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
(Victory in Europe). Thanks
to Terry W. for providing this article.
See all available
vintage Radio News
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.
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.
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. 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.
* The U.S. Army website historical page
is not linked because the historical revisions dictated by rampant political
|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 coastline.
now makes most "official" information
unreliable. It might not be untruthful, but relevant information has
often been scrubbed.