By John F. Connors
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Extra resources for Albatros Fighters in action
The naval scientists were inspired by the Admiralty Director of Scientific Research, Charles Wright, who predicted that the side that developed power on the shortest wavelength would win the war. Oliphant, who had been one of Rutherford's students at the Cavendish, was in charge of the Birmingham team. After being indoctrinated into radar at one of the CH stations in the summer of 1939, he returned with his colleagues to Birmingham to find a suitable generator for microwave radar. Experiments were conducted both with the klystron and the magnetron, as it then existed, but neither were powerful enough to produce long-range echoes.
Their findings, recorded in some detail, have never been controverted. They had three main criticisms of the organization of German science. First and foremost was the failure of the military and the scientists to collaborate. In its preparations for war the Wehrmacht did not appreciate that it needed the help of scientists. Nor did the scientists voluntarily make any attempt to offer any solutions to military problems. Universities and institutes of technology were in many cases untouched by the war and continued research on such unmilitary subjects as mass spectrographs and gamma and cosmic rays even as late as 1945.
The existence of electromagnetic waves was discovered by Gustav Herz in 1888, but he did not attempt to work out a practical application for them. In any case he died six years later aged only 36. The earliest attempts to use radiolocation were not intended for military purposes but to prevent collisions between ships or to provide warning of icebergs or wrecks. They began with experiments by Christian Hiilsmeyer at Cologne in 1904. l Surprisingly, no attempt to develop radiolocation was made in the First World War; instead underwater soundwaves were 18 G.
Albatros Fighters in action by John F. Connors