Duxford Radio Trust

Preserving the history and technology of Radio Communications

Researching, collecting, conserving, restoring and demonstrating historic communications equipment to the public

For the past 32 years the Duxford Radio group has been demonstrating the history and technology 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 H2S ground-mapping radar and AN/APS-4 airborne ASV radar

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

Second World War 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

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.

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) DRT/DRL has supported and facilitated the daily operation of the Imperial War Museums Duxford Volunteer Radio Section by providing all equipment, materials, documentation and funding and also for the past 10 years by the DRT Trustees 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 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 licenced 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 vary. At present the Radio Section is closed until further notice.

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.

Activities we support

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

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

  • Airshows and flying displays

  • Other public event days

  • 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 communications equipment by individuals and organised groups/societies

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

Duxford Radio origins

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

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 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 group. Eventually 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.

The Duxford Radio Society (DRS) was formed in July 1989, as an unincorporated association governed by a constitution. At the direct request of the IWM, from 1992 to 2009 the group became the Radio Section of the Duxford Aviation Society (DAS). Following a change of IWM management, from 1st April 2009 IWM insisted the Radio Section volunteers leave DAS and become registered IWM volunteers. In 2017 in anticipation of further changes of approach by IWM management, and in order to protect the historic equipment collection, the assets and activities of the Duxford Radio Society were transferred to the Duxford Radio Trust charity.