Browse Prior Art Database

Electrical Computers for Fire Control

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129395D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 21 page(s) / 83K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

W. H. C. Higgins: AUTHOR [+4]

Abstract

Improved fire-control systems developed during World War II used computers to translate radar data on the existence and location of a target into gun orders designed to direct artillery shells to, and cause them to burst at, a point where the target and its hostile mission are most apt to be adversely affected. Bell Laboratories entered this field because a few members of its staff became interested in the problem of using radar data for gun control. These people had broad scientific backgrounds and broad familiarity with a wide range of telephone and electronics technology, although the extensive available experience with existing fire-control systems was well beyond their knowledge or indeed that of Bell Laboratories. Their proposals evolved into a series of gun directors, developed by Bell Labs and manufactured by Western Electric, which were highly effective in controlling antiaircraft guns. These directors could be manufactured mainly by mass-production methods, since they did not depend for their accuracy, as did previous directors, on a variety of high-precision mechanical components requiring many highly skilled mechanics for their production.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1982 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Electrical Computers for Fire Control

W. H. C. Higgins

B. D. Holbrook

J. W. Emling

Improved fire-control systems developed during World War II used computers to translate radar data on the existence and location of a target into gun orders designed to direct artillery shells to, and cause them to burst at, a point where the target and its hostile mission are most apt to be adversely affected. Bell Laboratories entered this field because a few members of its staff became interested in the problem of using radar data for gun control. These people had broad scientific backgrounds and broad familiarity with a wide range of telephone and electronics technology, although the extensive available experience with existing fire-control systems was well beyond their knowledge or indeed that of Bell Laboratories. Their proposals evolved into a series of gun directors, developed by Bell Labs and manufactured by Western Electric, which were highly effective in controlling antiaircraft guns. These directors could be manufactured mainly by mass-production methods, since they did not depend for their accuracy, as did previous directors, on a variety of high-precision mechanical components requiring many highly skilled mechanics for their production.

Bell Laboratories digital computers were used during World War principally in the design and testing of electrical analog gun directors. These computers evolved from the pioneer work of George R. Stibitz (in the period from 1937 to 1940), who designed and put to work at Bell Laboratories the first electromechanical digital computer.

1. Electrical Analog Computers

Radar is basically a system for detecting and locating targets in the air, on the ground, or on the sea; airborne targets, because of their much greater speed and maneuverability, were by far the most important ones. It has many uses by itself, but its major military value depended on its integration with fire-control equipment -- that is, with devices using present position data to control the accurate aiming of suitable ordnance so that the projectiles will have maximum probability of seriously damaging the object under attack.

Before the development of radar, the detection and location of targets to be countered by antiaircraft artillery required the use of optical tracking equipment. Basically, this equipment consisted of an optical range finder and a transit-type instrument to determine angles. The optical equipment was of very high quality, and when skillfully used under favorable conditions provided accurate information concerning the present position of the target. This information was fed into mechanical analog computing gear, which used it to predict the course of the target during the flight of the projectile and from this to determine the gun orders and the fus...