Ryan Aeronautical Company was founded in 1934,
and became part of Teledyne in 1969, eventually being owned Northrop Grumman in 1999. Ryan,
which produced many airplanes and drones, was perhaps most famous for building the
Spirit of St. Louis
(Ryan NYP) used by Charles Lindbergh on his historic transatlantic flight. Ryan also dabbled in jet
engines and electronics. The 'packaged radar' concept described in this 1952 article was the
precursor to modular circuit assembly commonly used in military systems to facilitate rapid field
By William Wagner
Ryan Aeronautical Company
Using a jeweler's tool and magnifying glass, this Ryan electronics engineer wires
a packaged subminiature circuit used in the radar equipment developed by Ryan.
Surrounded by a maze of intricate electronic test equipment, this Ryan engineer checks
an experimental circuit.
Radar, one of the greatest technical advancements of World War II, utilizes huge
parabolic scanners to transmit signals and receive echoes from enemy aircraft in flight.
Flying radar stations for use in extremely advanced-type aircraft are being built experimentally
at Ryan Aeronautical Company in "packages" so small they could almost fit into a briefcase or handbag.
An application in which the ultimate in telescoped radar installations has been achieved.
This is the Ryan "Firebird" - a fast air-to-air guided missile.
No larger than a package of cigarettes, this 5-tube miniature radar amplifier has
been compressed into unbelievably small proportions. (Right)
Viewed with a thumb tack and paper clip for comparison, this miniature diode indicates
the scale on which radar units are being built.
The flying radar station consists of an "intelligence" head, electronic circuitry, and a power supply
which provides the various voltages required. Tubes, resistors, and coils no larger than a fingernail,
a paper clip, or a key are packaged amidst an intricate maze of wiring, some strands of which are as
small as 3/1000th of an inch. The cylinder housing the brain is likely to be less than a foot in diameter
and perhaps two feet long.
The "brain" contains the transmitter and receiver. The information reflected back to the unit is
received by a midget equivalent of the "dish" style antenna of larger radar installations. The information
thus received is channeled to two locations - the "brain" to determine the navigation required, and
the aircraft controls for making the necessary flight adjustments.
The problems involved in producing such equipment include not only all of the problems inherent in
miniaturization but also problems encountered because of the extremes of temperature at which the equipment
is to operate and those which arise because of the vibration and shock to which the gear is subjected.
The time-consuming and painstaking procedures necessary to develop this equipment have been worked
out satisfactorily and "packaged radar" is now a reality.
Posted November 15, 2016