World War 2
Pye employees in their reserve company of soldiers, marching in St Andrews Road, Cambridge
Towards the end of the 1930s the world was on the brink of what was to become known as World War 2.
Pye was prepared and happy to throw its significant technical and manufacturing resources behind the country's war effort.
During WW2 Pye Ltd applied its drive, enthusiasm and industrial experience in both radio and TV in support of the Allied Armed Forces and made a vital contribution to the war effort in the areas of:
Army wireless sets
Artillery proximity fuze
Test & Measurement equipment
Thermionic valve development
The Vital Component for the War Effort
Pye needed an RF amplifier valve with excellent high frequency properties for their television development. Pye contacted Philips Research Labs in the Netherlands who were developing the EE50 valve. Pye proposed modifications to the design of this valve to improve its performance and it was renamed the EF50.
In Spring 1939, government scientists were researching airborne radar for the war effort. They needed to find ways of considerably extending the range of these radar systems.
Visiting Cambridge, they found that the TV receiver Pye had developed was ideal for this purpose and promptly placed orders for this ‘Pye Strip’ as it became known.
The "Pye Strip"
The Pye TV receiver using the new EF50 valves became the key component of all World War Two VHF radar receivers. For instance, between 1939 and 1941 Pye designed, produced and installed 3000 airborne interception radar receivers and indicator units in night fighters.
All manner of communication equipment and radar systems were rapidly developed for the military effort.
The entire Pye TV section was turned over to the development of radar: newsreels of the era highlighted that Pye’s TV valve and chassis were the basis of all radar sets built by hundreds of companies during the Second World War.
In radio communications, Pye’s radio designs became the design template for radio sets built by the Allies due to their high-quality, low-cost of manufacture and ease of mass-reproduction.
Other technologies led to proximity fuses for anti-aircraft artillery shells used in the battle for the skies. The proximity fuse was a miniature radio transmitter and receiver/detector fitted in the nose of an anti-aircraft shell, which detonated when close to the aircraft.
Amazingly the army handset that was developed went on to produce the very first mobile 'phone for the public.
Pye workers using the Sawston Bakery for assembly work