Conway Berners-Lee: anti-aircraft radar

Conway Berners-Lee discusses the effectiveness of the anti-aircraft gunnery radar he worked with in wartime.

I was wondering how effective were the systems you were working with? 

Now that’s a very interesting question. At the time well I felt very sceptical about this. The anti aircraft gunners were always making claims about whether they shot them down, usually being disputed by the RAF, but in fact it was a success at the end. At the end the equipment was extremely sophisticated. Very complicated analogue computing systems were in use that were using an electronic predictor which came from America. The position of the target was being transmitted continuously from the radar to the predictor and then the predictor provided similar signals to the guns. And this was really very sophisticated. And this, the complete setup was very complicated. You took the radar data, solved an equation for the time of flight of the shell, and in the early days you actually used the fuse number that was put on the shell. And later there was a very big improvement in the accuracy, because of what was know as the electronic fuse, this was a tiny radar set in the nose of the shell and this was called the proximity fuse. And the combination of all of this sophisticated combination of radar data and the predictors and the way the automatic control of all of this was managed, did mean that you stood a chance of shooting down buzz bombs.

  • Interviewee Conway Berners-Lee
  • Duration 00:02:04
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Thomas Lean
  • Date of interview 8/19/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/23

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