Radar Recollections - A Bournemouth University / CHiDE / HLF project


A.P.Rowe and his Sunday Soviets -
A Beacon Bombing System... 'Oboe'


This system was devised at Worth Matravers by A.H.Reeves and developed there by a team led by Dr F.E.Jones.

The system involved two ground stations, the cat and the mouse. The cat used a radar beam to track the aircraft along an arc of constant distance passing through the target. The aircraft heard dots or dashes sent by the cat when it strayed from this arc and a continuous tone (which sounded a bit like an oboe) when it was on track. The mouse located several hundred miles away from the cat used another radar beam to measure the range of the aircraft along its track and generated precise countdown and bomb release signals as the aircraft approached its target. The aircraft carried repeater sets which received the radar signals from the cat and mouse and re-transmitted them at increased strength.

Scematic: How Gee Worked
GEE is used to direct the plane to within 10 minutes of the target.
The Oboe system combines radar and radio to control the final flight path of the plane onto the target.
Scematic: How Gee Worked
The system was very precise; at 140 miles out and from 6000 feet, some 50% of the bombs fell to within 45 yards of their target. However, one of the limitations of Oboe was that only one plane could be controlled at a time and so it was usually fitted to the Pathfinder planes. RAF Mosquitoes were considered the most appropriate aircraft to use. They would fly faster than the main bomber force and would therefore take off after them. Their task would be to drop flares on the 'run in' to the target. In practice, these planes were usually under complete Oboe control for only about ten minutes whilst on final approach to their target. The system became operational on December 21st 1942.