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Before The Radars: These Giant Acoustic Horns Were Used To Detect Enemy Aircrafts

Acoustic location systems are used to locate a sound source. These devices were used by military services from mid-WWI to the early years of WWII for the passive detection of approaching enemy aircraft by listening for the noise and vibrations of their engines. These devices consisted of giant acoustic horns or microphones connected to the operators’ ear using the stethoscope-type earphones. Acoustic locators could give some information about the approaching airships; however, the operators were unable to hear the distant sounds. Commander Alfred Rawlinson of the Royal Naval Volunteer used this equipment in 1916 when commanding a mobile anti-aircraft battery on the east coast of England. He needed to mean locating the Zeppelins during bad weather or cloudy conditions. Radars completely replaced these giant acoustic location systems.

#1 A junior officer and NCO from an unidentified Feldartillerie regiment wearing a portable sound locating apparatus, c. 1917

#2 A two-horn system at Bolling Field, USA, near the Army War College at Fort McNair (in the background), 1921

#3 An early Goerz listening equipment with receiving shells

#6 The Doppelt Richtungshörer, produced by the German Askania

#8 A Dutch device, built from 1934 for the Engineers Regiment and the Netherlands Army in the East Indies

#9 Miniaturized listening devices for the improved mobility, concepts from The Netherlands, 1930s

#10 Gigantic trumpet-like Japanese electric ears for detecting enemy planes, 1936

#14 The German Ringtrichterrichtungshoerer (or RRH) acoustic locator, mainly used in World War II antiaircraft searchlight batteries for initial aiming of the searchlights at night targets.

#17 Soviet soldiers are listening to the sky with their ZT-4 locator, 1942

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Written by Benjamin Grayson

Former Bouquet seller now making a go with blogging and graphic designing. I love creating & composing history articles and lists.

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