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Thread: Mosquito radar signature

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    Default Mosquito radar signature

    I was reading a book recently by a well respected WW2 historian. He doesn't specialise in aviation though, so he may be incorrect in saying that as the Mosquito was made of wood, it was 'immune' to radar detection. I hadn't heard this before but did it have anything of a reduced signature? There were plenty of metal bits in it, the engines must have given off a fair return by themselves.

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    Default Re: Mosquito radar signature

    I was never involved directly in "stealth" technology, but did work alongside, and talk to, others who did. The whirling propellers would give the strongest response: as demonstration of this, apparently the Bear looked like a lighthouse on radar screens. This reflection may have varied with the angle between the direction of flight and the radar, but this would equally be true of all-metal aircraft. The Mosquito certainly was not immune to radar, but could have presented slightly more of a problem than other types. There are no aircraft that give the same radar reflection when viewed from all angles, and equally none that give absolutely none.

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    Default Re: Mosquito radar signature

    Thanks Graham

    I did think it to be an extraordinary claim and I had never heard, from any source, that the aircraft had such properties. But coming from such a respected historian I thought it better to ask before dismissing it out of hand.

    Regards

    Greg

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    Default Re: Mosquito radar signature

    Sure I've seen at least one account of a serrate Mossie picking up an unidentified a/c on its radar, closing in and finding it was another Mossie not an Me 110 or a Ju 88.
    Last edited by ianh; 15th May 2021 at 16:16.

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    Default Re: Mosquito radar signature

    I know nothing about airborne radar systems. However I have a 48” open array on my boat and have no difficulty picking up birds, rain squalls, logs on the water, buoys for crab gear and so forth. As such, I would doubt this statement. And as Graham said, there are enough metal parts on a Mosquito that would be picked up by radar systems.

    Sail boats with their mainsail up present a strong radar return when they are abeam of you, and a much lesser return then ahead of you on a reciprocal course.

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 15th May 2021 at 19:19.

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    Default Re: Mosquito radar signature

    Hello,

    It's a matter about the shape of the aircraft's surface. Read the rest in the book:

    The Radar Game - Understanding Stealth and Aircraft Survivability by Rebecca Grant

    Regards

    Finn Buch

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    Default Re: Mosquito radar signature

    Greg,

    Much of what is written in books about radar during the Second World War is incorrect, particularly in books about the Battle of Britain. Technical subjects like radar are an area where most people know very little, so it is easy for an author to write absolute rubbish and most readers would not know if it is correct or not. Several books that have been written over the past 30 years or so since the public revelation of stealth aircraft have claimed that this or that wartime aircraft were stealthy, and some gullible authors have suggested that the Mosquito was stealthy because it was made from wood. Wood is indeed radar transparent in that radio energy will normally pass straight through wood, whereas when radio energy hits metal is is re-radiated (ie reflected) by it. That is the important point: the aircraft structure was wooden, but there were numerous large metal structures inside, including the two Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, the retracted undercarriage legs, machine guns or cannons or bombs or cameras, radio equipment in metal cases, etc. All of these were made of metal and would re-radiate an incoming radar signal. My understanding is that despite the wooden fuselage the radar cross-section (the size of signal returned) from a Mosquito was roughly the same as any other aircraft of comparable size. So, no, the Mosquito was not in any way any kind of stealth aircraft at all.

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    Default Re: Mosquito radar signature

    The Germans were quite capable of tracking Mosquitos on radar. If I recall correctly there is a good account of a German fighter being vectored on to a 1409 (Met) Flt Mossie in one of Don Caldwell's JG 26 books where it states it was tracked across Germany and intercepted on the home bound leg.

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    Default Re: Mosquito radar signature

    Andy,
    Do I presume 'they' had tracked him in order to see where he had been (and, consequently, what Bomber Command might be up to that night?) and went for him before he could get back with the detailed Met obs for BC Met?
    TIA
    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 Re: Mosquito radar signature

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Brown View Post
    …Wood is indeed radar transparent in that radio energy will normally pass straight through wood…
    Sorry Ian, but this statement is not true. Wood targets do indeed reflect radar signals back to a radar antenna, as do other “soft” target such as birds, plastic buoys, fibreglass boats and sails. Metal structures reflect more radio energy back to a receiver, but softer targets can be identified. Perhaps WWII systems were less capable than marine systems today, but radar technology can be used to locate many non-metallic objects on the water.

    The orientation of a target in the beam affects how much energy is reflected back to a receiver. An aircraft, head on will reflect less energy back to a receiver, than will an aircraft that presents the broad surfaces of its wings to radar interrogation.

    Jim

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