627 Squadron in retirement

 

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At First Sight
H2S Training & Development Flight. 




In March 1945 the Squadron received delivery of four Mosquito XVIs, fitted with a new low level high definition radar system designated H2S Mark VI, and on arrival of two Lancasters on detachment, also fitted with the same sets, The H2S T & D Flight was formed using existing ground crew and, originally, existing aircrew personnel and occupying dispersal pans Nos. 27, 28 and 29, inside the perimeter track to the West of A and B Flights, these pans having previously been unused since our arrival at Woodhall Spa.

Several crews posted in from other Squadrons for Tiger Force were also given training in the new system, following experiments and development of techniques by the regular 627 Squadron crews. The Lancasters were used for multiple training of Navigators in the use of the equipment as there was not, of course, any room in a Mosquito for an instructor once the pilot and navigator had got themselves settled in. The Lancasters were a strange sight flying all over the countryside straight and level at heights under 2000 feet. The local population had become accustomed to Mosquitoes at low level ever since we arrived in the hitherto Lancaster “enclave”.

The intention was to use the newly developed radar for the pin-point marking of targets to the same accuracy as previously developed by 627 Squadron over the previous two years, but in adverse weather, 10/10ths cloud etc., conditions which precluded the use of the customary visual dive marking.

Precise calibration and adjustment had to be carried out in an endeavour to produce clear imaging on the cathode ray tube, and at the speed of a Mosquito and at heights under 2000 feet the image changed so rapidly that navigators experienced considerable difficulty, particularly as suitable maps were not then available. The normal vibration of a Mosquito also presented difficulties, but before many weeks had passed experience gained had progressed sufficiently to carry out operational trials in conjunction with normal marking aircraft.

On 21st March MkXVI A Bar ML935 crewed by F/O Walker and W/O K.R.Oatley, was Marker 7 on an industrial target in Hamburg. The Marking Point and Aiming Point were identified by H2S but the TIs fell in the centre of the works, 600 yds W of the Marking Point. The following night the same aircraft, crewed this time by F/O A. MacLellan and F/O M.A.Phillips went to the Elbe River marking for “Gardening” - the laying of naval mines - and appears to have had considerable success, due mainly to the nature of the target, a river giving excellent imaging on the screen. MkXVI N Bar FF444 of T & D Flight was flown on several operations during March and April 1945 but the H2S was not, apparently, in use, the aircraft having been used in the traditional roll of visual marker.

There are no records of further operations using MkVI radar and the raid assessment committee findings on Hamburg were that, to obtain reasonable results, the aircraft had to fly for several minutes straight and level on one bearing towards the target, this presenting a perfect target for light flak. There had been little or no opposition on the Elbe River operation.

Whether this system would have proved useful in Tiger Force is viewed with considerable scepticism by many on the Squadron. Imaging would have been the problem in Japan, particularly locating railway lines (a very useful navigation aid) as it was understood that sand ballast was used on the track instead of our hard stone chip ballast which gives excellent reflection on radar.

Thankfully the occasion did not arise for attempting to use the MkVI H2S radar on Japan and its effectiveness will never be known.





Copyright 1943-2012 627 Squadron in Retirement or as credited