Work at Bawdsey Manor - Progress
with AI and ASV
On 17th August 1937, Avro Anson K6260 took off from Martlesham
Heath and on board was the first fully airborne RDF system ever
built and was was totally self-contained within the aircraft.
The results were exceptional; ships were detected at a range of
about 3 miles.
The breakthrough was a decrease in wavelength
to 1.5 metres (or 200Mc/s), which improved the sensitivity, and
was to remain the primary wavelength used for most radar research
systems for the next 4 years.
On 3rd of September, the equipment was 'fine tuned' for participation
in a large North Sea 'seek and find' exercise that involved Coastal
Commandand the Royal Navy. The weather was bad and Coastal Command
aircraft were recalled but Bowen's Anson was not fitted with radio
so they did not know! They managed to detect the surface fleet
(including HMS Rodney) and some of the intercepting aircraft that
had been sent up by the aircraft carrier Courageous (sunk 2 years
later by a 'U'-boat).
A number of further demonstration flights took place to enlighten
both Army and RAF senior staff of the capabilities of the new
system. Even Sir Henry Tizard was given a demonstration flight
on October 18th.
|By May 1938, it was possible to transmit both forward
(narrow) beams and sidescan (wide) beams. Wide search
meant that large areas of sea could be covered more
effectively and narrow search would then be used to
'home in' on the target.
The Navy wanted to be able to scan continuously through
360 degrees. Bowen and his team made a number of attempts
to solve this problem using rotating antennae but the
loss of sensitivity meant that the system never really
The final problem to be resolved was how to generate
enough power in the air to feed the transmitter and receiver rigs.
In the autumn of 1939, Metro-Vickers produced a special engine-driven
alternator, which was so successful that onboard power was never
an issue again. Some 1.3 million units were made during the war.
Practical airborne Radar
was now a reality.