Do you know the dates when the German navy decided ;
1: That radar was sufficiently reliable to be depended upon as an ASSISTANT to optical range-finders ?
2: That radar was sufficiently mature that it would be the main input for range-finding ?
I ASSUME that radar was the preferred method for range taking at night and very poor weather from the time it was regarded as reliable - is that correct ????
As far as Naval Ordnance was concerned, right from the beginning- Sept 1936. Fleet Command was another matter though. The Kriegesmarine's bureaucracy was organized into two main divisions; the NWA or Naval Waffen Authority (Naval Ordnance) and Fleet Command. Fleet Command included B-dienst, as a part of Naval Intel, and the MND (signals). The NWA which consisted of the various ordnance and testing commands such as the AVKS, the TVA, the NVA,..ect... was responsible for the research and development of weapons systems. Fleet on the other hand, was responsible for systems application and officer training. Communication between the bureaus was poor.
(circa 1936) Fleet had their own ideas. They had wide ranging thoughts and put considerable importance on naval tactics. By providing a way to see in the dark, radar forced all previous classical concepts of naval warfare to be rethought. For tactics on a large scale, ships had to be detected all the way to the horizon, a requirement that did not require great accuracy for bearing. Determination of range with the (precision ranging panel) to 100 meters was satisfactory.
But Naval Ordnance held opinions that were not in agreement with those of Fleet Command. They wanted above all to see radar made into a method of fire control for various weapons. They recognized in the demonstrations (of the Seetakt prototype) of the accurate determination of direction and range that it was within the domain of the possible not only to equal the accuracy of optical aiming systems but to even exceed them. The advantage of being able to aim independently of visibility spoke loudly for radar. Given a requirement for a universal method of fire control for artillery and torpedoes the range achieved so far of 20-40km was completely satisfactory. Naval ordnance pressed for a requirement of a directional accuracyof 0.2* (the prototype had already achieved an accuracy of 0.1*) and range accuracy of 50 meters.. (von Kroge)
Fleet won the argument and lobe switching was left dormant on the early sets. Thus it was named Seetakt (Sea tactical instead of Seeart (Sea Artillery). Naval Ordnance did not give a recommendation to employ radars for fire control because it lacked the accuracy in their opinion.
However, in practice radar was used for fire control ranging from the beginning. For example, Graf Spee used radar ranging up until it was knocked out by the 6" hit to the foretop during River Plate. Likewise, Gneisenau's use of radar ranging allowed it to accurately return fire with Renown, until the 15" hit through the foretop knocked it out. Scheer used radar for ranging and in one case blind fire against HX84. The documents read that although it was at one point knocked out by shock, it could be reset and used for additional shooting during Nov, 5, 1940, night action.
By May 1940 the radar design had advanced to the point that 50 meters range accuracy and a new lobing method was available. However, there is little evidence that this was recognized by Fleet or that gunnery officers were aware of these advanced capabilities. However, severe secrecy policies may play a role in that.
With Bismarck, the AVKS simply had the radar data stream hard wired directly to the fire control computers. So Bismarck practiced radar ranging by default.
But Fleet really dropped the ball in terms of providing training or directions to officers for the best applications of the radar systems provided. Right after the loss of Bismarck, a division of the Signals Establishment (MND) was set aside to develop radar application and officer training. But they were given no authority to issue instructions to officers until late 41. Then it got bogged down in bureaucratic red tape throughout 1942, and little if any instructions had been given by the Battle of Barents Sea. Official Instructions were finally issued by the fall of 1943, but Bey departed for Norway having received no training.