In the period between the British Prime Minister Chamberlain signing the pact for "Peace in our time" and the first shots being fired, the British War Office recognised the very limited time available to re-arm the British Military Forces for the inevitable conflict. It was decided to seek assistance from certain Commonwealth Countries including Australia, Canada and New Zealand (NZ) in the re-armament process. As part of this process it was determined to invite a small number of leading electronics experts from those countries to the UK to be briefed on the latest secret developments such as Radar. New Zealand sent the head of the Dominion Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) Dr Ernest Marsden, his task was, in the space of three months, to learn everything he could about Radar, then purchase all necessary components required for the assembly of a system back in NZ. It was expected that this would stimulate ongoing research and development leading to eventual local production of Radar sets as required. It was hoped that in the event of the fall of the UK this transfer of knowledge would permit the Commonwealth to fight on. How this impacted on the production of the ZC1 will be seen later in this article.
A second group of technical experts from the same countries were also brought to the UK; their role was somewhat different. Comprised of military radio personnel and civilian radio engineers their task was to view the latest military radios and hardware that the British wanted to standardise on throughout the Commonwealth. This group was then expected to report back to their respective Governments on the equipment that should be purchased by that country. A second task of this group was to report on the possible local manufacture of such equipment to boost British production capacity.
Yet another third much larger group, was comprised of civilian design staff, radio technicians and skilled production staff. This group was sent to the UK and absorbed into the British electronics research establishment and production facilities to assist in the urgent need to immediately boost production of war materials for the rearming of the run down British forces. This step while of immediate benefit to the British had the impact of significantly reducing the pool of skilled radio personnel available in NZ. However, the eventual return of most this group over time brought back many valuable new skills. Angus Tait founder of Tait Electronics was a member of this group.
All three groups affected the development and production of the ZC1 as follows, although it is the second group from New Zealand that played the greatest part in the events leading to the development of the ZC1. Included in the material this group brought back to NZ with them were plans and samples of a newly developed British HF transceiver known as the No.19 set manufactured by PYE. This set was originally designed for use in armored vehicles but it was considered that it might be satisfactory as a general purpose set for the NZ armed forces. The NZ Army members of this group, influenced by their Commonwealth counterparts stated intention to standardise on this set, recommended its adoption. However the civilian members of the group thought it too complex and believed something better and cheaper could be designed and produced locally. The debate raged on for months with claims ranging from extreme pessimism that such a radio could ever be produced in NZ to extreme optimism that a vastly superior and cheaper set could be by the respective sides. In the meantime both Australia and Canada adopted the No. 19 set with Canada becoming a major manufacturing country of them.