Pathfinders - target marking
After the Luftwaffe first used
a specially trained force (Kampfgruppe 100) to mark and
illuminate Coventry with incendiary bombs, to help guide
other German bombers on to the city, the British developed a
similar method called the shaker technique to aid RAF Bomber
Command during its Strategic air offensive against Germany.
In August 1942 the bombers
using this method were replaced with four squadrons of
Wellington and Stirling bombers commanded by an Australian,
Group Captain Donald Bennett. Later, Mosquitoes were mostly
used and these flew ahead of the main force to mark the
targets for those who were less navigational experienced.
By the time Bennett's force
became operational a new Electronic navigation system called
GEE was already being jammed by the Germans and this, plus
the fact that it was not automatically allotted the best
crews or the best equipment, initially limited the force's
effectiveness. However, once other Electronic navigation
systems and target indicating bombs were introduced bombing
accuracy improved dramatically.
To keep the British
bomber-stream compact and flying accurately Pathfinders were
also used to mark the route, and a senior Pathfinder pilot,
called a Master Bomber or Master of Ceremonies, would fly
above the target to broadcast advice to the main force.