Radar production and use during World War II – Fact sheet 126

While the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was responsible for radar research and the development of prototypes, other government agencies had responsibility for assisting in the development by approving and supporting the financial costs, procuring the appropriate technology and materials, manufacturing the machinery, or using the completed product. This fact sheet contains details of relevant records of some of these key agencies, including the War Cabinet, the Postmaster-General's Department, the Department of Munitions, and the armed services, which put the radar technology to use.

War Cabinet records

The matter of radar research and equipment was considered by the Australian War Cabinet (CA 1468) on a number of occasions during World War II. Records of the War Cabinet comprise the War Cabinet Agenda, War Cabinet Minutes and War Cabinet Notebooks. The major decisions of the War Cabinet in relation to radar are contained in the Agenda and Minutes listed below. A photocopied set of the Minutes is held in all reading rooms. The Agenda are held in Canberra.

War Cabinet Minutes and Agenda

SubjectMinute no.
(Series A2673)
Minute dateAgenda no.
(Series A2671)

Delays in local production of RDF equipment

1750

24 Jan 1942

No agendum

Finance for radio location work

1653

31 Dec 1941

349/1941

Position of radio location work

1769
2106

26 Jan 1942
17 Apr 1942

54/1942

RDF equipment and personnel

829

11 Mar 1942

150/1942

RDF equipment for RAAF

2296

7 Aug 1942

312/1942

RDF policy and program

2433
3303

14 Oct 1942
4 Mar 1944

421/1942

Radiophysics Advisory Board – First report – for period ending 30 November 1942

No minute recorded

 

515/1942

Radar equipment for RAAF

3168

24 Nov 1943

484/1943

Radar equipment for RAN

3332

22 Feb 1944

44/1944

Production of radar equipment

The production of radar equipment was initially only undertaken by the Postmaster-General's Department, but due to the increasing demand as the war progressed, private companies and other government agencies also became involved in producing radar equipment.

From 1942 the Department of Munitions assumed responsibility for the production of radar equipment in Australia. It was also responsible for the supervision of private contractors who made radar equipment and arranged for the import and export of materials and completed machines.

Records of these agencies containing information relating to the production of radar equipment are listed below. These records are all held by the Archives in Melbourne.

Records containing information about radar production

 

Postmaster-General's Department (CA 9)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence files1939–50B2947
SeriesW files, relating to matters arising from the War1938–50MP721/1

Department of Munitions, Central Administration (CA 39)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence files1942–47MP45/5

Materials Supply Branch, Department of Munitions (CA 3476)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence files1941–48MP392/37

Directorate of Radio and Signal Supplies, Department of Munitions (CA 3723), 1942–1947

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence files1942–45MP392/5
SeriesCorrespondence files1942–45MP1680/8

Use of radar by the armed services

The use of radar equipment was the responsibility of the Army, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Records relating to the services' views, policies, research and use of radar technology are contained in the record series listed below. Unless otherwise indicated, these records are held by the Archives in Canberra.

Army

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence files1935–58A816
ItemRadio research1941A816, 48/301/28
ItemRadio location – Use to provide long-range warning of attack1941–42A816, 48/301/34

RAN

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence files (general)1923–50MP1049/5 *
ItemRadio direction finding performance report1942MP1049/5, 2037/7/108*
ItemRadio direction finding report on policy1941–42MP1049/5, 2037/7/256*

RAAF

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence files1935–60A1196
ItemPress censorship re radio location1943–48A1196, 10/501/41
ItemPress censorship re radio location1943–48A1196, 10/501/41
ItemCSIR 'War Report'1943–44A1196, 37/501/460

* held in Melbourne

More information about records relating to radar research and development.

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