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Thread: Radar Target Buoys (ASV Target Buoys)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Thanked 15 Times in 11 Posts

    Default Radar Target Buoys (ASV Target Buoys)

    These were laid out at various places around the British Isles for practicing radar homing, initially with ASV, and also practice bombing which was recorded by rear facing cameras. I have found many instances of target buoy use but virtually all don't name the buoy used although a 236 OCU log book reference did record the use of radar buoys I, II, II and IV and I know Radar Target No.3 is in Danger Area D807 (see below)and also radar target No.9 was off the north coast of Ireland (in Shackleton days).

    I have compiled a list of known and suspected locations but wondered if any Coastal command experts could help locate or complete or confirm those listed. I know there are or were some modern examples as they appear on charts (my latest is 1995) e.g. D807 in the Moray Firth but did others exist in the last 20 years or so?

    I notice that "Ra Target" appears on charts both wartime and modern and these have given me some locations but since most are removed from modern charts and accessing old ones is not easy or cheap. I also noticed "ASR Buoy" marked on some charts but I don't know if that is target buoy related.

    The list below was gleaned from various sources, mainly TNA, and the dates indicate what I know. I have also include grid references which may not be accurate as my chart reading is not the best.

    Ayr Bay (1942 - ) NS 102 075
    Banff (WW2 - Post war) NJ 625 958 - is this now D807?
    Barnstaple Bay (1942 - ) SS 285 380 - Moved in 1943 to avoid combined ops praqctice area.
    Bell Rock (1942 - post war) NO 949 249 - This one moved a few times
    Bridgewater Bay (WW2 - post war?) ST 193 513
    Bristol Channel (?)
    Calshot (1952) SZ 886 767
    Carmarthen Bay (1942 - ) SS 236 977
    Clyde (Post war?) NW 852 817 - Moved to NI Coast
    Cromarty (Post war?) NH 964 767
    Dodman Point (post war?) SX 004 346
    Dunbeath (1942 - ) ND 236 242
    Falmouth Bay (?)
    Fowey (eg 1951, 1965) SX 067 202
    Hartland (eg 1953) SR 896 266
    Helwick ? - Possibly removed when lightship installed.
    Inishtrahull (?) C 581 619 - Was this No.9 target and was this the old Clyde target?
    Islay (WW2?) - For Fleet Air Arm
    Lough Foyle Approaches (1942 - ) was this the same as above?
    Lough Neagh (WW2 & Post war) J 015 782
    Machrihanish (WW2 but reinstalled 1952) NR 427 305
    Moray Firth (eg 1952) ND 374 240 - possibly the Banff buoy and now D807.
    Morecambe Bay (WW2?) - For Fleet Air Arm
    Newport Bay (eg 1952) SM 718 499
    Polperro (?)
    Poole (1941) - Initial trials carried out here but not placed for operational practice.
    Scillies (?)
    Shetlands (1942 - ) HU 623 782
    Solway Firth (?)
    St Andrews Bay (eg 1952) - believed to have been around until 21st Century.
    St Brides Bay (WW2?) SM 564 130
    St Mawgan - No idea, jusr a reference to the St Mawgan Radar buoy - possibly Tintagel Head?
    The Wash (?)
    Tintagel Head (?) SR 830 057

    I am currently going through the Neptune and Shackleton squadron ORBs but the success rate for information is about one page in 250 - very tiring!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Lions Bay, BC
    Thanked 40 Times in 34 Posts

    Default Re: Radar Target Buoys (ASV Target Buoys)

    PNK: Sorry, I’ve only just noticed this thread now. I cannot help with the WWII or later RAF installations, however radar beacons are alive and well today and are marked on nautical charts as “Racon”. They emit a Morse pulse when interrogated by radar. They only transmit 5% or so of the time that they are interrogated, as the pulse would obscure other targets of interest on a radar screen. In addition, there are other “beacon buoys” that transmit an AIS signal, that can contain up to date weather information, such as wind speed, direction, temperature and wave height.


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