One of the most significant technological achievements of the RAF during WWII was the development and implementation of the H2S airborne ground scanning radar.
The H2S was used to identify targets on the ground for night and all weather bomber and was vastly superior to existing radio navigation such as the Gee or Oboe systems which had a limited range of 220 miles.
Experiments with early airborne interception radar had begun during the early years of the war when it was discovered that using a cavity magnetron vacuum tube, high power microwave pulses could be generated and transmitted from an aircraft to bounce off surfaces below and return to the moving aircraft.
It was discovered that different objects returned different radar signatures; water, open land and built-up areas of cities and towns all produced distinct returns. These could then be displayed on a cathode ray screen providing a radar image of the surface.
Installed in the RAF’s heavy bombers such as the Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax, the H2S system went into operation in February 1943 and became an integral part of the aircraft’s navigation and bombing system.
For the Allies and the enemy they were targeting, it was a game changer and when an H2S was captured from a downed Lancaster on its second operational mission, German scientists were able to piece together its function and combined with intelligence from the captured crew, realised it was an advanced mapping system.
Assembling a complete unit from various RAF bomber wreckage, it was mounted in a German aircraft which returned with a radar image of their capital Berlin.
The Luftwaffe went into complete panic as the H2S could now provided clear and accurate targeting information of any German city, port of industrial facilities and immediately sought ways to counter the radar. This led to the introduction of the FuG 350 Naxos radar detector in late 1943, which enabled Luftwaffe night fighters to home on the transmissions of H2S and in turn, RAF scientist to introduce radar jamming systems to lesson their bomber detections.
By war’s end the H2S had seen many refinements and by the introduction of the Mk IX at the height of the Cold war in the 50’s it had been fully integrated with advanced bombsight and navigation capabilities to provide highly accurate long range navigation and bombing control.
Installed in the RAF’s strategic nuclear ‘V’ bombers such as the Avro Vulcan, Handley Page Victor, Vickers Valiant and the later English Electric Canberra bomber, it was known as the Navigation and Bombing System (NBS).
One of the NBS’s breakthrough features was its ability to perform ‘Offset Bombing which dealt with the issue of the target not always appearing on the radar screen during operations being outside the screen scope.
In this case, the navigator would use the TOP control Unit joystick to place a ‘marker’ on a nearby visible feature such as a river or peak and then measure the range and distance between the aircraft and the target. By flicking the small switch on unit's face, the navigator to display either the aircraft’s tracking position with a stationary surface map or stationary Aircraft position with a tracking surface map.
The navigator would then toggle the joystick to guide the aircraft across the displayed feature and follow the displayed course to the target. On board computers receiving a continuous input from radio returns and manually inputted positioning data would then calculate aircraft speed, heading, height and target position to provide a bombing solution and point of release which would then control the aircraft's autopilot and automatically drop the bombs with an accuracy of just a few hundred metres on missions over thousands of kilometres.
The TOP Control Unit worked very much like the floating toggle button on today’s modern marine GPS map units where the onscreen curser could be moved across the screen to display other map areas and features.
The RAF’s NBS was first used in combat during the Vickers Valiant’s long range strikes on the Egyptian Air Force at Cairo Airport during the Suez Canal crisis and was used again aboard the Vulcan bombers in 1982 during the Falklands war, which used the system as the primary navigation and bombing aid throughout the 7,000 m round trips to and from Ascension Island.
For the more technically minded, an RAF training film on the use of the NBS shows the TOP Joystick controller in use and can be seen at 9.32 into the following video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1lkKUspejo at 9.32 minutes in.
This is an original TOP Type 626 Control Unit installed in the RAF’s Cold War nuclear armed Vulcan bomber. Mounted in its 100yr old mango wood stand
With a highly detailed 1/72 scale model of the Avro Vulcan perched atop its hand crafted mango wood display stand, this would make a fantastic gift for any aviation enthusiast.
This Avro Vulcan Instrument comes complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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Your Avro Vulcan bomber Type 626 Radar Joystick Control Unit, Original Recovery Curios Warbird Collectable includes:
- Original Warbird instrument
- Highly detailed hand-built and airbrushed 1/72 plastic scale model of the aircraft,*
- Hand-crafted and beautifully finished 100yr, Far North Queensland Mango Wood display stand
- Detailed, 2-sided, printed and laminated Instrument Fact Sheet detailing aircraft and instrument
- Removable Magnetic Display Arm
The 1/72 scale hand-built and airbrushed plastic model is available with 'wheels & flaps up or down', and a choice of two Squadron markings and camouflage.
Upon order placement you will receive an email asking for your preferred configuration.
Your complete Recovery Curios Original Instrument Collectable is securely packed and delivery normally takes between 4 - 6 weeks approx.
Did you fly, crew or maintain a Avro Vulcan or have a friend, colleague or family member who did? Check out our PERSONALISED ORIGINAL INSTRUMENT COLLECTABLE OPTION here.