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Artefact of the Month

THE MUSEUM’S ‘GIBSON GIRL’ TRANSMITTER

In 1941, the German Luftwaffe introduced an emergency transmitter for their downed pilots. It was small, buoyant and waterproof and powered by an internal hand driven generator. The set was known as the NSG2 – Not Sende Gerät 2 (emergency transmitter equipment 2).

The British soon captured a NSG2 transmitter and made their own version with few changes. The British version was known as the ‘Dinghy Transmitter T-1333’ and was carried in aircraft of Bomber and Coastal Commands. The equipment included a long aerial supported by a box kite which was launched into the air by a rocket fired from a Very pistol. The kite, folded up and contained in a case, was drawn up by the rocket. When it reached about two hundred feet, the case opened automatically and the kite would fly providing there was a minimum wind speed of 6 mph. The aerial wire was then attached to the line and the kite was allowed to rise, carrying the aerial to the requisite height of 208 feet. The equipment transmitted ‘SOS’ automatically and had a range of about 200 miles.

The emergency transmitter displayed in the Museum’s Merston Hall is a later version, manufactured by the Bendix Aviation Company of the United States and designated the SCR-578. Because of its shape it was also known as the ‘Gibson Girl’, the name taken from the drawings of narrow wasted females by the 1890s fashion artist Charles Gibson. This American transmitter was superior to both the German and British predecessors. Manufactured in far greater numbers, the SCR-578 transmitter remained in use and production long after the Second World War.

THE MUSEUM’S ‘GIBSON GIRL’ TRANSMITTER AND BOX KITE ARE DISPLAYED ADJACENT TO THE AIR SEA RESCUE EXHIBITION IN THE MUSEUM’S MERSTON HALL.

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