Papers of Jack Plymen (b.1915), Scientific Officer, Royal Air Force, Operational Research Section

Scope and Content

The archive contains articles written by Plymen, 1948-1991; operational research reports and notes complied by Plymen and the Operational Research Section of the Second Tactical Air Force during the Second World War, 1941-1946, with some later OR material and papers, c.1982-1997; and photographs dating from the war, c.1945.

This collection forms part of the Operational Research and Operational Research Society Archive (MSS.335), which was deposited with the Centre by operational research practitioners.

The archive has been catalogued to file level. A copy of the finding aid is available both online and in paper format in the Centre's searchroom, at the National Register of Archives in London and in Chadwyck-Healey's 'National Inventory of Documentary Sources'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in 1915, Jack Plymen served in World War II as a Scientific Officer with one of the operational research sections attached to the Royal Air Force's 2nd Tactical Air Force. The Operational Research Section was formed in 1938 to assist the RAF with problems in the operation of a chain of radar stations, and it was to liaise with the Headquarters of Fighter Command who published its reports and helped to filter its results down to the pilots. From 1941 the Section was engaged in an analysis of fighter combat tactics and conditions from the study of thousands of films recorded in combat by a cine-camera synchronized with the guns. For each clear film the ORS assessors produced a report informing the pilot of the accuracy of the attack and what, if any, damage had been inflicted. Plymen played a central role in this work and worked on a report on the gyroscopic gun-sight, published in February 1946. Similar work was carried out on the RAF's rocket projectiles and the ORS officers were able to advise on the tactics for their effective use. Plymen retired from the ORS at the end of 1945 and resumed his actuarial work for the Atlas Assurance Company Ltd., London, in January 1946. He retained his links with OR and was an active member of the Society until as recently as 1996.

Reference: Accessions file for MSS.335/PLY.

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited with the Modern Records Centre as part of the Operational Research and Operational Research Society Archive by Professor N. L. Lawrie in January 1998.

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.

Appraisal Information

This collection has been weeded for duplicates.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

The Centre holds the following other collections relating to the history, development and practice of operational research and to pioneers and practitioners in this field (collectively known as the Operational Research Archive): British European Airways: Operational Research Branch (MSS.335/AI/1); British Overseas Airways Corporation: Operational Research Branch (MSS.335/AI/2); British Steel Operational Research papers and Memoranda (MSS.335/BS); the Papers of Professor Stephen Cook (MSS.335/CK); the Community Operational Research Unit (MSS.335/COR); the East Midlands Operational Research Group (MSS.335/EMORG); Papers of the Fellowship for Operational Research (MSS.335/FOR); papers for British Gas Operational Research (MSS.335/GA); British Gas North West Operational Research Reports (MSS.335/GA/NW); GKN Operational Research Reports (MSS.335/GKN); Fellowship for Operational Research (MSS.335/FOR); International Federation of Operational Research Societies (MSS.335/IFORS);Interviews with Operational Research Pioneers and Related Papers (MSS.335/INT); the Institute for Operational Research (MSS.335/IOR); the Local Government Operational Research Unit (MSS.335/LG); Miscellaneous and Fragmentary Operational Research Papers (MSS.335/MIS); Operational Analysis Branch, NATO (MSS.335/OAB); Draft Obituaries of Operational Research Practitioners (MSS.335/OBIT); the Papers of Professor K. Brian Haley relating to Operational Research Quarterly (MSS.335/SO/H); the Papers of Rolphe C. Tomlinson (MSS.335/TOM); and the Papers of Dr Edward D. van Rest (MSS.335/VR).