In 1942 the cruisers and destroyers of the Imperial Japanese Navy administered one of the worst defeats that the United States Navy had ever received at sea. At the Battle of Savo Island, the Japanese force relied upon the time proven technique of acquiring enemy targets at night, lookouts with exceptional eyesight and excellent optical equipment. The USN at least in part, placed its faith on a new technological wonder, radar. The result was the allied loss of four heavy cruisers against minimal damage to the attacking Japanese force. In another two years, radar had truly come of age. At the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Japanese still relied upon keen eyesight and optics, although they did possess an early radar rig, but the old battleline of the USN was thoroughly equipped with modern fire control radar. The result was the use by the USN line of their radar to fire upon and sink a Japanese battleship, whose observers could only see the gun flashes of their American and Australian opponents. A great deal of credit for developing radar goes to the Royal Navy, however, in examining the history of radar there are so very intriguing but ifs and might have beens.
Imagine the Kaiserís High Seas Fleet engaging the British Grand Fleet in World War One in a Battle of Jutland with one difference, the Kaiserís ships have radar, that sees through the mist, that sees through the smoke, that sees through the night. Science fiction? A Flight of Fancy? No, it really is a historical might have been. The theory of radar and experimental applications can be traced back to Germany. In 1886 Heinrich Herz of the University of Karlsruhe had demonstrated in an indoors experiment that eltromagnetic waves were reflected by other electric inductors. On April 30, 1904 German engineer Christian Hulsmeyer patented a device that he called a Telemobilscope that allowed ranging an object by the reflection of the transmitted high frequency radio pulses. At the time no one saw the significance of the invention. During World War One another German, Richard Scherl, without knowledge of Hulsmeyerís work a decade earlier, developed an early radar that used radio echoes for detection. A working set was prepared and tested. In February 1916 the details of his invention and the test results were sent to the Imperial German Navy. Scherl did receive a response. His ideas were rejected as "not being of importance to the war effort." Of course any set developed in 1916 would still be very primitive and would not have been in time to be used at Jutland but what if the 1904 device had been under development during the 12 years before Jutland? Germany had the opportunity to develop radar for naval applications but missed the boat, so to speak. It wasnít until the late 1920s when every major navy realized the promise of functioning radar and began serious development.
The small German Reichsmarine of the Weimar Republic was one of the navies that finally saw the implications of radar. In 1929 work started on the underwater equivalent, sonar, and a year or so later started on a radar program. Early sets were grossly under-powered and at best, spotty in performance. The Kriegsmarine used two competing companies, GEMA and Pintsch, to spur the development of an operational radar set. As each company out did the previous efforts of their competitor, the range and reliability of the radar technology jumped ahead. On September 26, 1935 the technology was demonstrated to Admiral Raeder the commander of the Kriegsmarine. It was decided to change the term for the units to Dezimeter Telegraphie DeTe (decimetric telegraphy) to disguise the nature of the units. Early operational radars were called DeTe-Gerat (DeTe Device) which hid the true purpose of the equipment. As Kriegsmarine warships were equipped with the strange DeTe Gerat only a small handful of techno-acolytes knew what the device was designed to accomplish. In 1936 it was decided to develop a second type of DeTe Gerat that would serve for aircraft detection. This line of equipment became known as Freyas.
In 1938 the equipment designations were changed to better describe the device. The Admiral Graf Spee had a FMG 39G (gO) Funkmess-Gerat (radar device year 1939). The G was for the producer, GEMA. The gO was for frequency band, g = 335-439MHZ hf, and the O for aerial installation. In 1943 all of the old classifications were re-designated, mostly with a FuMO (Funkmess-Ortung) designation. FuMO sets were for active ranging direction finders. FuMB (Funkmess-Erkennung) were for passive radar detection. A whole series of FuMO sets were produced for the warships of the Kriegsmarine. A short list of the ten principal sets shows the following employment: FuMO 21 for destroyers; FuMO 22, 23 and 26/27 for capital ships; FuMO 24/25 for destroyer through capital ship; FuMO 30 and 61 for submarines; FuMO 63 for cruisers and destroyers; FuMO 81 for Prinz Eugen and destroyers and FuMO 213 for S-boats.
An experimental FuMO 22 was installed on the Graf Spee in 1937 on the front face of her director. The Deutschland-Lutzow kept the FuMO 22 throughout her career. The Admiral Scheer had a FuMO 22 until her tower superstructure was replaced with the lighter pole rig when she received a FuMO 27, similar to the FuMO 26. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were equipped with the FuMO 22 and in 1941 at Brest received the FuMO 27 on the aft tower. After a refit from the Channel Dash Scharnhorst received a new FuMO 26 or 27. Bismarck and initially Tirpitz carried the large FuMO 23. Tirpitz acquired an additional FuMO 27 atop her tower in 1942 and a FuMO 26 in 1944. Blucher and Hipper carried the FuMO 22. Hipper picked up a FuMO 27 on her aft range finding tower in 1942. Prinz Eugen started with the FuMO 27 fore and aft but after the Channel Dash received a FuMO 26. At the end of the war Prinz Eugen had the most extensive radar fit in what remained of the fleet. In addition to a very large FuMO 26, she was fitted with the FuMO 81 Berlin-S panographic reconnaissance radar. None of the light cruisers were initially fitted with radar. Koln and Nurnberg received the FuMO 21 while stationed in Norway. In 1944 Nurnberg received a FuMO 25. Near the end of the war Nurnberg was given tripod legs to her mainmast in order to carry a trainable FuMO 63 Hohentwiel-K at main mast head. Near the end Emden was given a similar treatment to carry a FuMO 25. Even the old predreadnoughts, Schleisen and Schleswig-Holstein had FuMO 25 sets at the end of the war. German destroyers were fitted with the FuMO 21 until mid-1943 when they received the FuMO 25. Some individual ships received a FuMO 63 in 1944. Originally none of the earlier torpedo boats were equipped with radar but some in the T1-T12 series and all of the T13-T21 series received the FuMO 28 and switched to a FuMO 63 in 1944. The larger T22-T36 boats received the FuMO 21. S-Boats working in the English Channel at night also desperately needed radar and requested it. However all naval radar was too big for them. However, a solution was thought to be found. As the Luftwaffe upgraded the radar sets on their night-fighters, the old radar was taken over by the Kriegsmarine and experimentally mounted on a S-Boat as the FuMO 71 with a fixed array. A rotating array was developed and designated the FuMO 72. However, the new radar array gave the S-Boat such a high silhouette that it was nicknamed the grenade collector. The sets never became operational. A whole range of radar sets was developed specifically for the U-Boat fleet. First it was the FuMO 29 fixed array, then the rotating FuMO 30 and later the FuMO 61.
Although Germany had very early established the scientific theory and developed experimental radar sets, its true potential was never realized in the extremely conservative Kriegsmarine, just as the Kaiserís naval command had rejected the idea outright a quarter of a century earlier. The high command was more concerned that the radar would reveal the location of its warships, rather than that the use of the radar would enable their warships to find allied ships. Radar use was actively discouraged and line officers were not taught in its applications. As a result all of Germanyís early advances were squandered and allied radar development shot past the timid calculations of the fleet command. (Bulk of history of German Radar Development from German Naval Radar to 1945, Warship Volume VI, by Erwin Sieche)
A Stroll Down FuMO Strasse
The critical early FuMO 22, originally the FMG 39G (gO) on the Graf Spee is there. This set is crucial for almost all of the early war major Kriegsmarine ships. The FuMO 23 is there for the Bismarck and Tirpitz. The FuMO 26 and 27 are two more crucial sets included by Toms. Most German battleships, panzer schiffes and heavy cruisers received these sets during the war during refits. Light cruisers can get their FuMO 21, 24 and 25 sets. Destroyers are covered with a selection of FuMO 21, 25 and 63 sets depending upon the year in which the ship is modeled. U-Boats in 1:350 scale can be given rotating FuMO 30 or later FuMO 61 sets, again depending upon the year that you wish to choose.
The passive radar detector arrays of the FuMB 4, FuMB 6 and FuMB 7 are impressive assemblies in their own right. Although the radar arrays and framework should not cause assembly problems to most modelers, the minute dipoles included in the fret may cause problems for a modeler new to photo-etch.
Right now the Bismarck and Tirpitz are available in 1:350 scale in injected plastic. The Tamiya kits would obviously be substantially enhanced with the arrays in this set. However, 1:350 resin models of Kriegsmarine ships can benefit from the set. With the inclusion of all significant German naval radar, Toms has created a very versatile product. The modeler now has the ability to select the year and particular fit of the ship, rather than being constrained by the photo-etch included with that particular model. U-Boat fanatics should find the included U-Boat radar of great value in giving their models more aesthetic punch. The set provides an excellent complement to any modeler desiring to build a kit of almost any Kriegsmarine model.