Anti Aircraft gunnery terminology question

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by HAARA, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    I've come across reference in one of the 1940 War Diaries to A.A. firing "J barrage" and "Z barrage". Can anyone tell me what these were?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. BrianM59

    BrianM59 Senior Member

    I thought 'Z' might refer to rocket projectile batteries, but a cursory glance reveals these didn't come into service until 1942? Still looking.....
  3. Lotus7

    Lotus7 Well-Known Member

    Where they anti-aircraft barrage balloons, j being smaller than z type ?.

    Drew5233 likes this.
  4. hutt

    hutt Member


    While the date doesn't fit, this is a reference to a Balloon based AA System from Sep 41.

    Z Barrage is certainly a 'rocket' based system, again, not sure when they were introduced.


    Attached Files:

  5. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Could they have been pre-planned barrages, say certain heights over certain areas?
  6. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Thanks all for the suggestions, much appreciated! The diary in which I came across this is that for the 46Bde, 1939-1940, this being responsible for the Bristol area.
    My immediate reaction also on reading the text was that 'Z' was a Z battery. Having had a further rummage in the diary, I have come now across a reference to '123 Bty 5 'Z' Regt' being deployed in the area at Hanbrook and Almondsbury. Also reference to Routledge (p56) suggests that the 3" rockets were possibly available in 1940, so this could possibly be the answer. This does not, however, resolve the 'J' barrage, which appears elsewhere in the diary without explanation. I've attached one of several references from the 46Bde diary - see paragraph entitled 'Defensive action'.

    Any further thoughts?

    Attached Files:

  7. Lotus7

    Lotus7 Well-Known Member

    Hi I found this, is it of any use?

    During September the construction of the first rocket firing 'Z' sites in the Bristol area, under the 9th Anti-Aircraft 'Z' Regiment, had been completed at Easton in Gordano, which was positioned to cover Avonmouth Docks and at Bishopsworth for the defence of Bristol Docks. A further four sites were also planned, but only two of these, at Brislington and Abbots Leigh, were ever completed. The weapons themselves, known as 'Unrotated Projectiles' or UP's, being launched in salvoes of 128 to a maximum height of 19,000 feet, using 64 twin-projectors per site. The 'Z' batteries were well suited to firing barrages but the locations and discharge directions had to be carefully chosen to minimise the danger from falling tailpipes.

    Although by the end of September Easton in Gordano was fully armed, and both sites equipped with gun laying radar sets, it was not until early March 1942 that the last ten Twin UP projectors arrived at Bishopsworth. Towards the end of the year it was also decided to mount 'Z' projectiles on certain 'Starfish' sites in sets of twelve, electrically coupled, so that they could be fired in salvoes of four to give realism and the illusion that the anti-aircraft barrage had been extended.

    Buteman likes this.
  8. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Thanks David for the post: once again, much appreciated. I've been looking further at the records, and am now less convinced that the 'Z' is to do with rocket batteries. Here's another reference from 46Bde Diary for the night of 25 November 1940.

    Any thoughts?

    Attached Files:

  9. Lotus7

    Lotus7 Well-Known Member

    Just a thought is it possible that the reference to "J" barrage and "Z" barrage. Are locations for gunnery placements, positions.
    Given what is written in the diary?

  10. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Had another look at the diary. There are various listings of rounds fired at particular raids and aircraft, under the heading of 'methods of fire', as well as actual number of shells fired. Lists include other types of fire, such as:

    V.I.E. -any idea what this is?
    Range control
    S/L intersection

    As well as 'barrage Z' and 'J shoot' (guess this is the same as 'J barrage'), also come across 'Barrage Y'.
    Noticed also in diary reports reference separately to 'box barrage'.

    My guess is that it must be shorthand for a configuration of fire from battery/batteries, but would still be interested in hat this means! One day maybe..........
  11. 379/101 HAA

    379/101 HAA Ubique

    S/L intersection is probably Search Light Intersection, S/L being a common abbreviation I`ve seen in several diaries.

    Visual is just as you`d expect, the target engaged visually without any range or height information from ranging equipment or a target predictor.

    V.I.E, not sure but as V.I.D. is still used widely today for Visual Identification, it may have some basis in that, Visual Identification Engagement perhaps?

    As for the other stuff, well context might suggest "J" Barrage is Joint Barrage, but guessing is not really what you want. Hopefully someone will know for sure.


  12. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Hi John,

    Yes, S/L certainly searchlight, possibly from two sources.

    I wondered whether VIE was possibly Visual Identification (of) Enemy. There are in parallel regular references to E/A, enemy aircraft.

    Joint shoot - a possibility, as it seems to involve a number of guns.
  13. Lotus7

    Lotus7 Well-Known Member

    Could this be of any use?

    An interesting experiment also started in mid-July when a detachment of the 354th Searchlight Battery were deployed on the so called 'Dazzle Defence' of Filton, which was designed to 'blind' enemy pilots and bomb aimers so as to make accurate bombing impossible. It consisted of four groups of three searchlights, each not more than 200 feet apart, being placed around Filton, the Master Group being set up on the Brickfields gun position, which was also equipped with a gunlaying radar set for the exclusive use of the searchlights. This special layout was distinct from the tactical searchlight system, its three banks of lights being exposed together with one being held in reserve. For the rest of the year the 'Dazzle Defence' remained operational, but as it failed to provide any tangible results activities were curtailed in mid-December.

    2.3.4 Radar & Observer Corps Extended West: July 1940

    Although mining of the Severn Estuary had been undertaken by a German submarine as early as November 1939 it was not until the night of July 17th that the Luftwaffe were in a position to commence aerial mining operations in the same waters, and the subsequent inability of the defences to track and intercept the aircraft over the Bristol Channel almost deprived shipping of the use of Avonmouth Docks. To combat this menace the Observer Corps network was immediately extended to cover Devon and Cornwall and further CHL radar stations capable of detecting the low flying He 111's employed were ordered to supplement the lone installation at Carnanton, near Newquay.

    2.3.5 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Defences Strengthened: July 1940

    The anti-aircraft defences of Bristol were also strengthened during July 1940, and by the 10th the manning of eight semi-mobile 3" guns which had been installed on two new sites, at Whitchurch, and Reservoir on Bedminster Down, was completed. An additional five heavy gun positions were also built during the next couple of months, although it was to be some time before the majority of them, located at Avonmouth, Almondsbury, Hambrook, Hanham and Henbury, received any weapons.

    Is it possible "J", "Z" and "Y" barrages are the code locations for the above places?

  14. HAARA

    HAARA Well-Known Member

    Thanks David for the suggestions, all valuable! 'Dazzle' is certainly referred to in the diary, but separately from the 'barrages'. In passing, notes are made in the diary that the enemy when highlighted by S/Ls often machine gunned back down the beam.

    Interestingly, and quite by chance, rummaging on the web today for details of a gun site, I came across an article in the London Gazette

    by Lt Gen Frederick Pile, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Anti Aircraft Command, in which reference is made to 'Visual indicating equipment' (guess this is VIE) this being described as 'elaborate sound locating equipment the findings of which were converted into a visual image on a cathode ray tube', this being used in conjunction with RADAR to overcome the then inability of RADAR to provide accurate height information. However, it seems that it did not deliver the desired results.

    Reading further in the article, Lt Gen Pile states that the RADAR was quickly developed after this and height finding became possible. He states that this led to the introduction of new forms of barrages based around groups of re-sited guns, generally eight in number, with a master site equipped with the new RADAR. There were certainly a number of rearrangements of gun sites in the Bristol area at the time, including those mentioned above by David, and the dates of development seem to coincide, so I wonder whether the J/Z/Y 'barrages' could be short talk for a particular master site controlled barrage. Just a thought.

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