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" Night fighter direction vessels (Nachtjagdleitschiff)" Topic

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Kaoschallenged Inactive Member26 Aug 2012 10:48 p.m. PST

This is something I was not aware of. Apparently there were in service with the Kreigsmarine and Luftwaffe what were called Night fighter direction vessels (Nachtjagdleitschiff). One of them known as the Togo and also HSK Coronel.The others were the Odysseus and Kreta.

"Togo was equipped with a FuMG A1 Freya radar for early warning, which had a range of around 40–75 km (22–40 nmi; 25–47 mi). She also had a Würzburg-Riese gun laying radar with a similar range plus night fighter communications equipment.

She was heavily armed with three 10.5 cm FlaK 38 anti-aircraft guns, four twin 3,7 cm FlaK 43 guns, four (later five) quadruple and three (later two) single 2 cm FlaK 30 guns."

"From October 1943, Togo cruised the Baltic Sea under the operational control of the Luftwaffe's 22/Luftnachrichten Regiment 222[18]. In March 1944, after the three great Soviet bombing raids on Helsinki, she arrived in the Gulf of Finland to provide night fighter cover for Tallinn and Helsinki.

Near the end of the war, Togo took part in the evacuation of German troops and refugees from Poland, East Prussia and Latvia.[19][20]"


"Night fighter direction ships. Odysseus and Kreta were equipped with Freya AN (FuMo303) and Würzburg D (FuMo213) radars. Togo had Freya AN (FuMo303), Würzburg Riese (FuMo215) radars and 2 Y-Lines."

"Kreta was sunk by British submarine Unseen off Capreira" 21/9/1943




The Togo was surrendered at the end of the war. Robert

Mako11 Inactive Member26 Aug 2012 11:40 p.m. PST

Hmmm, very interesting.

I had never heard of that either, and I've read a lot of books on the subject – many by German pilots themselves.

I was aware there were Freya and other radar units in the Med. Theater, which surprised me as well, fairly early on in the war, and that their NFs and bombers had radar detectors pointed aft, which helped them to evade the British NFs stalking them, on a number of occasions.

Thanks for sharing.

Sundance Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2012 5:28 a.m. PST

I've seen photos of the ship before but didn't realize that's what it was for.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2012 7:39 a.m. PST

Never heard of them either.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member27 Aug 2012 3:26 p.m. PST

You are welcome Mako. The Germans certainly had some interesting craft. Robert

jgibbons Inactive Member27 Aug 2012 5:57 p.m. PST

The Germans had interesting everything :-)

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member27 Aug 2012 6:25 p.m. PST

Togo as she was in 1943


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member27 Aug 2012 10:12 p.m. PST

"21 Sep 1943
HMS Unseen (Lt. M.L.C. Crawford, DSC and Bar, RN) torpedoed and sank the German minelayer Brandenburg (3895 GRT, former French Kita) and the German night fighter direction vessel Kreta (2600 GRT, former French Ile de Beaut?) about 7 nautical miles north-east of Isola di Capraia, Italy in position 43?08'N, 09?58'E."


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member28 Aug 2012 4:26 p.m. PST

"NJL Togo (NJL = Nachtjagdleitschiff = night fighter guide ship) was quite a unique ship, and its significance with regard to the Luftwaffe's night fighter operations warrants the inclusion of this book within the scope of this blog.

NJL Togo was the last night fighter guide ship of the German Kriegsmarine (navy) and Luftwaffe in World War II. Launched as a merchant vessel (M/S Togo) in 1938, it was absorbed into the Kriegsmarine after the commencement of hostilities and initially converted into a minelayer and then into an auxiliary cruiser. It also served as a minesweeper, and as a merchant harassment cruiser. In late 1943, after the loss of the Kriegsmarine's first night fighter guide ship, NJL Kreta, the vessel was converted to a radar ship. It subsequently served as a night fighter guide ship until the end of the war, although its final missions also included refugee evacuation in the Bay of Danzig.

The operations of NJL Togo were directed by the Luftwaffe. Intended to close gaps in the German radar network, the ship was stationed in the Baltic Sea. It carried a Freya long-range radar and a Würzburg-Riese medium-range radar. The large parabolic dish of the Würzburg-Riese radar was a prominent feature of the ship's silhouette after its conversion to a radar ship. NJL Togo was also fitted with significant flak artillery. The ship was operated jointly by two crews. A Kriegsmarine crew ran the ship, while 74 Luftwaffe radar specialists were in charge of the night fighter guide equipment."

Mal Wright Fezian Inactive Member29 Aug 2012 6:43 p.m. PST

Togo was equipped with the very best of radar gear, but one of its greatest advantages was that by standing off shore, there was less interference to the equipment. I'm not sure what it was on shore that effected reception, possibly insufficient shielding against other electronic devices in use. But that was what I read some years ago. Apparently the Germans got the idea from the Allied practice of using various ships to direct fighter cover over invasion beaches, convoys and so forth. It was pretty standard practice in the RN and later the USN too. But the Germans decided it would work for domestic defence as well, hence they produced two ships. I believe they were intending to convert more, so presumably the system worked. It was certainly a success in Allied operations where usually a cruiser was designated as fighter control ship and provided with additional crew and comms.

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member30 Aug 2012 3:00 p.m. PST

I'm not surprised that the Germans would have had one for day fighter direction and detection. I was that they were used for night fighter direction. Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member30 Aug 2012 9:04 p.m. PST

I found this little factoid about the USN,
"On November 13th, 1943, a Marine flyer made the first ship-directed kill by a radar-equipped plane at night."


Mal Wright Fezian Inactive Member31 Aug 2012 8:42 a.m. PST

Well…..considering the air was full of Allied aircraft by the end of the war, it probably DID have to do day duty!

(And dodge a lot!)

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member31 Aug 2012 2:25 p.m. PST

Well it did surrender at the end of the war and the Kreta was sunk by a British sub so it looks like Allied aircraft weren't as much as a problem. wink Robert

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member01 Sep 2012 12:47 p.m. PST

Nice shot of the camou scheme when the Togo was fitted out as a


Kaoschallenged Inactive Member03 Sep 2012 4:15 p.m. PST

There was another. The Yugoslav destroyer Dubrovnik. Later named by the Italians Premuda. But it wasn't used as a director ship,

"The Germans re-armed the ship with three 105 mm guns and converted her into a radar picket or fighter control ship with a large Freya type radar installation aft. The radar was later replaced by a fourth 105 mm gun and torpedo tubes. The ship was renamed TA 32 and was the flagship of the 10th Flotilla based in Genoa and active in the Ligurian Sea. She fought an action with British destroyers in March 1945 and was scuttled on 25 April 1945 shortly before Genoa was captured by the Allies."

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member04 Sep 2012 5:26 p.m. PST

Great Site with information and photos on the Allied director ships,

"Fighter Direction Tenders were, in effect, floating command and control centres which bristled with antenna and aerials for radar, communications and intelligence gathering purposes. They were the eyes and ears for the large scale invasion forces off the beaches of Normandy in June of 1944. There were 3 Fighter Direction Tenders designated FDT 13, 216 & 217 and this is their story."

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member12 Sep 2012 10:00 p.m. PST

FDT 217


david alcock Inactive Member09 Nov 2012 9:57 a.m. PST

dont forget the light cruisers NIOBE AMAZONE MEDUSA ARCONA rearmed as flack ships NIOBE at least had a large radar fitted "freya?"

Kaoschallenged Inactive Member09 Nov 2012 7:24 p.m. PST

Niobe had 1 Würzburg radar but I believe it was for gun laying not directing aircraft. Robert

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