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"The original Naxos I had a vertically polarized antenna, with poor results as the British radars initially used horizontal polarisation. (This seems to have been a case of the German designers being smarter than the British ones, with unfortunate consequences.) Naxos Ia had a triple antenna, with elements crossing each other at 45 degrees to avoid this problem. Over 1000 sets of Naxos I were produced, for U-Boot installations but also for the Luftwaffe, the original customer." is a passage from http://uboat.net/technical/detectors.htm

The question is: Why the British antenna seem to have advantages over the German ones?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Antennas can respond differently to signals of various polarizations. They can also transmit signals which are stronger in some polarizations than others. Indeed, these behaviors are exactly what you get out of simple antennas.

If the Germans were using antennas that were minimally sensitive to horizontally polarized signals while the British transmitters were pumping most of their power into horizontally polarized modes then the German receivers would pick up a strongly attenuated signal--reducing their effective range and sensitivity.

Pick up any undergraduate E&M text for a detailed analysis; or choose a practical antenna manual to skip some unnecessary theory.

I am a little curious why the author thinks that vertical polarization is intrinsically better in this application. Some atmospheric effect?

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Maybe something about ground reflection - I've heard that sunglasses are vertically polarized to reduce glare. But that's just an arbitrary guess. –  David Z Jul 22 '12 at 5:11
@DavidZaslavsky Methinks you've got it. Brewster's Angle for the win. –  dmckee Jul 22 '12 at 6:05
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