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Plotters to calculators to computers, when did it happen?

GnyHwy

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How did this thread get so far without mentioning the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC).  The first ballistic computer, even before OS's and FJAG's time.  Made in 1946 by the US Army.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC

I think we're gonna need a bigger CP.

 

GnyHwy

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Petard said:
"old and reliable" plotting boards are still being used for mortars by the way:
https://buyandsell.gc.ca/procurement-data/tender-notice/PW-QF-107-23868

I've always thought a well machined plotter board was necessary, vice the ones we make ourselves out of recycled plywood and plexiglass.  I would normally choose a computer first, but in those austere places where power is scarce, having these as a back up is a must.

As mentioned before, this is the best way to teach the basics as well.  I do believe we made some really bad assumptions back when computers first came out.  It was thought that computers would save training time and manual processes could be left in the past.  This of course was until mistakes starting happening and no one had the foundation skills to explain what was going on.  Reenter manual computations.
 

62RHLI

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I'll be heading out on my Phase 3 Arty this summer, and can't seem to get an answer as to how to prep in anyway regarding gun data computing/plotting.

What system of calculation will we be doing? I've zero experience with MAPS or IFCCS however feel slightly disadvantaged as some guys will perhaps already have lots of experience gained from parading with their home Regiments. I just don't wanna be "that guy" who's completely out of the loop considering i'm not attached or near any Arty Regiment.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. It was really neat reading the evolution of how the trade has transformed technologically regarding previous systems.
 

GnyHwy

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Do not take Fire D for granted.  Practice it until you are blue in the face.  Get use to both the Observer's and Gun sequence.  The more comfortable you are with that the more natural everything else will come.  You will be expected to take orders from the OP, calculate data, supervise your crew and give orders to the guns, all concurrently.  A good CP crew is smooth and efficient and without any panic.  Knowing the basics cold with assist you greatly.  Too many guys panic on simple crap because they are weak or mediocre at Fire D.

For calculating, practice basic arithmetic until you can do it in your sleep and get use to picking grids on a map quickly.  Familiarize yourself with a set of TFTs and practice interpolation for extracting elevations and fuse settings.

For IFCCS, don't sweat it.  If you already have the basics down, filling in a computer page with information that is given to you is very easy. 
 

FJAG

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GnyHwy said:
Do not take Fire D for granted.  Practice it until you are blue in the face.  Get use to both the Observer's and Gun sequence.  The more comfortable you are with that the more natural everyting else will come.  You will be expected to take orders from the OP, calculate data, supervise your crew and give orders to the guns, all concurrently.  A good CP crew is smooth and efficient and without any panic.  Knowing the basics cold with assist you greatly.  Too many guys panic on simple crap because they are weak or mediocre at Fire D.

For calculating, practice basic arithmetic until you can do it in your sleep and get use to picking grids on a map quickly.  Familiarize yourself with a set of TFTs and practice interpolation for extracting elevations and fuse settings.

For IFCCS, don't sweat it.  If you already have the basics down, filling in a computer page with information that is given to you is very easy.

GnyHwy's advice is probably some of the best you'll get here. Remember your role is to be the centre of the action. An ability to manage the things he sets out will help you immensely, and give you the confidence you need.

I wouldn't sweat the other things so much because the aim of Phase 3 is to teach you the procedures and skills that you need. Once that process starts, take advantage of the opportunity to get some additional instruction or practice after hours from those more advanced than you. Practice makes perfect.

Good luck

:cheers:
 

Colin Parkinson

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I was admiring a wireless Trimble survey instrument last week, it was able to download all information to a handset that also takes the information from the Trimble GPS and combines the two. As I recall we used a Swiss tritum lit survey theodolite for surveying the gun position, is it still the same or did we get fancier kit? I guess we can also throw into the discussion the acquisition of Laser ranger finders and survey instruments.
 

3rd Horseman

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I know Im way way late but thought Id chime in after seeing this thread.....I dont spend much time looking back at gunner things anymore. Ben off the Army.ca net for a few years also but got a message to respond to so figured Id take a look at the gunner world.
  I was on the Phase course that they taught all three systems Maps, HP41 and Milipac. It would have been Phase 3 summer 1984. They never taught all three again or before. Over the years it proved out that those guys where all very much more technically competent and understood gunner better then others. It wa hard to learn 3 at once but I was a much better gunner for it.

Rags     
 
 

SeaKingTacco

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I did my phase training in 1988-89. We learned MAPS, then MILIPAC. The HP-41Cs were kind of demo'd, but we did not spend much time using them, even though I seem to recall that they were issued to us on Phase 3.

Parenthetically, phase 3 nearly broke me. I could compute firing data reasonably well and  reasonably fast using the GFTs and TFTs or Milipac. I thought that Milipac was a pretty good computer, other than the painful data entry required for met data and the dreaded coordinated illumination mission which just caused it to give up. What nearly killed me was the surveying of gun positions and passage of line. At the time, I never understood the math behind it and I just oriented the director by rote memorization, which I found terrifying.

Another thing- I can still quote fire discipline nearly 26 years after having learned it. That is how well drilled into us it was by the AIGs.
 

Gunner98

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The hardest concept for young officers to understand was the theory of indirect fire (let's not kid ourselves there were many hard ones, right Petard, like swampy ground). I was fortunate as a young Gunner officer to sit in on a Basic Tech course between my Phase 3 (1985) and Phase 4 in 1986 on which MAPS, HP41C (fly birdie fly), and MiliPAC were used.  The AIsG also introduced firing using the CP&FC graph.  I found the latter method the best one to understand the indirect fire concept as you could see it in black and white.  IMHO as things became more reliant on electronic means it became harder to comprehend the effects of errors.  I always found it strange (but of course essential) that we relied on a safety officer with a compass (yes, his crew had MAPS and CP&FC) to double check orientation, calculations and application of data on the Guns. The mix of computing errors (in CP) and people ones (on the Guns) kept things interesting at the pointy end.  It was often forgotten that the weapon of the Artillery was the projectile and not the Gun.
 

Petard

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Simian Turner said:
The hardest concept for young officers to understand was the theory of indirect fire (let's not kid ourselves there were many hard ones, right Petard, like swampy ground).

Ah yes, it does take some patience while young gentlemen learn the black art of gunnery; even sometimes having to wait atop an M109 turret, with gun det humming "nearer my god to thee", while the gentlemen get their bearings in a bloody swamp!

One of the more difficult concepts to get across is change of grid, and using the MAPS boards and death by power point rarely seemed to make it any easier to understand what was being punched into the data base. One summer I decided to be clever, and used a fire blanket over a couple piles of books to represent terrain (with contour lines chalked on), the GPO protactor mils on the blanket to represent where we think the guns are, and a model of a howitzer to represent where the guns actually are. I then used post it notes to show previously recorded targets, and went through adjustment onto targets so show how we record false target locations when the computing device is set up on an inaccurate grid (location), and/or guns have inaccurate orientation.

It worked well, or so I thought until the course critique. One of the young female officer candidates said she couldn't comprehend gunnery, that is until Warrant so n so gave a demonstration with "things shoved up underneath a fire blanket". Despite agreement by all students that this should be included in future training, something was clearly lost in translation and the CSO stomped out any further use of fire blankets as training aids!
 

Colin Parkinson

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Sounds like a adhoc "puff table" I quite liked that and wished we had kept as a historical piece.
 

Old Sweat

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Just thinking of change of grid for fixation on the arty board almost got me heading to the booze locker. It was straight forward, even if it really met setting up he board again. That only took ten minutes or so. The really neat bit came next - going through the target record book and coming up with new grid references, or in the case of target lists from higher, new map data  A change to orientation meant more of less the same in the target record book.

A thought re a fade in technical gunnery skills - could we draw a parallel with some recent aircraft accidents that could be linked to a degradation in basic pilot skills because of fly by wire systems?
 

GnyHwy

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SeaKingTacco said:
I did my phase training in 1988-89. We learned MAPS, then MILIPAC. The HP-41Cs were kind of demo'd, but we did not spend much time using them, even though I seem to recall that they were issued to us on Phase 3.

Not from experience, but I would make a reasonable guess that the 41C was removed for firing data, but remained for surveying use.

Simian Turner said:
IMHO as things became more reliant on electronic means it became harder to comprehend the effects of errors.

I believe this to be true. The more computers think for you, the less you think for yourself (unless you designed the computer). 

The mix of computing errors (in CP) and people ones (on the Guns) kept things interesting at the pointy end.  It was often forgotten that the weapon of the Artillery was the projectile and not the Gun.

Kind of comical and comparable to gun control.  It is only dangerous when it actually hits something.

Petard said:
One of the more difficult concepts to get across is change of grid, and using the MAPS boards and death by power point rarely seemed to make it any easier to understand what was being punched into the data base.

Change of grid may go away.  GPS will influence that, but so will our modern surveying possibilities.  Our ready states are probably as good as they can get.

It worked well, or so I thought until the course critique. One of the young female officer candidates said she couldn't comprehend gunnery, that is until Warrant so n so gave a demonstration with "things shoved up underneath a fire blanket".

That went right the fuck over my head!  Hun??? ??? ??? ???
 

Petard

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Old Sweat said:
thought re a fade in technical gunnery skills - could we draw a parallel with some recent aircraft accidents that could be linked to a degradation in basic pilot skills because of fly by wire systems?

Not sure, but I'd say yes; garbage in = garbage out.

I was involved with design of the graphical user interface (GUI) for the first versions of the current computing device (IFCCS), and the design team did use some reference to the human factors involved in designing "glass cockpits". Even so, you can't engineer out every possible mistake, and have to rely to some degree on the user understanding what their systems are doing.

With the tasks of soldiering becoming more complex, and the training time not expanding to accommodate this, some training has been reduced that was thought redundant. The problem is one of the areas reduced in training time was gunnery theory and practical testing for comprehension. I'd say this often results in the computing device operators, or their officers, not really understanding what the computer "should be doing".  We still try to cover this in depth within the Gun Area Technical Supervisor course, but mileage can vary in how well this is applied in practical terms

This recent article does support what you're suggesting about pilots becoming complacent
www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/hazards-automation

I'd say this can be very similar for an inexperienced Arty CP crew, especially now as we introduce more networked automated systems
 

G.R-B

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Not stricly artillery, but here is the mechanical fire control computer aboard a ship circa 1953

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1i-dnAH9Y4
 

SHELLDRAKE!!

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I am looking for a picture of a MILIPAC for a project. Cant find anything on the web. Someone must have one. Any help greatly appreciated.
 
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