By August of 2019, this page had grown to about 175 photos and diagrams. It had become rather large (ca. 20 MB download size). This caused long download times for some users. I decided to split the page into two separate pages. This split should be fairly transparent to you. Please continue using the (unchanged) items lists above and update your bookmarks - if necessary.

©2004-2023 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.

Latest page update: January 2023 (replaced Fig. 57 and expanded associated text).

Previous updates: July 2022 (expanded the section on Hein, Lehman & Co); May 2022 (split the transmitter section into FuSAn 724 &725; added associated figures, added ref. 10 & 164, updated optical disk section, made separate section for transmitter modulation & spectrum); July 2020 (added ref. 265 about rail traction); February 2020 (added ref. 253B); October-November 2019 (added ref. 253A and associated text, added high-res version of ref. 15); August 2019 (split into two pages, added ref. 208C, 243).

red-blue line


"Bernhard" is the German codename for the ground-station ("Stellung", "Anlage") of the "Bernhard/Bernhardine" radio-navigation system that was used by the Luftwaffe during part of WW2. The beacon ground-station is a complete radio transmitter installation - including the antennas. A complete installation is a "Funk Sende-Anlage", abbreviated "FuSAn". The FuSAn developed for the "Bernhard" system was FuSAn 724. Its two transmitters had an output power of 500 watt each. The FuG 120 "Bernhardine" is the airborne counterpart of the "Bernhard" beacon. It comprises a Hellschreiber-printer and control electronics. It printed the bearing data transmitted by the selected "Bernhard" beacon.

The numbers 724 and 120 are entries in a multi-category running numbering system. The range FuSAn 700-799 was reserved for "Bodengeräte, Navigationssendeanlagen" (ground equipment, navigation transmitter stations) and FuG 100-150 for "Navigations- und Kommandoübertragungsgeräte" (navigation & command-uplink equipment), ref. 185.

FuG 100-150

Table-2: FuG120 and FuSAn724/725 within the equipment numbering system

(source: ref. 2D)

Note that over a dozen different fixed and mobile FuSAn types were developed for various radar and radio-navigation systems of the Luftwaffe, primarily by Telefunken, Lorenz, and the DVL (Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt), ref. 141.

The "Bernhard" FuSAn comprised a large rotating antenna system (ca. 25 x 35 meter). The main sub-systems of this rotating navigation beacon are (see Figure 1):

  • The rotating upper structure ("Gerüst"), consisting of:
  • a large antenna system that comprises three antenna arrays,
  • a cabin ("mitdrehender Geräteraum" - rotating equipment room) with the two transmitters,
  • a small square block near each of the four corners of the cabin.
  • A large concrete ring, with
  • a circular rail track, and
  • four locomotives for rotating the upper structure.
  • A small round central-support and equipment building ("feststehender Geräteraum" - stationary equipment room) in the middle of the ring.
  • A remote antenna mast, for monitoring the signals transmitted by the beacon.
  • Sources of electrical power.
Berhard station

Fig. 1: The "Bernhard" ground-station of the "Bernhard/Bernhardine" radio-navigation system

(click here to get full size)

Basic characteristics of the "Bernhard/Bernhardine" system are:

  • Frequency: 30 - 33.1 MHz.
  • Transmitter power: 2 × 500 watt (FuSAn 724)
  • The available literature often refers to "Bernhard" as FuSAn 724/725. The 725-version was intended to have more powerful transmitters: 5000 W each. However, there is no evidence that these transmitters ever entered into service, were even developed or were available off-the-shelf. Ref. 20 and 2C4 state that they were planned only. The exact reasons for the power increase is unknown, but would typically be extended range and improved immunity against interference and jamming.
  • The wiring list of the "Bernhard" station contains several items with two gauge specifications: one for the 500 W transmitters, an a much heavier gauge for 4000 W transmitters (i.e., not 5000 W, see cables nr. 6-8, 33, 34, in ref. 189).
  • Antenna system dimensions: ≈28 x 35 m (HxW, 92x115 ft).
  • Antenna system track diameter: 22.5 m (≈74 ft).
  • The specified average track radius (mid-point between the inner and outer rail) was 10.55 m.
  • The track was laid on top of a concrete ring width a width of 1.5 m, hence an outer diameter of 22.6 m.
  • Antenna system weight: 120 metric tons (265000 lbs), ref. 2C4. Only ref. 183 (p. 19) states 120 metric tons as the weight of the "Gerüst", i.e., of the super-structure without the locomotives. Some literature states the weight as 102 tons (ca. 256000 lbs), which may be a typographical error, or 100 tons (ref. 20) - without being specific about what is included in the weight.
  • Antenna rotational speed: 12 degrees per second (2 revolutions per minute, see the "rotational speed" section below).
  • This means that the small locomotives that turned this enormous antenna installation, moved at a respectable linear speed of about 8 km per hour (5 mph).
  • The speed had to very accurate: to within ±0.2-0.3 % of the nominal speed (ref. 181, p. 80). Note that by design, the printer in the aircraft can not work with a beacon that turns at a different speed.
  • System accuracy: initially ±1°, then improved to ±0.5°, finally reduced to ±4° by using a single-trace ( = simpler) printer system and a single transmitter (though unclear if this was ever operational).
  • Operational range: 150-500 km (80-270 nm), depending on aircraft altitude with respect to the "Bernhard" antenna (p. 22 in ref. 15).


The base of the entire rotating "Bernhard" superstructure is a large concrete ring. On top of the ring lies a circular rail track, for the four locomotives that actually rotated the system. The superstructure ( = equipment cabin + antenna systems) is basically a large turntable. Standard width of the ring is 1.5 m (5 ft), as measured at several of the still-existing rings. The specified diameter of the center of the circular rail track ( = midway between the two rails) was 2x10.55 = 21.1 m (ref. 193). Hence, the outside diameter of the ring was about 21.1 + 1.5 = 22.6 m.


Fig.2: Concrete ring with the circular rail track


Fig. 3: Satellite image of the "Bernhard" site at Arcachon/France - overhead view (ca. 2013)

(source: http://www.geoportail.gouv.fr/)

A rail track comprises two main elements:

  • The track structure:
  • Steel rails
  • A rail fastening system. This typically takes the form of ties (crossties; UK: sleeper, D: Querschwelle), and fasteners to fix the rails to the ties. Their purpose is to maintain the correct distance between the rails ( = gauge), hold the rails upright, and transfer the loads from the rails to the underlying track bed and ground. Fasteners take the form of rail anchors, tie-plates, base-plates, sole-plates, rail-chairs (D: "Schienenstuhl"), bolts and nuts.
  • The track bed or foundation: typically layers of ballast, sub-ballast, and subgrade (layers of crushed rock, gravel, and sand) on top of the natural ground. For applications with very high loading ( = large "weight on wheels"), the track bed may be "ballastless": a continuous slab of reinforced concrete on top of a subgrade. The latter is the case for the "Bernhard" track. This has a major advantage compared to the traditional track structure: no need for regular heavy maintenance to restore the desired track geometry and smoothness (e.g., by tamping the ballast and associated re-aligning of the rails).

The standard rail profile of the Reichsbahn (and the Bundesbahn until 1963) was profile S 49 (weight = 49 kg / m). It was, and still is, also used for narrow gauge tracks, tramway and subway tracks. It is unknown which rail profile was used for the "Bernhard" track, but it would have made sense to use the readily available national standard profile.

Bernhard rail track

Fig. 4: "Bernhard" track and Reichsbahn rail profile "S 49"

(source "Bernhard" track image: adapted from Fig. 1 in ref. 193)

Fig. 4 above shows the curved "Bernhard" rails, fastened to I-beam ties (UK: "sleepers") with standard clamps. This figure also shows a "rail gauge rod" (a.k.a. "gauge tie rod" and "gauge tie bar") between the rails. There were 80 such "Spurstangen", evenly distributed between the 120 cross-ties. A rail gauge rod is a member bar that is specially designed to join two steel rails at the rail bottom. Their purpose is to protect the rails from tilting, and to hold the track to gauge ( = keep the gauge constant around the track). A distinction is made between single-ended and double-end rods, depending on one or both ends being adjustable. Here, a simple steel rod is used, with both ends threaded.

The "Bernhard" track is "narrow gauge": the distance between the rail-heads is less than local standard gauge. Standard gauge in Germany is 1435 mm ( = 56½ inches). It is the same as in North America, most of Europe and the Middle East, in China and Australia. For this standard gauge, narrow gauge is defined as 500-1435 mm (18-56½ inch). To ensure the accuracy of the "Bernhard/Bernhardine" system, stable and accurate rotation of the antenna system was required. This translated to very tight tolerances for the rail track. They were specified by Telefunken (Dept. V/Mo in Berlin-Zehlendorf) and the Hein, Lehmann & Co. company - Telefunken's standard manufacturer of the antenna installations.

Per the 1942 adjustment and verification instructions for the "Bernhard" rail track, the nominal dimensions and tolerances are as follows (ref. 193, see Fig. 5 below):

  • Gauge ("Spurweite") is the distance between the inside of the rail heads). Here: 842 mm, with an acceptable tolerance of ±1 mm ( = 5/128 inch).
  • On-center distance between the rail heads: 900 mm (≈ 3 ft), with an acceptable tolerance of ±1 mm.
  • The top of the inside rail is higher than the outside rail by 24 mm (nearly 1 inch). Allowed tolerance: ±1 mm.
  • The top of the rails must be at the same height, all the way around the track. This is verified for 20 evenly distributed points around inside rail of the track, the first point being the one at which the height difference between inside and outside rail is checked. The height of these 20 points must be within ±2 mm ( = 5/64 inch) of each other.
  • Average radius of the track (mid-point between inside and outside rail): 10548 mm (10.55 m = 34 ft 7 inch). Allowable tolerance: ±15 mm (0.6 inch).
  • There is a large ball bearing at the center of the roof of the round building in the middle of the concrete ring. The top flange of the ball bearing raceway must be higher than inside rail by 1297 mm ( = 4 ft 3 inch). Allowable tolerance: ±30 mm (1.2 inch). This is not an extremely critical dimension: it was compensated when installing the locomotives, by placing shims between superstructure frame and the ball-joint ("Kugelzapfen") on top of the locomotives.

After installing the rails, all specified dimensions had to be checked against the associated tolerances. All measured values were recorded on a special form, and sent to department V/Mo of Telefunken in Berlin-Zehlendorf. This enabled determining trends during regular re-verification. For some measurements, a reference point had to be defined. It had to be marked clearly and permanently. Ref. 193.


Fig. 5: cross section with nominal dimensions and tolerances

(source of dimensions and tolerances: ref. 193)

The documented "Bernhard" installations have at least six different fastening systems. In all cases, the rails are fixed in place either with 120 ties, or with 120 sets of anchors in the concrete.

  • A: the concrete ring has 120 pairs of rectangular vertical holes, with a square dimple half way between them. Example: Be-15 Szymbark/Bytów. Possibly, pre-fab ties were used that had a rectangular vertical post at both ends, and those ends were inserted into the vertical holes. The purpose of the dimples is unknown.
  • B: the concrete ring has 120 pairs of rectangular vertical holes, but there is only a dimple for every third pair of those holes. Example: Be-14 Aidlingen/Venusberg. There, the holes measure about 11x22 cm and are about 50 cm deep; the dimples are 17x17 cm. A pair of steel rods is anchored in the bottom of each rectangular hole. The part of the rods that sticks out above the ring is threaded (M20). The holes are not placed very accurately. However, as the upper part of the steel rods can be moved around, this is not an issue when installing the rail fasteners.
  • C: the concrete ring has 120 pairs of rectangular vertical holes, but there are no dimples. There are no steel rods anchored in the holes. Examples: Be-12 Nevid/Plzň, and Be-16 Sonnenberg/Hornstein.


Fig. 6: The various forms of rail fastening and associated features in the concrete ring

  • D: the concrete ring has no holes, but there are 120 sets of 2+2 threaded rods sticking out where there are vertical holes in versions A-C. This requires more accurate placement of the rods than in cases A-C. Examples: Be-4 La Pernelle, Be-11 Trzebnica/Trebnitz.
  • E: the ties are sections of I-beam that are embedded into the top of the concrete ring; 2+2 vertical bolts are welded onto each end of the I-beams. Variations:
  • Concrete ring with a flat top. Examples: Be-10 Hundborg, Be-3 Le-Bois-Julien, Be-6 Marlemont, Be-2 Mt.-St.-Michel-de-Brasparts, Be-7 Arcachon. At Archachon, the I-beams are 15½ cm wide and 17 cm tall ( = standard I-beam per DIN 1025), and are embedded in a concrete layer that was poured separately.
  • Concrete ring with a rounded top. Example: Be-8 Schoorl/Bergen, where the ties are 1.3 meter long and the bolts are placed at 13 and 27 cm from each end of the ties; here too, the ties have the standard width and height per DIN 1025. Rounding the concrete top must have required additional effort. It is unclear why it was done.
  • F: two sets of 120 ties, one set is narrower than the ties at all other sites. Example: Be-0 Trebbin which was also a "Bernhard" test site. The narrow ties have a width of 7 cm, and may have been from an initial version of the track. However, both sets of ties are embedded into the same layer of concrete, i.e., both sets were already installed when the concrete of the top layer was poured. The bolts on the narrow ties appear to have been removed with a grinding tool, suggesting that they predate the wide ties.


Fig. 7: The various forms of rail fastening and associated features in the concrete ring

Berhard station

Fig. 8: Pairs of threaded rods

I visited the remains of the "Bernhard" ring of Buke in April of 2015. This ring was destroyed by the British after the war, exposing the cross-section of the concrete. It suggests that the concrete was cast with as many as six distinct parts, see the photo below. The top layer is about 7 cm (≈3 inch) thick.

Bernhard station

Fig. 9: Cross-section of the ring at Buke

A number of the "Bernhard" rings have rail-ties (sections of I-beam) that are embedded into a separate layer of concrete on top of the ring:

Bernhard station

Fig. 10: Top layer of concrete, with embedded I-beam rail-tie at Arcachon

The on-center inside rail of the track has a radius of 10.55 - 0.45 = 10.1 meter. For the outside rail, this is 10.1 + 0.9 = 11 meters. This is very small for a rail track, and causes a large difference (≈4.3 %) in the speed between the inside and outside wheels of the locomotive bogies. This "slippage" causes problems with normal bogies (US: trucks) that have rigid axles, with wheels that cannot turn independently. It also causes problems with traction, required locomotive tractive effort, and wear of the wheel flanges and the rails. One way to solve this, is to use wheels with a smaller diameter (here: 4.3%) on the inside rail of the track. In turn, this requires that the inside rail be raised slightly (here: 2.4 cm):


Fig. 11: Raising the inside rail with a block on the ties

The "Bernhard" installations at, e.g., Be-3 Le-Bois-Julien, Be-6 Marlemont, and Be-10 Hundborg, had a block on all ties. At Be-5 Mt.-St.-Michel-Mt.-Mercure, there is only a block on every fourth tie.

Berhard station

Fig. 12: A block on the inside end of all ties of Be-6 at Marlemont

(source: unknown)

Berhard station

Fig. 13: A block on the mounting plate on the inside end of all ties of Be-10 at Hundborg

(source: Hundborg Lokalhistoriske Arkiv; used with permission)

A jig was used to check the gauge and the height difference between the inside and the outside rail. Gauge and height verification is repeated at each of the 80 rail gauge rods:

Bernhard rail track

Fig. 14: Measuring the gauge and the height difference between inside & outside rail height

(source: adapted from Fig. 2 in ref. 193)

The bottom of the jig has a notch at each end. A spirit level (a.k.a. mason's level; D: "Wasserwaage", F: "niveau à bulle") is placed on top of the jig. The notches are sized such that for nominal dimensions, the spirit level shows "horizontal" and the gap between the jig and the rail heads is 3 mm. The latter gap is verified with calibrated shims. The shims are also used to raise the jig on the side of the inside or the outside rail, until the spirit level shows "horizontal":

Bernhard rail track

Fig. 15: Measuring the height difference between inside & outside rail height

(source: adapted from Fig. 4 in ref. 193)

Generally, the aim is for trains to run without any contact between the flange of the wheels and the rail head. Such contact causes stress on the frame of the bogie, and wear on the wheels and rails. This is why wheel treads normally have a conical shape that widens towards the flange of the wheel. On a circular track with a very small radius, it may be necessary to align the bogie axles radially with the curvature of the track. I.e., the axles always point at the center of the circular track, perpendicular to the rails. No information is available about the bogie design of the Bernhard locomotives. So it is unknown if this approach was actually used.

Berhard station

Fig. 16: Bogie axles angled towards the center of the circular track

The relative height of points around the track, and the relative height of the top of the round building is verified with a two-tube water level (D: "Schlauchwaage", F: "niveau à eau"). This level works on the principle of "communicating vessels". It consists of a sufficiently long flexible tube that is filled with water. There is a glass tube at both ends of the tube. The tubes have an adjustable scale. First, a reference point ("datum", D: "Normalpunkt") is chosen. As many points around the track must be measured, it is most convenient to use a reference point at the round building in the middle of the circular track. This will also be used to measure the height of the building. A two meter long surveyor's pole is pounded into the soil, and against the overhanging roof of the round building. With a sprit level, the height of the top of the ball bearing in the roof is marked on the pole:

Bernhard rail track

Fig. 17: Measuring relative height around the track and of the top of the round building

(source: adapted from Fig. 6 in ref. 193)

With a two-tube water level, the height of the top of the inside rail is measured at rail gauge rod number 1. This height is also marked on the pole. The relative height between top of the rail and ball bearing flange can now be determined with a ruler. The height of the inside rail is then measured at every fourth rail gauge rod (i.e., at 20 points in total).

Obviously the circular rail track was not transported to the "Bernhard" sites in one piece. Rather, they were delivered as sections of curved rail. It is unknown which type of rail joints were used:

  • Conventional joints with a small expansion gap (D: "Stoßlücke"). The rail sections are connected with so-called "fishplate" joint-bars (D: "Schienenlasche") and bolts through the rail. The "fishing" is the vertical web between rail head and rail base. The gaps cause the familiar clickety-clack noise when the train wheels bump over them. There is a tie underneath both of the joining rail ends. None of the "Bernhard" tracks have pairs of ties that are placed right next to each other. So it is unlikely that this type of joint was used.
  • Expansion joints (a.k.a. "breather switch", "adjustment switch", D: "Dehnungsfuge", "Schienenauszug"). The ends of the mating rail sections are tapered diagonally, and are not bolted together with fishplates. This type of joint allows for smoother transitions ( = reduced noise and vibration) than conventional joints.
  • Fusion-welded seamless joints. The welding is done on-site with the "Thermit" process that is described below. The result is a continuous welded rail (CWR, D: "durchgehen geschweißtes Gleis", "lückenloses Gleis"). Such rails need very solid anchoring, in order to to avoid warping of the tracks due to thermal contraction/expansion (e.g., "sun kink").
  • The "Bernhard" track has a length of π x track diameter = π x 21.5 ≈ 67.5 m. The expansion of steel rails is ca. 12 mm per °C per km. Concrete has a expansion coefficient of 10 mm per °C per km. Assuming a very moderate summer-winter difference in rail temperature of 50 °C, the relative expansion would have been ca. 6.8 mm (≈1/4 inch). Note that this is a steady-state value, as steel and concrete have different thermal inertia.
  • For CWR, the Deutsche Bahn installs a heavy concrete rail-tie every 60 cm. To minimize expansion/contraction forces, the rails are installed when the temperature is around 20 °C. The ties of the "Bernhard" track are spaced by... 60 cm!

Berhard station

Fig. 18: Three standard types of rail joints

(left-to-right: conventional joint, expansion joint, seamless joint)

The "Thermit" process was discovered by the German chemist Hans Goldschmidt around 1890. He was a student of the German chemist Prof. Robert Bunsen (yes, of the famous "Bunsen burner" - actually the "Bunsen & Desaga" burner). Goldschmidt patented the process (originally intended for purifying metals) in Germany 1895, and named it "Thermit". It is a simple but intense exothermal reaction: a mixture of powdered iron oxide (commonly known as "rust") and aluminum is converted into iron and aluminum oxide, plus enough heat - over 2400 °C (4300 °F) - to fully melt the mixture in a matter of seconds! The reaction is typically started by igniting a magnesium "sparkler" stick or ribbon that is put into the mixture. Unlike blast furnace smelters, basically no external heat needs to be applied. The aluminum slugs will float on top of the melted iron. The mix normally contains additives, to obtain the desired steel alloy. The process can be used for welding large steel parts, such as shafts, cables, pipes, and rails. It can also be used for casting of parts, and for under water welding. The first commercial welding application were tramway rail projects in Essen/Germany in 1899 and Berlin in 1901. The deutsche Reichsbahn followed in 1928. The process was patented in the USA in 1928, by the Metal & Thermit Company (named Goldschmidt Detinning Company until the first world war). Ever since the 1920s, it is the standard process world-wide for welding rail tracks. The intense pyrotechnic process has also found military applications (grenades, incendiary devices, etc.). The aluminothermic Thermit rail-welding process is as follows:

  • The ends of two rail sections that are to be welded, are brought together with 2-3 cm spacing (1 inch) and are aligned.
  • The gap is clamped with a two-part ceramic shell that has the same shape as the cross-section of the rail. This is needed to avoid the molten steel from running off. The sides of the clamp are sealed with special molding sand.
  • The ends of the two rail sections are pre-heated to ca. 1000 °C with a blow torch.
  • A ceramic "funnel" pot is placed on top of the molding clamp, and is filled with Thermit-mixture.
  • The mixture is ignited with magnesium ribbon, and then boils. The entire process only takes about 25 sec.
  • After cooling off, the pot, clamp, and slugs are removed.
  • The weld is ground, to get a smooth rail head.

Berhard station

Fig. 19: Thermit-welding of tramway tracks in the city center of Bremen/Germany around 1900

(source unknown)

Rails that are dirty (grease, decomposing leaves (finally explained in 2020, see ref. 265), rain, snow, and ice) significantly reduce traction of locomotives. Traction heavily depends on the adhesion coefficient μ between the steel wheels and the steel rails (ref. 158):

μ ≈ 30% for clean, dry rails.
μ ≈ 20% for rails that are clean but wet or icy, and for greasy rails.
μ ≈ 5-10% for rails covered with (decomposing) plant leaves.

This is why the final version of the "Bernhard" stations had a track-cover that moved with the rotating installation (p. 20 in ref. 183). Not only to maintain traction and avoid disturbance of the constant speed ("Gleichlauf"), but also to avoid accidents.

Based on available photos, such a cover was installed at least at the "Bernhard" stations Be-4 at La Pernelle (though not yet in March of 1943), Be-8 at Schoorl/Bergen, Be-9 at Bredstedt, and Be-10 Hundborg. The "Bernhard" station Be-0 at Trebbin did not have such a cover.

Berhard station

Fig. 20: A steel track-cover moves with the rotating platform

(station Be-4 at La Pernelle, France, July 1944)

Berhard station

Fig. 21: Cross-section of the track cover - made of sheet metal and support braces

Berhard station

Fig. 22: The cover has a "box" around each pair of support wheels

(Station Be-10 at Hundborg/Denmark)

Berhard station

Fig. 23: Side-view of the track cover - "box" around each pair of support wheels

Berhard station

Fig. 24: Cross-section of the track cover - "box" around each pair of support wheels

The small round building below the rotating cabin contained electronic equipment. Operators had to get to an from that building, even when the station was rotating. So they had to cross the rail track. To facilitate this, two sets of stairs were integrated into the moving rail cover, placed at opposite sides of cabin (p. 20 item 6 in ref. 183, though some photo material suggest only one such set of stairs...).

Berhard station

Fig. 25: One of the two sets of stairs for crossing the covered track

(Station Be-4 at La Pernelle/France)

Berhard station

Fig. 26: The destroyed "Bernhard" Be-8 at Bergen/Schoorl - upside-down section of track cover

(source: ref. 127)

Berhard station

Fig. 27: Staircase section of the track cover

(photo - turned right-side-up: ref. 127)

The wooden cabin on the turntable has an entry door at each end. Stairs are attached to the turntable, to get in and out of the cabin, while rotating or stationary (p. 20 item 4 in ref. 183).

Berhard station

Fig. 28: The stairs attached to the turntable, providing access to both ends of the cabin

(Station Be-9 at Bredstedt)


This section describes the interconnections within and between the main elements of the "Bernhard" ground station:

  • the rotating superstructure, comprising the
  • the antenna system, and
  • the equipment cabin
  • the stationary support & equipment building below the rotating superstructure
  • the electrical power distribution & conversion building
  • the remote monitoring antenna mast and radio receiver.

The interconnections between the dipoles of the antenna system, and the connection between the transmitters and the antenna system are discussed in detail in the next section ("The antenna system").

The large cabin that rotates with the antenna system contains the two transmitters and the associated power supplies (motor-alternators). These power supplies are powered by regular 50 Hz 3-phase AC voltage ("Drehstrom"). The cabin also contains an electrical power distribution panel and the control panels for the four locomotives. All four locomotives are powered by DC-voltage. One of the locomotives also has a 3-phase synchronous AC motor, powered by a fixed-frequency 3-phase AC voltage ("geregelter Drehstrom"). Lighting and heating appliances in the cabin are powered by single-phase AC voltage ("Wechselstrom").

Bernhard wiring

Fig. 29: Electrical power and signal interconnections of the rotating part of the system

(source: derived from ref. 189 and 190)

The AC and DC voltages and tone-modulation signals for the transmitters are transferred to the rotating cabin via a slip-ring assembly that is attached to the ceiling of the small round brick building below the rotating turntable. Slip-rings allow electrical lines to traverse continuously rotating mechanical joints. In the rotating cabin, the cables between the slipring dsitributor and the control panel were about 2 m long (ref. 189, cable item 42), so the control panel was located close to the center of the cabin.

The shaft of the slip-ring assembly is extended to the heart of the beacon installation: the optical encoder disk. The three light-projectors of the encoder disk are AC-powered. Two of the three associated photo-cells are used to key the modulation tone of the compass-scale transmitter on/off in the rhythm of the symbology to be transmitted. The third photo-cell generates a tachometer signal for monitoring the rotational speed. The signals transmitted via the two antenna arrays are received via a radio at a nearby mast, and printed with two Hellschreiber-printers (the same HS 120 printers as installed in the aircraft). All AC and DC power is passed through a power distribution & control panel to the slip-ring assembly and to local equipment.

Bernhard wiring

Fig. 30: Electrical power and signal interconnections of the round equipment room below the rotating superstructure

(source: derived from ref. 189 and 190; strip-chart recorder mentioned in ref. 10 not included)

The DC and two 3-phase AC voltages are provided by a nearby power generation & conversion building. This building receives 3-phase AC power from the public power grid or from a local diesel generator. The selected AC power is rectified with a mercury arc rectifier (MAR), to power the DC-motors of the locomotives. Part of the DC-power is converted to 3-phase fixed-frequency AC-power, for the synchronous AC-motor in one of the four locomotives. This DC-AC conversion is done with a Conz-converter.

Bernhard wiring

Fig. 31: Electrical power and signal interconnections of the round equipment room below the rotating superstructure

(source: derived from ref. 93, 189, and 190)

Several electrical power and signal cable types are used throughout the system (ref. 189):

  • NGA ("Normen-Gummi-Ader für feste verlegung in Schutzrohr"): rubber insulated wire for use in metal conduits.
  • NPA (metallumflochtener "Normen-Panzer-Ader"): metal-braided (armored) cable; ref. 197.
  • NMH ("Normen-Gummischlauchleitung in mittlerer Ausführung, Handgeräteleitung"): medium rubber-conduit cable for hand-held equipment,
  • "R.L.M. Erdkabel": military cable for in-ground use.
  • "GURO". This is one of the two primary brand names (the other being RAPID) of the Paul Jordan Elektrotechnische Fabrik G.m.b.H. Co. KG in Berlin-Steglitz (later Berlin-Lankwitz-Marienfelde). The GURO products covered weatherproof conduit cable & wire, insulation compounds, and cable installation material (ref. 224). The Paul Jordan company was founded in 1919 as a cable and wire manufacturer. In 2001, Paul Jordan (with its trade names and patents) was acquired by Tyco Electronics Raychem G.m.b.H. (TE). The Raychem company originally made special cables and wire for military and aerospace applications, and invented heat-shrink tubing in 1962. The activities of the Berlin company were transferred to lower-wage countries in Europe in 2018, and the company was closed.

Bernhard wiring

1927 advertizing and cover of a 1939 product catalog of the Paul Jordan Elektrotechn. Fabrik company

(source catalog cover page: ref. 224)

The "Bernhard" cable and wire gauges vary from 1.1 to 12.6 mm diameter ( = 1 to 125 mm2 cross section). All gauges are specified for aluminium wire! The current rating of these cables varies roughly from 1 to 250 amps. This is about 20% less than for copper wiring of the same gauge.


The "Bernhard" ground station is the rotating radio-navigation beacon of the "Bernhard/Bernhardine" system. This means that its transmission is not simultaneously in all directions (i.e., omni-directional), but it sweeps the horizon with its directional radio beams. Secondly, it is a 2-channel transmission: one channel is used to transmit the momentary azimuth value of the beam-direction. This is done in Hellschreiber-format. The second channel is used to transmit a signal that disappears ("null") when the associated beam is pointing straight at the antenna of the navigation-radio receiver in the aircraft.

So, how is this all done? Clearly, we need two antenna sub-systems: one for each transmission channel. The antenna sub-system for the azimuth-data must create a single-beam radiation pattern. The antenna sub-system for the pointer-channel must create a twin-beam radiation pattern, with a sharp null between the two beams. That is, two narrow beams, that point slightly to the left and right of the centerline of the single-beam. To get the sweeping effect, the two antenna systems must be aligned (pointing in the same direction), and be continuously rotated together.

Let's look at the actual antenna systems to see how all of this was implemented. Figure 32 below shows three development stages of the antenna system of the initial UHF Bernhard system. It operated at a frequency of 300 MHz, which is equivalent to a wavelength of 1 meter. The fourth development form (1940) used a parabolic antenna with an aperture of 6 λ (ref. 3, 181), which translates to a beamwidth of almost 10°. This antenna is shown in the far right photo in the next figure.

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 32: Three antenna systems developed for the UHF-version of "Bernhard"

(left: 1935 (twin-beam only), center: 1936 , right: 1940; source: ref. 2B)

The antenna system in the center photo of Figure 32 most clearly shows the arrangement of a large number of vertically-oriented antenna elements:

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 33: The three antenna sub-systems and the resulting radiation pattern (top view)

(dipole arrays diagram: adapted from Reichspatent 767532)

The antenna sub-system at the top (in the green box) shows a group of five identical, parallel antennas that are interconnected. These antennas are simple dipoles. As the name suggest, a dipole has two identical "poles", typically straight metal rods or wires. The two halves of the dipole are connected to the transmitter via a 2-wire feedline. The next figure illustrates the radiation pattern of a single, vertically oriented dipole antenna in free-space (i.e., sufficiently far from other objects and ground). It is a doughnut-shaped omni-directional pattern - which is not what we want!

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 34: The omni-directional radiation pattern of a single vertical dipole antenna in free-space

(left: 3D pattern of the strength of the radiated signal; center: vertical cross-section of the pattern, right: top view)

So how do we get a directional beam-pattern? This requires that we concentrate the transmitted energy in the desired direction(s), and radiate less energy in all other directions. This can be done in at least three ways (ref. 139K1):

  • By placing a reflector surface behind the (dipole) radiator.
  • By using a "longwire" antenna (such as a Rhombus antenna), with a radiator length of several wavelengths. This is not very practical for a rotary antenna system that operates at a wavelength of ca. 10 m.
  • By combining the radiation pattern of multiple dipoles.

or a combination thereof.

Let's keep it simple and use several identical dipoles that are placed in parallel, and arranged on a straight line ( = linear). As all dipoles lie in the same plane, this is called a planar array. Let's use the same spacing ( = equi-distant) between adjacent dipoles: a linear array. We feed all dipoles of this array with the same radio-frequency current (= same amplitude and same phase). I.e., a uniform distribution of the dipole excitation. The in-phase (co-phase) feeding makes the array concentrate the radiated energy in the direction that is perpendicular ( = broadside) to the plane that is made up by the parallel dipoles. We now have a uniform linear broadside array. The actual pattern depends on the distance between the dipoles. Figures 35 and 36 below show this dependency for an array of 3 and of 4 parallel dipoles, respectively. This is beginning to look like what we want!

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 35: Top view of radiation patterns of a uniform 3-dipole broad-side array (dipoles spaced by 0.2 - 1 λ)

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 36: Top-view radiation patterns of a uniform 4-dipole broad-side array (dipoles spaced by 0.1 - 2 λ)

We can make several general observations:

  • The direction with maximum radiation intensity, is independent of the number of parallel dipoles and their spacing.
  • For spacing larger than 0.1 λ, all patterns have one or more clear side-lobes, in addition to the "forward" radiation of the main beam. This is not desirable.
  • For spacing equal to, or larger than, half a wavelength (0.5 λ), some side-lobes become very significant and approach the strength of the main beam. These are called grating lobes. This is also not desirable. Note: maximum gain for a given number of dipoles is typically obtained for a spacing of 0.5 to 0.7 λ.
  • The main beam becomes narrower ( = directivity) and stronger ( = gain), as the number of dipoles and/or spacing increases. This is desirable. However, each additional dipole adds less gain than the previous addition ("law of diminishing returns"). The latter is illustrated in Figure 37 below. Also, if the number of dipoles is increased without increasing the overall size (span) of the array, then the directivity is reduced (main beam becomes wider), ref. 139J.
  • As, for a given number n of dipoles, the spacing increases, the number of (equal strength) maxima increases. Between these maxima, there are n - 2 smaller lobes. Ref. 139J.
Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 37 The radiation pattern of uniform broadside arrays of 1-8 parallel dipoles (spacing < 0.5 λ)

(source: Figure 3.46 in ref. 139A)

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 38: Radiation pattern of uniform broadside array of 3 parallel dipoles (spacing = 0.5 λ) - without reflector screen or dipoles

(left: array configuration; center: 3D radiation pattern; right: top view of the radiation pattern; my 4NEC2 model is here)

How get can we reduce, or even eliminate, the side-lobes and rear-lobe? There are several techniques, with varying degrees of complexity. The basic parameters that we can adjust, are amplitude and phase of the dipole current, spacing between the dipoles, and the use of reflectors (ref. 139A-139H):

  • One way is to not feed all dipoles with the same current amplitude. That is, non-uniform excitation instead of uniform. Instead, use amplitudes that taper off towards the dipoles at both ends of the array. This is called current "grading" or "tapering". The amplitude coefficients should be equal to those of a binomial series. For dipole spacing less than 0.5 λ, this eliminates all side-lobes. Current-grading coefficients may also take the form of a Fourier-series distribution, Power-of-Cosine distribution, Taylor-series distribution, etc. However, such distributions significantly complicate the system for feeding the dipoles. Also, the uniform distribution of the "Bernhard" arrays produces the highest directivity (see p. 518 in ref. 139H), though the first side-lobe is at best only about 13 dB down from the main-lobe.
  • Side-lobes can be reduced by putting a reflector surface behind (and parallel to) the plane of the dipoles. This is what we see in the three "Bernhard" antenna systems shown in Figure 32 above. For UHF frequencies (λ ≤ 1 m), constructing such a conductive "mirror" surface is easy. Likewise for small VHF arrays (2-3 dipoles). Reflectors are typically placed at a distance of 0.25 λ from the dipoles (1939 Telefunken/Lohmann patent 767531, lines 114-116; also p. 18 in ref. 138).
  • For true broadband operation (i.e., a bandwidth of at least +/- 10% about the center frequency, whereas "Bernhard" is "only" +/- 5%), a reflector distance of 0.34 λ actually provides much less variation in feedpoint impedance, with that impedance closer to being purely resistive (ref. 139K2).
  • Instead of a solid metal surface, as wire mesh may be used, as long as the size of the openings is less than 0.1 λ. Instead of a mesh, it is also possible to use a sufficiently dense "curtain" of un-tuned wires that are parallel to the dipoles.
  • To get the desired effect, the planar surface or mesh may have to be extended around the array. I.e., the array is placed inside a shallow metal box or wire basket, that is open in the broadside / forward direction of the array.
  • Instead of a reflector surface or mesh, a reflector-dipole can be placed behind (and parallel with) each primary dipole, e.g., at a distance of 0.25 λ (e.g., p. 18 in ref. 138). The reflector-dipoles may be passive ("parasitic"). In this case, they are not connected to the transmitter, but receive radiation from the other dipoles and re-radiate it. The reflector-dipoles may also be actively powered by the transmitter. The result of the latter method is illustrated in Figure 39 below.
Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 39: The radiation pattern of uniform broadside arrays with identical array placed 0.25 λ behind it, fed with 90° phase difference

(source: Figure 3.42 in ref. 139A)

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 40: Close-up of the upper antenna system of the "Bernhard" beacon

(sources: Museums Center Hanstholm, Hanstholmregistreringen; used with permission)

Figure 41 shows my simulation of the effect of placing a reflector mesh-screen (0.1 λ mesh openings) at 0.25 λ behind the 3-dipole array: a significant reduction (14.4 dB) of the side-lobes, compared to Fig. 38 above. In the actual "Bernhard" antenna system, there is a mesh-screen above, below, and to the sides of the array. I.e., a mesh cage that is open in the forward direction. This further reduces the side-lobes. I did not expand my simulation model this way.

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 41: Radiation pattern of 3-dipole broadside array with a reflector screen (not a cage)

(left: array configuration; center: 3D radiation pattern; right: top view of the radiation pattern; my 4NEC2 model is here)

Radiation pattern of the 3-dipole array with reflector screen - rotating at 2 rpm

(©2016 F. Dörenberg; simulation in free-space, i.e., effect of the earth's surface not taken into account)

So, now we basically know how to create a single-beam pattern with acceptably small side-lobes. But how do we get the required twin-beam pattern? How about using two separate broadside uniform arrays that are placed side-by-side? Then we "just" have to create a small angular difference between the two main beams. This can be done both mechanically and electrically. The mechanical approach was used in the small version of the "Knickebein" beacon system. The left-hand and right-hand dipole arrays are clearly placed at an angle, and the two beams cross-over in front of the antenna system. See Figure 42. Looking down onto the antenna system, the two sides form a shallow "V". Hence the name "Knickebein" ("crooked leg" = "dog leg").

Knickebein large & small

Fig. 42A: Knickebein ground-station - large (left) and small (right)

(source: Fig. 36 & 37 in ref. 181; red circle shows size of a man)

Knickebein beams Knickebein beams

Fig. 42B: The alternating "E" (dot) and "T" (dash) beams of the Knickebein beacon

The main beam of a single broadside-array can be pointed electrically in a direction other than perpendicular. This called "beam slewing" or "electronic beam steering" (see Section 3.14 / pp. 271 in ref. 139A). Here, the dipole-current in the dipoles of one half of the array, is given a phase-angle difference with respect to the dipoles in the other half of the array. The size of the phase-offset determines the amount of beam-slew or beam-tilt.

To get a twin-beam pattern, one could use two such split-arrays and put them side-by-side. However, this is unnecessarily complicated for what we are trying to achieve! All we need to do, is put two uniform linear broadside arrays side-by-side, and simply feed them in an anti-phase manner (180° phase difference between the two arrays). See p. 72 in ref. 137A. The resulting radiation pattern has two main-beams, symmetrically with respect to the normal (perpendicular) direction, with a small angle and a sharp, deep null between the two beam directions. See Figure 43 for a 4+4 dipole array configuration. Other than the rear-lobes, this is what we want!

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 43: Radiation pattern of two side-by-side arrays that are fed anti-phase (without reflector screen or dipoles)

(left: array configuration; center: 3D radiation pattern; right: top view of the radiation pattern; my 4NEC2 model is here)

Before discussing the VHF-version of "Bernhard", there are two aspects of the UHF antenna system that need to be mentioned:

  • The configuration of the twin-beam dipole array.
  • Feeding a rotating antenna system from stationary transmitters.

The twin-beam UHF antenna system comprised two side-by-side arrays (see the magenta boxes in Figure 33 above). The photo shows that each array actually comprised two sub-arrays of five dipoles each. These sub-arrays are placed one above the other (a so-called "stacked" array). This was either done as part of side-lobe suppression (see Section 3.16 (p. 276) in ref. 139A), or to increase gain. However, the latter is less likely. The system used two identical transmitters (i.e., same output power). The power of one of these transmitters was split in two, for the two halves of the twin-beam array. Increasing the gain of the twin-beams would increase the operational range of the beacon, but it would not make sense for the twin-beam system to have a significantly larger (or smaller) range than the single-beam system above it.

The VHF "Bernhard" system operated at frequencies in the 30-33.1 MHz band, instead of 300 MHz. That is, a nominal wavelength of about 10 m instead of 1 m. This basically means that the antenna system of the VHF "Bernhard" is about ten times as big as its UHF predecessor. Figure 44 below shows the large antenna system. It measured about 35x25 m (WxH, ≈82x115 ft). We recognize the upper dipole array (green box) for the single-beam transmission, above the two side-by-side arrays (magenta boxes) for the twin-beam transmission.

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 44: The two antenna sub-systems of the Be-10 "Bernhard" station at Thisted/Denmark

Note that the dipole-array configurations are not the same as those of the UHF "Bernhard" system:

  • The single-beam array now comprises three parallel dipoles instead of five. Clearly, having used arrays of five dipoles would have made the entire antenna system much larger. Also, the single-beam has to be at least as wide as the combined twin-beams.
  • There is no solid reflector surface behind the top-array. Instead, there is a wire-mesh reflector behind and around the array. Obviously the mesh is much lighter, and also has less wind resistance. It is placed at a distance of 0.25 λ from the dipoles (p. 19 in ref. 183; note that in ref. 183 and some similar German literature of the era, "dipole" refers to a dipole-leg, i.e., only half ( = one pole) of a complete dipole antenna).
  • The twin-beam array now comprises two side-by-side sub-arrays of four dipoles each, instead of five. These two sub-arrays are fed in an anti-phase manner: 180° phase difference between the two arrays.
  • There is no reflector surface behind the bottom-array. Instead, there are reflector-dipoles. They are placed at 0.25 λ behind the primary dipoles. The reflector-dipoles are "active", i.e., powered by the transmitter. Active reflectors are more effective for side-lobe reduction than passive/parasitic reflector dipoles or rods (see p. 71 in ref. 137A). The phase angle of the excitation of the reflector-dipoles leads that of the main dipoles in front of them by 90°.
  • There are two different configurations of reflector-dipoles, see Figure 45A/B:
  • A reflector-dipole behind each primary dipole (Figure 45A).
  • A reflector-dipole only behind the two primary dipoles of each sub-array that are closest to the centerline of the antenna system (Figure 44 and 45B).

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 45A: Top view of the 2x(4+4) array configuration of the twin-beam antenna

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 45B: Top view of the 2x(4+2) array configuration of the twin-beam antenna

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 46: Radiation pattern of two side-by-side arrays that are fed anti-phase (with active reflector dipoles at 0.25 λ)

(left: array configuration; center: 3D radiation pattern; right: top view of the radiation pattern; my 4NEC2 model is here)

Animation of the radiation pattern of the 2x(4+4) arrays - rotating at ≈2 rpm

(©2016 F. Dörenberg; simulation in free-space, i.e., effect of the earth's surface not taken into account)

Below are illustrations of the radiation pattern of the "Bernhard" antenna system. They are from pre-WW2 Telefunken/Lohmann patents, and therefore relate to the early UHF-version of "Bernhard". However, they are similar to the final VHF-version of "Bernhard" (see p. 95 in ref. 3). Note that the pattern has significant side-lobes and rear-lobes. This is confirmed by the official manual of the FuG 120 "Bernhardine" bearing-printer system that was used in the aircraft (p. 6 in ref. 15).

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 47: Single-beam and twin-beam radiation patterns of the UHF "Bernhard" antenna system

(left: Figure 2 in the 1936 patent 767354; right: Figure 1 in 1938 patent 767523)

In the Cartesian plot (right-hand plot in Fig. 47), the side lobes of the twin-beam curve are roughly a factor 24.4 : 5.2 = 4.7 below the main lobes. This voltage attenuation factor is equivalent to a power attenuation of about 10log(4.7x4.7) = 13.4 dB. This is consistent with the maximum theoretical value of about 13 dB for arrays with a uniform current distribution (see p. 518 in ref. 139H).

The next figure shows a Cartesian plot of the the VHF "Bernhard":

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 48: Cartesian plot of the radiation pattern of the VHF "Bernhard" antenna system

(source: adapted from Fig. 1 in ref. 201, 1944)

My simulation model generates similar patterns:

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 49: Cartesian plot of the radiation pattern, based on my antenna simulation model for the 2x(4+4) arrays

(both curves converted from power gains; the grayed area corresponds to the -50° to +50° range of the plot in Fig. 47 and 48 above)

Based on available photos, the 2x(4+4) dipole array configuration was used at the "Bernhard" installation of Trebbin (Be-0), Mt.-St.-Michel-de-Brasparts (Be-2), and La Pernelle (Be-4). The 2x(4+2) configuration was used at the installation of Bredsted (Be-9), Thisted (Be-10), and Arcachon (Be-7). This suggests that the latter configuration may have been introduced with station Be-8 in Schoorl (constructed 1942/43). Why remove the outermost reflector-dipoles (other than to save material)? Figure 50 shows the difference in the 3D radiation pattern of the two configurations. Without the outermost reflector dipoles, there are more (and slightly stronger) rear-lobes. However, this may not necessarily have had a negative impacted on the performance of the "Bernhard/Bernhardine" system, based on the time-constants of the automatic receiver-gain control of the SV 120 printer-amplifier in the aircraft.

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 50: Radiation pattern of the 2x(4+4) array configuration (left) and of the 2x(4+2) configuration

(My 4NEC2 models for these two configurations are here and here)

Note that the colorful radiation patterns illustrated above, were generated with modern computer-based simulation tools. Clearly, such tools were not available before and during World War 2 - the days of mechanical analog calculators, notably the slide rule (D: "Rechenschieber"). However, radiation patterns and other characteristics of directional antenna systems (incl. arrays with reflectors) were well understood in those days, and were indeed calculated (ref. 253A (dated 1938), 253B), albeit in a very time consuming manner.

Transmitter power output (TPO) is the radio-frequency (RF) power that the transmitter produces at its output. This is not the same as the effective radiated power (ERP) of the antenna system. ERP is basically the product of transmitter output power, losses in the feedline system (and radiation by that system) including splitters & connectors, and gain of the antenna system in the direction of maximum gain. ERP is referenced to the same TPO being input to a single dipole. The "Bernhard" dipole arrays concentrate the RF energy into the main lobes of the radiation pattern. This provides a gain with respect to a omni-directional reference antenna. Based on my simulations of the antenna arrays, the main lobes of the twin-beam pattern had a gain of 13.81 dBi. That is: 13.81 dB compared to an isotropic radiator. ERP is referenced to a dipole, which has a gain of 2.15 dBi. Hence, the twin-beams had an estimated gain of 13.81 - 2.15 = 11.66 dBd. With a 500 watt "Bernhard" FuSAn 724 transmitter, this would have resulted in an ERP of 7.3 kW - far from the unrealistic 5 MW ( = 500 W + 40 dB) that is sometimes suggested in literature. FuSAn 725 was intended to increase the beacon's range by increasing the transmitter power by a factor of ten = 10 dB: from 500 W to 5 kW. Note: a 10-fold increase of transmitter power implies a range increase of SQRT(10) ≈ 3x. Of course, the power increase can also be used to increase immunity to enemy interference (e.g., jamming).

Figure 51 below illustrates the length, thickness, and spacing of the dipoles, as well as the spacing between the dipoles and the reflector-cage. The size of the two men in the photo can be used as a reference. Note that the VHF "Bernhard" operated at a frequency of 31.55 MHz ±1.55 MHz. Hence, the nominal wavelength λ is 9.5 m.

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 51: Dimensions and spacing of the dipoles and the wire-mesh reflector cage

The table below shows the dipole and spacing dimensions for three different assumptions regarding the height of the men in the photo above:

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 52: Estimated dipole and spacing dimensions, based on photogrammetric analysis

I have run antenna simulations for about 30 different combinations of parameters in Figure 52, for the array of 2x(4+4) dipoles. A table with the results is here. General conclusions are consistent with antenna theory:

  • When the dipole length is decreased, gain of the main beams decreases (not desirable), the front-to-back ratio decreases (not desirable), and the strength of the first left & right side-lobe increases relative to the two main beams (not desirable)
  • The gain of the two main beams is relatively insensitive to spacing between the front dipoles and the reflector dipoles.
  • The strength of the first side-lobes left & right of the two main beams, is relatively insensitive to the variation of the parameters. The relative strength is -9 to -12 dB.
  • The strength of the other side- and rear-lobes is sensitive to spacing between the front dipoles and the reflector dipoles, and to the dipole diameter.
  • The width of the two main beams is relatively insensitive to array dimensions, other than the number of dipoles. The beam-width is 10°-12°.
  • The angle between the two main beams is relatively insensitive to array dimensions, other than the number of dipoles. The angle is 20°-24°.
  • The total number of pattern-lobes increases when lateral spacing between the dipoles is increased. For the evaluated configurations, this even number varied from 10 to 16.

As in the UHF "Bernhard" system, the dipoles are "full-wavelength": they have a nominal tip-to-tip length of 1 λ. Note that this appears to be contrary to the original 1936 Telefunken/Lohmann Reichspatent nr. 767531 and 767532, in which all dipoles are referred to as "half-wave" (½ λ). However, literature of the era generally referred to the length of a dipole leg, instead of the overall dipole length.

Anyway: why use dipoles 1 λ dipoles instead of ½ λ dipoles?

  • The radiation pattern of a 1 λ dipole has slightly more gain and slightly narrower beams than that of a ½ λ dipole.
  • 1 λ dipoles are more suitable for broad(er)band operation than antenna systems with ½ λ dipoles: for the same relative thickness, a full-wavelength dipole has bandwidth that is about 1.3x larger than that of a half-wave dipole (see Section 4.3 in ref. 135).
  • A 1 λ dipole may be harder to properly match to a modern solid-state transmitter via a 50 Ω coax cable than ½ λ dipole (at resonance), but that is not a real argument against 1 λ dipoles when using a transmitter with tube amplifiers in combination with an open-wire feedline.
  • The mid-point of each "leg" of a 1 λ dipole in principle has (near) zero voltage. This makes it a convenient point for attaching the dipole to a support structure. This is discussed further below. The neutral point of a ½ λ dipole is the feedpoint, which is not convenient for attachment.
  • Implementing a uniform array is easier with 1 λ dipoles. They have high feedpoint impedance. Therefore, they are voltage-fed instead of current-fed. A feed-system for supplying all dipoles of an array with same amplitude and phase, is easier with voltage than with current. The dipoles need to be fed in-phase ( = co-phase). That is, the phase difference between all dipoles within a sub-array must be 0° = n x 360°, where n is an integer number. Half of the 360° is simply obtained by having a feedline length of ½ λ = 180° between adjacent dipoles. Obviously, this is easy to do: just space the dipoles ½ λ (with a small adjustment for the velocity factor of the feedline wire). A tuned ½ λ section of feedline also has the advantage that it does not act as an impedance transformer: the impedance at one end, is transferred 1:1 to the other end. In the Bernhard antenna arrays, the feedline between adjacent dipoles is a balanced open-wire transmission line (TL). I.e., two parallel wires that are suspended in the air. The second half of the required 360° is simply obtained by connecting the top element of the even dipoles and the bottom element of the odd dipoles to the same feedline wire, and vice versa. I.e., switching polarity at each dipole. The latter switch-over can be implemented two ways, see Figure 53:
  • By crossing the feedline wires between dipoles. This (standard) approach is illustrated in the 1936 Telefunken/Lohmann Reichspatent nr. 767531 and 767532, However, with this method, the feedline wires are not perfectly parallel. This may disturb the characteristic impedance Z0 of the feedline.
  • Without crossing the feedline wires between the dipoles. Instead, the cross-over is made at the feedpoint of every other dipole (see p. 72 in ref. 137A).

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 53: In-phase voltage feeding of a uniform array of 1λ dipoles

The top and bottom antenna array are each connected to a separate transmitter in the large equipment cabin that rotates with the antenna system. The conduit was attached to the steel trusses of the antenna support structure. This feedline connection ("Energieleitung") consisted of a shielded two-wire transmission line (a.k.a. shielded two-wire TL, shielded balanced TL, shielded pair; D: "(ab)geschirmte symmetrische Bandleitung", "(ab)geschirmte Zweidrahtleitung", "(ab)geschirmte symmetrische Doppelleitung", "zweiadriges abgeschirmtes Kabel"), see p. 110 and 111 in ref. 181. This is basically two parallel wires in metal tubing or braiding, with a dielectric material between the wires and a round or oblong metal conduit. See Fig. 54. In modern times, we refer to this cable type as "twinax".

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 54: "symmetrische Hochfrequenzleiting mit Abschirmung" - shielded balanced transmission line

(source: Fig. 28 in ref. 197)

Bernhard wiring

Fig. 55: Antenna system interconnections

(source: derived from ref. 181)

The null-direction of the bottom array must calibrated ("Nullverstellung", see cable item 56 in ref. 189) so as to be exactly aligned with the centerline of the beam of the top array. This null-direction is not only affected by the accuracy of the construction of the antenna system, but also by the phase and amplitude equality between left-hand and right-hand sub-arrays of the bottom antenna. As shown in Figure 55 above, there was a means to adjust the amplitude of the signal fed to the left-hand and to the right-hand sub-array. It was located at the transition from the shielded 2-wire cables from the transmitters, and the open-wire line from there to the dipoles. Note that there was no means to adjust the phase. Per ref. 181 (p. 111), the amplitude adjustment was mechanical, and the amplitude adjustment did not cause a phase shift. This suggests that the amplitude adjustment was implemented by selecting a tap of a transformer. The 1935 Telefunken/Runge/Krügel/Grammelsdorff patent nr. 737102 proposes using a fixed-location remote receiver to check the direction of the beam-null, as measuring and balancing antenna feed-currents does not guarantee its correctness. Antenna feed-currents could then be adjusted with variable capacitors across the feed-lines or adjustment of the coupling at the transmitter or the feed-point.

The following photo shows two antenna cables emanating from the bottom of a hexagonal box that is mounted to the right of the top of the door, and a ventilation screen below it, at floor level. This suggests that the transmitters were located in the cabin section behind it. This is consistent with the layout drawing of Bernhard station Be-0 at Trebbin.


Fig. 56A: The entrance end of the cabin at Bredsted - antenna feedline and ventilation panel highlighted

(source: Australian War Memorial photo SUK14634; also part of photo on page 5 in ref. 5)

The following two photos show more details of the routing of the twin-lead cable and the associated open-wire feeedline of the lower dipole array (the barely visible feedline wires have been highlighted)


Fig. 56B: Routing of the twin-lead cable (pink) and open-wire feedline (yellow) for the bottom dipoles at Bredsted

(unedited photo taken May 1945 by Flt. Lt. Herbert Bennet, RAF Mobile Signals Units of No. 72 Signals Wing; © David Bennet; used with permission)


Fig. 56C: Antenna feedline routing from transmitter at Bredsted

(unedited photo taken May 1945 by Flt. Lt. Herbert Bennet, RAF Mobile Signals Units of No. 72 Signals Wing; © David Bennet; used with permission)

It is unclear why there is a downward split in the open-wire feedline before it reaches the level of the dipole feed-points. At the center of the photo, the open-wire feedline splits into separate open-wire feedline for the left and right front dipole sub-arrays. Note that at that split point, the open-wire feedlines are also connected to two porcelain insulators that are located slighly above and behind the split point (but on the front side of the trusses between the front and rear dipoles). Additional insulator pairs are also visible (marked with blue circles), but no wiring is visible. Their purpose is unclear...

Available documentation does not mention the spacing between the dipole feedline wires and the diameter of those wires. It can also not be determined accurately enough from the photos. Hence, the characteristic impedance of the feedline cannot be calculated. However, it was probably at least several 100 Ω. As shown in Figure 55 above, the feedline from the transmitter was attached to the end of each 4-dipole sub-array. The 3-dipole top array was fed at the center dipole. This provided a sufficiently broadband feed system for the "Bernhard" operating frequency range of 31.5 MHz +/- 5%. See Fig. 2 in ref. 139K3. Note that open-wire feed-lines do have some disadvantages (ref. 139K4):

  • The wires always radiate to some extent, which may affect the radiation pattern of the antenna system
  • Snow and rime accretions affects the impedance characteristics
  • Depending on their placement, capacitance between insulators (see Fig. 57 below) affects the impedance characteristics.

Obviously, thick dipole radiators have a large cross-section. At the dipole feedpoint, these large cross-sections would be facing each other and form a significant capacitance. This is undesirable. Furthermore, the large cross-section of the radiators must be connected to the feedline wires. The feedline wires have a much smaller diameter, typically no more than several mm. A large step-transition in conductor diameter is also undesirable in antenna systems. A standard solution is to give the feedpoint-end of the dipole radiators a pointed shape, like the tip of a sharp pencil. See p. 70/71 in ref. 135. This is illustrated in Figure 57. As explained just above Fig. 53, the "Bernhard" antenna configuration required that adjacent dipoles be connected t oopposite feedline wires. With flat or conical feedpoint tips, this requires crossing the two feedline wires between adjacent dipoles. This is impossible while at the same time maintaining a constant spacing between the two feedlines. Varying wire spacing causes undesirable disturbance of the feedline impedance, and may even cause arcing where the wires come close to each other. The pointed tip concept can also be adapted to implement the alternating connection to the feedline wires -  without having to cross those wires between adjacent dipoles:

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 57: Flat, conical, and off-center feedpoint-ends of dipole radiators

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 58A: Pointed radiator-feedpoint tips of several "Bernhard" installations and of a small "Knickebein" (far right)

The feedpoint tips appear to have been made of metal strips, attached to the end of the dipole tube, and are pinched (or folded over) to form a point. The point is actually angled away from the tube, as the distance between the feedline wires is larger than the tube diameter.

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 58B: Close-up of pointed dipole feedpoint-tips of Be-9 at Bredsted/Germany.

(unedited photo taken May 1945 by Flt. Lt. Herbert Bennet, RAF Mobile Signals Units of No. 72 Signals Wing; © David Bennet; used with permission)

The dipole radiators were made of large diameter tubing (note: "tube" is specified by outside diameter, "pipe" by inside diameter). Ref. 13. A solid rod would have been much heavier, cost a lot more material, and not perform any better as an antenna: only the "skin" radiates. It is unknown what material they were made of: steel, copper, brass,... Copper would have had less losses, but steel pipe would have been much more easily available, stronger, and could easily be welded to an attachment arm.

Figure 59 below shows the standard textbook diagram of the sinusoidal distribution of current and voltage along the radiators of a full-wave dipole. The curves are only valid for "vanishingly thin" radiators!

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 59 current & voltage distribution of a very thin full-wave dipole in free-space

(note: only valid in free space (far enough away from ground and objects), and for very thin radiators)

When the radiators have a diameter that is not infinitesimally small, the current distribution is no longer purely sinusoidal - see Figure 60 below. The current at the feedpoint and tips becomes significant, due to charge concentration and displacement current. This explains the reduction in feedpoint resistance when the diameter of the radiators is increased (i.e., the λ/d ratio is decreased).

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 60: Current distribution of a thick full-wave dipole in free-space

(dashed line: Fig. 4.9 in ref. 135; solid line: my 4NEC2 model)

The feedpoint resistance and resonance length of a dipole depend on the ratio of the wavelength λ, and the diameter of the dipole radiators. The diagram below shows this dependence for a single dipole. For the same relative thickness, a full-wavelength dipole has bandwidth that is about 1.3x larger than that of a half-wave dipole (see Section 4.3 in ref. 135). Note that each "Bernhard" system operated at a fixed frequency in the range of 31.5 MHz ±5%. It was obviously highly desirable to be able to use the same dipoles at all "Bernhard" installations. This required a relatively broadband antenna system, which was facilitated by using full-wave dipoles.

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 61: Feedpoint resistance and resonance length as function of the diameter of the dipole radiator

(source: figure 4.7 in ref. 135)

Photogrammetric analysis of the available photos suggests that the "Bernhard" dipole radiators were quite thick: a diameter of about 10 cm (4 inch) for a wavelength of about 9.5 m. I.e., a ratio λ/d ≈ 100. Based on this λ/d ratio and the graph above, the dipoles should have a length of ≈0.87 λ, not 1 λ. This is consistent with the photogrammetric estimate of the actual dipole length. The bandwidth of a dipole not only depends on its length, but also on its diameter. A dipole has a feedpoint impedance that consists of resistance and reactance. The resistance is relatively insensitive to the dipole diameter, but the reactance (capacitive or inductive) is not! The thinner the dipole, the more the reactance changes for a given frequency change away from resonance. In other words: the smaller the bandwidth. So: thicker is better!

The voltage distribution of a 1 λ. is shown in Figure 59 above. The voltage is zero at a distance of ¼ λ from the feedpoint. That is: at the mid-point of each dipole radiator "leg". This means that this "neutral" point can be connected to ground, without affecting the performance of the antenna. This makes it a convenient point for attaching a dipole leg to the structure of the antenna system, without needing some form of insulation. However, this applies only to a single dipole in free-space. In a real dipole, the voltage and current distribution are somewhat distorted due to coupling with nearby objects (in particular other dipoles in the antenna system and the support structure) and ground (esp. with vertically oriented dipoles). Assuming that the same dipole length was used at all "Bernhard" stations, the position of the neutral point would also depend on the operating frequency of the particular station (one of 32 channel-frequencies in the 30-33.1 MHz range). From the available photos of "Bernhard" installations, it cannot be determined whether or not an insulated attachment was used. There is another advantage of attaching the dipole legs at their mid-point: the high-voltage parts of the antenna (the feedpoint and the tips) can be kept away from the antenna support structure. Hence, the effect of loading by stray capacitance ( = loss and pattern distortion) between the dipoles and the structure is minimized.

Bernhard antenna system

Fig. 62: Attachment of dipole neutral-points to the support structure of the antenna system

(side view of the antenna array; center: Be-9 at Bredstedt, ref. 5; right: similar dipole attachment used in the small "Knickebein", ref. 13)

The same neutral-point attachment method was used in several dipole-array antenna systems, such as that of the FuG200 "Hohentwiel" ship-detection radar (ref. 136, multiple arrays of four 1λ dipoles with passive reflector dipoles, operating at around 550 MHz, i.e., λ = 55 cm), the DMG-3 microwave link (ref. 138), and the "Knickebein" beacons.

FuG 200 antenna system

Fig. 63: Junkers Ju 188 with 4 arrays of 4 driven + 4 passive dipoles of the FuG 200 "Hohentwiel" radar

(right-hand image clearly shows crossed-over feedline wires between the dipoles )

Small Knickebein antenna system

Fig. 64: Antenna sub-systems of a small "Knickebein" beacon - 2x(4+4) driven full-wave dipoles

(source left-hand photo: ref. 2A; right-hand: France 1941, Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-228-0322-04)

Hein Lehmann logo

The Bernhard antenna systems were built by the Hein, Lehmann & Co., Eisenkonstruktionen, Brücken- und Signalbau company (HL Co.).  They were the standard antenna construction subcontractor of the Telefunken company, in particular of the Telefunken radio communication & navigation department ("Abt. Funknachrichten und Navigation"). The HL company was founded in 1878 in Berlin-Reinickendorf by businessman Max Hein and engineer Anton Lehmann. It was founded as a factory of corrugated iron sheet (regular "Wellblech" and load-carrying "Trägerwellblech"). It added production of railway signalling systems in 1885, and incorporated in 1888 as Hein, Lehmann und Co. Aktiengesellschaft. They relocated to Düsseldorf-Oberblik in 1889. Over the years, they expanded into steel constructions such as hangars for "Zeppelin" dirigibles, large bridges, and large antenna systems. Ref. 140. The company had an antenna construction department ("Abt. Funkbau"). They did design the construction of antenna masts and antenna turntables, but probably not the antennas as such. Ref. 177A. The antenna related activites of HL Co. resumed in 1946 in Berlin-Tempelhof and resided their until 1956. A small part of HL Co. is still in the metal products industry to this day.

Hein Lehmann logo

Hein, Lehmann & Co. appears in the Berliner Stadtadressbuch / Branchen Adressbuch of 1946-1956

(source: Berlin Address Directories 1799-1970)

As mentioned, HL constructed and installed (very) large antenna masts and towers ("Funkmaste, Funktürme"). One example is the famous Funkturm radio broadcast tower in Berlin-Charlottenburg. It was designed in 1924 by HL (except for the observation & restaurant decks, designed by H. Straumer) and consruction finished in 1926. It was used for VHF TV broadcasts starting in 1929. It still standing tall (147 m) to this date. HL presented the Messegesellschaft Berlin a bill for  203660 Reichsmark on 25 June 1926 (Kom.Nr. 431/24). This is equivalent to about €1.7 million in 2022 (ref. 177A/177B). Many other large antennas for shortwave and longwave transmitters were built by HL around the world, e.g., at Nauen/Germany ("Großfunkstation", 1906, 200 m tall), Pennant Hills/Sidney/Australia (1911, 120 m), Kootwijk/The Netherlands (1919, 1929; 210-266 m), Bandung/Indonesia, Annapolis/MD/USA (1919; US Navy), and Lahti/Finland (1927, 150 m tall). Also the huge antennas of the gigantic 1 megawatt Goliath VLF transmitter station of the Kriegsmarine and the antenna system of the Large Knickebein rotable radio beacons.

Hein Lehmann antennas

Fig. xxx: Some examples of the large broadcast antenna towers built by Hein, Lehmann & Co.

On 31 July 1941, Telefunken placed an order for 12 "Bernhard" antenna systems (purchase order nr. 253/12129). They cost 60810 Reichsmark (RM) each, excluding in situ installation (ref. 177A-177C). This is equivalent to roughly US$380,000 and €352.000. These prices are estimated for the end of 2016, based on general inflation data (ref. 178A-178C). Note that Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation data does not necessarily apply to specific products (such as antenna masts, electronics) or services. At some point in time, the antenna manufacturer reduced the price by 5.7%.

The final assembly and installation at the Bernhard-sites was billed separately. For Be-2 through Be-7 (France, 1942), Be-8 (The Netherlands, 1942), and Be-12 (Czechoslovakia, 1944), Hein, Lehmann & Co. charged an installation cost that ranged from 20300 RM to 31000 RM. This is estimated to be equivalent to about US$113,700 – US$173,600 or €105.400 – €160.900 (again, at the end of 2016).

Telefunken also placed an order for antenna systems for stations Be-13 through Be-22 (purchase order nr. 253/40567). The antenna system of Be-13 (Buke/Germany) was delivered and installed. The antenna system of Be-15 (Szymbark/Poland) was delivered to the station site, but never installed. The antenna systems for Be-14 (Aidlingen/Germany) and Be-16 (Hornstein/Austria) were manufactured, but never delivered. Manufacturing of the antennas for Be-17 through Be-22 was only about 50% completed by the end of the war. So, a total of 23 "Bernhard" stations was planned (Be-0 - Be-22)!

In 1941, Telefunken also placed an order for six “Diode masts” (steel lattice masts for the remote monitoring antenna), for 2020 RM each. This is estimated to be equivalent to about US$12,600 or €11.700 (end of 2016).

Furthermore, Telefunken ordered "Panzerung von Holzhäusern" for 12 Be-stations, at a cost of 4167 RM each (purchase order nr. 253/33163). That is, sheet-metal protection for the wooden cabin below the Bernhard’s antenna system. “Panzerholz” is plywood that is covered with sheet metal armoring on one side or on both sides. The order was probably placed in 1943. Based on that, the estimated equivalent 2016 cost is US$21,900 or €20,250 each. The metal protection was only installed at five stations (Be-2, Be-3, Be4, Be-8, and Be-10). Possibly it took the form of large panels that could be slid in front of the cabin windows.

Hein Lehmann logo

The antenna structure of the "Bernhard" station Be-4 at La Pernelle/France is reported as having grey-black camouflage colors (ref. 128).

Bernhard system

Fig. 65: British intelligence compiled by RAF Photographic Reconnaissance Units (P.R.U.) and "agents"

(source: plate 15 in ref. 230D, reproduced in ref. 91, 92)

In the figure above, "agent" typically refers to a member of the resistance movement in various countries, such as Yves Rocard in France, who provided the far right drawing in the center row, and other information (ref. 91, 92).

Bernhard system

Fig. 66: RAF oblique aerial photo (3-March-1943) of "Bernhard" station at La Pernelle and drawing derived by A.D.I. Science

(source: ref. 172A)

Bernhard system

Fig. 67: ADI Science drawing derived from aerial photos by RAF P.R.U.

(source: ref. 172A)

Not surprisingly, given its size and shape, the Bernhard ground station was easily mistaken for a German radar installation of the era:

GAF radar antenna systems

Fig. 68: The "Bernhard" antenna system was easily (and often) mistaken for a German radar installation

(source: Figure 26b in ref. 34, p. I-30 in ref. 13)


The AM transmitter for the twin-lobe beam was modulated with a constant 1800 Hz tone (emission-type designator A2N). Ref. 15, p. 81 in ref. 181. Hence, the spectrum of the transmitted signal consisted of the carrier frequency, and a sideband line at 1800 Hz distance on both sides of this carrier. See Figure 72. For a discussion of AM modulation, associated spectra, and demodulation, see ref. 211.

Bernhard transmitters

Fig. 69: RF-spectrum of an AM transmitter modulated with a constant 1800 Hz tone

The carrier for the mono-beam was modulated with a 2600 Hz tone. Hence, the spectrum of the transmitted AM signal consisted of the carrier (10 kHz away from the other carrier), and a sideband at 2600 Hz on both sides of that carrier. This is similar to the spectrum of a carrier that is modulated with a constant 1800 Hz tone. However, the 2600 Hz signal was not a constant tone! It was keyed on/off with the pixel-pulses in Hellschreiber-format, to represent the symbology of the compass-rose scale that was to be transmitted. I.e., On-Off Keying (OOK) modulation, which is the simplest form of Amplitude Shift Keying modulation (ASK, emission-type designator A2A).

The spectrum of a tone with frequency f0 that is keyed on & off with a square wave with period 2T, consists of a spectral line at f0, and an infinite Fourier-series of sideband lines at odd multiples N of 1/(2T) on both sides of f0. The height of the sideband lines decreases with N, via a (1/πN)2 relationship. See the left-hand image in Figure 70. Continuously keying a tone on/off with a square wave signal is not particularly useful for conveying information. If the tone is keyed with a (quasi) random sequence of on & off pulses with duration T, then the sideband spectrum lines are "smeared" into half sine-wave envelopes. See the right-hand image in Figure 70.

Bernhard transmitters

Fig. 70: spectrum of a constant tone frequency that is modulated with fixed-length on & off pulses

(left: keying with a square wave with on & off pulses with duration T; right: keying with random sequence of such pulses)

The shortest Hellschreiber-pulses of the "Bernhard" system (one black or white pixel) had a duration T = 2.3 msec (ref. 15). This implies a shortest pixel cycle ( = 1 black pixel, followed by 1 white pixel) of 2 x 2.3 = 4.6 msec. A stream of such pixel cycles is a square wave with a period 2T = 4.6 msec. Hence, the spectral lines were spaced by 1000 / 4.6 = 217 Hz. Obviously, the stream of Hellschreiber pixels did not consist of alternating black and white pixels, all with the same 2.3 msec duration. The black pixel pulses were 1 to 10 pixels long, the white pulses 1 to 14. So the spectrum was as illustrated in the right-hand image of Fig. 70.

The tone-pulse transmitter limited the bandwidth of the sidebands with a 400 Hz filter (ref. 15). I.e., to twice the 217 Hz pixel rate. Note that in 1935, Hellschreiber manufacturer Siemens-Halske, the British Cable & Wireless company (actually, the Communications Division of its subsidiary Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd.), and the Reichspostzentralamt (central office of the German national postal authority), recommended to limit the transmitted bandwidth to 1.6 times the pixel-rate (here: 217 Hz, resulting in 1.6 x 217 = 350 Hz). Ref. 28A, 29, 142. Also see the "Hellschreiber bandwidth" page. This was deemed the minimum transmission bandwidth to ensure legible printing. I.e., not high-quality printing.

The crystal-controlled carrier frequencies of the two transmitters were spaced by 10 kHz (ref. 181 (p. 81), 183, 228G). The frequencies were placed -5 kHz and +5 kHz with respect to the center of the channel bandwidth of the EBl 3 receiver used by the FuG120 "Bernhardine" printer system in the aircraft (p. 78 in ref. 181, p. 16 in ref. 183). This receiver had 34 fixed channels in the 30-33.3 MHz band, spaced 100 kHz. The lowest 32 channels were allocated to the Bernhard/Bernhardine system. There was a +/- 1 kHz tolerance on each of the two carrier frequencies (p. 81 in ref. 181). I.e., the carrier spacing varied from 9 to 11 kHz. The nominal bandwidth of the transmitted signal was 10 kHz + 1800 Hz + 2600 Hz + 2x 217 Hz = 14834 kHz. For the given tolerance of the carrier frequencies, the bandwidth was roughly between 14 and 16 kHz. Figure 71 shows what the nominal combined RF-spectrum of the two transmitters looked like:

RF and audio spectra

Fig. 71: Nominal RF spectrum of the combined "Bernhard" transmitter outputs

(source: frequencies taken from ref. 15 and ref. 181)

Note that this spectrum comprises two complete AM signals simultaneously. This is very (!) different from a single AM signal that is modulated with two separate baseband signals (e.g., a constant 1800 Hz tone and 2600 Hz tone-pulses), ref. 211.

It is unclear if the frequency of carrier-2 was 10 kHz above carrier-1, or vice versa. The FuG 120 manual shows it one way (Fig. 6 in ref. 15), but ref. 181 (Fig. 41) and ref. 183 (Fig. 4) show it the opposite way... The information available on the associated SG 120 tone filter also does not indicate the relative position of the constant-tone and Hellschreiber tone pulses.

The signals from the "Bernhard" beacon were received with a standard FuBl 2 "Funk-Blind-Landeanlage" approach-beacon receiver system in the aircraft. It comprised an EBL2 and an EBL3 beacon receiver:


Fig. 72: Block diagram of the EBL3 and EBL2 receiver

(source: adapted from ref. 72)

The "Bernhard" signals were received with the EBL3. This is a superheterodyne ("superhet") AM receiver. This means that it de-modulated the amplitude modulated signals with an asynchronous product-detector. First, the received signals are heterodyned, i.e., multiplied ( = "mixed") with the sinusoidal signal from a local oscillator. The output signal from the mixer is then filtered, and finally passed through an envelope detector ( = diode rectifier + smoothing filter + DC-blocking).

In the "Bernhard" application, the EBL3 received two complete AM signals simultaneously. For a discussion of AM modulation and demodulation, see ref. 211. The audio output of the EBL3 contains both the constant 1800 Hz tone from the "Bernhard" beacon's twin-lobe beam, the 2600 Hz Hellschreiber tone pulses that represent the azimuth symbology, and the 9-11 kHz (10 kHz nominal) difference between the carrier frequencies of the two transmitters, ref. 15:

RF and audio spectra

Fig. 73: Audio spectrum of the EBl 3 receiver output

The EBL3 had an unusually large bandwidth of about 16 kHz. As derived above, the worst-case bandwidth of the "Bernhard" signal spectrum could be nearly 17 kHz. So it was very important to perform careful calibration of the EBL3 (p. 9 in ref. 15), and precise tuning. Otherwise, either the constant tone signal or the Hellschreiber tone-pulses could end up on the upper or lower flank of the bandpass, and be significantly attenuated.

To the best of my knowledge, no original "Bernhard" audio recordings exist today. So I have simulated the sound of a transmission. The recording below comprises two beam-passages: once without the azimuth information in Hellschreiber-format (i.e., only the constant 1800 Hz tone), and once the constant tone plus the constant stream of 2600 Hz Hellschreiber-pulses. The simulated beam-passage duration is about 3½ seconds. Actual beam-passage duration was 3-5 sec, depending on distance from the beacon.

Bernhard sound

Simulated sound of two "Bernhard" beam-passages - without & with Hellschreiber tone pulses

Note: the second simulated beam passage also includes the 10 kHz tone. The 1800 and 2600 Hz tone signals were transmitted with two separate AM transmitters, with 10 kHz spacing between their carrier frequencies. The 10 kHz tone at the output of the radio receiver is the normal byproduct of demodulating those two simultaneous AM signals, as explained in the "Filter Unit SG 120 (Siebgerät)" description section.


The "Bernhard" beacon FuSAn 724 comprised two identical transmitters, each with an output power of 500 watt:

  • One connected to the upper antenna array (to the center dipole, from where it was distributed to the outer two dipoles). This transmitter is referred to as the Kennzeichensender ("Kz-Sender"), as it transmits the compass scale with integrated station-identifier ("Kennzeichen").
  • One connected to the dipole-arrays of the lower antenna. The transmitter output was split between the four sub-arrays (front-left, front-right, rear-left, rear-right). This transmitter is referred to as the Leitstrahlsender ("Ls-Sender", lit. guide-beam transmitter), and transmits a constant-tone signal.

This 500 watt transmitter was a standard aerodrome approach-beacon transmitter of the Lorenz company (ref 195, 196): "Anflugführungssender" model AS 4.

Bernhard transmitters

Fig. 74: The Lorenz AS 4 beacon transmitter - front view, with & without cover plates

(source: adapted from Fig. 3 & Fig. 8 in ref. 39C)

Characteristics of the AS 4:

  • Output power:
  • 500 watt at nominal primary supply voltage (220/380 volt AC, 3-phase, 50 Hz),
  • 300 watt for primary supply voltage 10% below nominal.
  • Modulation:
  • Amplitude modulation (AM).
  • Modulation index: 90% ( = modulation depth = ratio of modulation signal amplitude and carrier amplitude), adjustable.
  • 5 HF stages: crystal oscillator, first frequency multiplier (2x), second frequency multiplier (2x), first push-pull amplifier, and the final push-pull power amplifier.
  • Internal power supply (with forced-air cooling):
  • Input: 24 volt DC from the external power supply NA 500 (which also provides four anode/plate and bias voltages)
  • Output: 4, 8, and 23 volt DC (heater voltages for tubes/valves and oscillator crystal oven)
  • Built-in 1150 Hz tone generator (not used in the "Bernhard" application)
  • Crystal oscillator with oven (+58 °C).
  • Power-up time:
  • 70 sec (time delay relay), to ensure that the cathode of each tubes is sufficiently heated to produce full electron emission, prior to applying the anode voltage.
  • An additional ≈3 minutes for achieving stable frequency.
  • The transmitter channel-frequency could be changed in 3-5 min, depending on the number of operators and their qualifications (ref. 183). This requires adjustment of five anode- and antenna-currents, and eliminating keying-clicks by adjusting the tone-pulse shape (Section III in ref. ref. 39C).
  • Size: 114x121x70.6 cm (WxHxD, without the feet; 4x4x2.3 ft)
  • Weight: 402 kg (900 lbs)
  • Housing: "Silumin" die-cast. Silumin was an aluminium-silicon alloy of the Metallbank und Metallurgische Gesellschaft in Frankfurt/Main. It was marketed in the USA as "Alpax", dating back to the early 1920s.

The transmitter has two frequency-doublers after the crystal oscillator. Hence, the crystal oscillator operated at 30-33.3 / (2x2) = 7.5 - 8.33 MHz. It is unknown if the oscillator operated at (or near) the fundamental crystal resonance frequency, or at an overtone frequency (i.e., near an odd integer multiple (typ. 3, 5, or 7) of the fundamental). The crystals of the standard AS 4 transmitter were made by the Loewe company (probably the Radio Frequenz G.m.b.H subsidiary of Loewe-Opta, frmr. "Radio A.G. D.S. Loewe"; ref. 221). The crystal was placed in a small enclosure with a heating element and thermostat. This is referred to as a "crystal oven". Its purpose is to keep the temperature of the crystal near the point where the slope of the crystal's frequency vs. temperature curve is zero. The Loewe crystal oven had a temperature setpoint of 58 °C (136 °F), ref. 39C. In the FuSAn 724, the Loewe crystal and oven were replaced with a module from Telefunken. First of all, the transmitter had to operate at a carrier frequency that was different from the standard AS 4 frequencies. With the Telefunken crystal module, the carrier frequency had an accuracy of ±0.5 kHz over the normal operating conditions. I.e., around ±15 ppm (±15 x 10-6) at 30-33.3 MHz. It is unclear if the Telefunken module was also needed to improve the frequency accuracy.

In the FuSAn 724, other modifications were made to the AS 4 (ref. 195). For example, the AS 4 has a built-in generator for a constant 1150 Hz tone, and a modulator stage that is tuned to that frequency. However, one of the FuSAn 724 transmitters used a constant 1800 Hz tone, and the other a keyed 2600 Hz tone. In both cases, the built-in 1150 Hz tone generator was not used. Instead, these tone signals were generated by modulators located in the small round building below the turning antenna system. Hence, several filter capacitors in the modulator stage had to be replaced. Also, the modulation index (a.k.a. modulation depth) was made easily adjustable with a potentiometer, instead of the fixed-value resistor.

Standard equipment of the "Bernhard" station included a set of spares tubes (valves) for all equipment - about 60 tubes in total (per sheet 18 & 19 in ref. 189). For the two transmitters combined, the following tubes were kitted: 2x AF7, 12x RS289, 4x RS282, 7x RS329, all made by Telefunken.

The external power supply of the AS 4 is "Netzanschlußgerät" model NA 500 (ref. 39C), with the following characteristics:

  • Input power: separate inputs for 220 and 380 volt 50 Hz 3-phase AC ("Drehstrom"), 5 kVA.
  • Output power: -24, -100, +400, +1000, and +2000 volt DC; 20, 220, and 4 volt 50 Hz AC.
  • The input step-down transformer was connected to either 220 or 380 volt 3-phase 50 Hz AC.
  • The voltage of one of the three output phases of this transformer was regulated with an 8 amp "carbon pile regulator" (a.k.a. "Kohledruckregler", "Pintsch-Regler"). This is a fast electro-mechanical voltage regulator, comprising a stack of several dozen carbon discs or rings ("Kohlescheibensäule"). Ref. 208A, 208B, 208C. The resistance of the carbon stack depends on the pressure that is applied to it. This pressure is applied by an electromagnet, whose DC control-current is derived from the controlled voltage with a separate transformer-rectifier. This control-current depends on the load, as well as on the primary 3-phase voltage. This closed-loop control keeps the regulated voltage constant to within ±3% for ±10% input voltage variation. In case of over-voltage of the primary 3-phase power, the regulator mechanism reaches its extreme position. This actuates a contact that shuts down the anode voltages, after a persistence delay of about 10 sec.
  • The input transformer fed three separate single-phase transformers, each followed by a selenium rectifier bridge and a filter, to generate -24, +400, and +1000 volt DC. The 24 volt DC was reduced to 4, 8, and 23 volt DC in the internal power supply of the transmitter.
  • The -100 and +200 volt DC were generated with a similar scheme, but with two separate 3-phase transformers.
  • The 20 volt AC was used by a motor in the AS 4 that continuously turned a shaft with four notched disks, associated with switching the antennas that were normally connected to the AS 4 (but not in the "Bernhard" application)
  • Cooling: forced-air (fan).
  • Size: 183x67x50 cm (WxHxD, 6x2.2x1.6 ft).
  • Weight: 340 kg (752 lbs).

Bernhard transmitters

Fig. 75: The AN 500 power supply of the AS 4 beacon transmitter

(source: adapted from Fig. 7 in ref. 39C)

Bernhard transmitters

Fig. 76: The AS 4 transmitter and NA 500 power supply

(source: adapted from Fig. 4 in ref. 39C)


"Bernhard" FuSAn 725 was the high transmitter-power version of the FuSAn 724. It used a B.R.A. 30/20 shortwave beacon transmitter system ("Kurzwellen Bake Sendeanlage"), see ref. 10 (§5).  Ref. 10 is a 1946 British report of the on-site inspection of two Berhard stations that were captured intact. This report states that these two stations had 5 kW transmitters. So, at least two of the Bernhard stations were FuSAn 725! One of them was Be-10 at Hundborg/Thisted in Denmark (ref. 10, Fig. 1). The second one was probably Be-9 at Bredstedt in Germany, 260 km to the south of Be-10: it too was inspected by the British "Air Disarmament Wing" (ADW). Curiously, according to ref. 164D (§6; 1944), Philips did indeed build the 20 ordered transmitters, but never delivered them... It is unclear if Be-9 and Be-10 were initially built as FuSAn 724 and then upgraded to FuSAn 725, or were already FuSAn 725 from the beginning.

Ref. 164D (§6) states that the Telefunken company integrated the B.R.A. 30/20 system into the rotating cabin of the "Bernhard", and implies that it was a product of the N.V. Philips' Gloeilampenfabrieken company in Eindhoven/The Netherlands. Actually, B.R.A. 30/20 was one of the beacon transmitter systems that was designed and made by Nederlandsche Seintoestellen Fabriek (NSF, "Dutch Telegraphy Equipment Factory") in Hilversum/The Netherlands. This company was founded in 1918, as a joint venture of Philips (40%), Marconi U.K. (40%), and Nederlandsche Telegraaf-Maatschappij Radio-Holland ("Radio Holland" for short, 20%). The latter was founded in 1916 by several major Dutch shipowners (ref. 283, p. 46) and the Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij (a subsidiary of the Royal Dutch Shell oil company). Philips became the majority shareholder of NSF in 1925 by acquiring the Radio-Holland shares, and bought out Marconi in 1946. Initially, NSF produced transmitters for the Dutch Navy, Air Force, national public radio broadcast, and overseas territories. Other NSF navigation beacon transmitter systems for aviation were the B.R.A. 101 (longwave), B.R.A. 070/7 (longwave, maritime), B.R.A. 075/4 (shortwave), and B.R.A. 200/08.  In 1947 it was renamed N.V. Philips' Telecommunicatie Industrie (PTI). Ref. 283C, 283D, 283F, 223G, 223H, 229A8.


Fig. 77A: logo of the NSF company in The Netherlands

The B.R.A. 30/20 system comprised a pair of NSF model KVC 15/L27 transmitters:

Bernhard transmitters

Fig. 77B: One NSF model "KVC 15L/27" transmitter - half of the NSF "B.R.A. 30/20" beacon transmitter system

(source: Fig. 9 in ref. 10)

FuSAn 725 transmitted on the same fixed frequency channels in the 30-33.3 MHz band as the FuSAn 724. They were covered by the EBl3 receiver in the airplane. Transmitter "A" transmitted on a frequency that was 10 kHz higher than that of transmitter "B". Transmitter "A" was  modulated with 2600 Hz, and on-off keyed with the Hellschreiber-format compass scale. Transmitter "B" transmitted a carrier that was modulated with a continuous 1800 Hz tone. See the frequency spectrum in Fig. 69 above.

The oscillator for transmitter "B" was crystal-controlled, and set to 1/6 of the output frequency. I.e., in the 6-6.5 MHz range. The oscillator of transmitter "A" was referenced to that same crystal oscillator, but offset by 10/6 kHz:

Bernhard transmitters

Fig. 77C: Block diagram of the NSF/Philips BRA 30/20 beacon transmitter system

(source: adapted from Fig. 9 and Fig. 10 in ref. 10)

 The oscilllator system is interesting - it actually comprises three oscillators that are active simultaneously:

  • A crystal-driven Master Oscillator. This fixed-frequency Master ran at 1/6 of the standard frequency channel that was allocated to the particular Bernhard station.
  • A tuning-fork Offset Oscillator, oscillating at the audible frequency of 10 kHz / 6 = 1667 Hz.
  • Tuning-fork oscillators were typically made for frequencies of 1-5 kHz. With accurate temperature control of ≈ ±0.1 °C, the frequency stability was about one ppm (±10-6).
  • A variable-reactance LC Slave Oscillator. It tracked the "Master oscillator frequency plus the offset the tuning fork frequency", i.e., 1667 Hz higher than the Master frequency.

The alternative solution would have been to use two crystal-driven oscillators. This would have required two station-specific crystals. The master-slave arrangement only required one station-specific crystal: the slave oscillator frequency would automatically be at the correct offset. The concept of this triple oscillator system is illustrated below. Simply put: the actual difference between the Master and Slave frequencies is compared against their required difference. The resulting tracking-error amount is used to adjust the slave frequency. Note that the Slave oscillator also tracks temperature drift of the Master oscillator (and of the offset-oscillator, for that matter). The Slave oscillator tracked the Master by better than 1% (ref. 10).

Bernhard transmitters

Fig. 77D: Block diagram of the control loop of the Master/Slave oscillators of the NSF/Philips BRA 30/20

(source: adapted from Fig. 10 and Fig. 11 in ref. 10)

Each KVC 15/L27 transmitter comprised a 2x and a 3x frequency multiplier stage. The combined 6x multiplication converted the oscillator frequencies to the desired channel frequency in the 30-33.3 MHz band, with an offset of 10 kHz between them.

Most publications state that the FuSAn 725 had 5 kW transmitters. I.e., 10 times the power of the FuSAn 724 transmitters. Ref. 10 (1946) is ambiguous about the 5 kW: in it, the caption of the photo above states "5 kW", but section 5.2 states that the transmitter output stage actually delivered 4 kW - but only for transmission of a constant carrier signal of the pointer signal. Output power of a tone-modulated signal for Hellschreiber transmission of the compass scale was less than that. Note that a 4 kW power level is actually consistent with the official wiring list of the "Bernhard" station (ref. 189)! This list contains several items (cables nr. 6-8, 33, and 34) with two wire gauge specifications: one for 500 W transmitters, and a much heavier gauge for 4000 W transmitters - i.e., not 5000 W!

A tenfold increase in Effective Radiated Power (ERP) could have increased the range of the beacon by an estimated factor of SQRT(10) ≈ 3. The increased power would also have improved interference-proofness of the Bernhardine receiver-printer system, but that was already good with the 500 W transmitters. It is unclear at which point in time the FuSAn 725 was conceived and planned. The investment in such a range increase would probably not have made much sense during the latter part of the war.

All tubes (valves) of the KVC 15/L27 transmitters were Philips pentodes - hence, their type designator started with a "P":

  • PE 06/40 transmitter pentode: 12.5 V filament, 600 Va max, 25 W max anode dissipation, 11-100 W power depending on modulation type, 20 MHz max. The letter "E" indicated an indirectly-heated oxide-coated cathode.
  • PB 2/200 pentode: 12 V filament, max anode voltage of 2000 V, 110 W max anode dissipation, 43-400 W power depending on modulation type, 20 MHz max. The letter "B" indicated a directly-heated thoriated tungsten filament.
  • PB 3/800 pentode: 12 V filament, max anode voltage of 3000 V, 450 W max anode dissipation, 200-1600 W power depending on modulation type, 10 MHz max.
  • Per ref. 10, the final power amplifier stage comprised two air-cooled PAK 12/30 tubes in a standard push-pull configuration.
  • The letter "A" indicated a directly-heated tungsten ("wolfram") filament. The third letter in the transmitter tubes designator is for the cooling method. However, Philips did not use the letter "K" - only "L" for air (= the word "lucht" in Dutch), "W" for water, "G" for mercury vapor, and "X" for xenon. As these tubes were actually air-cooled, it would have been an "L".
  • However, none of the Philips transmitter tube handbooks list a PAL tube with "12/30" characteristics! The handbook from 1946 (ref. 283A) does list the PAL 12/15. It was developed in 1937. The "12" means that the maximum anode voltage was 12 kV. Per a PAL 12/15 marketing data sheet (ref. 283B), the maximum measured anode dissipation was 15 kW (but only 12 kW max allowed). When configured as a Class C amplifier for telegraphy, its maximum output power at 2 MHz was 14.4 kW (ref. 283A). At 50 MHz, the maximum was 14.5 kW - but only for a push-pull configuration of two such tubes. The tube had a length of 61.4 cm (≈ 2 ft) and a diameter of 24.5 cm (10 inch).
  • It is fair to assume that the PAL 12/30 had a maximum measured anode dissipation of 30 kW - but signifciantly lower around 30 MHz, and for tone-modulated telegraphy (MCW). So, the B.R.A. 30/20 transmitters did not output 30 kW (despite ref. 164D suggesting so).
  • If you have information about the PAL 12/30 tube, please contact me.


As stated before, the "Bernhard" beacon continuously transmitted the momentary pointing-direction ( = bearing, azimuth) of the antenna system in a pictorial format, the equivalent of a compass scale strip:

Patin remote compass

Fig. 78A: Remote compass, as used in Fw190 etc.

(made by the "A. Patin & Co. G.m.b.H." company of Berlin)

Bernhard compass card

Fig. 78B: Rasterized compass scale of the Bernhard system

(sources: patent 767524 (top), ref. 15 & 181 (bottom))

Bernhard compass card

Fig. 78C: Rasterized compass scale of the Bernhard system

(source: Fig. 48 in ref. 181)

":Bernhardine" hell printout

Fig. 79: Signal-strength bar graph, azimuth data and station identifier "R", as printed with a "Bernhardine" Hellschreiber

(source: ref. 2B; the strip indicates that the receiver is on bearing of 239 degrees from ground station "R")

The 360° compass-scale strip is rasterized into pixels, and continuously transmitted pixel by pixel, as the Bernhard beacon turns. Pixel columns are "scanned" and transmitted top to bottom. At the bottom of each pixel column, the pixel stream continues seamlessly at the top of the column to the right of it. Each pixel is transmitted as a tone pulse. This is known as the Hellschreiber transmission system, invented and patented by Rudolf Hell in 1929. See the "How it works" page. On the receiver side, the stream of received tone pulses is printed directly by a Hellschreiber printer, to recreate the compass scale strip on a paper tape.

The 1938 Telefunken patent 767524, the 1942/43 Bernhard/Bernhardine system descriptions (ref. 181 (Fig. 43 & 48), ref. 183), and the 1944 manual of the "Bernhardine" Hellschreiber printer (ref. 15) show the following pixel format (see Fig. 78B and 78C above):

  • Columns of 12 pixels.
  • 3 pixel-columns per degree:
  • 3 columns/deg x 360 deg = 1080 pixel-columns in total.
  • 1080 pixel-columns x 12 pixels/column = 12960 black & white pixels total.
  • "Degree" tick-marks, 1 pixel wide:
  • 10-degree tick marks: 10 pixels high.
  • 5-degree tick marks: 5 pixels high.
  • 1-degree tick marks: 3 pixels high.
  • Azimuth numbers: a character-matrix of 5x5 pixels (WxH, per patent 767524), 5x6 pixels per ref. 15 &181.
  • Beacon identification letter (e.g., "M" and "R" in Figure 78B above): 5x5 pixels.
  • The letters "R", "M", and "W" were used by Telefunken during their 1936/37 development of the UHF Bernhard-beacon prototypes at Rechlin, Mietgendorf, and on the Wasserkuppe.
  • The letter "W" was later used by Bernhard station Be-0 near Berlin (p. 3 in ref. 244V).
  • The letter "X" was used by Bernhard station Be-9 at Bredstedt (near Leck, §21 in ref. 6C).

At first sight, Figure 78B and 78C above indeed appear to show a column height of 12 pixels. However, when looking closely, all alphanumeric characters clearly show "half pixels". The text of the patent and ref. 181 (p. 98) also reference ½-pixels. But note that there are no single black or white ½-pixels! The smallest black or white image element ("kleinstmögliche Bildpunktlänge") is two ½-pixels, i.e., one "full" pixel. This not only applies within each column, but also at the transition from the bottom of one column to the top of the next column. With this clever scheme (part of the Rudolf Hell's patent), any image element can start at any ½-pixel boundary (for improved legibility), but the required signalling bandwidth is related to the duration of a "full" pixel. I.e., half the bandwidth that would be required if the shortest image element duration would also be a ½-pixel.

Note that the 360° compass scale shows a one- or two-digit value for every ten degrees of azimuth. That is, the numbers 1 - 36. This is also the standard for identifying the (magnetic) heading of runways at aerodromes. Note: there is no runway nr. 0, or a runway with a number larger than 36 (other than in stupid movies). The azimuth (bearing from the beacon) was referenced to True North ( = QTE), see §10 in ref. 14 and ref. 15. These days, aeronautical radio-navigation beacons, like the runways, are referenced to Magnetic North ( = QDM; exception: Canada's Northern Domestic Airspace, a polar region).

The complete compass-scale comprises 12960 "full" pixels. The Bernhard beacon makes a 360° revolution in 30 sec. Hence, 1 full pixel has a duration of 30 sec/12960 ≈ 2.3 msec ("kleinstmögliche Bildpunktlänge", p. 9 in ref. 15). The shortest pulse cycle (i.e., 1 black pulse + 1 white pulse) is 2 x 2.3 = 4.6 msec. This is equivalent to a maximum pixel-rate of 1000 / 4.6 = 217 Hz. As the pixels are binary (black & white), the telegraphy speed is 217 baud. This is close to the telegraphy speed of the standard Presse Hellschreiber system (225 Bd), and almost twice the speed of the military Feld-Hellschreiber system (122.5 Bd). High-quality printing of Hellschreiber pixel pulses requires that at least the second harmonic of the pixel rate be transmitted. I.e., a transmitter and channel bandwidth of at least a little over 400 Hz. This is why the "Bernhard" compass-scale transmitter has a bandwidth corner-frequency that is limited to that value (p. 9 in ref. 15).

The compass scale pixel-stream was transmitted by the "Bernhard" beacon, and was printed by the Hellschreiber printer of the FuG 120 "Bernhardine" system in the aircraft. In this particular application, the Hellschreiber printer was synchronized to the "degree" tick-marks of the pixel stream. I.e., the the "degree" tick-marks are used as synchronization pulses. The motor of the "Bernhardine" printer spindle runs a little faster than the nominal speed that is required to print the three pixel-columns that make up one degree of the compass scale in exactly 30 sec / 360° ≈ 83.33 msec. The motor runs fast by 1-2% (p. 91 in ref. 181), or 1.5% nominally (p. 18 in ref. 183). Note that "teletype" (telex) teleprinters are also synchronized to the transmitting station. They use an explicit start-bit at the beginning of each 5-bit letter code. The motor of such teleprinters typically also runs 1-2% faster than the nominal transmission speed.

The synchronization mechanism in the "Bernhardine" Hellschreiber printer uses an electro-mechanical "catch and release" mechanism, see the synchronization section of the "Bernhardine" page and Fig. 80. The printer spindle makes exactly one revolution per "degree", and has a small hook-shaped notch. The "catch" hook of the lever must be in the "catch" position, just before the notch arrives at the end of each spindle rotation. I.e., at the bottom of the third ( = last) pixel column of each degree. The notch is briefly held ( = spindle stops turning) until the first pixel of the "degree" tick-mark of the next "degree" column is received.

Fig. 80: Animation of a complete cycle of the synchronization process

(click to start or stop; a dynamic gif file without sound is here; source: adapted from Figure 9d in ref. 15)

To make this synchronization scheme work, at least the 1.5 pixels preceding each "degree" tick-mark (i.e., at the bottom of the preceding pixel column) must be white. This minimum pause is equal to 1.5 pixel / (3 x 12 pixels) ≈ 4% of the transmission duration of 1 degree. This is just large enough to accommodate several factors:

  • Tolerances in the rotational speed of the "Bernhard" beacon: it was regulated to within ±0.2-0.3 % of exactly 2 rpm.
  • Tolerances in the printer motor speed: it was regulated to within ±0.5 % with a centrifugal regulator.
  • The reaction speed of the spring-loaded "catch and release" synchronization electro-magnet.
  • The 2600 Hz sinusoidal modulation tone has a cycle time of 1000 / 2600 ≈ 0.38 msec. The pulse-detection circuitry that drives the electro-magnet always loses part of one tone-cycle, both at the start and at the end of each pulse.

The entire 12960 pixel sequence of the rasterized compass scale must be transmitted every 30 sec ( = one revolution of the beacon). The original 1936 Telefunken patent (767354) mentions the possibility of transmitting the compass data via the principles of facsimile ("fax") or TV-video ("Bildfunk oder Fernsehprinzip"). Other early patents for rotating beacons propose using a fax system with an electro-chemical (moist impregnated paper) drum printer (1929, J. Robinson, patent nr. 562307 ), or a Nipkow scanning-disk (UK/US: Nipkov) to transmit the information as low-resolution video to an unspecified compatible imaging device (again J. Robinson's 1929 patent, and also the 1933 patent nr. 620828 of the Marconi Co.). These solutions require continuous optical scanning of a drum that has a printed compass scale strip on it. The drum rotates at exactly the same speed as the beacon, and is aligned with it. An other approach is to scan the rasterized compass scale strip only once, and record the result on a gramophone record or magnetic wire or tape recorder (Marconi's 1933 patent nr. 620828). The recording is then played continuously at the right speed, iso-synchronized ( = speed & phase) to the beacon rotation. One of the disadvantages of the latter approach is that gramophone records, wire and tape wear out rather quickly.

However, as suggested by the 1936 Telefunken patent (767354), the "Bernhard" pixel sequence was stored as a track at the circumference of an optical encoder disk ("optischer Zeichengeber", "Impulsgeberscheibe", "Kennzeichenscheibe"). The disk was mounted on the central shaft of the rotating antenna system of the "Bernhard" beacon. The pixel track passed between a light source and a photocell. The output of the photocell was used for on/off keying of the 2600 Hz modulation tone of one of the two "Bernhard" transmitters.

The disk was made of glass (§4.2 in ref. 10, p. 62 in ref. 20, p. 79 in ref. 181). Patent 767524 proposes to implement the pixels as radial lines, engraved into a disk with a blackened surface. However, the same patent also proposes a "negative" master disk, from which a copy can be made for each beacon station. This suggests a photo-chemical process, rather than mechanical engraving. Engraving (as proposed in ref. 20, and p. 124 of ref. 2C4) would have been an extremely (and unnecessarily) laborious process, given the number of pixels and the required very high accuracy of the pixel pattern on the disk: "1/2-pixels" have an angular width of only 360° / 25920 < 0.014° = 50 arcsec (p. 91 in ref. 181)! An optical disk has important advantages (p. 98 in ref. 181):

  • Reproduction of a "master" disk via a photochemical contact-print method is relatively easy and inexpensive. It is also easy to verify the quality and accuracy of the copies.
  • Allows direct-drive connection to the antenna system of the rotating beacon (no gearing with inherent inaccuracies).
  • The non-contact "light source plus photo cell" arrangement causes no wear of the disk, which would otherwise cause inaccuracies.
  • Embodies the primary source of inaccuracy into a single, stable device. This disk is the heart of the beacon system!

Telefunken patents 767524 and 767354 also consider other implementations of the disk: a pixel track implemented as interconnected metal patches that are scanned with a slip contact (similar to the character drum of the Feld-Hellschreiber), or an optical pixel track with holes through the disk.

The Bernhard navigation system comprised a chain of ground stations. So the station had to be identified by its transmission. This was done by adding a station-identifier letters (callsign) between the 10-degree numbers of the transmitted compass scale, see the letters "M" and "R" in Fig. 78B. The associated pixels could be implemented in several ways (patents 767524 and 767528):

  • On the same disk as the compass card data, integrated with the compass data track.
  • On the same disk as the compass card data, but as a separate track.
  • As a dedicated track on a separate disk, mechanically aligned and synchronized with the compass card disk. This has the advantage that the same compass card disk could be replicated for all ground stations, and the station identifier be put on a "personalized" disk. In case of a separate track (on the same disk or on a separate disk), the output of the associated photocell is simply combined (logical "OR") with the output of the photocell of the azimuth track.

Patent 767937 proposes an optical disk with multiple (e.g., 8) concentric tracks. This would enable the quick change of the station's identifier letter, and/or expansion to a 2-letter callsign, to be able to distinguish more than 26 beacons.

The actual implementation of the "Bernhard" disk is slightly different from the patents:

Optical disk mount

Fig. 81A: The optical encoder disk of the "Bernhard" beacon

(source: adapted from Figures 45-47 in ref. 181)

This optical encoder disk has three types of track - all tracks of the disk are concentric:

  • Compass scale symbology,
  • Tachometer,
  • Station identifier letters. Each letter is repeated 36 times (i.e., every 10 degrees of the compass scale), evenly spaced around its track.

Optical disk mount

Fig. 81B: Tachometer track(s) of the optical encoder disk

(source: adapted from Figures 46 & 47 in ref. 181)

The tachometer encoder track was used for monitoring the rotational speed of the beacon inside the round equipment building below the rotating cabin. Fig.81B clearly shows two tracks that generated tachometer pulses. At the nominal 2 rpm system rotational speed, one track would have generated a 12 Hz pulse train, the other 36 Hz. The tachometer track enabled measuring the actual speed with an accuracy of ±0.1 %  (p. 80 ref. 181), half the allowed sytem speed error. The tachometer signal was monitored via a loudspeaker and a frequency indicator (needle instrument),  and could also be viewed on an oscilloscope. Note that Fig. 81B is from an October 1942 publication. Ref. 10 (1946) states that the tachometer track (track nr. 20) had 1500 evenly spaced lines, equivalent to 50 Hz - the nominal frequency of the three-phase 380 Vac power.

Patent 767528 includes the cross-section diagram of what a 2-disk attachment might look like. One disk with the compass scale, and a second disk for the beacon's station-identifier letter ("Funkfeuer kennzeichnender Buchstabe"). There is a light source mounted on one side of the track of interest, and a photo cell on the opposite side of the disk:

Optical disk mount

Fig. 82: Two stacked optical disks with, mounted on the shaft of the rotating antenna system

(source: Figure 4 of patent 767528)

Patent 767354 proposes that the light source be a gas discharge lamp, powered with an AC signal. This makes the output signal of the photocells also AC, which is easy to amplify. Patent 767529 discusses shaping the output signal of the photocell by amplification and clipping, to obtain rectangular keying pulses for the transmitter.

Again, the actual implementation is slightly different from the patents:

Optical disk mount

Fig. 83: Diagrammatic cross-section of the encoder disk assembly

(source: adapted from Figure 44 in ref. 181 )

Optical disk mount

Fig. 84: The optical disk assembly of the "Bernhard" beacon (mounted on a test stand)

(source: adapted from Figures 49-50 in ref. 181 )

The glass disk was very flat (no distorting and light-scattering wobbles), and very accurately coaxially aligned with the shaft. The shaft of the disk was connected to the centering spigot ("Zentrierzapfen") of the beacon's rotating superstructure, with a coupler that was torsionally stiff but axially flexible (p. 80 in ref. 181).

The light source is a so-called slit projector ("Spaltprojektor"). It comprises a high-intensity lamp, a slit diaphragm, and a lens system. This arrangement is primarily used in ophthalmic and other medical slit lamps, and dates back to the 1850s (Hermann von Helmholtz). The "Bernhard" slit projector focuses a very narrow, homogeneous, well-defined line of light onto the track of the optical disk. The line had a width of only 30 μm (1.2 thou, 1.2 mil). This is less than half the width of an average human hair (75 μm). The disk had a diameter of 40 cm (15¾ inch), ref. 181. I.e., slightly larger than an old 78 rpm phonograph record. Hence, the circumference of the compass-scale track was about π x 40 ≈ 126 cm (= 4+ ft) for 12960 "full" pixels. I.e., a single pixel-line had a width of about 1260 / 12960 ≈ 0.097 mm = 97 μm, slightly wider than an average human hair.

Optical disk mount

Fig. 85: Close-up of the compass scale track of the optical encoder disk

(source: adapted from Figure 47 in ref. 181)

Figure 81A above clearly shows that there were only 24 letter-tracks! However, ref. 181 (p. 100) mentions tracks for "all letters of the alphabet", and ref. 10 (1946) claims 18 letter-tracks. The duration of an individual pixel has to be independent of the distance from the letter-track to the center of the disk. All points on the disk have the same rotational speed. But tracks closer to the center of the disk, have a smaller track length. Hence, they have a lower linear speed, and the pixel-width must be proportionally smaller (so as to have the same pixel-duration in all letters). The slit-projector was placed directly above the track, so the narrow light beam had the same width at all positions. Possibly, the slit-projector and photocell for the letter-tracks could not be placed close enough to the shaft of the disk for a 25th and 26th letter. Or, the pixel lines might have been too narrow for a 25th and 26th letter. Note: in total, only 22 "Bernhard" stations were planned by the end of the war (item 12 on p. 3 in ref. 177B).



Below is a listing of patents related to the "Bernhard" system.

Patent number Patent office Year Inventor(s) Patent owner(s) Title (original) Title (translated)
662457 RP 1935 W. Runge
K. Röhrich
Telefunken GmbH Antenneanordung zur Aussendung von zwei oder mehreren einseitig gerichteten Strahlen Antenna arrangement for transmission of two or more uni-directional beams
692583 RP 1937 H. Gross Conz Elektricitäts G.m.b.H. Frequenzwandlergruppe zur Erzeugung konstanter Mittelfrequenz Frequency converter for generation of constant mid-frequency
737102 RP 1935 W. Runge, L. Krügel, F. Grammelsdorff Telefunken GmbH Anordnung zur ständigen Kontrolle und zur Ein- bzw. Nachregulierung der geometrischen Lage eines Leitstrahls während des Leitvorganges Arrangement for monitoring and adjustment of the geometric direction of a directional beam [A/N & E/T beacons, via monitoring receiver]
767354 RP 1936 - Telefunken G. für drahtlose Telegraphie m.b.H. Verfahren zur Richtungsbestimmung Method for direction-finding [this is the primary "Bernhard" patent]
767512 RP 1938 A. Lohmann Telefunken G. für drahtlose Telegraphie m.b.H. Verfahren zur Richtungsbestimmung mittels rotierender Richtstrahlung Method for direction-finding with a rotating directional beam
767523 RP 1938 A. Lohmann
A. Bittighofer
Telefunken GmbH Empfangseinrichtung zur Durchführung des Verfahrens zur Richtungsbestimmung Receiver-side device for the implementation of the method for direction-finding
767524 RP 1938 A. Lohmann Telefunken GmbH Verfahren zur Richtungsbestimmung mittels rotierender Richtstrahlung Method for direction-finding with a rotating directional beam
767525 RP 1939 A. Lohmann Telefunken GmbH Einrichtung zur Speisung eines rotierenden Richtantennensystems Device for capacitive coupling of a transmitter to a rotating directional antenna system
767528 RP 1938 A. Lohmann Telefunken GmbH Verfahren zur Richtungsbestimmung Method for direction-finding
767529 RP 1938 A. Lohmann
A. Bittighofer
Telefunken GmbH Einrichtung zur Erzeugung angenähert rechteckiger, zur Modulation des Kennzeichensenders dienender Abtastimpulse bei einem Verfahren zur Richtungsbestimmung mittels Drehfunkfeuer Device for the generation of an approximately square pulse envelopes, for the direction finding method by means of a rotating beacon
767531 RP 1939 A. Lohmann Telefunken GmbH Verfahren zur Richtungsbestimmung Method for direction-finding [dipole antenna array arrangement with side-lobe suppression]
767532 RP 1939 A. Lohmann Telefunken GmbH Sendeanordnung zur Durchführung eines Verfahrens zur Richtungsbestimmung Antenna arrangement for the implementation of a method for direction finding
767937 RP 1939 A. Lohmann Telefunken GmbH Einrichtung zur Durchführung eines Verfahrens zur Richtungsbestimmung Device for implementation of a method for direction finding

Here are some ancillary patents:

Patent number Patent office Year Inventor(s) Patent owner(s) Title (original) Title (translated)
562307 RP 1929 J. Robinson J. Robinson Funkpeilverfahren Method for direction finding [transmission of course pointer, or compass scale info via Nipkow-video]
620828 RP 1933 - Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd. Funkpeilverfahren Method for direction finding [transmission of compass scale info via Nipkow-video]

Patent office abbreviation: RP = Reichspatentamt (Patent Office of the Reich), DP = deutsches Patentamt (German Patent Office)
Patent source: DEPATISnet


  • Open-wire feedline between the dipoles: characteristic impedance (spacing between the wires, wire diameter)?
  • Were the rails continuously welded rail or jointed?
  • Purpose/content of the four corner-sheds? Dead-weight?
  • Purpose of two different types of DC motors per locomotive?
  • Were both bogies of each locomotive motor-driven, and one or both axes of each driven bogie?
  • Which company was the manufacturer of the locomotives?
  • Purpose of dimples in the top of several of the concrete rings, between the rail ties/shoes?
  • Purpose of a box with 5 kg of graphite (powder?) that was part of the standard equipment (sheet 20, ref. 189)?
  • Why was a special Telefunken crystal module needed in the AS 4 transmitters (improve the frequency accuracy/stability?).
  • Purpose of the remote tachometer in Locomotive nr. 4 (going to the rotating cabin), in addition to the tachometer track of the optical disk (in the round equipment building below the rotating cabin)?
  • Frequency of the accurately regulated 3-phase AC (50 Hz?), and the number of rotor poles of the synchronous AC motor of locomotive nr. 4?


Note 1: due to copyright reasons, this file is in a password-protected directory. Contact me if you need access for research or personal study purposes.

External links last checked: August 2019 unless noted otherwise.

red-blue line