Radar Warfare in WW2: The Würzlaus

Everyone knows that Germany had complete Radar coverage, Radar being coupled to Flak, leading to average losses of 10% per raid for Allied Bomber fleets.

The most important Flugabwehr Radar device was the Würzburg-Riese, Würzburg being a major South German city; Riese meaning giant.

Radar is an Allied term; Germany called the devices Funkmessgeräte (radio measurement devices) or FuMG for short. So the Würzburg-Riese was a FuMG.

Now, and everyone knows that next thing you know the Allied deployed Chaff to confuse German Radar and all was well on its way for the complete destruction of the Fatherland.

Or was it?

Turns out there are some complications. First, chaff was known for years – and known to the Nazis as well, their version called Düppel, named after a town near Berlin where they tested it – the name being the typical obfuscating nonsense used by the military.

And neither side knew that the other side knew. And neither side used it for fear of uncovering this valuable secret – because once used, enemy scientists would quickly find out what the purpose of those specific-length aluminum strips is.

And that lasted right until the 1943 Operation Gomorrha that completely incinerated Hamburg, enabled by use of Chaff, blinding German Flak gunners.

Now does this mean the Allied needlessly sacrificed thousands of Bomber crew lives that they could have saved had they deployed Chaff earlier? Well, not quite.

A few short months after the Allied had deployed Chaff the first time, the Germans equipped their Würzburg-Riesen with filters that filtered out the frequency sent by the Radar itself – so only the Doppler-shifted echos from moving targets – the Bombers – would be detected – the unmoving clouds of chaff would be filtered out. ( described here (wikipedia) in German. English version doesn’t have it)

This solution was called the Würzburg-Lösung or in a distorted short form “Würzlaus”. Again, an obfuscating nonsense term: Würzlaus is a composite, “würz” being “to spice up” and “laus” being “lice”. Even a German speaker wouldn’t have a clue what it could mean.

What fascinates me with this is the chess-like planning ahead, keeping your plans secret in your head and preparing countermeasures in advance – and, even though Germany to this day gets INUNDATED with state media produced anti-Nazi propaganda films  – excuse me I wanted to say, WW2 documentaries – no German I spoke to to this day even knows ANYTHING about the Radar warfare that went down in WW 2. THAT’s how BAD these “documentaries” are.

And! THIS! INCLUDES! ALL! RADAR! experts! that I spoke to. Guess I didn’t speak to any radar expert with an interest in history.

And while we’re speaking of Flak and Radar and Flugabwehr, guess just WHAT anyone can expect who dares to travel over German skies without a permit…

FlaWaSys MANTIS (wikipedia)

This thing actually shoots down PROJECTILES.

And Lasers. (military.com)

Another word about WW2 documentaries. All German ones are bad. Really bad. Even History Channel is far better if you’re interested in weapons systems of all sides involved and in strategy and tactics.

This lecture first informed me about the Radar warfare in WW2:

 

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