The Effect of Science on the Second World War by Guy Hartcup (auth.)

By Guy Hartcup (auth.)

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F. Wilkins, a colleague of Watson-Watt, quickly calculated that while a death ray was impractical, reflections of radio pulses from aircraft ought to be detectable. This was the seed from which British radar grew. Wimperis, to his credit, wasted n o time in forming the Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence with Tizard as chairman, as described earlier. Watson-Watt sent a memorandum on the feasibility of the detection of aircraft by radio waves to the first meeting of the Tizard Committee held in January 1935.

Apart from the siting and construction of the high towers, special transmitters and high-powered valves had to be developed. This work was done in secrecy in the laborettories of Metropolitan Vickers, the well-know 7 n electrical engineering firm in Manchester. It was not until the spring of 1939 that the Chain Home was finally completed at the cost of £10 million which had secretly been allotted to it. Even then another year would pass before it had been debugged and the system practised over and over again so that it could be ready to meet the onslaught of the German Air Force.

Wimperis thereupon wrote to R. A. Watson-Watt, head of the Radio Research Station at Slough, and responsible for ionospheric studies, asking whether sufficient energy could be directed in electromagnetic waves to act as a death ray. ) A. F. Wilkins, a colleague of Watson-Watt, quickly calculated that while a death ray was impractical, reflections of radio pulses from aircraft ought to be detectable. This was the seed from which British radar grew. Wimperis, to his credit, wasted n o time in forming the Committee for the Scientific Survey of Air Defence with Tizard as chairman, as described earlier.

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