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The Influence of Rotor

Page history last edited by Alan Hartley-Smith 5 years, 5 months ago




This entry brings together several existing strings from the wiki plus new material to cover the very significant change in the composition and activities of the radar interests that occurred following the arrival at Baddow in 1948 of Dr. Eric Eastwood. The story is developed through the following sequence.


Dr. Eastwood arrives

The English Electric Company 1946-48.

The research laboratories of the English Electric Company were expanding rapidly at the end of the war. Dr. Eastwood was taken on and put in charge of the Physics Department, reporting to the Director of Research Mr. J.K. Brown. Towards the end of 1946 he was able to visit a number of U.S. research laboratories including those of the Westinghouse Company and the R.C.A. One of the main projects at the English Electric laboratories at the time was the re-engineering of a war-time radar - Type 11 Mark 7 - working on 600 MHz. and it was natural that Eastwood should take a great interest in this. As it later transpired the 600 MHz. band proved to be very well suited to civil air traffic control systems because of its ability to operate in rain storms and this again had a profound influence on Eastwood's later work. In 1947 the English Electric Company acquired the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company and the radar re-engineering project was moved from Stafford to the Marconi Research Laboratories at Great Baddow, near Chelmsford and Eastwood moved there with the project in 1948.


The Marconi Research Laboratories 1948-1962.

Dr. Eastwood's appointment at the Marconi Research Laboratories was as Deputy Director of Research and he took over as Director of Research in 1954. By the end of the war the operational requirements for defence radar had changed considerably and techniques for the production of higher power transmitters and more sensitive receivers had become available. Eastwood's first major assignment was to set up a team of experts to carry out a detailed study of the Royal Air Force radar defence system and to make recommendations on how it might be up-dated both technically and operationally. Many of the recommendations in the report were adopted and gave rise to a series of major defence contracts in the 1950's placed with Marconi and other contractors under the name Vast and Rotor. There are more details in this section of the wiki.


Input from Roy Simons

Going back in history at Baddow, Section K was run by R.J. Kemp during the war, having previously been engaged on TV development. With the start of the war it was engaged on Y service development using various direction finders and swept receivers for intercepting transmissions. That was the situation when I joined. At the end of the war, the Marine Company decided to get into radar and Section K was devoted to the development of the Radiolocator series which the Marine Company marketed. When Dr. Eastwood arrived with the Type 11 development, almost immediately the company bid and received a contract to study the air defence radars of the UK.


The contract was received by Radar Division, but the work was shared between Radar Development Group (RDG Radar Division) under Hugh Wassall at Broomfield and a selection of staff (ex-service people) from Research Division at Baddow. Undoubtedly the presence of Dr. Eastwood was a major factor in the award of the contract to the company as he was the leader of the study. When development started to implement the recommendations of the study, the majority of the work - displays, transmitters etc., including all the building works - was done by Wassall's people at Broomfield. However Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) at Malvern were aware that the introduction of data processing was inevitable and the Ministry of Supply placed another contract (via Radar Division) for Research to develop a fixed coil display system to eventually replace the moving coil displays from RDG. TRE had done a considerable amount of work on current amplifiers driving deflector coils and had an experimental system working. Most of the CEW and CHEL sites were fitted with moving coil displays in the first round of ROTOR. The GCI's all had fixed coil display systems.


Section K became almost leaderless, as Kemp became more involved in the site management. B.J.Witt was brought in as the Section Chief. After a short time Dr. Eastwood became Chief of Research and Datamation was created, with R. Shipway appointed as Chief, comprising three Sections: A (under A B Starksfield); B (under L W Whittaker); and C (under R W Simons). Sections A and B were  the  circuit  design  staff, whereas Section C employed practical engineers who took the designs and converted them into engineered models for production.


In 1955 Hugh Wassal moved from the RDG to become Works Manager at New Street - the new head was J.F (Jimmy) James. Eventually in 1958 the RDG and the Research Division team were merged into one within Radar Division at Baddow. (See here for a personal view of the merger).


There are several personal stories associated with this era - see those of John Brown, the Editor and Ted Pegram






Comments (1)

Ian Gillis said

at 6:00 pm on Feb 9, 2016

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