AUSTRALIAN GROUP RADIATION LABORATORY
IN SYDNEY, NSW, AUSTRALIA
DURING WWII

 

Doctor Karl Compton, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, visited Australia in early 1944 to:-

In return the Radiophysics Laboratory undertook work on the development of special equipment for the American forces. The Office of Scientific Research and Development maintained a most generous attitude to releasing secret information to Australian Group Radiation Laboratory and helped at times by forwarding written information and providing models of the latest types of equipment.

This visit by Doctor Karl Compton led to the establishment of the Australian Group Radiation Laboratory.

The Australian Group Radiation Laboratory was led by Doctor Samuel Seely, and was part of the Radiophysics Laboratory, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research organisation CSIR based in Sydney, New South Wales. Dr. Samuel Seely did his PhD in Physics with Columbia in the US in 1936. He was head of the Australian Group Radiation Laboratory from August 1944 to May/April 1945.

Dr. Seeley's brought seven scientific persons with him to Australia, mostly from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory, but a few were from outside companies. They took an airborne 3-centimeter radar set with them and a variety of radar since the purpose of their visit was not totally clear to them at the time.

The scientists of the Australian Group Radiation Laboratory partially completed two projects:-

1. Project 112.11 - The Ground Control Intercept (GCI) Mark IV

The GCI Mk IV unit was composed of two light weight radars based on the 10 cm SCR-717-B radar used by the SB-24 Snoopers. The "GCRA" was the search set and the "GCHF" was the height finder. Both were delayed for antenna design, bureaucratic communication/jurisdictional issues between AGRL and the Radiophysics Laboratory as well as industrial shortages. The GCRA was cancelled outright and replaced with the American AN/TPS-1B. Five of the GCHF were completed and turned over to the RAAF, as the American AN/TPS-10 height finder had arrived in numbers in March 1945 for the General Kenney's FEAF. Those five GCHF became a part of an order of 38 GCHF to be completed for the RAAF by Australian contractors and the Radiophysics Lab.

2. Project 112.12 - The Daisy Mae height finder

Five Daisy Mae's were built out of a planned ten. They were a rush project that -- like the GCI Mk IV above -- had antenna drive mechanism design/construction issues in Dec 1944. By March 1945 issues with the nod mechanism still had not been resolved and further work was halted. The FEAF went on to use the now available the American AN/TPS-10 radar height finder. The five completed but partially functional Daisy Mae sets were turned over to the US Army.

The Acting Chairman of the National Research Council of Canada, Dean McKenzie, offered Australian liaison officers and visiting scientists full facilities for obtaining information about Canada's research and development program especially from the Research Enterprises Ltd., a Canadian government organisation which looked after the manufacture of radar and other wartime equipment. Doctor W.R. McKinley, a Canadian expert on Radar, visited the Radiophysics Laboratory.

General Douglas MacArthur's top secret Section 22 benefited from the radar research carried out by the Australian Group Radiation Laboratory.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Australia in the War of 1939-1945
Series Four - Civil
Volume V - The Role of Science and Industry

Oral History Samuel Seely

Radar Research in Australia during WWII

Branch Laboratories, AGRL, Page 11-14

Division 14 of the NDRC Final Project Report, December 1945, Report No. 565

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Trent Telenko for his assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 4 May 2016

This page last updated 15 September 2018