D-Day occurred on June 6, 1944. It was the day that Allied forces stormed the French coastline with overwhelming numbers
of battleships, landing craft, bombers, fighters, and personnel. It broke the German stronghold on mainland Europe
and marked the beginning of the end of Hitler's dominion. These photos are the first official releases of radar imagery
before and during the D-Day* invasion at Normandy. Pre-invasion
reconnaissance radar plots show a sparsely populated coastline and English Channel. White areas that indicate radar
targets were concentrated mainly in city regions. On the day of the invasion, white returns nearly saturate the displays
due to the incredible presence of all the aforementioned war machine elements. Even the soldiers' presence contributed
to the return because of all the metallic hardware being carried - guns, ammo, radios, helmets, bayonets, canteens,
etc. Less than a year later, on May 8, 1945, the Western world was celebrating what is now known as
V-E Day (Victory in Europe).
Thanks to Terry W. for providing this article.
Radar Plots the Invasion
By Eugene Mason
Presenting for the first time historical radar photos of the Normandy beachhead invasion. Radar has proven to be
the greatest technical development of this war.
Radar's most extensive use is to portray sea and ground formations far beneath high-altitude bombers and reconnaissance
planes. Scanning the earth with its electronic beam, radar draws accurate maps of the land and sea beneath the plane
- despite darkness, clouds, or rain. Shown here, for the first time, are actual pictures seen by radar operators in
their oscilloscopes, miles above the French coast before and during the European invasion. Every dot or blur of white
has some significance in understanding a radar scope picture, because each dot of white indicates an object on the
ground reflecting the radar pulses. Thus large cities show up brighter than the surrounding countryside. White dots
in the English Channel are boats, ships, or low-flying aircraft. Small dots visible inland usually indicate man-made
structures. The brilliant white blotch in the center of these pictures shows the position of the plane when the photograph
was taken. Concentric circles indicate the range from the plane.
Fig. 1. Normandy beaches looked like this in the radar scopes of Eighth Air Force bombers during the pre-invasion
reconnaissance flights. Despite solid clouds, coastline and built-up areas of the various towns showed up clearly.
The Normandy beaches looked quiet and peaceful (Fig. 1) during a pre-invasion reconnaissance flight. The cities
of Le Havre and Cherbourg are clearly visible in the scope. And the characteristic French seacoast is strongly etched.
The same beaches on D-Day (Fig. 2) look much different. Every dot on the oscilloscope represents one or more invasion
craft in the Channel. A few of the white blobs represent planes flying low over the water. Seen from a height of many
miles, the radar-equipped plane was about 35 miles from the French coast, its position indicated by the brilliant
center spot. Strong elements of the invasion fleet are massed just off shore. But in every direction can be seen the
great mass of sea and air power thrown into the D-Day offensive. The radar-equipped plane has passed over the invasion
fleet (Fig. 3) and, at a lower altitude, is about to cross the coastline. The plane, on a bombing mission ahead of
the newly established bridgehead, will use radar to locate strategic military objectives. Even though the pilot and
bombardier can see nothing, the radar operator can tell them where they are. Before crossing the coastline, the radar
operator flips a switch on his set to obtain a greatly magnified picture (Fig. 4) of the actual bridge-head. The many
white dots and blurs - though difficult to distinguish near the center of the scope - are clearly discernible as invasion
barges, boats, and ships. These are historic pictures - tiny white blobs of light on the face of an oscilloscope that
attest to the might of Allied sea and air power.
|Fig. 2 - Same beaches on D-Day as those shown in Fig. 1. Plane has
moved to within thirty-five miles of the coast. Its position indicated by bright spot in center of scope. Invasion
fleet (smaller blobs and grains) is clearly visible massed just off shore. Fig. 3 (center). Even though pilot
and bombardier can see nothing. Radar operators can tell them just where they are and when to drop their bombs.
The photograph shows that the plane has lust passed over the invasion fleet and is about to cross the coastline.
Fig. 4 (right). Radar operator has turned a switch to obtain a magnified exact picture of a small part of the
* The U.S. Army website historical page is not linked because the historical revisions dictated
by rampant political correctness
now makes most "official" information unreliable. It might
not be untruthful, but relevant information has often been scrubbed.
Posted May 10, 2013