Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Sound Mirrors on the South Coast

Sound Mirrors on the South Coast



|Views: 234|Likes:
Published by corinne mills

More info:

Published by: corinne mills on Mar 23, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Sound Mirrors on the South Coastby Phil HideOrigins in the First World War
Primitive sound locators were used on the Western Front to locate artillery and enemy aircraft asearly as 1914, however it was events away from the Western Front that provided the real impetusfor developing means of detecting and tracking aircraft by sound.In May 1915 Zeppelin and Shutte-Lanz airships of the German Army and Navy started bombingtargets around the Humber and Thames estuaries. London was attacked for the first time on the31st of that month and by 1917 the airships were being replaced by twin engined Gotha andGiant aeroplanes. In total 300 tons of bombs were dropped on Britain during the First World Warcausing some 5,000 casualties, a third of which were fatalities.Some form of early warning system was badly needed, especially to counter the night raids.Following encouraging experiments with a four foot diameter prototype built by a ProfessorMather a 16' mirror was cut into a chalk cliff face at Binbury Manor between Sittingbourne andMaidstone in July 1915. The mirror was shaped to form part of a sphere and a sound collectorwas mounted on a pivot at the focal point. The collector was usually a trumpet shaped coneconnected to the ears of the listener with rubber tubes but experiments with microphones wereunder way before the end of the war. The listener would move the sound collector across the faceof the mirror until he found the point where the sound was loudest. Bearings to the target couldthen be read from vertical and horizontal scales on the collector.
Professor Mather and his colleagues carried out a series of experiments with this mirror andproduced a report which claimed that it could detect a Zeppelin at a range of twenty miles. TheArmy conducted it's own experiments at Upavon which were so disappointing, somethingProfessor Mather blamed on "the ineptness of Army personnel", that it wanted to cancel allfurther work.Despite this it seems that several mirrors of 15' diameter were constructed around the South EastCoast, Thames Estuary and on the North East Coast. No information regarding precisely whenthese mirrors were built survives but it seems that the ones around Kent were probably built first.They are similar in construction to the first mirror at Binbury Manor, being cut out of a chalk cliff, but were lined with concrete which made a better sound reflective surface. Later mirrors,such as the ones on the Yorkshire coast, were free standing and made entirely of reinforcedconcrete. Certainly the mirrors at Fan Bay, Dover (also identified as Langdon) and Joss Gap nearNorth Foreland saw action in 1917 and 1918, the Fan Bay mirror detected an enemy raid at arange of 12-15 miles in October of 1917 and in 1918 both mirrors were able to detect aircraftheading for London several minutes before they were audible to the unaided ear.It's worth noting that late in the war the mirrors reported to a central command centre whichplotted the positions of raiders on a map and organised defensive measures. Post-WarExperiments Despite the early scepticism shown by the Army the sound mirrors must haveperformed well enough to warrant further development.An experimental station to develop sound mirrors and other sound detection devices wasestablished at Joss Gap before the end of the war. Work continued there up until 1922 when theresearch centre was moved to an area called The Roughs near Hythe. This land was alreadyowned by the Army and was situated near to the flight path for commercial aircraft flyingbetween London and Paris. One problem the researchers had at Joss Gap was persuading thenewly formed RAF to provide target aircraft.
 It was hoped that by siting the new centre at Hythe commercial aircraft could be tracked as theymade their regular flights overhead. A new 20' mirror and several wooden huts for personnel and

Activity (3)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
dxdigger liked this
1 thousand reads
1 hundred reads

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->