Re: Radar Calibration Tower
Date: August 19, 2014 09:53PM
> My father told me a story that might be related to
> this. When he had taken us tobogganing in Riis
> Park, me mentioned that just before WWII started,
> an experimental aircraft crashed into a lagoon
> that existed at Riis Park. He told me that whole
> park was evacuated, and the whole affair was
> hushed up. I would wonder if this had something
> to do with the radar test site, which I remember
> well, but it seemed to happen a few years before.
> It kind of leads me to wonder if there was other
> avionics manufacturing in the area that would have
> caused this experimental plane to be in the area.
Wow, you're right!
Tribune, April 5, 1937 - Three Czechoslovakian world flyers were injured and a fourth shaken up when they lost their way in the rain and made a forced landing in their huge twin-motored plane in Riis Park at Narragansett and Fullerton Avenues.[/i]
OK, so I think I was able to figure this out a bit more. The plant was indeed run by Western Electric, but not during WWII. The plant building was constructed in 1941 before the US entered the war and owned by the government to be run by Revere Copper & Brass, making shell casings. After the war, the plant sat idle.
In July 1951, Western Electric took over the plant '[i]for the production of anti-aircraft fire control data computers to be used with 90 and 120mm anti-aircraft guns.'[/i]
The Trib article continues, '[i]Western Electric Company is already employing 200 persons and production on some component parts has been started. The computers will be completely produced in the plant and finished units are to start coming off the assembly line in December'[/i].
Then I across an article on Ed Thelen's website posted from a 1954 issue of 'Stars and Stripes' about the 90mm gun fire control. In part: [i]'The Western Electric electronic fire control unit costs $383,000. Its radar can spot aircraft at a distance greater than 75 miles. The unit automatically tracks and computes for four guns apiece (= a firing battery). The M33 is comprised of a radar van, a flat bed for its antenna and a shop van for maintenance and supply.
The 90-mm guns of each battalion had to be modified by the ordnance depot for use with the M33.'[/i]
Interestingly, these fire-control systems were an interim solution to the problem of high-altitude jet aircraft making ground-based anti-aircraft guns useless. The gun system was then replaced by the Nike missle (developed in part by Bell Labs). Ed's website says the early missiles used these same fire-control systems.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/19/2014 11:45PM by WayOutWardell.