Post War Planning

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Post war planning - continued

At the beginning of this article mention was made of the Chiefs Of Staff paper "Air Defence of Great Britain during the ten years following the defeat of Germany" (Air 2/5773). Though the PM declined his approval, stating that this matter had to be considered along with the whole post-war effort, not in isolation, nevertheless the Chiefs of Staff took this to mean that they could give their own approval to the scheme and it became the basis of Fighter Command planning for the post war period. In a meeting held at Fighter Command HQ in December 1945 to discuss future radar requirements a Fighter Command Operations Officer described a five phase programme to take place over a ten year period. These phases were:

Phase 1. Over a few months, to provide, by a combination of Type 7, Type 11 (coherent pulse) and Type 70 (two of which were expected in 1946), an equipment which would provide both high and low cover on a common display.

Phase 2. (a) To provide, in about two years, an interim master radar station as envisaged in SD 564 - the Cherry report - which would give high and low cover on a common display.

(b) To develop the transmission of displays up to distances of 50 miles with the facility of combining two or more displays on one PPI.

Phase 3. (a) To provide in about five years a radar equipment which would give gap-less cover from sea level to 70,000 ft with a detection range of at least 300 miles.

(b) To develop the transmission of displays over any distance.

Phase 4. To extend Phase 3 by increasing the required coverage to 90,000 ft and 350 miles.

Phase 5. To provide the ideal facilities as specified by Fighter Command in ten years, ie including height finding to an accuracy of 100 ft with three-dimensional selectable displays.

The Air Ministry formally agreed to the five phases in February 1946 and the Chiefs of Staff were asked to approve the phase 2 plan and to accept that for the time being the UK would be virtually undefended from the air. Almost immediately though government demands for a more rapid demobilization of the services meant that the proposals had to be re-assessed. Throughout the next three years or so the R.A.F. struggled to implement phase 2 in the Defended Area (now known as the Training Area) but shortages of manpower, particularly technical personnel, made their task increasingly difficult to achieve. Added to the manpower problems, the cessation of compulsory requisitioning of land in February 1948 meant the loss of many of the inactive radar sites.

It seems clear then that during the immediate the post war years there was an on going struggle between the government, with its desire to de-mobilise the armed forces and divert expenditure in to rebuilding the economy and enacting its social programmes, and the military, conscious of the poor state of the nations defences and forewarned by events in Iran (1946) and Berlin (1948). By 1949 however the government had been forced to re-assess the state of the nation's defences. The formation of Nato in April 1949 in response to the perceived Russian threat and the testing of Russia's first atomic bomb on 29 August were among the factors that were lead to renewed interest in defence matters by the U.K. government.

Most of the information on this page is drawn from "Watching The Skies" - see References for further details on this publication



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Updated 25/02/2001

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