Il Widna (the ear) - sound mirror - Maghtab, Malta
Pre WW2 Maltese sound radar building
The sound mirror (accoustic mirror, sound radar) located at Il Widna, Maghtab, Malta is apparently the only sound mirror built outside Britain. It is found near Bahar ic-Caghaq in the quiet back roads. il Widna means "the ear" in Maltese and is appropriate name for these fascinating buildings.
They were used to help detect approaching enenmy aircraft. The "listening ears" in Britain were built during WW1 and before WW2 when radar made them redundant. il Widna points towards Italy.
There is also a superb view of the Great Fault escarpment and the Victoria Lines of Malta. The Great Fault escarpment dramatically rises out of the landscape.
Model of the Accoustic Radar (Il Widna - the ear) on the Maltese Islands. Showing the micophone posts in front of the the ear. This enabled those operating the sound mirror to work out the direction of the aircraft.
View of the ear (Il Widna) from near Gharghur
The photographs show a view of Il Widna (the ear) from the top of the Great Fault escarpment, along the Victoria Lines.
A view of the land in front of Il-Widna, showing why Maghtab was chosen as the location for the Maltese Sound Mirror. The Ear faces towards Sicily (Italy) and has flat land in front of it then the open sea. Although there are reports saying Malta's sound mirror did not work well the Maltese have said that on a good day they could hear the planes warming up on the runway in Sicily!
It seems a fitting tribute to these early ingenious devices that the site today should be a satellite communication center.
Sound Mirrors (sound radar) in England
Sound mirrors were built in England before the 2nd World War. There were a few designs but mainly 2 ways that they worked. There were the parabolic dishes that concentrated the sound into a point by rebounding them into a microphone in the center or there were the larger scale "listening ears". The sound radar in Malta is the larger scale version. Copied from the design of the accoustic radar in England, found at the Dungeness Nature Reserve.
The larger listening ears could detect the direction of the approaching enemy aircraft without needing multiple sound mirrors to triangulate the position. This was a weakness of the smaller parabolic sound radars but it led to the success of the British electronic radar system as multiple sites were built for the sound radar.
Map, directions guide and sound mirror links