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compassion, collaboration & cooperation iN transistion

 In June of 1940, Vannevar Bush, the Scientific Advisor to President Franklin

 Roosevelt, along with Karl Compton, President of MIT, and James Conant,

 President of Harvard, presented to President Roosevelt a plan for a National

 Defense Research Council to oversee scientific research directed toward the

 impending war effort, an idea that Roosevelt quickly approved. Compton

 headed up the section of the Council overseeing technologies for detection

 of aircraft and ships, capabilities that were sorely lacking at the time.
 The name Radiation Laboratory, or "Rad Lab," was chosen to be

 intentionally deceptive, creating the perception to those on the outside

 that the laboratory was working on nuclear physics, a discipline that was

 seen as too immature to have an impact on the war effort. During the fall

 of 1940, the Rad Lab sprang to life on the MIT campus, and by December,

 a primitive two-parabola system had already been emplaced and was

 undergoing initial testing on the rooftop of Building 6 at MIT.

 John Randall and Harry Boot had invented the cavity magnetron

 almost by accident. It was a valve that could spit out pulses of

 microwave radio energy on a wavelength of 10cm. This was

 unheard of. Nothing like it had been invented before. 

 The wavelength for the radar system we were using at the start

 of the war was one-and-a-half metres. The equipment needed

 was bulky and the signals indistinct. The cavity magnetron was

 to [BE] THE KEY that would allow us to develop airborne radar.

 During the next five years, the MIT Radiation Laboratory made stunning

 contributions to the development of microwave radar technology in support

 of the war effort. Inventions included airborne bombing radars, shipboard

 search radars, harbor and coastal defense radars, gun-laying radars,

 ground-controlled glide path approach radars for aircraft blind landing,

 interrogate-friend-or-foe beacon systems, and the long-range navigation

 (LORAN) system. Some of the most critical contributions of the Radiation

 Laboratory were the microwave early-warning (MEW) radars, which

 effectively nullified the V-1 threat to London, and air-to-surface vessel

 (ASV) radars, which turned the tide on the U-boat threat to Allied shipping.

 In November 1942, U-boats claimed 117 Allied ships. Less than a year

 later, in the two-month period of September to October 1943, only

 9 Allied ships were sunk, while a total of 25 U-boats were destroyed by

 aircraft equipped with ASV radars (Buderi, pp. 155–169).  

 In the words of Karl Compton, the Rad Lab was "the greatest cooperative

 research establishment in the history of the world" (Saad, p.47).  [IT] IS

 frequently said that, although the atomic bomb ended World War II,

 [ITwas radar that won the war.



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Comment by Michael Grove on January 27, 2018 at 12:42

After the war, in 1954, a major [RE]engineering of the war-time site occurred when it became known formally as Royal Air Force Sopley, the home of Southern Radar & the Joint Air Traffic Control School. The radar station was housed in a deep underground bunker under a field adjacent to the war time radar station, whilst quarters were built in Bransgore for its married personnel and a large domestic site was constructed between Bransgore and Sopley next to the site of Merryfield farm.

During the 1960s and 1970s civil and military air traffic control officers worked and trained together at the site which also retained an air defence and special tasks role including that of supporting Research and Development flying programmes from Farnborough and Boscombe Down and the early Concorde flight trials. [IT] was in 1967 that I completed my Joint Military/Civil Area Radar training at Sopley and in 1968 provided Summer Leave Relief on secondment duties from London Radar. I remember during that time providing assistance to an Aer Lingus flight en-route from Cardiff to Dublin • who got caught in bad-weather • by a process of guiding the pilot around and between the rain clouds, because of the phenomenally detailed accuracy of the Type 80 radar, in the detection of weather. In addition to the Type 80 the station retained its type 7 and had both type 13 heightfinders and type 14 high and low radars. It also received a Marconi 264 radar, later used at Aberdeen Airport. The 264 was only finally retired from service at Aberdeen in 1998.

With the full opening of the London Air Traffic Control Centre, at West Drayton, Southern radar was one of several Air Traffic Control units that were surplus to requirements and Royal Air Force Sopley closed in 1974. Available on this site is the text and graphics from the RAF Sopley Visitors Guide from (I think) 1964. The Area Radar School at RAF Sopley moved to RAF Shawbury in 1972 to become the Area Radar Training School, bringing all ATC training under CATCS.

In 1997, with the creation of the Flight Operations branch, the training of Flight Ops Officers was also added to the CATCS portfolio. TG9 Flight Ops Assistants, previosly named Assistant Air Traffic Controllers, have also been trained at Shawbury since the end of WWII. TG9 graduates continue to provide direct support to aircrew, controllers and operations managers.

Comment by Michael Grove on February 12, 2019 at 10:02

Radio Frequency Heating as applied to frozen animals that were being used for research purposes, allowed for heating the animals from the inside out, which worked like a dream as a result of my development of a system based on a magnetron, that I had borrowed from the Navy, which allowed me to make what was in effect a small microwave oven • rather than continuing to use the old fashioned equipment of the time that were based on radio valves etc.

                                                                                                   James Lovelock

   Electron capture detector developed by James Lovelock in the Science Museum, London

Comment by Michael Grove on March 5, 2019 at 22:53

With the departure of US personnel at the end of the Second World War, the Allied Central Interpretation Unit at RAF Medmenham reverted to its original title, the Central Interpretation Unit. In 1953 it became the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC). 


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