Thursday, May 17, 2018

November, 1943: KS Engineer War Time Inventions

The following are scans of the November Issue of the Kansas State Engineer Magazine. The scans are in this order: Cover, Table of Contents, Article about Radar by Opa (3 pages), Article about Automobiles and Gasoline by Opa (2 pages). Below the scans, I transcribe them for the nerdy engineer readers among you. Enjoy!

Transcription (I'm just highlighting the bits about Opa):

Departmental Editors
Thomas Doeppner ...... Copy Editor
Feature Staff
Thomas Doeppner....... Editor


Today the Kansas State engineering graduate is going into industries that are producing directly for the battle that will end in our ultimate victory. Tomorrow these engineers will be producing the materials for a lasting peace. This month's cover depicts a large transport plane flying above a large blueprint. The plane and blueprint represent the future work of the Kansas State engineer in our time of peace and progress.


Loaned to the Kansas State Engineer, the cut show the control room of a broadcasting station. Radio broadcasting is only one of many forms of electronic communication that is constantly serving man. Cut courtesy Westinghouse.



Radar --- Radio Location

Revolutionizing detection and ranging

By Tom Doeppner, E.E. '44

On that so often quoted seventh of December, Private Joseph L. Lockard was scanning the skies over Pearl Harbor with a brand-new aircraft detection device. Even though he was just practicing, at 7:02 he noticed a deflection of the meters which could only be interpreted as the approach of aircraft. The meters also told him the location of the planes, the direction of their flight, and their distance from the shore - about 130 miles. A few minutes later, at 7:20, Lockard reported his discovery to a superior officer, who decided that these planes must be B-17's, expected from San Francisco. At 7:55, the Japanese Air Force hit Oahu. Radar had worked; the human mind had failed.

It has been said that the battle of the Coral Sea had been fought without any ship of either side being seen by its enemies; that it was a battle between planes and aircraft carriers. Maybe the ships and planes could not be seen with the naked eye or with telescopes, they were, however, detected long before their approach. It was Radar that did that job - Radar saw the planes approaching. Radar located the position of the ships. Radar detected their speed. Radar told which way they were proceeding. Radar to a great extent, determined the outcome of this and many other battles of World War II.

If these surprising results and revolutionizing methods of radar had been known or even anticipated by the authorities in the navy and war departments of twenty or even ten years ago, the inventors would have had an easier time and more financial aid. The immediate history of radar does not go very far back. Only in 1922, two scientists of the Naval Aircraft Radio Laoboratory, Dr. A Hoyt Taylor and Leo C.Young, made a fundamental discovery. They transmitted radio aves of ultra-short wave length and noticed the reaction of metal objects like ships on these waves. For several years, no more astounding discoveries were made in the field; however, the N.A.R.L. as well as other laboratories proceeded with careful scientific experiments and investigations in the field of ultra-high frequency. In the thirties, action on the development of radar was stepped up: in June, 1930, L. A. Hyland foresaw the possibilities of aircraft detection in the ultra-high frequency signals. He observed that an airplane which crossed the line between ultra-high frequency transmitter and receiver, caused an interference pattern which indication the plane's presence.

One year later, in June, 1931, the Radio Division of the U.S. Bureau of Engineering asked the N.A.R.L. to investigate the use of radio for plane and ship detection. Now, the ice was broken and even the Senate Appropriations Committee allotted funds for the project. With these aids, progress was made rapidly, and in October of the same year, proposals sent by the N.A.R.L. to the Bureau of Engineering were found to have practical possibilities. In January of the next year, the War Department got interested, and later that year, the Army examined apparatus by means of which planes could be detected at a range of fifty miles. Theoretical military application were outlined in 1933; 100,000 dollars were appropriated in 1935 for laboratory research. Then, as a first climax, on Rear Admiral Harold Bowen's initiative, radio-detective equipment was installed aboard the U.S.S. New York in 1938. 

The tests performed aboard the battleship New York were decisive in the history of radar. If results obtained were poor, the Navy would lose interest in radar for a long time to come. The technical crew which went out on the New York was headed by Robert M. Page. A destroyer squadron had been assigned to make a torpedo attack on the New York after darkness, and radar was to find out the location of the destroyers and the time of attack. From about sunset on, Page and his men stood by their radar set and watched the horizon over an angle of 360 degrees. For several hours, nothing happened. Vice Admiral Alfred W. Johnson, the Atlantic Squadron Commander, appeared in the control room and finally lost his patience. He knew the approximate time of attack and feared that the destroyers might be approaching without being discovered. When Johnson was ready to leave, the first signal came in. "There it is," said the Admiral. The destroyers were discovered, even though still eight miles away. From that moment on, Vice Admiral Johnson was a radar enthusiast and did much toward boosting the development of radar.

The problem now shifted from a scientific one to a commercial one; it became difficult to build radar sets fast enough to supply ships with them and still keep the entire device a military secret.

Naturally, there has been done much research on similar devices in foreign countries as well. The British "Radiolocator" is older than our radar, and the factor it played during the air blitz on England in 1940 did much to stimulate the development and improvement of our radar. 

It had to be expected that the enemy's armed forces would have similar devices, acquired either from American or English inventions, or, which seems more likely, through their own research. The first time that this became evident was in the case of the "Bismarck." After the Bismarck had hit the British cruiser Hood with surprising accuracy, she tried to escape the pursuing British planes. One of the British fighters located the Bismarck and guided other British aircraft in 

for the destruction of the German. This British fighter was fired at and hit from the Bismarck at a time when it was still out of sight above the clouds. This fact can only be explained if the Bismarck was equipped with some sort of radio-detective device.

Details about the functioning of radar are, of course, military secrets which will not be revealed until after victory is won. The fundamental principles of radar, however, have been published many times both by the British and here in the United States. To put it in a nut shell, we owe radar in two qualities of ultra-high-frequency radio waves. The first one is that these waves can be concentrated, similarly to a light beam, in sharp defined beams. The second one is that these waves are reflected, also similarly to light beams, by many kinds of matter.

Refer to figure 1. A directed radio signal of ultra-high frequency scans the skies. At the same time, an observer at point B tunes his receiver for the same frequency. Suddenly, a signal is picked up at it. The antenna which picks up the signal is then rotated to a position at which the signal is strongest. The source of the signal is in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the antenna. From the figure, it is obvious what happened. The beam sent out at A strikes an object, let's say a plane, at P. P becomes a new source of waves, and emits these waves in all directions. Knowing the distance between A and B and knowing the angles which PA and PB make with the horizontal, the operator can easily calculate or mechanically determine the exact position of the plane.

If the distance between receiver B and transmitter A is very small compared to the distance to the object P, as would usually be the case, this method would become rather inaccurate. It is possible, however, to determine the distance between the observer and P by measuring the time which it takes the signal to travel from the transmitter to P and back to the receiver. This internal of time, short as it is, can be measured with surprising accuracy.

One of the greatest difficulties was to secure an efficient tube to generate the extremely short waves necessary. Among the tubes which might possibly be used for these purposes are the magnetron and the klystron. The magnetron, which is the older one of the two, is a rather bulky tube which has the disadvantages of having a comparatively low efficiency, great frequency instability, and very critical adjustments. The klystron, a tube which is widely used in experimental work for the generation of ultra-short waves, had an efficiency of up to 58% and possesses fair frequency stability. Even though large compared with most ordinary electron tubes, it has not nearly the weight or bulkiness of the magnetron. The principle underlying the operation of the klystron is that a rapidly changing electric field tends to collect the electron of a cathode beam in groups. These groups are intensified and peaks and enter then into resonating chambers, where they set up a strong field. The energy which is represented in the electron groups may be derived by the field. The klystron is claimed to be capable of producing 300 watts at 1000 megacycles with an efficiency of 30 to 40 per cent.

The final proof of the radio-detection system was obtained, as mentioned before, during the Nazi air blitz on England. Had it not been for the British radiolocator, the R.A.F. would have needed patrol planes all along the English shore and probably far out into the ocean in order to discover the approach of unwanted visitors. A great part of the Royal Air Force, therefore, would have been in constant use, many gallons of gasoline and oil would have been consumed without the planes eve entering a fight or even seeing the enemy. At the enemy's approach, the flak would have been forced to fire indiscriminately into the sky, because the acoustic detection devices which were in use before the radiolocator, were extremely unreliable. In other words, the R.A.F. would have been forced to cope with a problem which might have been too big. To the great displeasure of the Nazis, the radiolocator, the new "Secret Weapon", had made its entry. Listening posts were set up not only along the coast, but were distributed all over the country. The approach of Nazi planes was discovered long before the planes reached England's shore; in some cases even at a time at which the Nazis were still on the continent. The planes which the English otherwise would have needed for patrol purposes, could now be concentrated at some central location and the be sent out directly to face the enemy. The flak could then fire to kill, since the location of the planes was ascertained with greater accuracy, and the part of the English coast at which no enemy planes were reported, could be left unguarded by planes, since radiolocator kept watch. Thus, the Germans found their newest Blitz to turn out to be a failure.

It would be a pity if an invention as revolutionizing and powerful as radar could be used for the destructive purposes of war only. Fortunately, however, the peace time uses for radar promise to be manifold. The British Air Chief Marshal Sir Philop Joubert made the statement that "radiolocation will be applied to commercial aviation and will aid to safety of flying."

In the first place, radar's ability to "see in the dark" can be used to effectively guide a plane or a ship through fogs. Slow traveling because of ...

Radar--- Radio Location
(continued from page 9)
fog, collisions of ships or planes in fog, will become stories of the past. One of the major applications of radar will be as "absolute altimeters." The altimeters in present-day use are essentially barometers which indicate nothing but the height of a plane above sea level. A pilot must be very well acquainted with the surrounding territory if he can fly a plane in the dark over mountains with no other aid but the sea-level altimeter. The "absolute altmeter" would indicate the position of the plane with respect to the ground right below the plane and with respect to mountains, even towers, in front of it. It would indicate the presence and location of any obstacle the plane might be headed at; it would indicate these early enough to give the pilot time to change the course of the plane.

Blind landing by means of radar has been accomplished already and will certainly be improved upon after the war. The plane follows the direction of an ultra-short wave beam, which it may follow either by audible signals, or by a dot on a fluorescent screen. If the plane gets slightly off course, the pilot can tell whether he is too far to t he left or to the right by the position of the dot on the fluorescent screen. The possibilities for future uses of radar are innumerous and limited only by the imaginative power of the engineers.

Engineering Digest
By Tom Doeppner, E.E. '44
Cut from General Electric (?)
Courtesy Mechanical Engineering Magazine

Automobiles and Gasoline

According to Assistant Petroleum Administrator for War, Ralph K. Davies, the armed forces will require 37.6% of all gasoline produced east of the Rockies in 1944. According to the best estimates today, in 1945 two of every five gallons produced in this area will be required.

A good example illustrating why military needs are as high, are these figures:

More than 500,000 gallons of high-octane gasoline were used to carry 177 B-24 bombers over the Ploesti oil field in Rumania on August 1. An even larger quantity was required for a single raid on Rome, July 19. Altogether, 581,000 gallons of oil were required to send the bombers to Rome and back.

Result of war conditions on the highways is reflected in figures released by the Public Roads Administration. On a nation-wide basis, rural traffic was 52% less in July 1943, than in July 1941. These figures were obtained from 572 recorders on highways in 43 states.

On the brighter side, however, comes news that, aided by a $12,000,000 appropriation from the United States, Costa Rica is blasting out another link in the Pan-American Highway. It is a 72- mile road through Death Pass in the Talamanea Mountains, and includes the boring of tunnels and construction of 770 culverts.

If you want to get your present tires to hold out till you can get the gasoline for a trip along that highway, easy does it! A survey in collaboration with Iowa State College by the Public Roads Administration, conducted in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Wyoming shows that tires do wear out four times as fast at 65 as at 35 miles per hour.

Post-War Lighting 
Among the many fields in which the war has stimulated new developments, is that of illumination. Necessity for blacking out large factories at night has brought forth new and improved methods of interior lighting which result in not only better visibility, but increased production and greater working comfort.

Lessons have been learned regarding the advantages of proper street lighting in dimmed-out coastal areas. In three boroughs of New York City, night-time fatalities exceed daytime traffic deaths in the ratio of seven to one since the dim-out.

Greater economy in the use of light without loss of efficiency is another by-product to be expected of wartime lighting research and is being expedited through the War Production Board's Lighting and Fixtures Section.

On the civilian side, artificial light has passed through the strictly utilitarian stage and may be expected to enter an era where it appeals to the senses, creates or changes one's moods, and provides a more leisurely, healthful life.

Not only will this be accomplished through illumination, but other forms of radiant energy will heat our homes, sterilize the air about us, killing harmful bacteria and possibly provide a suntan and health-giving radiation during the hours of sleep.
About the "Bazooka"

Uncle Sam's new weapon which has made one man into an anti-tank combat unit is now being supplied in quantity to both the American and Allied forces.

Nick-named after Bob Burns' rather unmusical contraption, not much has been said about its actual construction, but already a few interesting stories have made their way back from fighting lines about its effectiveness.

Major General L. H. Campbell, Jr., Chief of Army Ordnance, tells of the small but strong fort that gave considerable trouble to the Americans during recent operations in Africa. One lone soldier detached himself from the landing party and waded ashore, effecting the surrender of the fort with one shot fired from his "bazooka."

The projectile has such a powerful explosive force that after one shot struck a near-by tree, the commander of six enemy tanks surrendered the lot of them in the belief he was being shelled by a battery of 155 mm guns.

Although the weapon is very simple to handle, it is so powerful that one soldier can stand his ground with the knowledge that he is master of any tank which may attack him...

Seeing in the Dark

After being exposed to the dark for about half an hour, the average person is able to distinguish between dark and light objects, to see his way through a forest or a dimmed-out city. It happens often during combat, though, that the exposure to the dark is very sudden and that there is no time left for letting the eyes adapt themselves to the new condition.

Thousands of soldiers are being trained right now to bridge over this period of adaptation by the use of a special kind of goggles. These goggles, so-called "adapter goggles," consist of plastic lenses of a deep red color. They are mounted in a rubber frame and fit snuggly around the eye. With these goggles, it is possible to retain fair vision in ordinary daylight or artificial lighting, but at the same time, the adaptation to darkness is accomplished.

The human eye has two kinds of light-sensitive cells. One kind of cells are cone-shaped and are sensitive to most colors; they give us the ordinary colorful daylight vision. These cones are concentrated in the retina. The other kind of cells have a shape which resembles little rods. The rods have no color sensitivity but distinguish only between light and dark objects. They are very scarce at the center of the retina and do not operate well as long as the cones are in operation.

The rods are lacking in sensitivity to certain colors; such a color is red: the red which is used in the adapter goggles.

When the goggles are worn, all colors entering the retina will be dominated by red. Because of the cones, a person wearing these goggles will still be able to read, but the rods, which are insensitive to red, will start to adapt themselves for darkness. After the goggles have been worn for a period of about 25 minutes, the rods have reached a state of great sensitivity. The wearer is now ready to go out into the dark, take off his goggles, and see as plainly as though he had been out for half an hour. 

"Prestite" Protects Plane Radios

Prestite, a new form of porcelain, is a mixture of clay, feldspar, and flint. Originally, in peace time, it was developed for insulators for electric transmission lines. During wartime, it has been drafted into the air corps. 

It can easily be shaped into intricate designs and is many times stronger than earlier porcelains. Formed into a pencil-shaped bushing, it seals radio transformers against moisture; in disk form, it protects radio tubes from violent temperature changes; it insulates condensers against electrical flashovers. 

One of the qualities of this new porcelain will please the radio fan: it can easily be soldered to metal. It only needs to be painted with a gold-platinum liquid and fired at a certain temperature. The paint then provides a metallic base to which solder will adhere. 

Congratulations if you read this all! I won't write much on top of it. My only thought is that through this entire series of articles, I kept thinking: all this for war. The inventions, the science, the creativity are all so that we could more precisely defeat the enemy. I know in a way that actually saves lives, but ultimately the whole thing is a death engine. 

Imagine if we had that same sense of urgency in peace to save lives, creatively make the world a better place, cooperate and compete to do the most good.

It also makes me sort of sad, how complete is Opa's transformation from Quaker-leaning Berliner to Engineering American all-in on the war. I know, I get it, it's not hard to know how and why he would grow into this iteration of himself. It just makes me a little sad. How recognizable would he be to his family now? Or is this always how young boys grow up? 

Forgive my sadness about war- clearly that has been done before. I just couldn't help but pan back from the details and see how utterly ridiculous this entire enterprise of war is. We as a human species are just not clever enough yet to surpass it without barbaric measures. We think we're so smart when we invent sharper swords and larger bombs, but were still on the same barbaric plane. 

1 comment:

  1. Well, I did read it all and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love "Technology History" and this was just that. Tom made some very accurate predictions about RADAR. He was on top of his game. While the Magnetron he talked about didn't really find a good use until an engineer at Litton Industries found out how to 'irritate' molecules into extremely fast motion producing enough heat to cook the mass where they existed...hence you have your Microwave Oven.

    On developments during wartime versus during peacetime (is there really ever a real peacetime?), we fund war...we don't fund peace. Just look at the cuts in the space program and lack of research and development in alternate energy (until gas prices go beyond 3-4 dollars a gallon). "The squeaky wheel gets the grease". The war was the squeak at that time, sadly.

    And yes, we just invent more efficient ways of killing. I think back to the Star Trek TV episodes and the theme that permeated the stories, we are barbarians and more than one episode illustrated that we are racist barbarians.

    I don't think we've learned very much about being a peaceful world since 1943. Sad, indeed.

    Love your blog...looking forward to the book (and the movie).


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