Radar Recollections - A Bournemouth University / CHiDE / HLF project


The Tizzard Mission

In early 1940 Sir Henry Tizard made the suggestion that the British radar technology secrets should be 'shared' with the Americans in order that their superior production facilities could be made more readily available to aid the British war effort. Neither Churchill nor Watson Watt was in agreement. Nevertheless, he arranged for his old colleague from the 1935 committee, A.V. Hill to go to Washington to explore the possibilities. His report to Tizard was optimistic.

By July 1940 the Battle of Britain was raging and France had already fallen and so the idea seemed much more palatable. Thus a team of 7, led by Tizard was in Washington by 12th September to begin discussions.All three armed services were represented and 'Taffy'Bowen was there specifically to discuss radar. He was allowed to take 'Magnetron Number 12' with him. The Magnetron had only been sent to TRE Worth some 6 weeks earlier.

The mission established that Britain was 'in the lead' on most counts but that certain aspects of American radar were more advanced. It was the Magnetron however, that was greeted with the greatest enthusiasm. Initially, a new 'Microwave Committee' was set up with Dr Alfred Loomis as Chairman. It was this man who played the decisive role in converting US radar to centimetric wavelengths.

It was soon agreed that the microwave committee would sponsor rapid production of the Magnetron and that the Bell Telephone Company should carry out the work. They produced the first 30 in October 1940 and by the end of the war well over a million US Magnetrons had been manufactured.

Although the Tizard mission was hailed as a success it is odd that on his return to London on the 8th October 1940; he found that his job no longer existed.

A.V. Hill
Dr Alfred Loomis
Dr Alfred Loomis
Dr Hutchinson