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.
Piecing together 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 scientists 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 Vickers Valiant, Handley Page Victor and Avro Vulcan 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.
At the peak of its operational life, ten RAF squadrons were equipped with the nuclear bomber and it became the first RAF aircraft to deliver a British atom bomb when it performed a test drop in Australia on 11th October 1956 and the first to deliver a British hydrogen bomb on 15th May 1957.
In October and November 1956 the Valiant was the first of the V-bombers to see combat, during the Anglo-French-Israeli Suez campaign. During Operation Musketeer, the British military operation in what became known as the Suez Crisis, Valiants operating from the airfield at Luqa on Malta dropped conventional bombs on targets inside Egypt.
Egyptian military airfields were the principal target; other targets included communications such as radio stations and transport hubs. On the first night of the operation, six Valiants were dispatched to bomb Cairo West Air Base (which was aborted in flight due to potential risk to US personnel in the vicinity) while six more attacked Almaza Air Base and a further five bombed Kibrit Air Base and Huckstep Barracks.
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 Vickers Valiant bomber. With a highly detailed 1/72 scale model of the Vickers Valiant perched atop its hand crafted mango wood stand, this would make a fantastic gift for any aviation enthusiast.
This Vickers Valiant 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 Vickers Valiant 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 Vickers Valiant or have a friend, colleague or family member who did? Check out our PERSONALISED ORIGINAL INSTRUMENT COLLECTABLE OPTION here.