IXO Models IXJ200602 RCAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X Night Fighter - No.404 Squadron, Coastal Command, Wick, Scotland, June 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, commenting on the British airmen in the Battle of Britain
Developed as a private venture by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, the Beaufighter was a two-seat all-metal fighter using components from the Beaufort torpedo-bomber. First flown on July 17th, 1939, the Beaufighter eventually equipped 52 RAF squadrons, giving outstanding service during World War II, in particular as a night-fighter and torpedo-bomber (where the aircraft were affectionately known as 'Torbeaus').
Entry into Fighter Command service came during August 1940 with the Fighter Interception Unit at Tangmere. The following month, five squadrons received the Mark 1F equipped with Mark IV Air Intercept radar for night-fighter duties although the type's first kill wasn't until November of that year. The Beaufighter continued as a night-fighter until 1943, and the last aircraft (a TT10) was not retired from RAF service until 1960, nearly 21 years after the type's first flight.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X night fighter that was flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force's No.404 Squadron, Coastal Command, then deployed to RAF Wick, Scotland, during June 1944. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 9.75 inches
Length: 7 inches
Release Date: June 2006
Historical Account: "Ring Around the Rosie" - Chain Home / AMES TYPE 1 (Air Ministry Experimental Station) was the codename for the ring of coastal radar stations built by the British before and during World War II. The system comprised two types of radar: the metre-wave Chain Home stations which provided long-range early warning, and the centimetre-wave Chain Home Low / AMES TYPE 2 stations, which were shorter-ranged but could detect aircraft flying at low level.
From May to August 1939, LZ130 German Zeppelin were performing flights near Great Britain's coastline, where their goal was to confirm the theory that the 100 m high towers that the British had erected from Portsmouth to Scapa Flow were used for aircraft radio-localization. LZ130 performed a series of tests, from radiowave interception, through magnetic and radio frequency analysis to taking photographs. However, the poor quality of the German equipment resulted in their failure to detect operational British Chain Home radar, and thus the LZ130 mission concluded that the British towers were not connected to radar operations, but rather formed a network of naval radiocommunication and rescue.
The Chain Home stations were arranged along the British coast, initially in the south and east of England, but later throughout the entire coastline, including the Shetland Islands. They were first tested in the Battle of Britain in 1940 when they were able to provide adequate early warning of incoming Luftwaffe raids.
The Chain Home system was very primitive, and in order to be ready for battle it had been rushed into production by Sir Robert Watson-Watt's Air Ministry research station near Bawdsey. Watson-Watt, a pragmatic engineer, believed that "third-best" would do if "second-best" would not be available in time and "best" never available at all. Chain Home was certainly a "third-best" system and suffered from glitches and errors in reporting. However, it was still the best in the world then available and provided critical information without which the Battle of Britain might have been lost.
Chain Home looked nothing like the popular image of a radar. Unlike the German radars, there was no rotating antenna sending out a "searchlight" beam of radio energy while watching for echos. Chain Home had only fixed antennas. The transmitting array sent out a "floodlight" of radio energy, covering a swath of about 100 degrees. The receiving array consisted of two antennas fixed at right angles to each other. These antennas were directional in their sensitivity, and depending on the angle the target was from them, an echo would affect one more than the other. An operator would manually adjust a comparator circuit to find which angle best matched the relative strengths of the received echo signals. The angle of elevation to the target was estimated by comparisons to the signal strength of a second set of receiving antennas located closer to the earth. The time delay of the echo, of course, determined the range.
During the battle, Chain Home stations, most notably the one at Ventnor, Isle of Wight, were attacked a number of times between 12 and 18 August 1940. On one occasion a section of the radar chain in Kent, including the Dover CH, was put out of action by a lucky hit on the power grid. However, though the wooden huts housing the radar equipment were damaged, the towers survived owing to their steel girder construction. Because the towers were untoppled and the signals soon restored, the Luftwaffe concluded the stations were too difficult to damage by bombing and so left them alone for the rest of the war. Had the Luftwaffe realised just how essential the radar stations were to British air defences, it is likely that they would have gone all out to destroy them.
The Chain Home system was dismantled after the war, but some of the tall steel radar towers remain, converted into new uses for the 21st Century.