For years, people in the British countryside have been flabbergasted by the sight of certain strange stone objects. The enormous structures seemingly served a purpose, but their origin remains a mystery to the average citizen… until now.
While they may have seemed similar to the famous Stonehenge monuments, these bizarre concrete creations were something far more modern. The work of Dr. William Sansome Tucker, these oddities were actually built in the early 20th century and used as “acoustic mirrors.”
The reason for these baffling objects’ existence, however, only becomes more fascinating from there…
The world’s first truly efficient radar system was invented by Scottish physicist Sir Robert Watson-Watt in 1935. It was capable of detecting enemy aircrafts from up to 100 miles away using pulsed radio waves. Before that watershed invention, however, the British military looked to make use of something far more bizarre… and you can find them littering the English countryside to this day.
Prior to their use of radar, the British military had tapped Dr. William Sansome Tucker to create a system known as “acoustic radars.” These gigantic concrete structures were created in order to detect enemy aircraft and zeppelins during World War I. But how did they work?
These acoustic mirrors were capable of detecting enemy aircrafts up to 15 miles away, which was quite impressive for the time! Amazingly, this allowed the British military a small amount of time to prepare for any incoming air attacks from German bombers. That said, they really are odd-looking structures…
Passersby on the English coastline are often baffled by the large concrete facades, especially since that form of military radar detection was phased out almost an entire century ago. It’s incredible that so many of them are still in such pristine shape.
Many acoustic mirrors can be found in different parts of England, including Dover, Romney Marsh, the Dungeness peninsula, and at Hythe in Kent, among others. For obvious reasons, they’re a big tourist destination for many history buffs.
In Kent, England, at the site of the Royal Air Force, three acoustic mirrors still stand today. One, a curved wall, stands at 230 feet long, while two smaller dish-shaped structures both stand roughly 16-and-a-half feet in height each.
To accompany these gigantic acoustic mirrors, Dr. Tucker designed a series of hot-wire microphones that could detect sound waves of approaching enemy air strikes. Every second of the 15 minutes of preparation they offered was essential to prepare for the blitzkrieg.
While the majority of the acoustic mirrors in existence could only detect enemy aircrafts up to 15 miles away, there existed even more powerful ones that could scope them from up to 25 miles! That equated to more time to prepare for attack, which undoubtedly saved lives.
Unfortunately for the fans of acoustic mirrors, they were pretty much rendered useless when aircraft designers began constructing them to operate much more quietly. That’s why they had to be replaced with far more efficient radar technology not long after.
Of course, the British military no longer uses acoustic mirrors to warn their artilleries when a potential airstrike is approaching. Still, the public can go see them in person and take in their bizarrely beautiful aesthetic.
It’s so cool to not only to be able to walk amongst real military history, but to see it in its natural state as well! How strange are these structures? Would you have guessed their purpose just by looking at them?
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