This early radar device was used during World War II on the beach in Normandy. Photograph taken on June 22, 1944.
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Image courtesy of the public domain

The History of Radar

People understood the concept of radar long before scientists first built a radar system. In 1888 Heinrich Hertz, a German physicist, demonstrated that metal objects will reflect radio waves. Then in 1904 a German Engineer named Christian Hulsmeyer obtained patents for a device based on Hertz's findings. In the late 1930's all of the major nations involved in World War II rushed to create better radar systems to use in the war.

Great Britain was one of the leading developers of radar in the years leading up to World War II. The research they conducted led to an early warning radar system called "Chain Home". They built radar stations around the British Isles to provide warning of an aerial invasion. This was one of the advantages which helped the outnumbered Royal Air Force defeat the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain.

While radar development was encouraged by wartime efforts, people were also interested in using radar as an anti-collision system. This became a popular idea when the Titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg in 1912. Radar was seen as a way to detect objects such as icebergs in inclement weather, when spotlights weren't effective.

Out of these all of these efforts, weather radar was developed.

Last modified June 11, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

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