1. Introduction

The most detailed and comprehensive publication on this subject is provided by the book “Aircraft for Airborne Radar Development” by W.H. Sleigh, published privately as a limited edition by RSRE at Malvern in 1986. This book is very rare, copies may be found in some of the main aviation reference libraries in the UK, and there is a copy within the membership of DAHG.  The book provides not only listings, illustrated by photographs and drawings of the aircraft involved in the development of radar in the UK from 1936, but also covers “….the background of the Aircraft Department attached to the Telecommunications Research Establishment / Royal Radar Establishment (1936 to 1976), its purpose and engineering objectives supporting test flying of military radar systems”.

Around the same time that Bill Sleigh’s book was published, Geoffrey Negus, recently  Chairman of Air-Britain, the International Association of Aviation Historian & Enthusiasts, wrote a useful summary of the history of flying and radar development at Defford in the mid-1980s, which provides a listing of aircraft complimentary to that in the book by Bill Sleigh, and is reproduced below with the kind permission of Geoffrey Negus.

In giving his permission, Geoffrey Negus wrote: “Bob – No problem at all – but somehow or other you need to acknowledge that this was only ‘work in progress’ from the 1980s – there are bound to be omissions and errors. Phil’s stuff is bound to be superior to mine!”  The last comment refers to the further and more recent research of Phil Butler, who has looked at Bill Sleigh’s lists  in the light of sources in the TNA.  Phil Butler’s “Summary of Amendments” follows the Geoffrey Negus document. Phil Butler writes “…..as Geoff has already said, it’s another ‘work in progress’, and should be flagged up as such”.

More recent studies may indeed suggest some changes in the document of Geoffrey Negus – for instance in dates and events in the story of the Boeing 247D DZ203, which has been the subject of more recent research, published elsewhere in this web-site. Nevertheless, his information coupled with that from Bill Sleigh and Phil Butler gives comprehensive coverage of the large number and wide variety of aircraft which flew from Defford and were involved in radar research.