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Type CV-56 cavity magnetron

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Serial No. 290

This magnetron consists of grooved mental cylinder with three glass tubes attached to it. Two of those tubes are cathodes, while the other (on the opposite side of the cylinder) is the anode. There are wires coming out of the two glass portions of the cathode, and a metal pin coming out of the glass portion of the anode.

"It was a gift from the gods we disclosed..." boasted the British scientists sharing their top-secret discovery of a 10-centimeter cavity magnetron with the Americans. That revelation in September 1940 resulted in the creation of the MIT Radiation Laboratory or Rad Lab. "From first to last, the Laboratory lived by the law of cut-and-try." It was a hybrid laboratory bringing together nuclear physicists, engineers, and skilled technicians. University professors worked side-by-side with researchers from industry and the military. In five years, the Rad Lab developed 150 different systems for radar, navigation, early warning, gun direction, and blind bombing as well as the LORAN navigation system. It grew from 50 to 4,000 employees, employing about one-fifth of the nation's physicists, and was second in size only to the Manhattan Project. The Rad Lab reshaped MIT in fundamental ways after WWII. It also represents the Institute's single greatest contribution to the nation in response to a crisis during its 150-year history.

For many years, it was claimed that this piece was found by George Harvey in MIT's Building 20 for the Rad Lab 1976 reunion. The manufacturer name in the museum’s inventory record is Isidor Rabi and Lee A. DuBridge, though the magnetron itself is clearly marked CV-56, a very early model manufactured in 1941 by General Electric. It looks very similar to the magnetron being held by E.G. Bowen (British Scientific Mission), I.I. Rabi (Associate Director, MIT Radiation Laboratory) and Lee DuBridge (Laboratory Director) in famous photographs of the three supposedly looking at one of the original 10-cm cavity magnetrons.

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