Luftwaffe night fighter control methods.










Part 1, The early years.

Part 2 Response to Window. Part 3 Wilde Sau. Part 4 Zahme Sau. Part 5 Anti Mosquito operations.

Part 6 Wilde Sau over France.

Part 7 Anti Courier flights operations. Part 8 Bernhard. Part 9Night fighter operations autum 1943.


Part 1 Decoy and dummy sites. Part 2 Radar camouflage. Part 3 Mystery site. Part 4 German RAM?.
  Part 1.  
       I know that I am opening a Pandora's box and might expect an avalanche of counter arguing e-mails, but so be it in the interest of getting matters straight.  Far too often in the literature the term Himmelbett is used at random or notionally to describe a German Night Fighter Control station (Flugmeldemess Stellung).  This is i a.w. the original German sources and literature by authors, which I trust the most, incorrect.  The original methods of fighter control were (1), (2) and (3):  
      Dunkel Nachtjagd (DUNAJA) employing Freya A/N-Verfahren, which entailed that the both the fighter and the bomber were tracked by 1 Freya and displayed on 1 Alpha scope.  Initially DUNAJA sites were equipped with 1 Freya AN and one Würzburg for height finding.  
      Helle Nachtjagd (HENAJA).  The sites were equipped with 1 Freya and initially 2 Würzburg later replaced with 2 Würzburg Riese.  The bomber would be acquired by the Freya and handed over for tracking by one Würzburg (Rot).  The night fighter was tracked by the other Würzburg (Blau).  The position of both aircraft were plotted on a plotting board (Auswerte Tisch) - the mother of the later Seeburg Tisch.  Based on the plot the Jägerleitoffizier would radio commands to the fighter in order to complete an intercept.  To the Würzburg (Rot) were slaved 3 searchlights.  When the fighter was in an appropriate position, the 3 searchlights would be switched on in order to illuminate the bomber.  The HENAJA site worked together with 3 groups of 9 searchlights, some of these would subsequently also illuminate the bomber.  Visual acquisition of the bomber was now greatly facilitated.  The system of control sites and searchlights were referred to as the Helle Riegel.  This was Helle Nachtjagd Verfahren.  

  The Helle Riegel.  
  As described above the Helle Riegel consisted of a number of HENAJA Stellungen.  These were grouped in "boxes" (Raum) of 3 (Raum 2 and 4, however had 4) Stellungen.  From early 1942 each Raum was under operational control of a Nacht Jagd Raum Führer (NJRF), who also had operational control of a Nacht Jagd Gruppe.  Up till mid 1943 the Gruppe was as a rule stationed at the FlH where the GefStd. of the NJRF also was located, and the fighters were always controlled by the Stellungen subordinate to their parent NJRF.  The staff of the Ln.-Abt, that provided the manning for the Stellung subordinate to the NJRF, was also located on the same FlH  The functions, span of control and area of responsibility of the NJRF was somewhat comparable with that of the RAF Sector.  
  The maps below indicates the development in the approximate delineation of the Helle Riegel.  
  The extension in late 1940.  Target acquisition was based on sound locaters, target tracking on searchlights.  Raum 1 - 3 were located in front of Berlin. Based on a map kindly shared by Mr. Marcel Hogenhuis. . The situation in late 1941.  The depth had been reduced so the available searchlights could be employed in a wider area.  The Würzburg had been introduced for target tracking and intercept control.  Please note that the first box in Raum 1a was located in Denmark.  
  The final deployment pattern in early 1942.  Shortly thereafter the searchlights were gradually withdrawn for employment by Flak units.      
  Mr. Rolf Grzywatz has produced a number of .kmz depicting the locations as of early 1942, which I have combined with my own information please see: Helle Riegel.  
      Kombinierte Nachtjagd (KONAJA).  3 HENAJA sites were arrayed around a potential target (usually a town) so they could cover bomber approaches from all directions and the sites were under tactical control of the Flak.Div., which was responsible for Flak defence of the town.  The tactical control was performed from a combined central Gef.Std., and intercept control was performed from 3 Stellungen utilizing Helle Nachtjagd Verfahren.  In the areas where the fighters were employed, restrictions would be imposed on the Flak.  The establishment of these areas was authorized by Lw.befh.Mitte Fü.Abt.I. Az.9 b, nr.460/41 g.Kdos, (Ia op).  The Standard Operating Procedure was published in Lw.befh.Mitte, Fü.Abt.I Az.11b Nr.2500/41 gKdos, (Ia op).  Unfortunately I don't have the BAMA RL numbers on these two documents.  According to Hoffmann II/1 p. 41 each Raum was subdivided into Mitte, I, II and III.  This is not how the division is described in the above documents.  Here the fighter employment areas are labeled as given in the table below.  

1 AUG 1941

APR 1943 AUG 1943 (1) OCT 1943 SEP 1944
A 19./Ln-Rgt 212   KIEBITZ-A     Disbanded 13./Ln-Rgt 232
B 20./Ln-Rgt 212   KIEBITZ-B     Disbanded 4./Ln-Rgt 229
C 21./Ln-Rgt 212   KIEBITZ-C     Disbanded 20./Ln-Rgt 229
A 22./Ln-Rgt 202   HUMMEL-A     Disbanded 13./Ln-Rgt 218
B 23./Ln-Rgt 202   HUMMEL-B     HUMMEL B

11./Ln-Rgt 232

C 24./Ln-Rgt 202 Disbanded ?


    Disbanded 9./Ln-Rgt 218
A 13./Ln-Rgt 202   ROLAND-A     Disbanded 14./Ln-Rgt 218
B 14./Ln-Rgt 202   ROLAND-B     Disbanded


C 15./Ln-Rgt 202 Disbanded ? Disbanded    


A 19./Ln-Rgt 214   BÄR-A     BÄR A 1./Ln-Rgt 221
B 20./Ln-Rgt 214   BÄR-B     Disbanded 10./Ln-Rgt 218
C 21./Ln-Rgt 214   BÄR-C     Disbanded 12./Ln-Rgt 218
Nord 23./Ln-Rgt 211  


    Disbanded 12./Ln-Rgt 221
Süd 24./Ln-Rgt 211   KOLIBRI-SÜD     Disbanded


Nord 19./Ln-Rgt 201   DROSSEL-NORD     DROSSEL-NORD 6./Ln-Rgt 233
Mitte 20./Ln-Rgt 201   ?     Disbanded


Süd 21./Ln-Rgt 201   ?     SCHANKE 21./Ln-Rgt 223
Nord 10./Ln-Rgt 213     DACHS NORD 13./Ln-Rgt 215 Disbanded 2./Ln-Rgt 227
Mitte 11./Ln-Rgt 213     DACHS MITTE 14./Ln-Rgt 215 DACHS

30./Ln-Rgt 233

Süd 12./Ln-Rgt 213     DACHS SÜD 15./Ln-Rgt 215 Disbanded 2./Ln-Rgt 227

The Ln units manning this KONAJA Raum cannot be found in any of the available sources.  Nor have I been able to find the GefStd.  It was probably abandoned in the build-up phase.

  (1)  I.a.w Gliederung XII.Flg.Korps 31 AUG 1943.  In this document the expression Randnachtjagd (Gebiet ?) is used for these areas.  
  From September 1944 to Marts/April 1945 Stab , I, II and IV/NJG 1 were stationed on airfields in the Ruhr area.  They were under operational control of 3 JD, but were frequently employed under tactical control of KONAJA DROSSEL, intercept control was performed by the Stellungen subordinate to DROSSEL.  


Location of the KONAJA Raum.


      Seeburg-Lichtenstein-Verfahren.  HENAJA worked satisfactory as long as the cloud cover was not too extensive, but it was commonly agreed, that if the sky was covered by more than 6/10, the system was of limited usefulness.  And if the target couldn't be illuminated, it was extremely difficult to acquire it visually.  The solution of course was the Airborne Intercept Radar, which was introduced from the spring of 1942 with the Lichtenstein.  As more and more night fighters were equipped with Lichtenstein, the searchlights gradually became redundant, and these were removed from the HENAJA sites.  Due to the limited pick-up range of the Lichtenstein, very accurate intercept control was still a requirement.  The Auswerte Tisch was thus replaced with the Seeburg-Tisch, where the position of the fighter and the bomber was projected from underneath by a light mounted in a turntable.  One (now) Würzburg-Rise (Rot) would track the bomber and the other (Blau) would track the fighter.  The positions were told to the ops room, where they were plotted on the Seeburg Tisch.  This method of fighter control was called Seeburg-Lichtenstein-Verfahren, which was nothing, but HENAJA - without searchlights.  The introduction of the Würzburg-Riese and Seeburg Tisch in more an more sites made the Freya A/N-Verfahren superfluous, and since the searchlights had been withdrawn, the old HENAJA sites quickly were renamed DUNAJA Stellungen.  

  The crest of RINGELNATTER.  
     Himmelbett Verfahren.  The entire system suffered from one major weakness - it had no depth.  Once the belt had been penetrated further night fighter control was impossible.  When this was realized by the allies, the Bomber Stream penetration tactic was introduced in the spring of 1942.  This entailed that several bombers would penetrate over a very narrow front, within a short time.  And since each Stellung could only control one night fighter at a time, most bombers would be able to penetrate without an intercept even having been attempted against them.  Two solutions were pursued in parallel.  An increase in depth with sites in front and behind the original Helle Riegel, and upgrade of the sites with equipment, which provided for simultaneous control of 2 night fighters.  For day fighter control the Luftwaffe had introduced the Y-Verfahren (Jagd) in the autumn of 1942.  A system whereby the position of a fighter formation was established through radio range measurement by the Hans E-Mess Gerät and the bearing was established by the Heinrich Peiler.  The combination being known as Y-Bodenstelle FuSAn 733.  The Flugmeldemess Stellungen were, from the summer of 1943 and onwards, equipped with 2 sets of this system.  It was now possible to track 2 night fighters with the Heinrich/Hans combination and use the 2 Würzburg Riese for tracking of 2 bombers.  The entire process was performed at the Seeburg Tisch, which was modified with 2 additional turntables (see illustration below).  This system was initially known as Y-Verfahren (Nachtjagd), but it quickly became known as HIMMELBETT VerfahrenSo a Flugmeldemess Stellung does NOT qualify for the name Himmelbett-Stellung, unless it is equipped with 2 Y-Bodenstelle in addition to the radar equipment.  In the words of F. Trenkle (op.cit. p 182):  "Durch Kombinationen dieses Verfahrens [Y-Verfahren] mit "dunklen Nachtjagd" entstand das sog. "Himmelbett-Verfahren" "  See also excerpt from the manual: "Das Y-Verfahren (Jagd)" below.  At the end of 1944 Himmelbett was re-named Gebiets Nachtjagd.  
  Concurrent with the above development some of the Stellungen in the old Helle Riegel were disbanded, the equipment no doubt being used in the newly established sites.  This in turn increased the span of control and the area of responsibility of the NJRF.  Please see illustrations below.  And as new Stellungen were established more NJRF staffs were also established.  




The original version of the Seeburg Tisch with 2 turntables as found in the DUNAJA Stellungen employing Seeburg-Lichtenstein-Verfahren.


The Steuereinsatz (turntable) of the Seeburg Tisch.




A Seeburg Tisch with 4 turntables.  2 for the Würzburg-Riese and 2 for the Y-Stationen.


Excerpt from (4).


A drawing from (5).  The site in question was located near Lantin in Belgium.  This can only be Flugmeldemess Stellung 2'ordnung LURCH.

    Oh by the way - when we are at the dispelling of myths:  "The Kammhuber Line" was an Allied intelligence expression, and NOT the German name for the night fighter air defence system.  See (5) p. 501 :-).  The Zentral Gefechtsstände were ironically called "Kammhuber Opera Häuser", but that is another story.  
    I would like nothing more than be proven wrong !  But proof needs to be (a copy of) an original German document.  I am afraid that references to literature without notes won't do.  The prize is a free copy of Der Luftnachrichten Dienst in Denmark, Vol 1.  
  (1).   "Die Deutschen Funk- Navigations und Funk-Führungsverfahren bis 1945", F. Trenkle, Motorbuch Verlag Stuttgart, 1979 p.173 ff.  
  (2).  See also my "Der Luftnachrichtendienst in Denmark, Vol 1", 2003.  

(3).  "DIE GESCHICHTE DER LUFTNACHRICHTENTRUPPE", Hoffmann, K.O.  Kurt Vowinckel Verlag, Neckargemünd.1968.  Band 2, Teil 1 p. 400 ff.

  (4)   Luftwaffe manual "Das Y-Verfahren (Jagd)", author collection via F. Trenkle. 10 page excerpt (.pdf 3 mb).  
  (5)   "Most Secret War", Prof. R. V. Jones, Hamish Hamilton, London 1978.  


Profile of a Bf 110G-4/R-4 by Herr. Simon Schatz published with his very kind permission .