Last modified on 7 August 2014, at 17:28

A Race on the Edge of Time

A Race on the Edge of Time: Radar - The Decisive Weapon of World War II (1987) by David E. Fisher (ISBN 0070210888) is an account on the development and deployment of Radar.

  • To put it bluntly, it was seen as morally permissible to bomb the natives in the hills of Africa, but reprehensible to use those same airplanes to bomb the citizens of Berlin or London.
  • Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Commander-in-Chief, RAF Fighter Command was asked if their only hope was to pray to God and trust in radar. He replied, "At this stage I would rather pray for radar, and trust in God."
    • Reflecting on the readiness of the British radar in 1939.
  • When he [Michael Faraday] demonstrated his apparatus [dynamo] to His Majesty's Government, the prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, asked, "Of what use is it?" To which Faraday replied: "I don't know, but I'll wager that some day you'll tax it."
  • England was a the height of her powers as an empire; the virtually instantaneous transmission of information to colonies around the world without the expense and upkeep of laying suboceanic and intercontinental cables seemed to His Majesty's officials to be one more indication of a just God who had the interests of the Empire at heart.
    • On the invention of radio.
  • It was obvious that he couldn't ask any pilot to put his aircraft intentionally into a spin in order to test his theory, so he decided that he should learn to fly. The Superintendent turned down his request, on the grounds that it would "weaken the position" of the professional pilots "who were the recognized experts in flying," but he allowed him to send a written request to the War Office, which surprisingly gave permission - if, of course, the stringent physical examination could be passed.
  • The ground staff, who didn't quite trust him because of his Germanic accent, kept an unofficial but firm limit on the amount of fuel they would put into his plane, never enough to allow him to fly across the Channel. He was never aware of this, so it was lucky he didn't try.
  • Taylor evidently got this scenario from his friend Lord Beaverbrook, who was present, but Dowding later said that the remark about the Cabinet cringing was "really very absurd," although he admitted to perhaps having "thrown down the pencil in exasperation."
  • Robert Wright, in his biography of Dowding, writes: "When the question was raised [after the war] about the curious distortion of the decisions reached about the fighters that is found recorded by Churchill in his own account of those times, Dowding commented: 'You couldn't very well except him to admit that he came within a hair's breadth of wrecking Fighter Command before the Battle of Britain ever started.'"
  • It pulled Newall to his feet; he sent it on to the other chiefs of staff with his strong recommendation, adding that "it can be said with absolute certainty that while the collapse of France would not necessarily mean the ultimate victory of Germany, the collapse of Great Britain would inevitably do so."