Military Wiki
Auderville Freyas.jpg
A 1941 RAF PRU photograph of the two Freyas at Auderville
Country of origin Germany
Introduced 1939
Number built 1000+
Type Early warning radar
Pulse Repetition Frequency 500 per second
Pulsewidth 2-3μs
Range 200 kilometres (120 mi)
Azimuth 360°
Power 20 kW

Freya was an early warning radar deployed by Germany during World War II, named after the Norse Goddess Freyja. During the war over a thousand stations were built. A naval version operating on a slightly different wavelength was also developed as Seetakt.


First tests of what would become the "Freya" were conducted in early 1937, with initial delivery of an operational radar to the Kriegsmarine in 1938 by the GEMA company.

Apparently, Germany paid a lot more attention to radar development at this time than Great Britain later in the war. The Freya radar was already more advanced than its British counterpart, Chain Home. It operated on a 1.2 m (3.9 ft) wavelength (250 MHz) while Chain Home used 12 m. This made for a drastically higher resolution of the German system, which therefore was able to detect much smaller objects.

Because of its complex design, only eight Freya stations were operational when the war started, resulting in large gaps between the covered areas. The British Chain Home radar, although less advanced and more prone to errors, could be installed a lot quicker, which meant that the complete Chain Home network was in place in time for the Battle of Britain.

Freya supported an early version of IFF. Aircraft equipped with the FuG 25a "Erstling" could be successfully queried across ranges of over 100 km.

The "AN" version gained a switchable phasing line for the antenna. Switching in the phasing line led to a phase displacement of the antenna's radiation pattern and with that, a "squinting" to the left or right. This enabled the system in effect to switch from the rather broad "scanning for maxima" to narrow conical scanning. In that mode, a skilled operator could achieve an angular resolution of 0.1°.


  • FuMG 450 Freya AN, initially called FuMG 41G (range increased to 120 km)
  • FuMG Freya LZ (could be disassembled for airlift)
  • FuMG 480
  • FuMG 44 "Drehfreya" (German "rotating Freya"), transitionary model to FuMG 44/404 (navy: FuMO371), "Jagdschloss" PPI radar
  • FuMG 451 "Freiburg", 162–200 MHz
  • FuMG 321-328 (German naval designation)

Deployment and operation

Freya was often used in concert with the primary German gun laying radar, Würzburg Riese ("Würzburg Giant"); the Freya finding targets at long distances and then "handing them off" to the shorter-ranged Würzburgs for tracking.

Later in the war, Freya operated in the band from 2.5 to 2.3 m (8.2 to 7.5 ft) (120 to 130 MHz), with a pulse width of 3 microseconds, a peak power output of 15 to 20 $4, and a pulse repetition frequency of 500 Hz. It had a maximum range of only 160 kilometers (99 mi), making it inferior to Chain Home, nor could it accurately determine altitude, but it was a fully steerable and semi-mobile system.

Freya (right) and Würzburg-Riese, date and place unknown

Freya was first successfully used on December 18, 1939 when two stations detected an approaching daytime raid by 24 RAF Vickers Wellington bombers at a range of 113 km and guided fighter planes toward them via radio.[1] Only half of the Wellingtons returned to Britain undamaged. This performance left the Luftwaffe so impressed that already by the Spring of 1940, eleven Freya stations were installed to guard Germany's western border.[2] After the invasion of France in 1940, additional Freya stations were built along the Atlantic coast. When Britain started its bombing raids, Hermann Göring ordered colonel (later General) Josef Kammhuber to install an efficient air defense. This led to the so-called Kammhuber Line into which then more Freya stations were integrated. In the later course of the war, Freya devices turned out to be vulnerable against chaff, which meant they could still be used for early warning but no longer for guiding fighter planes.

British intelligence

One of the first to give British intelligence any details about the Freya Radar was a young Danish Flight Lieutenant Thomas Sneum, who, at great risk to his life, photographed radar installations on the Danish island of Fanø in 1941. He brought the negatives to England in a dramatic flight which is fictionalized in Ken Follett's novel Hornet Flight. Sneum's deed is also mentioned in R. V. Jones's Most Secret War as a 'most gallant exploit'.

Further development

FuMG 401 "Freya-Fahrstuhl" (German: Freya elevator

  • FuMG 401: For experiments with beam reflection on the ground, leading to a change in elevation angle, a Freya antenna array was installed on a wooden support so it could slide up and down. This enabled Freya to detect the target's altitude without the aid of other devices (such as Würzburg radars).
  • FuMG 41: In an attempt to increase the range without changing the transmitter, several Freya antenna arrays were switched together. These installations, called "Wassermann" (German: Aquarius), not only had greater range but were also more accurate.


To counter Freya, the British used equipment called "Moonshine". Carried by Boulton Paul Defiants of the Special Duties Flight (later 515 Squadron), a single set retransmitted a portion of the Freya signal amplifying the apparent return. Eight aircraft with Moonshine could mimic a force of 100 bombers.[3] A second countermeasures system, "Mandrel" was a noise jammer which overwhelmed the signals from Freya. Individual aircraft were sent to orbit fixed positions 50 miles (80 km) off the enemy coast. By using nine aircraft, a 200-mile (320 km) gap could be knocked into the German's radar coverage, while further jammers were carried in the bomber stream to counter the inland Freya network.[4]

See also



  • Brew, Alex. The Defiant File. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians), 1996. ISBN 0-85130-226-2.
  • Price, Alfred. Instruments of Darkness: The History of Electronic Warfare. St Albans, UK: Granada, 1979. ISBN 0-586-04834-0.
  • Swords, Sean S. Technical History of the Beginnings of Radar, London: IEE/Peter Peregrinus, 1986. ISBN 0-86341-043-X.
  • Fritz Trenkle: Die deutschen Funkführungsverfahren bis 1945, Dr. Alfred Hüthig Verlag, Heidelberg 1987, ISBN 3-7785-1647-7
  • Harry von Kroge: GEMA-Berlin – Geburtsstätte der deutschen aktiven Wasserschall- und Funkortungstechnik, 1998, ISBN 3-00-002865-X
  • Helmut Bukowski: Radarkrieg und Nachtluftverteidigung, VDM Verlag, Zweibrücken 2007, ISBN 978-3-86619-012-2

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).