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Development of Radar in South Africa during Second World War 
2016-11-04

The radar development for the detection and location of aircraft and ships by radar, had been started by Britain some years before the outbreak of World War II. South African scientists were appointed to gather information for the research programme under the leadership of Dr. B.F.J. Schonland, then Director of the Bernard Price Institute of Geophysical Research and Professor of Geophysics at the University of the Witwatersrand, to gather information for the research programme. The institute committed itself entirely to war work and became the headquarters for what became known as the Special Signals Services which was tasked with preparing to train people in the use of British radar. Britain shared secret information on radar technology with its Dominions, and in South Africa’s case, this transfer of information occurred primarily through Schonland being briefed directly by Dr Ernest Marsden. Ever the scientist, Schonland, rather than serve purely in a training capacity, set up a research and development team, and based on the information he received from Britain, the team developed a South African version of radar within a few months using components scavenged from radio shops. The South African radar’s functionality was first demonstrated in mid December 1939.

Dr Brian Austin is a former member of staff of the School of Electrical and Information Engineering at Wits University. His article entitled "On the Development of Radar in South Africa and Its Use in the Second World War" has now been added to our collection A3377 Radar at the Bernard Price Institute, with permission from the author. It originally appeared in the URSI Radio Science Bulletin - please use the following URL: http://www.ursi.org/content/RSB/RSB_358_2016_09.pdf .

It should be cited as follows:
B. A. Austin, “On the Development of Radar in South Africa and Its Use in the Second World War,” URSI Radio Science Bulletin, No. 358, September 2016, pp. 69-81.

To access the online inventory of our collection A3377 Radar at the Bernard Price Institute, and its digital collection items, please use this LINK.