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History of the manufacturer  

Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. (AWA); Sydney

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Name: Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. (AWA); Sydney    (AUS)  
Abbreviation: amalgamate
Products: Model types Tube manufacturer

Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. (AWA); Sydney, New South Wales, was established on July 11th, 1913 by the merger of interests of Marconi and Telefunken. First technical manager was Ernest Thomas Fisk. Later manufacturer of professionel communication equipment. (source Fred Osterman, Reynoldsburg, OH)

Early subsidiary companies set up by AWA.

Australectric Co. was set up by the Directors in September 1918 due to the demand for “Expanse” radio equipment. The company later expanded to importing and manufacturing electrical and X-ray equipment but was voluntary liquidated on September 30, 1926.

Amalgamated Wireless Valve Co., Ltd. was set up by the Directors in April 1932 to acquire the licenses from RCA of America, International General electric, Westinghouse & AWA to manufacture and sell valves in Australia.

Manufacturers Special Products Pty. Ltd. (MSP) set up in August 1938 to manufacturer components for the Australian electronic industry.

Founded: 1913
Production: 1924 -
Documents about this manufacturer/brand
  Published by AWA in 1925. 1814 KB
  AWA Fisk 1931 Brochure. 1244 KB
  AWA Complete List of Radiola Receivers 1925-1938. 2829 KB
  AWA Speaker Transformer Types, 1944 114 KB
  AWA Service Data 1931 1220 KB

The Early Years


AWA commenced operations in 1909 as Australasian Wireless Limited (AWL), as a Telefunken wireless agent.

The English Marconi Company sued the Australian government for infringing their patent and AWL issued writs against firms who were using Marconi equipment. The government decided the best solution would be to use circuits designed by John Balsillie, inventor of the ‘Balsillie System’ of wireless telegraphy.

The two parties settled their differences and July 1913, they formed a new company, Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. AWA had exclusive rights throughout Australasia to the patents, ‘present and future’, for both Marconi and Telefunken. Later, in 1913, the new company established the Marconi Telefunken College of Telegraphy, later renamed the Marconi School of Wireless (MSW). In 1979 this moved to Launceston, Tasmania and becomes part of the Australian Maritime College.

The first AWA chairman was Sir Hugh Denison and Sir Ernest Fisk, also a founding director, was made General and Technical manager. In 1916 Fisk became Managing Director and in 1932 was made AWA Chairman.

Radio Years
The Australian Government granted AWA the exclusive rights to operate the Coastal Radio Service (CRS), a network of maritime radio stations that eventually included stations in New Guinea that had been hurriedly installed when Japan entered World War II.
The Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946 resulted in the creation of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission and ownership of the CRS was then transferred to this new organisation on 1st October 1946.

The first radio broadcast from the UK to Australia was received by AWA with the then Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, praising the troops he has just inspected on the Western Front.

The Australian Government needed a direct radio service with the UK and they commissioned AWA to create a service. The government increased the new company’s capital and became its majority shareholder.


The first Radiola was released in December 1923. It was a two valve receiver with an optional two valve amplifier. There was a comprehensive three month newspaper advertising campaign prior to the release of the Radiola.

Broadcasting and Media
In addition to being a maker of broadcasting equipment and a leading manufacturer of consumer radios, AWA Broadcasting (eventually to become AWA Media Pty Ltd) was the first and at one time the largest commercial radio network in Australia.
AWA owned and operated many Australian metropolitan and country AM radio stations over the years, including 2CH Sydney, 3MP Melbourne and 6KY Perth. AWA purchased 3XY Melbourne in 1991, relaunching it in 1992 as 3EE (Magic 693). AWA Media soon sold 3EE and 2CH was also sold in 1994.

AWA established two large beam wireless stations on 180 hectare sites; a receiver site in Victoria at Rockbank near Melbourne and a transmitter site at Ballan near Ballarat; this site became known as Fiskville.

A shortwave beam radiotelegraph service was set up between Australia and Britain. This new service undercut the early cable companies and was inaugurated on 8 April 1927, this service continued until 31 May 1969.

AWA established a similar service between Australia and Canada. In April 1930 the Empire radiotelephone service commenced.

AWA transmits the first newsreel pictures from Sydney to London.

The AWA Tower
The famous heritage listed AWA Building at 45-47 York Street in Sydney was completed. It became an instant landmark with its art-deco style and large white radio tower on top, in the shape of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was the tallest building in Australia until 1958 and remained the AWA head office until the early 1990s.

AWA established a joint venture (Amalgamated Wireless Valve Co. Pty Ltd) with Radio Corporation of America (RCA), to manufacture radio valves (vacuum tubes) at the Ashfield works under the AWV, RCA and Radiola brands. During World War II AWV produced a range of defence electronics materiel, including klystrons and magnetrons for radar equipment.

AWV commercialised research work by the AWA Research Laboratories to set up a plant to manufacture transistors and AWA Semiconductors was born. AWA continued to distribute products from RCA Semiconductor into the mid-1980s.

AWA MicroElectronics Pty Ltd was formed to design and manufacture integrated circuits and a fully operational wafer foundry was established in addition to an integrated circuit fabrication     facility and a design centre. This was a joint venture between AWA Ltd (64%), British Aerospace (25%) and the NSW Government (11%). This business was sold off to Quality Semiconductor Australia Pty Limited (now Silanna) in 1996.

Marine Communications
AWA continued in maritime operations supplying marine radio operators to Australian registered vessels. The AWA Marine Division with its headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt continued to wholesale marine communications and radar equipment to the Australian maritime and leisure-boating market into the mid-1980s.

Defence Systems
During World War II, the Marconi School trained a large number of military personnel in signals and communications. Additionally, the Department of Defence appropriated and operated the AWA Ballan facility for military radio operations, eventually returning it to civilian operations with the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC).
AWA continued to have major involvement in the Australian defence electronics industry. It worked closely with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in developing the electronics in the Ikara anti-submarine weapon, Nulka EW rocket drone, AN/SSQ-801A Barra sonobuoy (with Plessey as Sonobuoys Australia Pty Ltd), Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM), Agile Gliding Bomb and ALR-2002 Radar Warning Receiver, as well as providing support to the initial Jindalee Over The Horizon Radar trials.

AWA Defence Industries (AWADI) was formed by the merger of the defence electronics business of AWA with those of Thorn EMI Electronics Australia and Fairey Australasia.   AWADI was sold to British Aerospace Australia in April 1996.
Immediately after the World War II through to the 1980s, AWA was extensively involved in the design, development and manufacture of advanced aeronautical communications, navigation and surveillance systems.
These systems included the VHF Aural Range (VAR), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) for airborne use and ground beacons, VHF Omni Range (VOR), Air Traffic Control systems (known as AWANET) and a Microwave Landing System (MLS) called Interscan. Many of these developments were undertaken jointly with the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Department of Civil Aviation.

The Television Years
AWA engineers started working with Marconi in England on television systems in 1948. AWA was a major manufacturer of television receivers under the AWA Radiola Deep Image brand from the mid-1950s until the relaxation of import tariffs under the Whitlam Government in the early 1970s.

AWA provides the first (experimental) TV broadcast in Australia during Queen Elizabeth II’s  Australian Royal Tour.

With the increased competition in the marketplace, AWA joined forces with Thorn Electrical Industries UK to create AWA-Thorn Consumer Products Limited, to produce colour televisions in Australia. Thorn colour television receivers modified for Australia were marketed as AWA or Thorn models, with local improvements being made to these over the ensuing years.

AWA-Rediffusion Pty. Ltd, a company jointly owned by Rediffusion International and AWA Limited is formed. The business was a platform to enter the Australian market with Rediffusion systems similar to those offered in the UK by RIS/RBE and included products and services such as Reditune Background Music, CCTV, Hotel Audio Distribution and Specialist Information Display Systems.

AWA-Rediffusion moves into the television sales and rental market setting up a chain of retail shops under their Redihire name.

Colour Television finally arrives in Australia around ten years after the UK. Redihire had been preparing for the event for over a year with 6 shops opening in and around the Sydney area with the company’s HQ in Roseville NSW.
Television rental accounted for around 20% initially and so Redihire adopted a ‘rent or buy’ marketing approach from the onset focusing on selling existing models that were being made for AWA-Thorn by Mitsubishi Electric of Japan.
This division of AWA was also the Australian distributor for many audio equipment manufacturers, including Tannoy, Revox and AKG Acoustics.
Later in 1975 the last Australian-made AWA appliances were produced at the company’s Sydney manufacturing plant in Ashfield. From the late 1970s, appliances such as TVs were being made for AWA-Thorn by Mitsubishi Electric of Japan. This division of AWA was also the Australian distributor for many audio equipment manufacturers, including Tannoy, Revox, AKG Acoustics and Clarion (car audio).

AWA moved into TV broadcasting again when it purchased QTQ-9 in Brisbane, which it then sold to Alan Bond in 1985 as part of his Nine Network.

Mitsubishi Electric purchases AWA-Thorn renaming it Mitsubishi Electric AWA Pty Ltd and marketing their VCRs, stereos and TVs in Australia while retaining ‘AWA’ in the brand name.

Computer Technology
AWA brought the first Pick minicomputer system to Australia, and set up a computer services operation.

AWA acquires Electrical Equipment Ltd, a major manufacturer of power transmission equipment and this increases the total employees within the AWA Group to over 10,000 people.

Through the research done in the AWA Research Laboratories, AWA was an early entrant into the design and development of optical fibre technology in Australia. In 1984, AWA, in partnership with Corning of the USA and Metal Manufactures, established Optical Waveguides Australia Pty Ltd (OWA). AWA later sold its interest in OWA, which was eventually purchased fully by Corning to become Corning Noble Park, but closed in 2003.




AWA reported $49 million in foreign exchange losses due to unauthorised trading in 1986 and 1987. Over the next ten years this became a landmark legal case in Australia. There were legal proceedings against the auditors for failing to identify the trading, as well as cross claims against the company’s directors, the foreign exchange trader and the banks involved. In May 2010 the employee at the centre of the foreign exchange losses, Andrew Koval, was extradited from the United States to face criminal charges. He had previously defended a civil suit in relation to this matter.


AWA was renamed AWA Limited and in August 1988 the telephone manufacturing and related businesses were sold to Exicom Ltd. Computer Technology Services In the late 1980s AWA established AWASCo Pty Ltd, a joint venture with Serco Group plc of the UK. The company provided facilities management services to Federal and State agencies and Serco went on to purchase AWA’s share and formed Serco Australia.


AWA Computer Support Services became an independent business unit. In the early 1990s unable to compete with cheaper imported appliances, AWA exited the field of domestic appliances and consumer electronics and focused on information technology services.


AWA acquired Smorgon Technologies, a world leader in totalisator systems. The company developed and operated state-of-art wagering systems that were installed around the world. Communications The AWA Communications Division was a developer and vendor of telephone and radio communications systems, in particular microwave radio. The division merged with Plessey Communications to form AWA Plessey Communications Division.


AWA share in the group was sold to Plessey Corporation and became Plessey Asia Pacific Communications Division; this was then sold and renamed Longreach Wireless. AWA was acquired by Jupiters Limited, who were then acquired by Tabcorp.

ICT Solutions and Services.


AWA was spun off, and once again become an independent company, AWA Limited.


AWA acquired Telefix Sales Pty Ltd, a successful service business for home entertainment products.


AWA is proud to celebrate over 100 years in the technology business.


AWA went into administration in February, 2014 and was bought by not-for-profit Catholic healthcare provider Cabrini Health Limited. Today, AWA provides independent technology service solutions for large organisations, ICT and AV vendors, resellers, distributors and outsourcers. With offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and Newcastle plus a national network of more than 700 service agents AWA provides a truly national service network.

This manufacturer was suggested by Peter Hughes.

Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
AUS  50 Radiola 809GZ X61M  This radiogram uses an "Oak" record changer. See also Hotpoint-Bandmaster Model... 
AUS  32 Radiolette C87 235  The C87 was the first Australian radio to use a bakelite cabinet. There were two knobs at ... 
AUS  33 Radiolette 110 Ch= C104 57  This radio used an autodyne (self-oscillating) frequency changer. Chassis was also used... 
AUS  33/34 Radiolette 24 Ch=C124 [AWA Drawing CD255] 78  5 valve, reflexed superhet with an IF of 175 kHz. Chassis: This was the first AWA radi... 
AUS  34 Radiolette 27 78  The Radiolette 27 is a 5 valve reflexed superhet with IF 175 kHz: 78 as RF amp, 6A7 as osc... 
AUS  34/35 Radiolette (Empire State) 28 6D6  AWA produced a series of Bakelite Empire State radios between 1934 and 1938. Radiolette... 
AUS  35 Radiolette (Empire State) 29 6D6  AWA produced a series of Bakelite Empire State radios between 1934 and 1938. Radiolette... 
AUS  36 Radiolette (Fret and Foot) 33 6A7  AWA produced a series of Bakelite, Fret and Foot radios in 1936 and 1937. Radiolette mo... 
AUS  37 Radiolette (Fret and Foot) 38A 6A7  AWA produced a series of Bakelite, Fret and Foot radios in 1936 and 1937. Radiolette mo... 
AUS  37 Radiolette (Empire State) 37 6D6  AWA produced a series of Bakelite Empire State radios between 1934 and 1938. Radiolette... 
AUS  37/38 Radiola (Empire State) 48 6A7  AWA produced a series of Bakelite Empire State radios between 1934 and 1938. Radiolette... 
AUS  46/47 Radiolette (Egg Crate) 509M 6A8G  From 1939 till 1941, AWA produced a range of Radiola radios with a simple, low decoration,... 


Further details for this manufacturer by the members (rmfiorg):

Advertisment from in "west Australian Wireless News" November 16, 1933. Listing AWA radios sold by Wyper Howard Ltd. Perth western Australia.tbn_aus_awa_advert_1933.jpg
As advertised in "West Australian Wireless News" December 14, 1935tbn_aus_awa_advert_1935.jpg
Advertisment from the "Radio Retailer", August 14, 1936 for the colour Fisk Radiolette models.tbn_aus_awa_radiolette_ad.jpg
AWA advertisement, Wireless Weekly – 29 August, 1924. Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_ad_1924.png
The famous heritage listed AWA Building at 45-47 York Street in Sydney was completed in 1939. It became an instant landmark with its art-deco style and large white radio tower on top, in the shape of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was the tallest building in Australia until 1958 and remained the AWA head office until the early 1990stbn_aus_awa_tower.jpg
AWA Logo 2014tbn_aus_awa_logo_2015.jpg
AWA Logo c1940'stbn_aus_awa_logo_early.jpg
Advertisement from the "Taralga Echo" Melbourne December 20, 1924. Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_ad_1924.jpg
AWA's radio progress 1913 to 1934 From the “Australian Women’s weekly, April 6, 1935. Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_progress_1935.jpg
Australia’s Trans-Ocean Wireless Telephone Service was pioneered by AWA on April 30, 1939. Map from Radio Trade Annual 1939, Page 147.tbn_aus_awa_1939_internation_rt_service_map.jpg
By 1939 the commercial development of aviation had opened up a new and extensive field for wireless purposes. Passenger and mail carrying aircraft were fitted with specially designed radio sets suitable for transmission and reception of both wireless telegraph and telephone. In many cases both short wave and medium wave was used. AWA provided and installed transmitting & receiving stations at airport and locations around Australia to the order of the Civil Aviation authority. Bellini-Tose direct finding was also provided. All the equipment was manufactured by AWA. Map from Radio Trade Annual 1939, Page 149.tbn_aus_awa_aircraft_wireless_service_1939.jpg
New company notice, Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. AWA had exclusive rights throughout Australasia to the patents, ‘present and future’, for both Marconi and Telefunken. From the Sun(NSW), 15 July 1914, page 2. Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_new_company_sun_15_7_13p2.jpg
Marconi Telefunken College of Telegraphy advert. From the Freeman's Journal (NSW), 16 4 1914, page 27. Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_school_advert_freemans_journal_16_4_14p27.jpg
AWA Australian trademark application for “Radiola” was accepted on 20 December 1922. Daily Commercial News and Shipping List ( NSW) 20 Dec 1922 Page 11. Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_radiola_trademark_20_12_22p11.jpg
AWA Australian trademark application for “Radiolette” on the 20 January 1924. Daily Commercial News and Shipping List ( NSW) 30 Jan 1924 Page 11. Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_radiolette_trademark_registered_20_1_24p11.jpg
AWA Australian trademark application for “Duoforte”, August 1929. Daily Commercial News and Shipping List (NSW) Aug 28 1929 page 8 Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_daily_commercial_news_and_shipping_list_nsw_aug_28_1929_page_8.jpg
AWA directors set up a subsidiary company known as Australectric Co. in September 1918 to manufacture Expanse equipment. From Radio in Australia & New Zealand, April 3, 1923.tbn_aus_awa_a_nz_april_4_1923.jpg
AWA Radio Guide tube list 1927tbn_awa_1927_radio_guide_tube_list.png
AWA manufactured test equipment. Electronics Australia, April 1965, page 32.tbn_aus_awa_ea_april_1965.jpg
1937 Radiolette brochure listing the “Empire State” series radios and Radiolette Console prices in 1937.tbn_aus_awa_radiolette_advert.jpg
Christmas 1933 release of Radiola's and Radiolette's. The Grenfell Record and Lachlan District Advertiser(NSW) Dec 21, 1933,P3. Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_the_grenfell_record_and_lachlan_district_advertiser_nsw_dec_21_1933_p3.jpg
AWA 5 valve AC mantel and 8 transistor portable radio, advertised in 1961. Maryborough District Advertiser(Vic) July 14, 1961. Image credit G Trengove.tbn_aus_awa_ad_maryborough_district_advertiser_vic_july_14_1961.jpg
AWA advert for Radiolettes in 1934.tbn_aus_awa_radiolette_advert_24_34_44.jpg
reconstructed speaker labeltbn_aus_awa_speaker_label.jpg
early AWA chassis labeltbn_aus_awa_early_chassis_label_2.jpg
early AWA chassis labeltbn_aus_awa_early_chassis_label_3.jpg
early AWA chassis labeltbn_aus_awa_early_chassis_label_4.jpg
early AWA chassis labeltbn_aus_awa_early_chassis_labels_1.jpg
AWA Marine & Aviation advert 1969. Australian Fisheries Feb 28, 1969, Page 2. Image sourced from Trove – National Library of Australiatbn_aus_awa_australian_fisheries_feb_28_1969_page_2.jpg
RECONSTRUCTED SPEAKER LABELtbn_aus_awa_speaker_label~~1.jpg
RECONSTRUCTED SPEAKER LABELtbn_aus_awa_speaker_label_3~~1.jpg

Forum contributions about this manufacturer/brand
Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. (AWA); Sydney
Threads: 5 | Posts: 7
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Looking Back-AWA Aircraft Instruments
Gary Cowans

Looking Back-AWA Aircraft Instruments; By John McIlwaine AWA Historian

One of the little-known products made by AWA was the range of Aircraft Instruments for the WW11 war effort for supply to the Australian Aircraft manufacturers.

 Instruments for the Australian-made aircraft included the de Havilland Mosquito DH98 Bomber first build started in 1942 at DHA Bankstown NSW some 212 were built by 1944. The DAP Department of Aircraft Production Factories at Fisherman’s Bend Victoria and the Aircraft factory at Mascot Sydney built  700 Beaufort Bombers, 350 at each site by 1944.

In addition, some 364 Beaufighters were built at both Fisherman’s Bend and Mascot, and serial numbers of both Beauforts and Beaufighters alternated; odd numbers were built at Fisherman’s Bend and even numbers at Mascot. An interesting insight AWA colleague and fellow member Ross Stell's father as a Railways engineer was involved in the aircraft production, he was seconded to the DAP and sent to Bristol in the UK to learn all about building the Beauforts, on his return, his notebooks recall he was sent to Melbourne to help establish the production at Fisherman’s Bend, Ross has many memories of that time living just opposite Luna Park. St Kilda.

The family moved back to Sydney, where his father worked at the Mascot Aircraft factory which was built at the Aerodrome, (Sydney Kingsford Smith) he became a senior inspector, checking that all components conformed to specifications he had been given by Bristol. In both states sub-assemblies were made in the Railway workshops; in NSW at the Chullora Workshops, and in Victoria at Newport Workshops and Islington Workshops (SA).

Ross whilst at Primary School can recall the time his father took him to work one day so he could watch these big aircraft being assembled from the sub-assemblies

Also during 1936-46, the CAC Commonwealth Aircraft Corp at Fisherman’s Bend Lorimar Street Factory built 755 of the Wirraway aircraft. (Wirraway is an aboriginal meaning for challenge) The Wirraway was a training aircraft and general-purpose military aircraft; it was an Australian development of the North American NA-16 trainer

 The Railway workshops in both Victoria and Chullora Sydney also contributed with sub-assemblies for wartime aircraft production, and of note, the original Fisherman’s Bend Aircraft factory location in the 1930s became the Headquarters and assembly line for Holden cars from 1936.

The Radio Electric Works at Ashfield NSW was the site for many additional activities for the War effort in addition to a large range of Wireless communication Transmitters, Receivers, Radar, navigational aids, and allied components, an urgent demand was placed on the company to manufacture locally aircraft instruments never ever before undertaken in Australia. With the mother country threatened with invasion during 1940 and shipping menaced by enemy submarines, Australia had little choice but to make preparations and contribute what it could to the war effort.

During the war period, 1939-45 and isolated from the rest of the world with little hope of obtaining the equipment and components to make the equipment, additional factory annexes were set up to produce the necessary tooling and components to manufacture a range of aircraft instruments, these comprised Directional Gyro, Gyro Horizon, Sensitive Altimeter, Rate–of-climb Indicator, Air Speed Indicator, Altimeters, some 70.000 aircraft Instruments were made by the company during the period.

These highly sophisticated complex instruments required special conditions to manufacture the delicate Sperry instruments under licence, extensive tooling, specialised operations, and skilled staff to fabricate, assemble, and test the instruments for fitment to Australian aircraft during the war.

 In addition to instruments, artillery directors, Parallescopes, and Aldis lamps were being made during this period along with the development of Radar in WW11.

Previously the men and women at the Radio Electric Works had only been previously employed in the manufacture of speakers, transformers, telephones, and moulded parts and found themselves up against the intricacies of Aircraft Instruments,

The AWA Aircraft factory provided one of the most interesting and credible pages in the history of Australia’s war effort and a credit to the Australian staff dedicated to this wartime work.

Post-war other electronic equipment designed developed and manufactured in Australia by AWA were Aviation Aids, the DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) was invented by James ‘Gerry' Gerrand and under the supervision of Edward George ’Taffy,' Bowen while employed as Chief of the division of Radiophysics of the CSIRO.

The AWA original engineered version was developed in the 1950s, operating in the 200 MHz VHF band, this Australian domestic version was referred to by the Federal Department of Civil Aviation as DME (D) or DME Domestic, and the later international version was adopted by ICAO as DME (1) DME is similar in principle to secondary radar ranging function, except the role of the equipment in the aircraft and on the ground are reversed. DME was a post-war development based on the identification friend or foe (IFF) systems of WW11.

To maintain compatibility, DME is functionally identical to the distant measuring component of TACAN, (Tactical Air Navigation System) used by military aircraft.

 Also the Doppler VOR air navigation beacon, this equipment saw worldwide recognition and was licenced in the ’70s to DECCA Navigation Company Ltd, of England to sell its Australian-designed Doppler VOR beacons in the UK, Western Europe, and in certain African and near countries.

AWA DME often called ‘’milestones in the sky’ ’was updated in the ’70s, operating in conjunction with the AWA manufactured ground beacons provides the pilot with continuous digital indications of distance, speed, and time to station of his aircraft,

Over 100 of these beacons were in service in the ’70s throughout Australia and Papua New Guinea; in addition AWA airborne DME is used by aircraft of our three Defence Services, all Australian airlines, and a number of General Aviation aircraft.

DME transponders are usually paired with an azimuth guidance system to provide aircraft with a two-dimensional capability. A typical combination is a DME collocated with a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) transmitter in a single ground station.

When this occurs, the frequencies of the VOR and DME equipment are paired, such configuration enables an aircraft to determine its azimuth angle and distance from the station. A VORTAC (a VOR co-located with a TACAN) installation provides the same capabilities to civil aircraft but also provides a 2-D navigation capability to military aircraft.

The Australian Government developed and manufactured the TV-VASIS landing aid system which was also offered for sale internationally by AWA  during the ’70s was in operation at 94 major airports in Australia and New Zealand and was one of only two systems that was endorsed by ICAO.

The T-VASIS is an accurate and flexible system that provides guidance information for the safe operation of all existing airline aircraft irrespective of size. Sophisticated yet rugged specialised test instruments for VOR installations displayed by AWA already found an export market in the UK, Sweden, Austria, and Indonesia at the time.

The development and research of fibre optics in Australia by AWA in the 70s would also have a profound effect on the future direction of electronic and telecommunication transmission equipment.

Acknowledge: AWA Publications, AWA Veterans Archives, John McIlwaine AWA history files.

Wikipedia references. Input from Ross Stell former long-time staff of AWA Ashfield.

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AWA aircraft instrument manufacturing during WW2. Part 2.
Gary Cowans

Following up on the earlier Forum Article AWA aircraft instrument manufacturing during WW2.

Photos from John McIlwain of AWA aircraft instrument manufacturing during WW2.




Photos of aircraft instruments manufactured by AWA during WW2







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AWA - Splendid War Record.
Gary Cowans

AWA - Splendid War Record.

The Annual Report of the Chairman of the Board and the Managing Director of A.W.A. given at the 37th Ordinary General Meeting of the Company on October 22, 1945, gave many interesting facts concerning the Company’s wartime achievements which previously it had not been possible to reveal.
The Chairman of the Board, Mr. T. J. Parker, said that following the resignation of Sir Ernest Fisk, Mr. L. A. Hooke was appointed a Director of the Company and also Managing Director.
During the war the Company contributed some 57,000,000 man hours to and £13,000,000 worth of defence equipment was produced by the staff of 5000.

Radio Communications.

The Beam Wireless telegraph service was called upon to handle more than three times its pre-war volume and new radio circuits to the United States, lndia, Ceylon, China, and Barbados were opened at short notice, as well as special wireless provided for the Australian, Royal and United States Navies.
Although communications to ships at sea ceased, one-million-man hours were spent in listening for distress calls alone, of which more than 500 were received. The permanent radio station at New Guinea continued to serve until that country was invaded by the Japanese. That of Port Moresby, in Papua, however, continued throughout the war in spite of the fact that it was subject to more than 100 enemy air attacks. The Company’s staff in this area as the war moved north, went first to Hollandia and then to Leyte, from where many millions of words were sent to Australia.

The Coastal Station at Darwin, which was subject to direct Japanese bombing attacks, renderedvaluable assistance to the forces. Messages to the Troops. In conjunction with Cable and Wireless, special cheap rates were introduced to assist war personnel, and in this respect over 25,000 free messages were despatched between British evacuated children and their parents, and over 1,500,000 messages to the troops were handled for an inclusive charge of 2/6 per message, irrespective of the destination.

One of the circuits installed included the latest seven-unit Multiplex printing equipment, which is not only capable of providing four channels on the one circuit, but gives secrecy and an error proof method of printing. This type of equipment had never before been used over such a long distance and has proved remarkably successful.

The circuits with the United Kingdom, New Zealand and North America are again open to the public and a new system of radio transmission known as single side band will soon be installed, the whole of the necessary equipment being made in the Company’s Radio-Electric works at Ashfield.

Marconi School.

The Company’s Marconi school has trained thousands of operators and technicians for the Fighting Services and the Merchant Navy, while the Marine Department has equipped a large number of vessels with apparatus of all types and has supplied operating staff for Australian and other Allied ships. Special instructional classes in radio technique and operating for officers and men of the A.I.F. and R.A.A.F. were instituted, and more than 4,000 personnel passed through this school. As was to be expected the company’s radar work was outstanding and ranks with the world’s best. The manufacture of the equipment supplied to the American and British Services involved continuous investigation by the staff of the research laboratories.

Aircraft Instruments.

Aircraft Navigational and Engine instruments, such as gyroscopic compasses, artificial horizons,altimeters, airspeed indicators and other instruments were produced and fitted to Australian bomber and fighter aircraft, in all, 70,000 instruments being supplied. The Amalgamated Wireless Valve Company, a subsidiary, produced some 4,000,000 valves of more than 100 types and set up a special section for the development of radar valves.

The Company’s ammunition annexe, erected at its own expense for the manufacturing of gun ammunition, produced many millions of shell fuses armour piercing cores and aircraft shells. This section alone employed about 800 people. Important work was carried out in the field of tropic proofing, the company setting up a special mycological laboratory, which did remarkable work in developing materials suitable for the New Guinea conditions.

Building & Engineering January 24, 1946, Pages 53-54.

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AWA aircraft instrument manufacturing during WW2.
Gary Cowans

Aircraft instruments were not made in Australia before the war, and one of the important tasks of the new industry was to provide ample supplies of these instruments. Their manufacture was spread over three firms. At the works of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd a whole factory was devoted to making compasses, the Sperry gyro horizon, Sperry directional gyro, rate-of-climb indicator, pressure gauges and altimeters. Warburton Franki Ltd of Melbourne concentrated on such equipment as ammeters, voltmeters, and air temperature indicators, while H. A. Chivers of Melbourne made tachometer generators, tachometer indicators and turn-and-bank indicators. In selecting the directional gyro for special mention two considerations have been uppermost: it was then the only device affording fixed directional reference in the cockpit of an aircraft in flight; and its manufacture called for considerable skill.

The instrument was introduced into the manufacturing program at A.W.A. in January 1942. The greatest care had to be exercised in keeping the premises where it was made free from dust. Traditional watch-making anti-dust practices were not good enough; even the type of clothing worn by the employees concerned was carefully regulated. The gyroscopic movement of the instrument had a speed of 11,500 revolutions per minute (an ordinary electric fan made 2,000 a t the most) and being delicately poised could be irreparably damaged if small specks of dust were allowed to enter the pivots or ball races. Operatives were trained to establish by a sense of touch the permissible "play " of 0.0005 of an inch in dynamically balancing the unit. The permissible THE AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY 393 machining tolerance in making the parts of the gyroscope was one ten - thousandth of an inch. Difficulties caused by the unusual features of its castings held up production for several months, but by September 1942 the target of 30 instruments a week was reached. A.W.A's contract ended in May 1945, by which time more than 2,000 instruments had been made.

Coupled with the directional gyro was the gyro-horizon, a device which created for pilots an artificial horizon so that the orientation of an aircraft with respect to the earth's horizon could be indicated accurately without the earth's horizon being visible. Like the directional gyro it consisted of a spinning wheel (15,000 revolutions a minute) supported by gimbals, but it was also fitted with a pendulum and vanes which automatically corrected any drift error caused by friction in the bearings. More than 2,000 of these instruments were made.

The Aircraft Industry Soon after the war, Ch 18, Page 392 & 393

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AWA Model Numbers - Significance of a suffix
Brian Wilson

I noticed on the site for the AWA 208PY that an AWA 208P that I have just obtained differs in minor ways from the later 208PY. In fact, the suffix indicates a MINOR revision of the circuit/schematic. The order is Original ----- No Suffix. First revision ----- Suffix = "Z". Second revision ------ Suffix = "Y". Third revision ------- Suffix = "X". I have not seen a Suffix "W" but that is not absolute proof of anything. The suffix does not seem to appear in advertising in anything that I have seen between 1956 and 1975. ALSO This "Suffix System" flows on into radios made by AWA for Email Pty Ltd and others. In the period from 1957 to 1975, Westinghouse, Hotpoint, Airzone are all re-branded AWA models. It may that there are others as well where this system was used - particularly for "Store Brand" radios and car radios made by AWA for various car manufacturers and assemblers in Australia.

Gary Cowans

Explanation from John McIlwaine, AWA Historian and long term employee of AWA on the model number suffix revisions;

He states the AWA first model number for say a model is 208 P, (P) being for portable, for modifications to the first model only three engineering changes could be made and the letter suffixes X, first change, Y second change and finally Z were used and added to the original 208P thus 208PX, 208PY and 208PZ

.No more changes could be made to the model after three changes, and a new model number would be required. This system was vital to rationalise service manuals and spare parts ordering in the field.

Martin Kent

Brian Wilsons observation is correct:

In this example 805GY is the second change (after Z). In this case the T & R suffix indicate that those versions use a 3-speed automatic changer as opposed to Y & W versions single speed changer. The differences between the T & R version could be simply just a different brand or type of record changer. Also some suffixes such as S or U may not have been used in this system. In the case of the 805G a X version is currently not known.

Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. (AWA); Sydney
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