View Full Version : Landmark Beacon Site

22-09-2008, 20:47
Does anyone have any info/details about wartime "landmark beacon sites"? I found reference to the effect of one being erected "near" rather than "at" Stoke Orchard July 1943. I knew that airfields often had a coloured beacon light but the wording and the fact it's "offsite" made me wonder if it was something else, maybe a radio beacon or something.

22-09-2008, 21:25
From my entry in Paul's Control Towers Book. It is a quote from a TNA record.

Before and during WWII there were only two standard forms of visual aid to navigation, Landmark Beacons and Aerial Lighthouses.

In 1937 all aerodromes which theoretically supported full night flying facilities were equipped with a Landmark Beacon, commonly known as the Pundit. This utilised eight neon tubes and flashed a red two-letter morse identification with the aid of interchangeable cams. It would be located between 2 and 5 miles from the airfield, and its position and flashing characteristic would be changed periodically, though care had to be taken that there was no duplication of the characteristic within a 1,000 mile radius. It was visible over 360 degrees in azimuth.

The Aerial Lighthouse was mounted on a standard RAF trailer and consisted of a powerful filament lamp surrounded by a customised rotating venetian blind. It emitted a single white letter in morse, (unique within a 150 mile radius) which could be seen for around 60 miles. A number of these were in operation in the UK as part of the Occult system. They were used to indicate particular geographical features, points of entry or exit to air routes, and turning points. They were generally not associated with airfields.


22-09-2008, 22:33
Wow, thanks Graham. Very helpful.

So I assume the two letters were not necessarily the aerodromes ident code as it states they were changed periodically?

Richard Flagg
23-09-2008, 18:36
Pundit codes were covered in this thread as well.


29-09-2008, 11:48
The 3 kW Mobile Landmark Beacon (Pundit)


Under the Duty Beacon Scheme, one beacon to operate from a permanent location every night per 25 x 25 miles square.
For this purpose a grid is superimposed on the UK using letters A-Q (less'J'),from east to west, and numbers 1-24 from north to south, e.g. G1 Dounreay, I5 Edzell, H10 Annan.

In peace time the two letter Morse character flashed would be that on the local airfield Signal Square.

In wartime two or three permanent locations would be used, and different Morse IDs allocated. The peacetime ID would not be used.

Examples: Elmdon (EK), JD / KJ / UT used in war. Ringway (EZ), CL / HV / JL used in war.

Site Allocation
The permanent sites allocated should be outside a two-mile radius of the centre of the airfield, but within a five-mile radius. They should be at least 500 yards from inhabited areas, and removed from main roads and railways. They also must be remote from any 'Q' sites, ammunition storage areas etc. (Some of the above look more than five miles to me :? )

Telephone communication to the airfield, or nearest 'local exchange' is essential. In all communications referring to Landmark Beacons the term 'Pundit' must be used.

If an air-raid is in progress an equilateral triangle of three 40 / 60 watt red lights will be laid around the beacon. The dustance between lights is 25 yards.

Pre-war some Pundits used a single Morse character. This caused confusion with the aerial lighthouses (though the latter was white light), and hence these systems were changed to two character IDs.

Later all Pundits were allocated a unique number. This seems to have been done on a very general north to south allocation, (Alness was 1, Barrow was 144, Gibraltar was 400) but with a huge amount of exceptions (Beccles was 8, Feltwell was 2, Oban was 300).

Aerial Lighthouse below.
The rotating 'Venetian Blind' had a number of slats (24?).
Three consecutive ones would be opened to produce a Morse 'dash', one for a 'dot', and two (closed) for a space.

Info from Secret Document 264 (1943), AIR14/1624, AIR20/75.


29-09-2008, 12:16
The airfield ident beacons , Was there a set place on the base where they were installed .
I have seen the coningsby one situated near the firing range on the dogdyke road side but didnt know if there was a set place where they were installed ?

16-02-2011, 20:28
I have just come across this thread, I hope that it is OK to re-start it.

Being a rather sad sole I superimposed the above map on to an OS map. Adjusted the size to fit and then tried to find locations for RAF Exeter.

Exeter C is located just W of Taunton, say thirty miles away, Exeter B is somewhere near The village of Tolland, about the same distance, and so on, all the Beacons seem to be about thirty miles or so from their airfields. What good would they do this far from their base? Or were they to aid lost aircraft, in which case how did this work?

01-03-2011, 13:35
Whilst investigating airfield two-letter ID codes, the pundit has raised its head again. SD 264 Mobile Landmark Beacons (1943) clearly states:
The Landmark beacon is not to be located on an airfield, but is to be sited outside a radius of two miles and within five miles of the centre of the airfield.
Yet another case of the official Air Publication being a load of twaddle.

AIR14/1624 Aerial Flashing Lighthouses (misnamed) (1941-44) contains large scale maps showing the precise positions of Bramcote's three sites.


Where's the Path Links: Site 'A' (http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=52.819781273176766&lon=-1.284158556005762&gz=18&oz=8&gt=1) - Site 'B' (http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=52.66386382577708&lon=-0.8373643067247232&gz=19&oz=8&gt=1) - Site 'C' (http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=52.52487997107374&lon=-1.099166794413192&gz=19&oz=8&gt=1)

This whole question of wartime IDs is becoming a headache :cry:


01-03-2011, 18:32
Thats clever. I can understand the need to keep the sites chosen "at arms length" after all, who wants to attract jerrys bombs, but Long Whatton, safe at approx twentytwo miles from Bramcote puts it about three miles from Castle Donnington. I wonder what CD had to say about it.