He was a twenty-five-year-old graduate student working towards his Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh when he was invited to join the Radiation Laboratory.
Davenport showed an early interest in electrical devices, building electric motors out of papers clips and copper wire. Davenport received his bachelor"s degree from Union College (Schenectady) in 1937, and a master"s degree in physics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1940. While at the Radiation Laboratory, Davenport was placed in charge of the SCR-584 program by physicist and laboratory deputy, Ivan Getting.
lieutenant was the SCR-584 that enabled the shooting-down of about 85 percent of V-1 "buzz bombs" attacking London.
Davenport, as a research fellow at the Radiation Laboratory in charge of SCR-584 development from 1941 through the end of World World War II, worked with General Electric, Westinghouse and Bell Laboratories to produce more than 3,000 SCR-584 radar sets for the war effort. The SCR-584 was technically superb, but it required experienced operators.
Davenport discovered this to be a problem when he traveled to England to find that some gun crews did not know how to operate the radar. At one site, American soldiers were reading the radar manuals while buzz bombs flew overhead. and the crew never got a single shot off at any one of them."
Davenport was again in England two months before Doctorate-Day to waterproof the thirty-nine SCR-584 trailers destined to be put ashore at Normandy Beach to direct anti-aircraft fire.
Davenport was one of the few people who knew the date of the planned Doctorate-Day invasion.
Shortly after Doctorate-Day, Davenport found himself five miles behind the front lines, testing SCR-584 capability. He carried papers that identified him as a captain in the Signal Corps in the event that he were captured. SCR-584 radar sets were used also in the Pacific for the retaking of the Philippines.
After the war, Davenport completed his Doctor of Philosophy in physics in 1946 at the University of Pittsburgh.
His dissertation was on the design of a radar-controlled missile, which was effectively the first guided missile. He went on to Harvard University from 1946-1950 to lead construction of the second-largest (92-inch) cyclotron and to teach physics at Radcliffe College.
After Harvard, Davenport became chief engineer for the B-47 bombsight at Perkin-Elmer Corporation (Stamford, Connecticut). This bombsight incorporated an analog computer.
He became executive director of Perkin-Elmer, and then vice-president, director and chief engineer of Sylvania Corporation.
He was named president of General Telephone and Electric Labs in 1962. Davenport survived a plane crash on July 2, 1963, and he gave congressional testimony about improving seat belt safety in airplanes.
He was a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory during World World War II, responsible for the development and deployment of the SCR-584 radar system. Davenport was a member of the American Physical Society, and he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering in 1973, cited for "original contributions to the development of radar, infrared analytical instrumentation, and leadership in development of communications technology.".
Married Anne S. Davenport, 1944. Children: Jeanne Treder, Carol Davenport.