This summary incorporates the most significant events in the history of the Decca Navigator Company.
1914 DECCA name used by Barnett Samuel for portable gramophone.
1928 Barnett Samuel becomes a public company and changes name to The Decca Gramophone Co.
1929 Edward Lewis forms Malden Holding Co to buy Duophone record factory at Shannon Corner for
selling-on to Decca. Decca refuses Lewis’s offer.
1929 (Feb 28th) Malden Holdings Co.decides to go into record manufacture itself and buys Decca
Gramophone Co. to get access to name and marketing organisation.
1932 Decca buys UK Brunswick for whom Harvey Schwarz had been working. Harveystays on to design
a new radio receiver for Decca.
1937 W.J. O'Brien in USA investigates methods of measuring the absolute velocity of aircraft. Chooses
phase-comparison between pairs of CW stations. US Army and Navy turn it down as too complicated.
1939 September. O'Brien sends Schwarz details of his system to offer UK military.
1939 October Offer refused by Tizard and Watson-Watt in favour of the GEE system.
1941 February/July. Lewis sends HFS to test system in California; 300/600 kHz.
1942 July. Admiralty requests demonstration. W. J. O’Brien comes to UK.
1942 September 16th First marine demonstration at Anglesey. 305/610 kHz. Phase comparison at 1220 kHz.
1943 Frequencies changed to 70-130 kHz; original freqs “too sensitive”.Operation at 200 miles demonstrated.
1944 January 21st Second marine demonstration in North Irish Sea.
1944 February 20th Full-scale 3-station trial use in practice landings, Scotland.
1944 March Decca requested to build 27 receivers and three sets transmitter control units.
1944 June 6th Decca used in 21 minesweepers and other vessels in D-day landings.
1944 October Chain moved to Scheldt Estuary. QM2 battery-operated receiver developed.
1945 May 22nd First airborne tests made by RAE Photographic Section Lancaster JA876 using QM1
(1945 July. Ground demos to Commonwealth and Empire Conference on Civil Aviation. Demos to PICAO) -
does not correspond to Attwell info.
1945 August. Admiralty requests chain to cover Thames Estuary for minesweeping.
1945 August Chain returned to Southern UK and re-established on South Coast at Sennen, Branscombe and
Southbourne, 140 and 70 miles baselines.
1945 Aug 27 RAE Lancaster JA 876 flies via Anglesey; obtains 400 ft accuracy based on photography.
1945 Sept 12 JA 876 flies to Gibraltar (t.o. 0945, landed 1805) QM still working at Gib but red dial “erratic”
1945 September Decca taken off secret list. Decca buys outright all rights to system for £50,000. World
1945 November 7th The Decca Navigator Co. Ltd., formed as a subsidiary of The Decca Record Co. Ltd.
1946 July First permanent chain of 3 transmitting stations covering the Thames estuary on air. (No Lane
1946 Decca Navigator first flew in an RAF Lancaster. It carried out flight trials ranging down to Gibraltar and
1947 January Ministry of Transport approves Decca for navigational purposes conditional on development of
1947 May. International approval to the system given by IMMRAN.
1947 July Demonstration of Mk. 5 Lane Identification system.
1947 Mk VI - first true airborne receiver with Lane Identification and suppressed “plate” aerial. MCA flight
1948 RAF fits PR aircraft at Benson for OS mapping UK.
1949 Notam advising Mk VI as an authorised aid to navigation. Weighs 100 lbs; First rotating-drum Flight Log.
1949 Prototype Ambassador fitted with Mk 6 and flight log.
1949 Demonstration of Flight Log at Ashbury Pk, NY.
1951 Decca purchases Avro Anson Mk 19 G-AGPB
1951 MCA demonstrates Decca and Flight Log in Marathon and Anson aircraft
1951 Avro Ashton fitted with Decca
1951 Brabazon test aircraft fitted.
1951 Stated to be “over 50" aircraft now using Decca
1952 March BEA fits Viscount 700 fleet with Mk VII receiver and Flight Log
1954 March Patent obtained on Mk 10 system of Lane Identification.
1955 Decca adopted for “Operation Grapple” - nuclear bomb tests at Christmas Is. 8 Valiants and
10 Shackletons fitted with Mk 8 rxs and flight logs.
1957 RAF adopts Decca for 2TAF Canberras - Operation “Fledgling”, 990 Rx.
1958 - Decca demonstration aircraft Anson Mk 19 G-AGWE moves from Croydon to Biggin Hill.
- February 10: Decca registers Valetta aircraft G-APKR in February.
1958 - March 10: Decca HQ moves from Brixton Rd to Albert Embankment.
1960 Anson sold; Percival Prince Mk 1 (G-ALWH) purchased
1960 Cambrian, Silver City, BKS Airways equipped with Decca. Silver City Bristol Freighters fitted with Mk 9
receiver and Flight Logs.
1962 BEA adopts Decca for helicopter services - Paris and Scilly Islands.
1963 March Demonstrations of Omnitrac 2/Flight Log/Data Link
1963 June Roller Maps 9275/9475 introduced
1964 US DoD installs Mk 8A Decca Navigator in Vietnam (2200 equipments)
1964 BKS using Mk 10 in Ambassador.
1963 Oct. Valetta retired
1963 RAF fits Doppler 62 to DH125, Avro 748, VC-10
1964 March. Decca buys Ambassador aircraft from King of Morocco G-ALZP.Originally with BEA 1951
1964 Sep 23. Ambassador aircraft leaves for US tour.
1964 Mid-Dec. Returns to UK
1964 BUA fit Decca in VC-10's. Cost £30K per aircraft.
1965 Decca fitted to North Sea oil exploration helicopters.
1965 NY Airways obtains approval for use of Decca in helicopters. Two Mk 8/Flight Logs per aircraft
1965 Decca acquires Bell 47G
1966 Mobile Decca chain used for crop spraying in Louisiana. Dectra Mk 2
1966 Danish Air Force fits Mk 8/Flight Logs to helicopters.
1966 RAF fits Andovers with Navigator/Flight Log/Doppler 62/Roller Map
1967 Flying Tigers fits DC8-63F fleet with Omnitrac (VOR/Doppler inputs)
1967 Seaboard World Airlines fits fleet with Decca/Dectra.
BOAC fits VC-10 with Omnitrac/Loran-C
Eastern Airlines fits DC-9 with Omnitrac VOR/DME
1967 May 17/18 NATCS demonstrations at Heathrow of Omnitrac with Decca and, VOR/DME coupling.
1967 66 RAF Hercules to be fitted with Decca Navigator/Loran-C/Doppler.Sept 26 36 Sqdn demonstration.
1967 French Air Force evaluate Doppler type 72 for Jaguar.A & AEE ditto.
1968 May - BEA fits Trident fleet with Omnitrac, Mk 16 Decca.
Nov - BEA 1-11 fleet fitted with Omnitrac/Mk 16
1968 Aug. Eastern commences STOL evaluation of Omnitrac with Mk 16 and vertical guidance.
1969 Decca/Arma agreement to develop Omnitrac 5 system for L-1011
1970 Nov 2nd. Harvey Schwarz retires.
1984 April 11th. W. J. O’Brien dies at age 76.
1988 April 23rd. Harvey Schwarz dies at age 82.
1972 USAF fits T43 (737) with Decca Loran-C ADL-21 (6 sets per aircraft) (AN-ARN-109)
1972 FAA evaluates Decca/Ambac MONA system aboard Tristar
1972 Decca TANS plus Doppler 71 for RN/Army helicopters.
1974 Sept Decca Omega rx at Farnbro show
1974 Oct Saudi, C Pacific and Gulf airlines select MONA for 1011
1974 Decca buys Jetstream G-AWVK
1974 Oct RAF Vulcans fitted with Doppler 72 win USAF bombing competition.
1975 “Over 100" MONA systems sold.
1975 Doppler 71/TANS system installed on Puma helicopter.
1975 ADL-81/TANS evaluated on Jetstream
1975 Omega receiver flown on Jetstream aircraft.
1976 April 29. Decca Doppler 80 evaluated at Boscombe Down for Gazelle.
1976 MONA aboard BA, Cathay Pacific, Saudi, Delta, All-Nippon L-1011's
DECCA NAVIGATOR CHAINS (List not complete)
1951 N. British
1952 German; SW British
1956 N Scottish
1957 Canada - 4 chains; Swedish
1958 Jan 24 Contract for erection of NY chain signed by AMB USA
1959 Calcutta chain; Bombay Chain
1960 N Persian Gulf
1961 S Persian Gulf
1962 N and S Bothnian; Bombay
1963 New York chain.
1964 Calcutta; NW Spanish
1967 June Icelandic Dectra station added.
May 27. First Norwegian chain - Finnmark; June 2 Skagerrak chain
First Japanese chain - Hokkaido
1968 May 14 Formal opening of six Norwegian Decca chains.
Aug Contract signed for Californian Decca chain.
Norway - 6 chains; Frisian Is; Demonstration chain Great Lakes.
1970 Baltic; S Africa - 2 chains; Pt Hedland
1971 S Africa - 3 chains; Gulf of Finland
1972 Holland; Dampier; S African Cape chain
1973 31 May Irish Chain opens
1974 Hebridean Chain; Northumbrian Chain
1975 Northumbrian; Dumai; Bangladesh; Hebridean
1976 Tohoku; Salaya; S Spain; Nigeria - 4 chains
1958 Decca Data Link development initiated.
1959 Loran-C AN-SPN31 designed for the US Navy. Built in USA by Continental(?)
1962 Nov 27 Introduction of Mk 12 marine rx.
1963 Marine fittings = 8000 Air fittings = 600
1964 Doppler type 62
1966 Doppler Type 70 initiated
1966 Loran-C type ADL-21 demonstrated in Ambassador aircraft.
200 units purchased for RAF.
1967 Loran-C Type DL-21 built for RN.
1967 New range solid-state receivers.
Mk 14 air rx - simple set; no LI
Mk 15 air rx - ZI, auto LI uses cptr 1910
Mk 16 air rx - uses Omnitrac
Mk 17 air rx - uses Omnitrac and has Dectra
Mk 18 marine rx -
Mk 19 air rx - dual purpose. Can emulate either Mk 8A or Mk 15. Use cptr 9360
1968 First Decca Doppler Type 70; originally for TSR-2
1969 Danac computer introduced.
1969 MANGS (Decca/Omnitrac Modular Area Navigation Guidance and Attitude System)
1969 Omnitrac/Doppler 72/SGP 500 inertial hybrid introduced
1970 Navigator Mk 25 - Map-only display for light aircraft.
1970 Loran-C ADL-23 introduced.
1971 TANS computer
1972 Decca Doppler Type 72 for MRCA (forerunner of Tornado)
1972 Decca NDB marketed.
1974 Decca DL-91 Loran-C
1975 Doppler 80 for helicopters.
1977 USCG names DL-91 as current procurement standard for non-military Loran-C receivers.
1978 First Decca Satellite Navigator - DS2
1980 Second Decca Satnav - DS3
1980 Decca Loran-C 1024
1980 Decca sells 31 ILS to RAF (Wilcox under licence)
1964 Decca Data Link demonstrated at SBAC Show
1972 Marine Plotter 350T marketed (transistorised 350)
1976 Decca Doppler VHF Omnirange (DVOR)
1946 First Decca yacht “Abedonia” purchased for demonstration work.
1946 Oct DFDS Kronprins Frederick fitted with Decca
1947 Feb 26 First Mk 4 rx fitted to mv “Rogate” (Stephenson Clarke Shipping)
1947 “Abedonia” replaced with Harbour Defence Motor Launch “Navigator”
1947 First Survey chain installed in Greenland.
1949 Survey work for offshore oil started.
1957 Fittings 4100. Practically linear increase since late 1945.
1965 July Hifix coupled to Omnitrac
1968 MY Navigator returns from 6-month tour of USA
1964 July Decca HiFix used for Channel Tunnel survey.
1965 Oct . M.Y.. Navigator replaced by new Navigator (Camper and Nicholson)
1969 Ships fitted said to be “over 14,000"
1969 Nov Mk 21 introduced.
1974 Fittings now 20,000
1965 88 Bushey Rd acquired.
1976 Decca Software Sciences Ltd (Decca 80%, SSL 20%)
1953 Decca Navigator Co (Canada)
1969 March Decca companies in USA bought by ITT. Become ITT Navigator Systems Inc
and ITT Decca Marine.
1975 Flight Navigation Ltd. (Decca/Smiths Ind.)
Acknowledgment: This list was provided by Walter Blanchard.
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