of bombers likely to be lost to enemy night fighters and flak, and how many would be lost through collisions. Minimizing the former demanded a densely packed stream, as the controllers of a night fighter flying a defensive 'box' could only direct a maximum of six potential interceptions per hour, and the flak gunners could not concentrate on all the available targets at once.

A typical bomber stream of 600 to 700 aircraft was on average 8 or 10 miles broad, and 4,000 to 6,000 feet deep.The bomber stream allowed a bombing raid to be completed in a shorter time frame, further overwhelming the defensive tactics of the German forces. The earlier RAF tactic of sending bombers on individual routes meant that it could take four hours before all its planes would have passed over their target; the bomber stream reduced this window to 90 minutes.The first use of the bomber stream was the first 1,000 bomber raid against Cologne on the night of 30–31 May 1942.The tactic proved successful and was used until the last days of the war, when centrally-organised German air defences had ceased to exist.

Branse Burbridge

Wing Commander Bransome Arthur "Branse" Burbridge, (4 February 1921 – 1 November 2016) was a Royal Air Force (RAF) night fighter pilot and flying ace—a pilot credited with at least five enemy aircraft destroyed—who holds the Allied record of 21 aerial victories achieved at night during the Second World War.

Burbridge was born in February 1921 into a family with strong Christian and pacifist beliefs. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe on 3 September 1939 Burbridge registered himself as a conscientious objector but changed his mind in 1940 and enlisted in the RAF.

Burbridge completed his training within a year and was posted to No. 85 Squadron RAF and claimed only one probable claim against enemy aircraft with a further aircraft damaged by the end of 1942. Burbridge was then posted to an Operational Training Unit (OTU) as an instructor before spending a year as a staff officer. In July 1943 he had reached the rank of flight lieutenant.

Burbridge returned to operations in late 1943 with No. 85 Squadron, now equipped with the de Havilland Mosquito. The unit performed night defence operations over the British Isles. Burbridge was assigned radar operator Bill Skelton who flew with him. Burbridge achieved success in a relatively short time period. By the end of the German air offensive Steinbock in May 1944 he had shot down five enemy aircraft making him a night fighter ace. Both men were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in May 1944.

In June 1944 Operation Overlord and the Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe began reopening the Western Front. Burbridge flew a number of sorties as an intruder pilot with No. 100 Group RAF over the front. He achieved a further two aerial victories with one probable and another damaged in combat in these operations. Burbridge also destroyed three V-1 flying bombs over southern England.

In September 1944 No. 85 Squadron returned to intruding over Germany and supporting RAF Bomber Command. Burbridge was awarded a bar to his DFC in October 1944 and a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) the following month. From September 1944 to January 1945, Burbridge claimed 13 enemy night fighter aircraft destroyed—including four in one night. In February 1945 both men were awarded a bar to their DSO.

After the end of hostilities in May 1945, Burbridge stayed in the RAF for a further seven months before resigning his commission. After the war he studied at Oxford University and then Cambridge University before entering the Christian ministry. He remained in its service until his retirement. Burbridge resided in Chorleywood up until his death in November 2016.

Electronic-warfare aircraft

An electronic-warfare aircraft is a military aircraft equipped for electronic warfare (EW), that is, degrading the effectiveness of enemy radar and radio systems by using radar jamming and deception methods.

In 1943, British Avro Lancaster aircraft were equipped with chaff in order to blind enemy air defence radars. They were supplemented by specially-equipped aircraft flown by No. 100 Group RAF, which operated modified Halifaxes, Liberators and Fortresses carrying various jammers such as Carpet, Airborne Cigar, Mandrel, Jostle, and Piperack.

Electronic countermeasure

An electronic countermeasure (ECM) is an electrical or electronic device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar or other detection systems, like infrared (IR) or lasers. It may be used both offensively and defensively to deny targeting information to an enemy. The system may make many separate targets appear to the enemy, or make the real target appear to disappear or move about randomly. It is used effectively to protect aircraft from guided missiles. Most air forces use ECM to protect their aircraft from attack. It has also been deployed by military ships and recently on some advanced tanks to fool laser/IR guided missiles. It is frequently coupled with stealth advances so that the ECM systems have an easier job. Offensive ECM often takes the form of jamming. Self-protecting (defensive) ECM includes using blip enhancement and jamming of missile terminal homers.

Electronic warfare

Electronic warfare (EW) is any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum (EM spectrum) or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly unimpeded access to, the EM spectrum. EW can be applied from air, sea, land, and/or space by manned and unmanned systems, and can target humans, communication, radar, or other assets (military and civilian).

Foulsham

Foulsham is a village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. The village is 19.6 miles (31.5 km) west-south-west of Cromer, 17.7 miles (28.5 km) north-west of Norwich and 119 miles (192 km) north-east of London. The village lies 9.4 miles (15.1 km) north-north-east of the town of East Dereham. The nearest railway station is at Sheringham for the Bittern Line which runs between Sheringham, Cromer and Norwich. The nearest airport is Norwich International Airport.

Freya radar

Freya was an early warning radar deployed by Germany during World War II; it was named after the Norse Goddess Freyja. During the war, over a thousand stations were built. A naval version operating on a slightly different wavelength was also developed as the Seetakt.

List of World War II electronic warfare equipment

This is a List of World War II electronic warfare equipment and code words and tactics derived directly from the use of electronic equipment.

This list includes many examples of radar, radar jammers, and radar detectors, often used by night fighters; also beam-guidance systems and radio beacons. Many of the British developments came from the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE). No. 100 Group RAF and No. 101 Squadron RAF both specialized in electronic warfare, and many of these devices were fitted to de Havilland Mosquitos of 100 Group and Avro Lancasters of 101 Squadron. A substantial number of the American radar systems originated with the MIT Radiation Laboratory, nicknamed the "Rad Lab".

Michael Renaut

Michael Renaut (29 September 1920 – 31 January 1964) was a RAF pilot and author.

In August 1940 he joined the RAF as a bomber pilot. He was posted to No. 78 Squadron RAF (July 1941), then to No. 76 Squadron RAF and finally to No. 171 Squadron RAF in No. 100 Group RAF, ending his career as Wing Commander.

He was the first to drop an 8,000 lbs bomb over Germany during a raid over Essen on the night of 10 April 1942.

He won a Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom) and a Distinguished Flying Cross (United States).

He was married to Yvonne Renaut and had two children Alan and Alison.He could also write the Lords Prayer on the back of a postage stamp.He was an eye-witness of the 1952 Farnborough Airshow DH.110 crash.

Nachtjagdgeschwader 1

Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter-wing of World War II. NJG 1 was formed on 22 June 1940 in Mönchengladbach.

By the end of the war it was the most successful night fighter unit and had claimed some 2,311 victories by day and night, for some 676 aircrew killed in action.

No. 157 Squadron RAF

No. 157 Squadron RAF was a Royal Air Force Squadron active as a night fighter unit in World War II.

No. 515 Squadron RAF

No. 515 Squadron RAF was a squadron of the Royal Air Force formed during the Second World War. It ushered in Electronic countermeasures (ECM) warfare, jamming enemy radar installations from October 1942 as the only such squadron in the RAF initially. Later in the war 515 Sqn was joined by other squadrons as part of No. 100 Group RAF. The squadron disbanded after VE day, when the need for such a specialised squadron had reduced.

No. 80 Wing RAF

No. 80 Wing RAF was a unit of the Royal Air Force (RAF) during both World Wars and briefly in the 1950s. In the last months of World War I it controlled RAF and Australian Flying Corps fighter squadrons. It was reformed in 1940 to operate electronic countermeasures in the Battle of the Beams.

No. 85 Squadron RAF

No. 85 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It last served in 2011, as No. 85 (Reserve) Squadron posted to RAF Church Fenton.

RAF Foulsham

Royal Air Force Station Foulsham, more commonly known as RAF Foulsham is a former Royal Air Force station, a military airfield, located 15 miles North-West of Norwich, in the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia, from 1942 to 1945.

RAF Ludford Magna

RAF Ludford Magna was a Royal Air Force airfield operated by Bomber Command during the Second World War and the Cold War. The station lay on agricultural farmland immediately south of the village of Ludford, Lincolnshire, and was sited 21.4miles (34.4 km) north east of the county town of Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England.

Used for Avro Lancaster bomber operations in the latter part of the Second World War the station was placed on care and maintenance until the mid-1950s when it was reactivated as a Cold War base for Thor intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs). The station closed in the early part of the 1960s and has been mostly dismantled and returned to agricultural uses.

The remains of the station can be seen from the B1225 Caistor High Street, and the long distance footpath the Viking Way passes right next to the eastern perimeter track.

RAF Swanton Morley

The former Royal Air Force Station Swanton Morley, more commonly known as RAF Swanton Morley, was a Royal Air Force station in Norfolk, England, located near to the village of Swanton Morley. The site is now occupied by the British Army, and is now known as Robertson Barracks.

Roderick Aeneas Chisholm

Air Commodore Roderick Aeneas Chisholm, (23 November 1911 – 7 December 1994) was a British night fighter pilot, flying ace—a title awarded to a pilot credited with shooting down at least five enemy aircraft in aerial combat—and a highly decorated British airman of the Second World War. As a Beaufighter night-fighter pilot between 13 March and 9 July 1941, he was credited with seven aerial victories, one probable and one damaged.

Chisholm had been a night fighter pilot with No. 604 Squadron RAF, flying the Bristol Beaufighter. During the war, he had been credited with seven night aerial victories, one probable and one damaged in 1941. Following a rest period, he returned to operations briefly in 1943 ending his combat career with nine victories. Chisholm championed radar-equipped night fighter intruder operations over Europe to apply pressure to the German air defence system and reduce losses to Bomber Command. He was appointed to the staff of a new organisation, named No. 100 Group RAF, created in 1943 for this purpose. As second in command of 100 Group from November 1943, his mission in Germany at the end of the war was to gather any useful information on enemy tactics and technology. He later wrote a book about his experiences entitled Cover of Darkness, published in 1953.

Telecommunications Research Establishment

The Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) was the main United Kingdom research and development organization for radio navigation, radar, infra-red detection for heat seeking missiles, and related work for the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II and the years that followed. The name was changed to Radar Research Establishment in 1953, and again to the Royal Radar Establishment in 1957. This article covers the precursor organizations and the Telecommunications Research Establishment up to the time of the name change. The later work at the site is described in the separate article about RRE.

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