Posted by: Waring Hills | 1 August 2011

First Naval Air Intercept Radar 1941

Lockheed Electra XJO-3 preparing to deck launch off USS Lexington CV-2 in 1938 (Photo US Navy)

Beginning on 01 August 1941 a specially modified Lockheed Electra XJO-3 had an AI-10 microwave radar installed for airborne testing. The radar was developed by Radiation Laboratory from MIT and flight tests were made out of Boston Airport. The radar included a PPI (Plan Position Indicator) for display and during testing aircraft were detected at a range of 3.5 miles and ships at 40 miles.  The tests were concluded on 16 October and results were used in developing operational radars such as the ASG for K-type airships and the AN/APS-2 for patrol aircraft.

K-5 airship and PBY-5 in flight World War II (Photo US Navy)

The first successful naval shoot down of an enemy aircraft at night would be achieved on 26 November 1943 by Medal of Honor recipient Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare in his F-6F Hellcat.  He was flying in tandem with a Grumman TBF Avenger equipped with an air intercept radar. Despite his successful intercept and shoot down, he was lost in the night action west of Tarawa.

Butch O'Hare, first Navy ace in World War II and the first to shoot down an enemy aircraft at night using a radar directed attack. (Photo US Navy)

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