Radar Scientists:Introduction

Edwin H. Armstrong
Harold Zahl
Vannevar Bush
Lee De Forest
Guglielmo Marconi
A. Hoyt Taylor 



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Updated January 3, 2004
Created March 23, 1998
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Radar didn't develop in a vacuum, even though early units were made with vacuum tubes, it took years to perfect the science.  Why did these scientists keep at it?  They knew that in the next war the enemy would attack first from the air...
"A History of Signal Corps Radar" 
by Harry M Davis
At the Ft. Monmouth archieves Dr. Bingham has a copy of this once secret book. On pg xii is a chronology of the early work to detect enemy planes by any means..sound, infrared,heat and finally radio waves.  We have Part I on this site for your research pleasure.

March 1918
Signal Corps Radio Laboratories established at Ft. Monmouth.
April 1918
Ground objects detected by their thermal radiation by Signal Corps enlisted technicians at Columbia University.
January 1919
Tests against night flying aircraft with above apparatus at Langley Field.
July 28, 1926
Coastal Artillery officer at M.I.T. detects grounded plane motor at 3,500 yards by heat radiation.
December 16, 1926
Army Ordnance Department sets up investigation of infrared detection devices.
October 29, 1928
Airplane detected by reflected infrared rays at slant range of 5,000 yards at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
July 1, 1930
Ordance Department sets to transfer detection project to Signal Corps
November 5, 1930
Naval Research Laboratory reports detection of planes and airships by radio interference.
February 1931
Project 88 set up at Signal Corps Laboratories
January 9, 1932
Report of Navy radio interference results transmitted to War Department.
August 1932
Signal Coprs Laboratories track Navy blimp to 6,000 feet by reflected infrared rays.
May 1933
Joint excercises of anti-aircraft and Air Corps at Ft. Knox demonstrates inadequacy of sound locators.
December 1933
Corps of Engineers purchase order to General Electric Company for heat detector.
Fiscal Year 1934
Truck detected at short range with 9-centimeter magnetron equipment.
July 16, 1934 SCL Director recommends pulse-echo method.
August 1934
Radio signals from 9-centimeter magnetron transmitter detect boat 1,000 yards from Fort Hancock.
September 26, 1934
Mauretania tracked to 23,000 yards with Signal Corps heat detector through haze.
November 1934
German liner Bremen detected by interference on 50-centimeter radio signals.
June 22, 1935
Normandie tracked to 30,000 yards by heat detector.
January 1936
Coast Artillery test of Engineer and Signal Corps heat detectors shows both adequate against ship, inadequate against aircraft.
February 1, 1936
Coast Artillery submits first military characteristics for aircraft detector(heat or radio) and surface vessel detector ( heat).
February 26,1936
Further development of all aircraft and surface vessel detectors assigned by War Department to Signal Corps with highest priority.

Signal Corps Radio - SCR

For security reasons the radar units developed by or for the Signal Corps were designated as radios. 

Marconi Forecasts Radar in 1922

In an address to the American Institute of Electrical and the Institute of Radio Engineers on June 20, 1922 Marconi suggested a new application of radio:

"It seems to me that it should be possible to design apparatus by means of which a ship could radiate or project a divergent beam of these rays in any desired direction, which rays, if coming across a metallic obstacle, such as another steamer or ship, would be reflected back to a receiver screened from the local transmitter on the sending ship, and thereby immediately reveal the presence and bearing of the other ship in fog or thick weather. " from pg 236My Father, Marconi by Degna Marconi, McGraw-Hill, 1962


In February 1931 Major General William R. Blair began "Project 88" for the detection of enemy aircraft by noise, intrared waves and radio waves. In December 1936 Signal Corps engineers field tested their first radar equipment at the airport in Newark, New Jersey. On May 18, 1937, the future SCR-268, was demonstrated to Brig. Gen. Henry H. Arnold at Fort Monmouth. from pg 232-233 Getting the Message Through, A Branch History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps by Raines, Rebecca., Center of Military History United States Army, Washington D.C., 1996


Page updated January 3, 2004  page created  March 23, 1998

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