Duxford Radio Trust

Preserving the history and technology of Radio Communications

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

Interactive Wireless Museum

The Duxford Radio group provides the equipment, 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.

Below is a small selection of items from the DRT collection and a few details of our recent 'Interactive Wireless Museum' activities.

Working Wireless Set No. 22 Army handcart radio station for Infantry, Paratroopers and Commandos etc

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

Working RAF H2S ground-mapping radar and static AN/APS-4 airborne Air-to-Surface-Vessel radar pod

Working complete ARC-5/SCR-274-N 'Command' radio installation as fitted to USAAF B17 and B24 aircraft

Who we are and what we do

The Duxford Radio Trust (DRT), is a registered not-for-profit charity, along with its wholly owned subsidiary Duxford Radio Ltd. (DRL), which is dedicated to preserving the history of radio communications. We fulfill our 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 licensed exhibition radio transmitting 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, can operate 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.

Examples of what we collect, conserve, restore and demonstrate to the public

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

Working WW2 RAF Gee receiver made by AC Cossor and USA LORAN airborne navigation equipment

Working WW2 R1392 VHF aircraft band receiver and T1154/R1155 long-range Lancaster bomber radio

TR9D airborne radio and RAF T1422/R1224A ground radio station used by the RAF in the Battle of Britain

Pye WS18 Second World War British Army field combat portable radio communications equipment, and various man portable and vehicle borne sets

Various Second World War clandestine radio equipment used by Resistance Groups, Secret Agents and 'Stay-behind' groups supported by the UK from 1948

Various Cold War radio equipment for British Army field combat up to 2005 and items used by 'Stay-behind' groups supported by the C.I.A. from 1948

Radio battery charging in the field: robust 300 Watt petrol generator used on trucks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles.

Radio battery charging in the field: lightweight 80 Watt petrol generator carried by Jeeps, Mules and by Paratroopers, etc.

Radio battery charging in the field: man portable hand-powered generator for light weight man-pack sets

Radio battery charging in the field: steam powered generator for silent operation in jungle warfare

and much more

Some of our activities

For 32 years the Duxford Radio Group has facilitated and supported the daily operation of the Volunteer Radio Section at the Imperial War Museums Duxford 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, licenced and experienced IWM volunteer explainers, operating in daily roster teams, thus enabling the IWM Radio Section exhibition buildings and radio station to operate 6 days per week, demonstrating historic radio communications in action to the public.

From 1992 to 23 March 2020 the IWM Duxford Radio Section operated from Buildings 177 and 178 at the Duxford airfield site, located either side of the large Gibraltar Gun, and adjacent to the American Air Museum. Building 177 housed the exhibition radio transmitting station and a display of radio equipment principally with a land warfare theme, together with a working replica of the Wireless Operators position from the RAF Lancaster bomber. Building 178 was an interactive display and demonstration room, which housed a display of working conserved or restored radio, navigation and radar equipment principally with an aviation theme. IWM Duxford is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

How we do it

Conservation and restoration of large items of communications equipment such as the WW2 APS-4 airborne under-wing radar pod

Restoration of a small WW2 ARR-5 USAAF airborne surveillance receiver - effectively an airborne Hallicrafters S-27 - used for detecting enemy radar

Restoring the famous WW2 Pye 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

Waiting for conservation/restoration

Plan Position Indicator No. 1 - radar operators console circa 1939/1940

Used on early VHF radar Chain Home Low (CHL) and later Ground Controlled Intercept (GCI) radar to display the position and bearing location of a target aircraft or ship.

A particular limitation of the original British Second World War Chain Home radar system was that due to the low frequency of operation and aerial structures employed, it could not detect low-flying aircraft.

At the time, the British Army was tasked with coastal defence activities and by using the VHF radar technology developed for Airborne Interception radar (AI) and Air-to-Surface Vessel (ASV) radar at Bawdsey Manor by the team led by Dr. Bowen, the Army developed a prototype coastal defence radar system to detect shipping and as an aid to gun targeting.

Once the potential of this version of early VHF ground radar was realised, Professor J. Cockroft (formerly of the Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory) and his Army team transported the prototype VHF coastal defence (CD) anti-shipping radar to Pye Ltd. at Cambridge.

Pye turned the prototype 200MHz radar design into a practical working system for coastal air defense which by then was needed to detect low flying German bombers (and submarines) and working with the Government scientists, 24 radar stations were installed around the UK coast.

The order was later extended to 52 radar stations to cover the entire UK coastline and called Chain Home Low (CHL).

Invicta Radio Ltd., a Pye subsidiary company, produced this example of the Plan Position Indicator No. 1 console. In use a second console would have provided a range display.

The PPI display uses a 12 inch Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) with motor driven scan coils rotating around the neck of the tube in order to create the plan view display with a moving trace which mirrored the rotation of the radar aerial.

Once this rare surviving unit is conserved and restored, the rotating scan coil system repaired and driven by the DRT computer simulation radar system, this unit will provide a unique working demonstration of early Second World War radar home defence technology and can be displayed along with the DRT Chain Home radar demonstrator.

Waiting for conservation/restoration

Air Defence radar AA3 MK 7 1944 - 1968

This mobile anti-aircraft radar station, which was designed to control the Vickers 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun, was last restored and repainted in 2006 when it received a bare-metal respray and overhaul in the workshops of the Duxford Aviation Society.

It is complete with 17KW diesel generator, all interconnection cables and target simulator equipment to enable it to operate without radiating microwave energy.

Since 2007 it has been waiting to be married up with the IWM 3.7 Inch AA gun on display at Duxford, and now requires overhauling and repainting again.

Exhibition Radio Station

The main operating position of the exhibition radio communications station, which uses both vintage and modern equipment to demonstrate radio communications in action by talking 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 configured for use includes Wireless Set No. 12 with R107 receiver, Wireless Set No. 19, T1154/R1155, Wireless Set No. 22 and receiver Type HRO. Other Larkspur, Clansman family and Bowman trial equipment is also available.

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

BBC TV filming our radio station in action

This programme appeared on national TV in 2018


Activities we currently support

  • Visits by the public to Duxford Radio Section by individual adults, families with children, either unscheduled or scheduled, on a daily basis (not normally on Saturdays)

  • Operation of two fully equipped radio communications exhibition buildings at Duxford plus the permanent exhibition radio transmitting station G0PZJ/GB2IWM

  • Organised/scheduled group visits to Duxford Radio Section from schools, Cadet Forces, HMG Armed Services parties, tour party operators, special interest groups, etc.

  • Inside and outdoor exhibits for airshows and other flying displays

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

  • Activities we can support with our large collection of historic equipment

  • A licensed HF/VHF exhibition radio transmitting station with fully qualified operators

  • Permanent or temporary interactive displays of historic radio communications equipment for exhibitions at Museums or other events in the East of England

  • 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, other individuals and organised groups/societies

  • Historical and technical research, restoration service, advice and information on communications equipment

  • 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 future 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 license G0PZJ/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 group's operation.

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

In 1992 IWM Duxford decided that the Duxford Radio Society (DRS) should become the Radio Section of the Duxford Aviation Society (DAS). During this period the group extensively 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. 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.

Duxford Radio - change 2009 - 2017

In April 2009 at the request of IWM, because the DAS Radio Section formed a 'Front of House' public-facing explainer activity on the IWM Duxford airfield, the DAS volunteers were asked by IWM to become registered IWM volunteers to form the IWM Duxford Radio Section. Following this change, from April 2009 to April 2017, the Radio Section volunteers were obliged to take responsibility for their own organisation, administration, care, well-being and health and safety. The Duxford Radio Society continued to provide all radio communications equipment and direct funding for the IWM Duxford Radio Section until 2017.

Duxford Radio - restructuring 2017 -2020

In 2017, in anticipation of IWM Duxford's new strategic plan, and in order to protect the historic equipment collection and the personal liability of the individuals, the assets and activities of the Duxford Radio Society were transferred into a trust. The Duxford Radio Trust was registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and a wholly owned trading subsidiary, Duxford Radio Limited, was formed. From April 2017 to 23 March 2020 (when IWM Duxford closed to the public) the Trustees and Directors of Duxford Radio Trust and Duxford Radio Ltd continued to provide all materials, direct funding, scheduling, administration and health & safety supervision for IWM volunteers in the Duxford Radio Section. The equipment supply arrangements between the Duxford Radio Trust and IWM are currently, in 2020, under review and discussion. More detailed information to follow.

Talking to the world - HF antenna for demonstrating long-range, world-wide radio communications