Campaign to put unsung hero of Second World War back on radar

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He was the man who helped win the Battle of Britain and whose invention went on to lay the foundations for a host of modern life-saving technologies. Yet more than 30 years after his death, Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the father of radar, is almost forgotten - one of the great unsung heroes of the Second World War.

Now, an international fundraising appeal has been launched to commemorate his achievements. The recently formed Watson-Watt Society wants to raise £50,000 to build a memorial statue in his home town, Brechin in Scotland, to the man who is officially credited with creating the first workable radar system.

A descendant of James Watt, the engineer and inventor of the steam engine, Watson-Watt's method of using radio waves to detect objects helped tilt the balance of air superiority in 1940 when the overstretched RAF was able to intercept enemy bombers in all weathers and at night. Without it, Britain would have probably lost the battle and perhaps the war.

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Patrick Murray - 11/13/2006

Mr. Hamby is correct. When the British Chiefs of Staff Committee asked Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding of Fighter Command how he intended to cope with the German night fighters, Dowding noted that better night-fighters were in the pipe line. The British night-fighters accounted for one German plane in October 1940. The radars had to be refined, and redesigned to fit into cockpits.

Alonzo Hamby - 11/4/2006

Watson-Watt probably deserves the recognition his admirers want for him, but it is a mistake to say to that radar allowed the RAF to intercept bombers at night. The fact is that for over a year after the RAF won the battle of Britain (September, 1940), German bombers devastated England at night.
As for radar itself, it was possibly pioneered in Britain, but was developed to varying degrees by Germans, Americans, and Japanese during the war. The Western Allies kept a step ahead, and here, as in many other areas, their superior resources and scientific achievements contributed to victory.