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Thread: 'YG' beacon

  1. #1

    Default 'YG' beacon

    Does anybody know what a YG beacon looked like or have any information on the system.?

    I have seen references to these beacons on a set of Radio facility Charts dated 16 July 1951; these beacons are listed for: Acklington, Anthorn, Arbroath, Bramcote, Culdrose, Culham, Dishforth, Donibristle, Eglinton, Ford, Kete, Lee on Solent, Manston, Milltown, Rochester, Stretton, Syerston, Valley and Yeovilton.

    In all cases the beacon seems to have used the airfield identification code letters

    Google gives a lead to a US Navy Carrier based homing system so the installation at all the RN bases would make sense. But why was it installed at the other bases?

    David Molyneux
    Last edited by Carnaby; 25-04-2011 at 14:19.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2008

    Default Re: Yg beacon

    Cant help on what it was, but Syerston did train Navy pilots so that may explain why it had one.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Yg beacon

    RE YG Beacon

    Since posting my original request I have found an illustration of a mobile YG beacon.

    It is mounted on a Bedford MW fitted with a standard house type body. The aerial unit, which is fitted to the top of the house body, is a constant width “box”, the sides are tapered to give the appearance of a truncated triangle. It is not clear if a top is fitted.

    All faces appear to be slatted.

    David Molyneux
    Last edited by WELLINGTON75; 14-07-2010 at 22:03. Reason: word pyramid changed to triangle.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Carnaby's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Bristol, UK

    Default Re: Yg beacon

    Note from looking at the RNAS handbook 1945, many airfields had YG beacons, and/or 251MS and/or YJ ones.
    No info regarding the latter two.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Yg beacon

    YG was a radio homing beacon; YJ was a radar homing beacon. I have no information regarding 251MS.

    The photo shows a mobile YG beacon. My apologies for the quality – it is taken from a pdf copy of a Royal Navy document where it is referred to as NRV42. Presumably NRV translates as Naval Radio Vehicle but who has the master list of these vehicle designations?


    Dave Molyneux
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
    Senior Member smiler16's Avatar
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    May 2010

    Default Re: 'YG' beacon

    do these stations have 2 masts and 1 building at the bottom of 1 mast

    Cheers rich

  7. #7
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    Aug 2012

    Default Re: 'YG' beacon

    I don't normally subscribe to this forum. I just happened to come across the correspondence on YG Beacons and thiught my experience might help. There does not seem to be a facility for non-registerd persons to send the forum an Email !

    During the 1950's, when I was a Royal Navy pilot, all Naval airfields had YG beacons. They operated automatically day and night all year round. Also, most, if not all of the Navy's, operational aeroplanes would have been fitted with a YG receiver. Some YG transmitters were housed in semi permanent structures whilst others were in a towable caravan or in the covered back of a lorry usually situated near the airfield perimeter. I don't think any RAF airfields had them at that time. I feel certain that Syerston did not have one operating when I was trained there in 1952. But then all of Syerston's areoplanes at that time were RAF trainers not fitted with YG receivers. I believe, however, that some RAF airfields had them during the war but withdrew them on the cessation of war activities. I knew of only one exception and that was at the joint RAF/Civil airfield at Aldergrove in Northern Ireland which retained a YG at the Navy's request. The only other one in Northern Ireland was at RNAS Eglinton which was housed within a trailer on a small hill just SW of the airfield perimeter. Though QGH and GCA let downs were also available they were no use if you had a radio failure which was not uncommon in the days before transistors. With the frequent low cloud and rain then experienced in Ireland the YG was invaluable because it had its own receiver separate from the aeroplane's main radio set. Once overhead you could let down slowly in a spiral provided you were familiar with the topography and had some idea of the cloud base. I did it on one occasion when faced with a failed VHF radio and not very much fuel left.

    The YG beacon was essentially a homing beacon that sent out a different Morse letter for every 30 degree sector. The centre of the first sector was orientated true north and all other sectors followed in a clockwise direction. During the war the sector letters were changed frequently so pilots had to be advised of the day's letters at their briefings. However after the war the last issued letters remained fixed for all stations they being :- ADFGKLMNRSUW.

    Navy pilots soon settled on an easy to remember pneumonic which became universally accepted among the squadrons as follows:-
    A Due North
    Girl Due East
    Not Due South
    Water Due West

    The YG was a Pilot's aid and, whilst he had the YG switched on, intercom and VHF radio communication were overridden such that he could not speak to ground stations or his crew. Doubtless the rotating transmitter was complicated but the receiver was a wonderfully simple device. All the pilot had was an on/off volume control and a station changing switch to change between about 4 available frequencies.

    All you had to do was to switch on the receiver and turn up the volume. If you were in range of a transmitter on the chosen frequency you might hear most if not all of the sectors followed by the station initials 3 times.( EG = Eglington, BR = Bramcote etc). If nothing heard then try another frequency. When contact was made turn down the volume to limit reception to 3 sectors and you would be in the middle one. You would know from the pneumonic the order of the sectors and where you were in relation to north and thus the course to steer for home. Due to the narrowing of the sectors as you neared home or if there were cross winds, you may find yourself edging into a neighbouring sector when a course adjustment would be called for. As you headed towards home, you turned down the volume to limit reception to 1 sector. After every round you got the station initials repeated 3 times I think. When you were overhead the transmitter you would briefly get all the sectors even with the volume turned very low. Pilots wre required to master buzzer morse at 15 words per minute.

    All the forgoing subject to fading memory over a period of 55 years.

    Richard Collins
    Lieut(A) RNVR

    Web Site

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 'YG' beacon

    Thanks for posting that, Dick. A remarkable piece of info about a very obscure subject which was once highly important. Especially to you it would seem!

  9. #9
    Senior Member PETERTHEEATER's Avatar
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    May 2008
    Hua Hin, Thailand (resident) ex RAF Armourer 1956 - 1970

    Default Re: 'YG' beacon

    Welcome to AiX Dick and thank you very much for the first hand input that answers most of the operational use queries on YG and, especially, that it was predominantly RN/FAA use.

    I hope that you can have time to read through some or all of the threads related to former FAA airfields and 'ships' because your experience would almost certainly be able to answer outstanding issues.

    Fixed wing or helos?

  10. #10
    Junior Member
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    Jun 2012
    The Isle of Man

    Default Re: 'YG' beacon

    Thanks to everyone who has posted here, particularly Dick for the information on using YG beacons. I will shortly be producing a section in my Ronaldsway ATC History pages (1940s) to include this as it was evidently an import approach aid at RN air stations.

    I have recently been loaned some documents that belonged to a RN Barracuda Observer at Ronaldsway in 1945 and I'm attempting (4th try!) to attach two that are relevant. First is a listing of UK land based YG beacons and second is the sector orientation chart, showing the 'post war' fixed pattern. Both are dated 1945.

    YG Beacons.jpg YG Beacon Chart.jpg

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