Friday, April 19, 2013


As I was saying, Radio Detection And Ranging or radar became the main focus of the war effort.

The story of radar development was done at MIT in Boston. Besides the detection of military aircraft and ships the other important use that was developed for radar was navigation. That's part of the "ranging" part of the acronym. Targeting distance as well as navigation using electronic signals.

The navigation system, LORAN, or Long Range Navigation, used timing of signals from known sources to determine the position of the the craft. This allowed a navigator to plot their course using a radar scope and prepared signal maps.

I found an article with a good description of LORAN in the Popular Science February 1946 issue.

I have a sample plotting chart but because these records were mounted in book form at NARA, photographing some documents was not easy or fruitful. If I can find a clear copy of the plot using one of the charts I'll post an update. The magazine article has a useful sample though.

The work surrounding the development of LORAN was done at  Lakehurst. The blimps K-1 and K-2 were initially used to develop and test the equipment. Test flights were taken down the coast to Maryland and up and over to Montauk, Long Island. Trips were made to Bermuda.

The K-1 or K-2 would have its windows painted black so no one could get a visual on where they were flying. To it's credit the first tests to Montauk from Lakehurst were never more than a quarter mile off target, verified by observers stationed along the route.

K-2 in the air

The significance of this would escape me for a while until another bit of the puzzle dropped into place. Most of the people who transferred from Lakehurst to the airfields around San Francisco for Lighter-Than-Air aircraft patrols were attached to the Rangefinders group at Lakehurst. When I had gotten copies the L-8's co-pilot, Charles Adams,  Department of Defense records it while looking through his wide career and noticing a simple reference to the rangefinder group. Not knowing what they were it was this research that lead to radar.

From there I started noticing statements like this in documents:

Discomfort reported on aircraft with radar

A pattern started to form as I poured over boxes of documents.

Other descriptions made note of problems with the TR-box, on/off switches, and the mounting of radar componenets so they did not break, crack, separate or point in the wrong direction.
I also found similar letters complaining not only about the physical problems caused by being in proximity to radar but the effects that radar had on the radio units within the aircraft.

The electromagnetic energy generated are in the microwave range.

Next... "To Serve Man"...Twilight Zone fans will have a clue....


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05/10/2013 - update

I found these two pages reporting on LORAN testing while going through my research.
I thought I'd share it. It is located in the OSRD records at the National Archives at College Park, MD. Unfortunately it was bound in such a way that made it difficult to photograph but I think you'll get the gist.


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