The Unsung Heroes of Electronic Warfare in WWII

  • Published
  • LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education

In this doctrine paragon episode, we capture the actions of the innovative warfare techniques of the 36th Bombardment Squadron (36 BS) during World War II. As a covert element of the "Mighty Eighth" Air Force, the 36 BS played a pivotal role in screening 8th Air Force bombing raids against the Axis powers by jamming and spoofing German radar and radio communications.

The 36 BS, stationed in Britain, was not just another heavy bomber squadron but a specialized electronic warfare unit. They flew modified B-24 Liberators to conduct electronic attacks and support operations, targeting German radio stations, radar sites, and fighter formations. Their mission: to ensure safe passage for Allied bomber formations by deceiving the intricate network of German radars.

German defenses, equipped with early warning radars, ground control intercept radars, and flak battery radars, were formidable. However, 36 BS tactics, which included barrage jamming, not only concealed Allied bomber formations but also created phantom formations to mislead the enemy. The use of "WINDOW" or known today as CHAFF—metal strips dispensed by the 36 BS—created false radar returns, thwarting German anti-aircraft efforts.

The Squadron's support extended through hundreds of missions, including critical operations during D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, safeguarding thousands of Allied airmen and contributing to the downfall of the German war machine.

Post-war, the 36 BS was disbanded but resurrected in the 1990s at Eglin AFB, Florida. Today, the unit, known as the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron, perpetuates its legacy by engaging in sophisticated electronic warfare operations.

For enthusiasts and scholars, further insights into electromagnetic spectrum operations (EMSO) will soon be available in AFDP 3-85 Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations, as well as a podcast on the subject provided by the LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education at