Radar Experiments - The Light Weight Air Warning Radar
T/R switchtransmitter cabinetfire extinguisherantenna/platform rotation handwheeloperator's seatA-scope CRT range displayrotating platformantenna support shaftbearing indicator scalerange scale selector & indicatorreceiver cabinetreceiver cabinet

In the late 1940s DCA commenced a series of experimental radar installations at Melbourne/Essendon with a wartime Light Weight Air Warning (LW/AW) radar installation. Click here to see and read more about this installation.

The LW/AW set was developed in 1942 in Australia by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (later CSIRO) Radiophysics Laboratory in response to the need for a portable air defence radar station that could be readily deployed in northern Australia, New Guinea and the islands to Australia's north.

To facilitate deployability, the radar equipment and operator were housed in a canvas tent and the photos on this page show the internal layout. The operator, transmitting equipment and antenna all sat on a rotating platform which the operator turned by hand, thus changing the direction of view of the set. The operator's display was a small cathode-ray tube 'A-scope' (range-only display). The physical orientation of the antenna, read off a bearing scale at the top of the antenna shaft, gave the direction of target returns.

One advantage of this method of operation for air defence purposes was that the radar could either be used in search mode, by scanning back and forth through an arc or all around, or in track mode by continuously 'looking' at a particular return of interest, or in a combination of both modes.

Roll your cursor over the image above to identify components of the LW/AW system. The photo shows an LW/AW displayed in the Australian War Memorial on 28 June 2010.


Left: This photo shows the LWAW radar with the covering tent removed. The electronics cabinets, operators' positions and antenna were all mounted on an elevated, rotating platform.


(Photos: Top-Phil Vabre; Bottom-CAHS collection)


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