A Raven wrote:By the time of the Bismarck affair, the RN were using blind fire by radar types 279 and 281 against unseen surface targets, and by types 284 and 285, also against unseen surface targets and against unseen low flying aircraft. The first writing that I can find (so far) date from around October/November 1940, and relate to actions in the Mediterranean.
When did the Germans begin to use radar directed blind fire against UNSEEN surface targets and against UNSEEN air targets? The word UNSEEN is key.
When did the Germans first fit radar receivers onto warships?
I had not seen this post before, so forgive me for the tardy reply.
They began using blind fire against surface targets by the fall of 1940 using the Calais B (coastal) Seetakt sets. May 1940 was when Radattel Peilung was introduced on the Series II models. Only with Radattel Peilung (a type of phased array scanning) or conventional lobe switching, could adequate bearing accuracy be obtained for blind fire. Previous Seetakt models aboard ship did not operate lobe switching. Some German destroyers were equipped with radar sets that had the capability by the autum of 1940, but I don't know when they actually used it. There is a battle report submitted by Erich Bey dated Nov 1940 that states that they used the radar sets for surface search and tracking but did not use it for fire control purposes (They withheld gun fire and tried a torpedo ambush of the enemy instead), so he could not report on the gun laying capabilities asked about.
Track charts within the documents reporting on the Scheer's attack on convoy HX84 on Nov 5 1940 show that the Scheer fired upon an unseen target for several minutes through a smoke screen and about 25 minutes after dark, from a range of ~20,000 meters.
Prinz Eugen was equipped with a radar set during 1942 that could locate aircraft accurately enough for range, bearing, and elevation, all necessary to fire accurately at unseen aircraft. So not before then by a German warship that I have read, although Luetjens entered remarks into the fleet KTB about using radar to target aircraft by warships during 1941.
Helmuth Giessler reports that a special radar warning receiver was constructed for Bismarck by Group West before the operation, but he could not confirm that it was actually embarked. When Luetjens reported that Suffolk was shadowing by means of radar, Group West asked him to determine what frequencies the enemy radars were using. It seems strange that Group should ask him to do this, if he did not have equipment to do so.
By Oct 1941, photos of the Tirpitz, Scheer, ..ect show the standard radar warning receiver antennas such as the Sumatra antennas (bow ties), and the Timor array. These antennas were used with the standard Metox and Samos receivers (60cm -350cm).