Saturday, August 14, 2010

Follow Up: Mechanical Marvels

On Monday I wrote about a series of videos that covered the basic mechanisms inside mechanical fire control computers. How rods, levers, rolling balls, and sliding bars can do math to help one ship shoot another.

One day later Wayne sent me a link to a photo he took on a trip this March break. It's a plaque on the battleship Iowa. Reminds me of something I read in a magazine once about how the Panama Canal kept it's old mechanical control system for the longest time. Mainly because the new fangled computer systems weren't going to be any better. I think the Panama Canal has modernized it's control system finally. Apparently computers can get better than the mechanical systems that preceded them.

Still fire control is complicated with or without computers. I went looking to see what I could find. Wikipedia gives an overview of the systems that were on the Iowa. Much more detail can be found at the Historical Naval Ships Association (HSNA). Under their document collection about Ordinance, Gunnery and Fire Control there are some interesting things to look at. Fire Control Fundamentals and Computer Mark 1 and Mods (with Computer Mark 1A Addendum) are a good place to start.

The biggest problem with the HNSA is that I could end up reading and looking for days on end. Yet another incredible resource I didn't even know existed.

1 comment:

Wayne said...

Just to clarify the ship I was on was the "North Carolina" which is an Iowa class ship.