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©2004-2019 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: 2 April 2019


By January 2019 this page had grown to 300 photos and diagrams. It had become much too large (ca. 42 MB download size), which  caused long download times for some users. I decided to make a separate page for each Bernhard station. Please use the (unchanged) list above and update your bookmarks. The general introduction and discussion remains on this page.

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INTRODUCTION

The FuSAn 724/725 "Bernhard" system is the ground-station ("Stellung", "Anlage") of the "Bernhard/Bernhardine" radio-navigation system, used by the Luftwaffe in WW2, primarily for nightfighters. The beacon-station comprises a large rotating antenna system (ca. 25 x 35 meter). The FuG 120 "Bernhardine" is the associated Hellschreiber-printer and control electronics that were used in the aircraft. It printed the antenna-azimuth data transmitted by a "Bernhard" station.

Berhard station

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

(click here to get full size)

Obviously, the stations were installed on a high point in the area, typically a hill top. Each Bernhard ground station ("Stellung") had a "Be" identifier number.

The initial intent was to provide fighter aircraft with radio-navigation coverage throughout France (per page 1 of ref. 179) and along the North Sea coast to northwestern Germany. Overall, ground stations were constructed between late-1941 and the end of the war (ref. 2, 74, 96, 177, 179). The Telefunken prototype and test station Be-0 was located near Berlin. This makes sense, as Berlin was the capital of Germany, seat of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (the German Air Ministry), there were Luftwaffe research establishments and test-sites in the area, as well as the companies instrumental in radio-navigation systems (Telefunken, Lorenz,...). Construction of seven Be-stations in France (Be-1 through Be-7) and one in The Netherlands (Be-8) was to be completed by fall of 1944. Per ref. 98, five stations in France were completed by September of 1944: Be-1, Be-2, Be-4, Be-6, Be-7.

Clearly, the choice of station locations was driven by perceived (future) air-defence needs. The initial series Be-1 through Be-8 is similar to the section nearest Britain of the "Atlantic Wall" coastal defence line: some 12000 bunkers and other constructions, against a British/Allied invasion across the sea.

During the spring of 1944, planning started to extend the coverage to the entire German Reich. The construction was ordered of stations in the far north of Germany (Be-9), Denmark (Be-10), southeastern Poland (Be-11), and western Czechoslovakia (Be-12). Though installation of the antenna system of Be-12 was completed (ref. 177A), it is unclear if the station was ever operational.

Finally, the construction of another ten Be-stations was decided: Be-13 through Be-22. Telefunken ordered the associated antenna systems (purchase order nr. 253/40567, ref. 177A-177C). The antenna system of Be-13 was delivered and installed. The antenna system of Be-15 was delivered to the station site, but never installed. The antenna systems for Be-14 and Be-16 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. It is unknown where the stations Be-17 through Be-22 were supposed to be built. Note: as each station has a single identifier letter, no more than 26 stations could be identified. In total, 23 of the 26 letters were allocated: Be-0 through Be-22. Furthermore, the aircraft radios used for receiving the Bernhard signals only had 32 channels. In addition, the (operational) ground stations had a single-letter identifier ("Kennbuchstabe") that was used in the compass rose (azimuth) information transmitted in Hellschreiber format. I do not know the mapping between these identifier letters and the corresponding Bernhard stations. Ref. 99 suggests that "K" stood for the Bredstedt station (Be-9) near Leck in Schleswig-Holstein. However, per ref. 6, this station had the identifier "X"...

Berhard station

Fig. 2: Location of "Bernhard" FuSAn 724/725 ground stations, with 400 km range rings

(range rings are not corrected for projection of the map - they should be slightly oval north-south)

Berhard station

Fig. 3: Coverage of the "Bernhard" stations in the "Reichsgebiet", with 400 km range rings

(source: ref. 210B, July 1944)

I was able to confirm the location of most Be-numbers with the aid of WW2 charts of the Luftwaffe Radio Corps (Luftnachrichten) and charts for night-fighter navigation (Nachtjagdnavigation). But it was not until several years later, in April of 2017, that I could finally compile the complete and consistent list. This was based on billing information from the company that built and installed the antenna systems ("Hein, Lehmann & Co.", ref. 177A/B/C), and 1944 presentation notes to the General-Nachrichtenführer (ref. 179).

The table below list all known stations. Special thanks goes to Gérard Chatry, for helping me precisely locate some of the stations and gather information on a number of them. A file with station coordinates (both in decimal degrees and degrees-minutes-seconds) is provided as ref. 222.

Berhard station

Table 1: List of Bernhard stations


According to ref. 8, only three stations were still operational at the end of the war: Trebbin, Bredstedt, and Thisted; the last two were the only Be-stations that ever had text-messaging capability - a unique feature of the Bernhard/Bernhardine system!

Below is an interactive map with the same station locations. In practically all cases, you can fully zoom-in the satellite image map, and see the actual the remains of the station structures. Click on any marker icon, to get the associated information. You can click-and-drag the map with your mouse, and zoom in & out with your mouse-wheel (or use the buttons in the bottom left-hand corner of the map).

Fig. 4: Interactive map with location of the Bernhard stations

(you must enable maps.googleapis.com in your browser; click here for a larger view of this map in a separate window)


The map below shows the "Bernhard" locations, overlaid with the location of airfields used by the Luftwaffe (at some point in time during the war) and by the RAF/USAF. It also shows a number of German defence lines and areas:

  • the German Atlantic Wall ("Atlantikwall") of coastal defences; it ran from the top of Norway, all the way down to Spain.
  • Air Defence Zone West ("Luftverteidingszone West", LVZ). It was supposed to be fully implemented in 1942, but was never completed. Establishment of Zone "East" was not ordered until weeks before the end of the war (ref. 132C).
  • Night-fighter defence line. It was referred to as the "Kammhuber Line" by the British and US intelligence services.
  • Combined Night-fighter areas ("kombinierte Nachtjagd" (KONAJA) Räume). HENAJA ("Helle Nachtjagd") was another night-fighter control method. Enemy bombers were captured & tracked with radar, and illuminated with radar-controlled search lights. Fighter aircraft were then guided by fighter control, to intercept the bomber. Ref. 132G. In the KONAJA system, the HENAJA system was combined with local anti-aircraft gun sites (Flugzeugabwehrkanone, "FLAK").

Berhard station

Fig. 5: Location of "Bernhard" stations, airfields and defence lines (airfield locations are approximate)

(sources of airfield and air defence data: ref. 132)

On maps of the Luftnachrichten Signal Corps, radio-navigation ground-stations are marked with a square box that has a lightning bolt emanating from the top. The bolt indicates that it is a transmitter. The type of navigation system is indicated by one or two letters inside the box. For several beacon types, the station number is marked below the square box. The "Bernhard" beacons are marked with the letters "Be".

Bernhard map symbols

Fig. 6: Map symbols for some Luftwaffe radio-navigation beacons (Funknavigations-Anlagen)

(sources include ref. 210A, 210B; note: some beacon types were not numbered)


The next sections show many photos (some in 3D) of the various Bernhard sites. I have personally visited the remains of the stations at St.-Michel-Mont-Mercure/Pouzauges (France, 2011),  Venusberg/Aidlingen (Germany, 2012), Teste-de-Buch/Archachon (France, 2012),and Buke (Germany, 2015).


3D / STEREOSCOPIC PHOTOS OF "BERNHARD" STATIONS

3D

You will need a pair of red+green glasses to view these images in 3D!

Berhard station

Fig. 288: Anaglyph 3D/stereoscopic photo of the Bernhard site at La Pernelle

(original left & right images: p. 4.09 in ref. 13; full-size image is here; side-by-side stereogram is here)

3D photos below have not been made with my Stereo Realist stereoscopic camera, but by sequentially taking two pictures with my digital snapshot camera (laterally displaced ≈ 6.3 cm (2½") between the left & right shot). I have converted the stereo-pair photos into red/green anaglyphic 3D images, with StereoMaker (freeware). I have made hundreds of stereoscopic photos over the years. 3D photos that I made of my Hellschreiber machines and German WWII equipment are on this page. A selection of my 3D photos of other subjects (airplanes, animals, ...) is on this page.

Berhard station

Fig. 289: Access to the central building of the Bernhard station at Aidlingen/Venusberg


Berhard station

Fig. 290: The central building of the Bernhard station at Aidlingen/Venusberg


Berhard station

Fig. 291: The octagonal mounting plate on top of the central building at Aidlingen/Venusberg


Berhard station

Fig. 292: The central building of the Bernhard station at Arcachon/Teste de Buch


Berhard station

Fig. 293: The central building of the Bernhard station at Arcachon/Teste de Buch


Berhard station

Fig. 294: The circular track of the Bernhard station at Arcachon/Teste de Buch



UNKNOWN / UNCONFIRMED / UNCLEAR ASPECTS

The following aspects of Be-1 to Be-16 are still unknown, unconfirmed, and/or unclear (to me):

  • What is the function of the three slots in the concrete sidewall of the round building at La Pernelle?
  • What is the identifier letter "Kennbuchstabe" (callsign) of all stations?
  • At La Pernelle, even in 1946, the four "doghouses" were still not removed/dismantled. Too hard to dismantle, or no usable material?
  • What is the purpose of the round holes on the inside of the concrete ring at Trzebnica/Trebnitz, and in the outside of the base of the the concrete ring at Szymbark?
  • What is the purpose of the several several small I-beams embedded into the concrete between some of the rail ties in the concrete ring at Arcachon?

If you have any additional information, please contact me!


REFERENCES


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: January 2019


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