WWII fire control 'computers'

From: Jules Richardson <julesrichardsonuk_at_yahoo.co.uk>
Date: Mon Dec 30 06:33:00 2002


>> Does anyone know anything about the mechanical fire control computers
>> as used in second world war for UK coastal defence batteries?
> You might try posting this question to the guys that know, on the
> coastal-defense mail list (yes, there is a list for geeks of all kinds).
> I can post the question to the list, if you wish.

hey, that'd be much appreciated if you can forward my posting on my behalf.

It's probably worth me joining at some point anyway - I've visited most of the
coastal defence sites in the UK, but those have all been stripped of nearly all
metal. The site in New Zealand seems quite unique just because it is largely
intact - power generation and hydraulics are all still present and we hope to
have engine room systems running again one day. The 9.2" guns went for scrap
years ago, but there are still a few examples left around the world. Having a
gun moving around on the hillside under its own power would be pretty cool!

> Getting any information or artifacts will be very difficult - about as
> close to impossible as you can get. The reason for this is post-war, the
> fire control computers were of little use (they do exactly one function) and
> have large scrap values (for example, a Mk IV TDC has about a _pound_ of
> gold inside). When the mechanisms were scrapped, the manuals were simply
> thrown away.

that is a lot of gold! A lot of other documentation relating to the site has
survived in city archives, including manuals, site plans, the fortress record
book etc. but for some reason information relating to the fire control systems
vanished - almost as though someone had a paranoia attack and purposely
destroyed it. There's a rumour that there is one photo of the computer
somewhere - I'm trying to trace its wherabouts at the moment.

>> It's possible that the unit shared a lot of commonality with ship-based
>> systems, in some cut-down form or other, but I haven't yet located anyone
>> who can confirm this.
> Possibly. They probably would be cut down, as there are less variables to
> deal with - not being on a ship means that you can eliminate the stable
> element and gyrocompass inputs.

yes, that's what I figured. Logically there are common elements between the
systems, and probably enough to justify sharing of parts. Of course, whether
this sort of foresight happened or whether the Army took the Navy's equipment
and simply trimmed redundant functionality out is debatable! They may well have
been completely different systems...

(the 9.2" guns were ex-navy and I believe the hydraulic systems were shared
too, but of course that doesn't mean to say that fire control systems were at
all related)

> I am very interested in these things (I think the fire control collection
> now outweighs the computer collection).

literally, I imagine - those mechanical systems must be pretty heavy :-)



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Received on Mon Dec 30 2002 - 06:33:00 GMT

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