Radar Recollections - A Bournemouth University / CHiDE / HLF project


The prototype CH system - Flight of Zeppelin LZ130

On 3rd of August 1939, only one month before war was declared, the defensive capabilities of the CH system were tested to the full. Even the distant Douglas Wood CH station near Dundee reported a very large 'blip'.

Essex and Suffolk CH stations tracked the echo as it turned northwards some 30 milesoff the coast. The 'blip' was moving up the east coast of Britain. The 'blip' was so large that an initial description suggested 50-100 aircraft approaching but at only 60 mph.

Pre-War Zeppelin
A Pre-War Zeppelin in flight

LZ130 had been equipped as a flying radio laboratory and the mission (ordered by General Martini, Chief Signals Officer,Luftwaffe) was to try to discover the purpose of all the large masts that had been erected along the east coast.

The German radio operators were not able to distinguish any transmissions from what they thought was interference. Because the CH system was able to 'bathe' the skies (Fisher Collection) with a continuous irradiation, it meant that their narrow beam receivers were 'flooded' and gave no indication that this was indeed the signal transmissions they were searching for. They may even have suspected that the 'interference' was the British electricity grid system.

The Germans reported back that they found no evidence of an active radar system in operation.
After the war general Martini was informed that the CH stations from Scotland to the Thames had plotted the Zeppelin's course. He was amazed...