T.C.B. Vlok


Throughout the history of large decisive campaigns and wars, and more so when opposing forces are clearly defined, appearing on a massive scale, conventional weapons and methods of warfare are produced in enormous quantities, to be used by every able-bodied person available; this because every war holds the threat that a state of attrition will be reached when superiority in numbers will tip the scales. To bolster morale, to minimise what is indeed a fateful attitude, a great deal of effort and energy is devoted to developing the secret weapon, the one that will more than restore the balance. Such were in their time: ballistae, the short sword, bows and arrows, gunpowder, breech loading rifles, machine guns, submarines, aerial bombs, tanks, and poison gas. The World War II crop was roughly: Blitzkrieg, radar, V.-type bombs and the atomic bomb. Great leaps ahead like these, in advance of current practice, were the fruits of labour by devoted and untrammelled "Backroom Boys". They produced the strategic ideas and material which were then handed over to the combat forces to exploit tactically. With a strong element of secrecy and national security ever-present, it was invariably necessary to create new units in the field for such exploitation, rather than to extend the functions of existing organisations. It is against this background that the development of radar in the South African Armed Forces must be seen.


South African Armed Forces; Blitzkrieg; radar; V.-type bombs; atomic bomb; the development of radar; Department of Electrical Engineering; Dr Basil Schonland; Dr Ernest Marsden

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ISSN 2224-0020 (online); ISSN 1022-8136 (print)

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