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Thread: Trailing aerials

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    Default Trailing aerials

    A friend is currently reading a new book (title unknown) about MI6. His main interest is meteorology and referring to the book he writes:

    "I found when trawling through the end notes a mention of agents inside Germany during the Second World War sending weather observations by radio, along with information about other things (such as troop movements and factory activities). The system was, I have
    been told, that British aircraft trailed long aerials specifically to pick up such messages whilst flying over Germany on missions."

    Forgetting about the met bit (I've my own thoughts about that), would anyone be able to confirm that aircraft were used in this way to obtain messages from agents, or if long trailing aerials were used by, I suppose, 100 Group aircraft?

    My initial reaction was to think that agents would have been provided with powerful enough transmitters to reach the UK, rather than depend on the random passage of an aircraft. I wouldn't have thought it a good idea to use a trailing aerial in a bomber stream either but these things are beyond my ken.

    Brian

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    Hi Brian,

    I'm not sure if those trailing aerials were specifically for such operations, but the forumites contributed a lot of gen to my question about them some while back. Here's a link to the thread. One reply mentions an aerial that was 250-feet long.

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5557
    David

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    Thank you David. My questions now become "Was the long aerial a standard fit?" and (not withstanding Ed Cooke's reply about fixes by triangulation) "Was it used for intelligence gathering in the way described in my opening post?" At the risk of repeating myself it seems a very complicated way of receiving messages.

    Brian

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    Hi Brian

    Trailling aerials were a standard fit being required for the frequencies in use at that time, they were a necessity for aircraft to communicate with base and not fitted for intelligence gathering.

    Malcolm

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    Hi Brian:

    From my Coastal Command Fortress book:

    Long-range communications were based on wireless telegraphy (‘W/T’) using Morse code. The SCR-287 ‘liaison radio’ required a weighted, braided copper wire aerial – approximately 100 yards (90m) long – which was paid out by the wireless operator after take-off from a powered drum in the radio cabin and out through a short tube on the lower port side of the fuselage. In flight the aerial and weight described lazy circles astern of the Fortress and the operator had to remember to reel in the wire prior to reaching the landing circuit.

    Regards:

    Robert

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    Much obliged Malcolm and Robert; I'd just found the same answer at http://www.duxfordradiosociety.org/equiphist/r1155/t1154-r1155-v1mod3.pdf and was about to edit my last post.

    That means the long aerial in my original question was a red herring (I knew it was beyond my ken), so I'm now back to simply asking if aircraft were used to communicate with agents. We need a 100 Group expert.

    Brian

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    Brian,
    I think it most unlikely that aircraft operating over enemy territory,with all it's obvious dangers, would be in possession of SOE frequencies, codes and transmission times.
    Bill.

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    Bill,
    I go along with that. M R D Foot - in "SOE 1940-46", BBC Publications, 1984 - makes no mention of such a practice. But I'll bet it was considered and/or even tried? The standard SOE agent's HF morse transceiver (the B2 - made to look like a small suit-case) was normally used to contact a ground-station (either 'London', or in unoccupied Allied territory) was certainly capable of it. But, as Bill suggests, security considerations would have been paramount.
    The more "cloak-and-dagger" bits of SOE's insertion/extraction of agents/stores/information into/out-of enemy occupied territory often used the S-phone (Google).
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default 100 Group

    Brian

    Not sure that I'd put myself up as a 100 Group "expert" but I have read a fair bit about them (214 Sqn particularly) and I've never heard of them ever using trailing aerials for collecting messages from ground-based SOE operatives.

    100 Group's role was 'protective'. Leaving aside the 'offensive' element (night fighters, intruders, etc), their role was "Bomber Support" which involved monitoring and jamming, by various means and devices, enemy radar and fighter control systems.

    So if anything like the SOE communication was undertaken, I'd say it wasn't by 100 Group.

    Ian
    Last edited by ianh; 28th September 2010 at 12:59.

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    Wasn't it the S-Phone that was used for communicating direct to agents on the ground?

    It could also be used a homing beacon for the aircraft, using two antenna on the aircraft.

    It operated on 337 MHz and 380 Mhz.

    MB
    MB

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