A radar site considered by some to be as historically important as Bletchley Park will be preserved, thanks to a £1.4 million ($2 million) grant from the UK government. The Bawdsey facility in eastern England, established in 1938, was the world’s first operational radar station. The then-brand new technology helped the allied forces win the Battle of Britain, and some historians think it may have shortened World War II by as much as two years. The facility was closed in 1991, and is on Britain’s “at-risk” heritage list because of structural issues and water damage.
According to the preservation group Bawsdey Radar, construction work will start in September 2016 and the building will open to visitors in September 2017. The goal is not just to conserve it, but also to unveil a new visitor exhibition featuring physical and virtual displays. The UK’s “Heritage At Risk” adviser John Etté said the facility “played a vital part in the development of radar technology during [WWII], and had a huge impact on post-war electronics and defense system,” including GPS, water technology, radar guns and the microwave oven.[…]
“There was nothing remarkable to see on Chopmist Hill in 1940 when, a year before the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor and bring America into the war, a Boston radio technician by the name of Thomas B. Cave drove up Darby Road.
[…]Cave worked for the Intelligence Division of the Federal Communications Commission, charged with finding a hilltop in southern New England that could serve as one of several listening posts to detect radio transmissions from German spies in the United States.
What he discovered up at William Suddard’s 183-acre farm was nothing short of miraculous.
Because of some geographic and atmospheric anomalies, Cave reported he could clearly intercept radio transmissions coming from Europe — even South America.
As a Providence Journal story revealed after the war, military officials were initially skeptical. They wanted Cave to prove his remarkable claims that from Chopmist Hill he could pinpoint the location of any radio transmission in the country within 15 minutes.
The Army set up a test. Without telling the FCC, it began broadcasting a signal from the Pentagon. From atop the 730-foot hill in the rural corner of Scituate, it took Cave all of seven minutes to zero in on the signal’s origin.
In March 1941, the Suddards obligingly moved out of their 14-room farmhouse, leasing the property to the FCC.
Workers set off erecting scores of telephone poles across the properly, purposely sinking them deep to keep them below the tree line. They strung 85,000 feet of antenna wire — the equivalent of 16 miles — around the poles and wired it into the house.[…]”
With the help and guidance of my good friend Charlie, we just repaired and aligned this BC-348-Q receiver. BC-348s were built to withstand the extreme temperatures (-60F) and vibrations on board the B-17 and other bombers, where they were used extensively in World War II. I picked this beauty up at the 2012 Dayton Hamvention for $40.
Next year, this radio will be70 years old.
This morning, I have it tuned to Radio Australia’s Saturday Night Country on 11,660 kHz shortwave. It’s “connecting” to a wireless network over 9,800 miles away and producing beautiful, warm audio.
One of my favorite ham radio blogs is that of John (AE5X). Like me, he’s a QRPer–meaning, as amateur radio operators, we love making contacts across this great globe of ours using very low power…typically 5 watts or less. The challenge is fun, the medium is magical.
You should bookmark John’s blog, as he post many radio related topics that the SWL would find enjoyable, whether it be about numbers stations, QSLs or even his own experience learning Russian via shortwave.