Duxford Radio Trust

Preserving the history and technology of Radio Communications

Researching, collecting, conserving, restoring and providing historic communications equipment for demonstration to the public

For the past 32 years the Duxford Radio group has been providing the materials and knowledge for demonstration of the history, technology and application of radio communications, navigation and radar for the education of the public, mainly focusing on equipment used in military conflict and civil emergencies.

Working Army Wireless Set No. 22 Paratroopers and Commandos transportable handcart radio station - circa 1942

Working RAF Lancaster Bomber Wireless Operators station - try your hand at Morse code

Working RAF H2S ground-mapping radar and static AN/APS-4 airborne ASV radar

Rotating aerial for working exhibition radio transmitting station enables communication world wide

Second World War British Army field combat radio communications equipment

Second World War Clandestine, Resistance Groups, Secret Agents and 1948 'Stay-behind' groups radio equipment

Cold War radio communications equipment for field combat and 'Stay-behind' groups 1948 - 2005

Conservation and restoration of large items of communications equipment such as the APS-4 radar

Restoration of an ARR-5 WW2 USAAF airborne surveillance receiver - effectively an airborne S-27

Restoring the famous Wireless Sets No. 19 and making them work well is always a struggle. WS19 needs 12 Volts at more than 25 Amps to start up

What we do

The Duxford Radio Trust (DRT), a registered not-for-profit charity, along with its wholly owned subsidiary Duxford Radio Ltd. (DRL) currently fulfills its public education obligations by providing the materials for public exhibitions of historic radio communications, navigation and radar artifacts, by active independent work in research, documentation, collection, conservation and restoration, by providing the permanent exhibition radio station G0PZJ/GB2IWM and by supporting/facilitating the historical and technical research, conservation and restoration of communications equipment by others. DRT/DRL publishes a four-monthly journal containing articles on specific historic equipment or communication related techniques. Copies of the Duxford Radio Journal are held in Cambridge University Library.

Today the DRT collection of Allied communications equipment is believed to rank only behind that of the IWM and RAF in historical and technical significance. Radio station G0PZJ/GB2IWM, owned by DRL, operates single side-band (SSB) transmission, Morse code, amplitude modulation (AM) or frequency modulation (FM) as appropriate on the international HF and national VHF frequency bands, using both vintage and modern equipment to demonstrate radio communications in action, world-wide, to the public 6 days per week (under normal circumstances).

Working WW2 Monica, Lancaster bomber tail warning radar on right, BC-221 Frequency Meter on left

Working WW2 Gee and LORAN airborne navigation equipment

Working WW2 R1392 VHF receiver and T1154/R1155 Lancaster radio

TR9D airborne radio and ground sets used by the RAF in the Battle of Britain

Radio battery charging: 300 Watt petrol generator used on trucks and A.F.V.

Radio battery charging: 80 Watt petrol generator used on Jeeps, Mules and by Paratroopers, etc.

Radio battery charging: portable hand-powered generator for man-pack sets

Radio battery charging: steam powered generator for silent operation

How we operate

For the last 32 years (until March 2020) the Duxford Radio Group has supported and facilitated the daily operation of the Imperial War Museums Duxford Volunteer Radio Section by providing free of charge, all equipment, materials, documentation and funding and also for the past 10 years by supervising a department of 37 suitably qualified IWM volunteer explainers, operating in daily roster teams, thus enabling the IWM Radio Section to operate 6 days per week, demonstrating historic radio communications in action to the public.

The IWM Duxford Radio Section operates from Buildings 177 and 178 at the Duxford airfield site, which are located either side of the large Gibraltar Gun, and adjacent to the rear of the American Air Museum. Building 177 houses the permanent exhibition radio station and a display of radio equipment principally with a land warfare theme, together with a working replica of the Wireless Operators station from the RAF Lancaster bomber. Building 178 is an inter-active display and demonstration room, which houses a display of working conserved or restored radio, navigation and radar equipment principally with an aviation theme.

The buildings are open when experienced, technically competent and suitably licenced IWM Radio Section volunteers are in attendance, for reasons of security, health and safety and radio regulatory compliance. The above information is subject to change as circumstances on the Duxford airfield site change.

At present the IWM Duxford Radio Section is closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 epidemic and the need for social distancing .

Radio Station G0PZJ/GB2IWM

The main operating position of the permanent exhibition radio communications station, which uses both vintage and modern equipment to talk to the world.

Equipment is available for the international HF shortwave bands and the national VHF and UHF bands using directional and omni-directional antennas.

Historic equipment currently configured for daily use includes Wireless Set No. 12 with R107 receiver, Wireless Set No. 19, T1154/R1155, Wireless Set No. 22 and receiver Type HRO. Larkspur, Clansman and Bowman trial family equipment is also available.

A Kenwood TS570DG kindly provided by Kenwood UK is available for HF SSB operation.

Activities we support

  • Public visits to IWM Duxford by individual adults, families with children, either unscheduled or scheduled, on a daily basis (not Saturdays)

  • Organised and pre-scheduled group visits to IWM Duxford from schools, Cadet Forces, HMG Armed Services parties, tour party operators, special interest groups, etc.

  • IWM Airshows and other flying displays

  • Other public event days, including celebrations of world events and significant national anniversaries, commemorations and milestones

  • Education S.T.E.M. related demonstrations, talks and lectures on communications, cryptology and cypher

  • Historical research into communications history and technology by individuals and organised groups/societies

  • Conservation, restoration and maintenance of historic radio communications, radar and navigation equipment by DRT/DRL, individuals and organised groups/societies

  • Historical and technical research, restoration service, advice and information on communications equipment to the staff of the Imperial War Museums and their customers

  • Publication of a historical-technical journal on radio communications, published 3 times per year. This is now archived in Cambridge University Library.

Duxford Radio - origins 1984 - 1986

The Duxford Radio group activity was originally co-founded by Major John Brown, the designer of the "B2 Suitcase Set" (and many other items of radio equipment used for espionage and other clandestine purposes during WW2) and by Richard Pope a radio engineer from the Civil Aviation Authority.

This activity stems from June 1984 when Richard Pope, G4HXH met up with Major John Brown, G3EUR at Duxford Airfield. John Brown had organised an informal association of Special Forces Signals Groups to operate a special event radio station to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of 'D' Day.

In May 1985 when a similar group met and operated radio station GB4SOE for the 40th Anniversary of 'VE' Day, it was remarked that despite the various air displays, military vehicle displays, and the Imperial War Museums intent to restore the WWII RAF Operations Room at Duxford, there was a forgotten side of the Second World War. Namely, how did all those people in the Armed Forces communicate with one another to get the orders and information back and forth to those on the front line, on land, sea and air? Radio communications (called wireless at the time) was of course the answer, but to what extent was this acknowledged or reflected in museum circles? Museums tend to focus on large structural objects such as aircraft, tanks, trucks, ships, trains - although they purport to be telling the story of the people concerned - and often fail to deal with the details of the field equipment used by people in action.

The years 1939-45 saw great strides made in radio and electronics with many new concepts and inventions; VHF radio communications, Radar, I.F.F, and the GEE navigational system are just a few, but in the UK these events were not celebrated in any significant way in 1985.

Duxford Radio - evolution 1986 - 1992

In September 1986 it was agreed with IWM that the Duxford Airfield Radio Society (D.A.R.S.) would provide a restoration service to IWM, exhibit its own radio equipment for public display to IWM customers and operate an amateur radio transmitting station GB4SOE, for which D.A.R.S. later obtained the radio call sign G0PZJ with an N.O.V. of GB2IWM.

Major John Brown contributed key items of clandestine radio equipment designed by him during the war, and Richard Pope, a serious collector of military radio equipment led the development of a collection of historic equipment and materials. During this time a group of both local and distant supporters was developed who provided materials, equipment and funding to sustain the groups operation, without any charge to IWM.

The Duxford Radio Society (DRS) was formed in July 1989, as an unincorporated association governed by a constitution and funded by its members.

In 1992 the Imperial War Museum Duxford provided two small buildings (numbers 177 & 178) on a permanent basis and permitted the positioning of outside radio aerials which were usually physically installed by the evolving Duxford Airfield Fire Brigade.

Duxford Radio - development 1992 - 2009 and 2009 - 2017

At the direct instruction of IWM Duxford management, from 1992 to 2009 the Duxford Radio Society (DRS) became the Radio Section of the Duxford Aviation Society (DAS) and during this period successfully developed its equipment collection and conservation/restoration activities in order to conserve, restore, exhibit and demonstrate radio communications in action to the public visiting IWM Duxford. During this period the Duxford Radio group was fully supported by DAS for health & safety and other essential functions. DRS provided technical, historical and electronic engineering support to various IWM departments when ever requested, without charge.

Following a change of IWM Duxford management, from 1st April 2009 IWM insisted that as the DAS Radio Section formed a 'Front of House' public-facing activity on the IWM Duxford airfield, the volunteers leave DAS and become registered IWM volunteers to form the IWM Radio Section. After complying with this written instruction, from April 2009 to April 2017 the Radio Section volunteers continued to organise and schedule themselves and take complete responsibility for their own care, well-being and health and safety. The Duxford Radio Society continued to provide all equipment and funding for the IWM Duxford Radio Section until 2017.

Duxford Radio - 2017 to the current situation at IWM Duxford

In 2017, in anticipation of further changes of approach by a new IWM Duxford management with a new strategic plan, and in order to protect the historic equipment collection and the personal liability of the volunteers, the assets and activities of the Duxford Radio Society were transferred into a trust and the Duxford Radio Trust registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with a wholly owned subsidiary Duxford Radio Ltd. From 2017 to 2020 the Duxford Radio Trust and its subsidiary Duxford Radio Limited have continued to provide all materials and funding and supervision of IWM volunteers for the function of the IWM Duxford Radio Section without charge to IWM.

At present the equipment and materials of the Duxford Radio Trust are not available to the public until further notice due to the COVID-19 epidemic and the need to follow UK government rules on social distancing .

More detailed information on the current situation at Duxford to follow