The National Archives at Boston is home to records documenting the development of radar in World War II (NAID 5019100). Hosted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Rad Lab was America's response to impending war.
The committee was housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) newly-formed Radiation Laboratory (nicknamed “Rad Lab”); the name disguised the lab's real work, as people thought nuclear physics was too immature to impact the war. To find the right staff, MIT hosted a conference on applied nuclear physics, with an emphasis on microwaves. Attendees noticed many private meetings, and by the end of the conference, the core staff had been hired. By the end of that fall, early radar testing was ongoing on the roof of Building 6.
Other Rad Lab inventions were airborne bombing radars, shipboard search radars, harbor and coastal defense radars, gun-laying radars, ground-controlled approach radars for aircraft blind landing, interrogate-friend-or-foe beacon systems, the long-range navigation system, the microwave early-warning radars, and air-to-surface vessel radars.
Rad Lab scientists invented almost half of the radar deployed in World War II and also launched a new era of collaboration between government, industry, and academia. Many of these technologies had a lasting impact on the war. In November 1942, U-boats claimed 117 Allied ships. Less than a year later, in the two-month period of September to October 1943, only 9 Allied ships were sunk, while a total of 25 U-boats were destroyed by planes equipped with radar.
When Rad Lab formally closed on December 31, 1945, MIT shared its research with the world in a monumental publishing effort called the MIT Radiation Laboratory Series. Comprised of twenty-eight volumes, this series encapsulated a huge amount of knowledge generated during the war and influenced postwar engineering.
From: National Archives at Boston
Record Group 227: Records of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, 1939 - 1947