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Warbird navigation


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I love warbirds and have a few in each simulator. They usually have a 'cheat' button so that I can bring up a GPS 430 or 530. Without those navigation can be difficult. Then I resort to a map and compass and fly low following landmarks. That's ok in daylight but not easy at night or when there is a lot of heavy low cloud. I wondered how they managed in real life?

So, I have started to read articles about navigation in the thirties and forties. Here is a link to just one article that might be of interest -

 

Navigation: From Dead Reckoning to Navstar GPS - Air & Space Forces Magazine (airforcemag.com)

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Hey, Paul. You can add a GPS to most planes by copying one from a legacy plane's Panel File and pasting it into the Panel File of your new plane. Just remember to add it to the "windows" list at the top of the file and also number it properly in the file itself. You probably already know this, but thought i'd mention it in case. :)

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Amazing how they did it back then isn't it?  Sextants, stars, and dead reckoning.  We've seen a huge improvement in navigation since the Wright Brothers and every advancement has made the skies safer, but sometimes, sadly, at a price.

 

I miss the old dog leg VOR to VOR and ADF navigation days.  And some of the old L-1011 systems with an INS were downright ancient compared to say a G3000.

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6 hours ago, Rodger Pettichord said:

Hey, Paul. You can add a GPS to most planes by copying one from a legacy plane's Panel File and pasting it into the Panel File of your new plane. Just remember to add it to the "windows" list at the top of the file and also number it properly in the file itself. You probably already know this, but thought i'd mention it in case. :)

 

Thanks Rodger. I installed the freeware version of PMS 50 in MSFS recently and can use that also :).

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4 hours ago, Jack Sawyer said:

Amazing how they did it back then isn't it?  Sextants, stars, and dead reckoning.  We've seen a huge improvement in navigation since the Wright Brothers and every advancement has made the skies safer, but sometimes, sadly, at a price.

 

I miss the old dog leg VOR to VOR and ADF navigation days.  And some of the old L-1011 systems with an INS were downright ancient compared to say a G3000.

 

No wonder so many pilots became lost Jack. A real challenge in those days.

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If you read about the WWII war in the Pacific, one of the regular themes is the carrier pilots' deep worry about getting home after a mission. The carrier was always moving, the distances were vast, the navigation aides were spotty, and the anxiety level was high. One pilot said that the moment you actually finally saw the carrier was always the greatest relief imaginable. I've flown many of those locations in period aircraft and can attest that it's scary even in simulation.

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21 hours ago, Rodger Pettichord said:

If you read about the WWII war in the Pacific, one of the regular themes is the carrier pilots' deep worry about getting home after a mission. The carrier was always moving, the distances were vast, the navigation aides were spotty, and the anxiety level was high. One pilot said that the moment you actually finally saw the carrier was always the greatest relief imaginable. I've flown many of those locations in period aircraft and can attest that it's scary even in simulation.

 

The new way was utilization of the YE-ZB homing system, developed by Frank Akers, which all USN carriers had at the start of the war. This system used a morse code transmission of a particular letter for a particular bearing, a different letter for each 15 degree sector. This was a UHF line-of-sight system, so the higher you were the better. If the letter you were receiving changed, then you knew you were moving tangentially to the transmission point. You simply found the strongest signal and followed it back to the ship. In the early days of the war it was a fairly new system and some pilots were more proficient with it than others and those less proficient tended to be less believing.

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5 hours ago, paulb said:

 

The new way was utilization of the YE-ZB homing system, developed by Frank Akers, which all USN carriers had at the start of the war. This system used a morse code transmission of a particular letter for a particular bearing, a different letter for each 15 degree sector. This was a UHF line-of-sight system, so the higher you were the better. If the letter you were receiving changed, then you knew you were moving tangentially to the transmission point. You simply found the strongest signal and followed it back to the ship. In the early days of the war it was a fairly new system and some pilots were more proficient with it than others and those less proficient tended to be less believing.

Thanks, Paul. That's very interesting--and new to me. My reading made it sound far less simple, especially if the plane and pilot were damaged. What you describe seems like it should have been a godsend out there in the vast ocean reaches.

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1 hour ago, Rodger Pettichord said:

Thanks, Paul. That's very interesting--and new to me. My reading made it sound far less simple, especially if the plane and pilot were damaged. What you describe seems like it should have been a godsend out there in the vast ocean reaches.

 

Here is a story that I read Rodger

On the 4 May 42 Yorktown strike on Tulagi, there were 4 F4Fs very hurriedly sent off to deal with some F1Ms that were bothering the SBD and TBD strike planes. After performing their mission, shooting down 3 of the F1Ms, and shooting up a destroyer they happened upon, they started to head back to the ship.

The division leader signaled for an increase in altitude to pick up the YE-ZB signal, but his section leader did not see the signal (although the section leader's wingman did). So the division leader and his wingman pulled up through the cloud layer, picked up the signal, and, after milling about a bit waiting for the other two, proceeded back to the ship. The section leader left behind had a problem, his radio did not work. His wingman's did.

Eventually they came up through the clouds and the wingman picked up the YE-ZB signal. He also made radio contact with the ship and started flying a box pattern so the ship could get a good radio fix so to tell him which letter he should be listening for.

Well, as far as the section leader was concerned, his wingman was flying in all sorts of odd directions for no apparent reason and finally signaled him to knock it off and then led the way back to Guadalcanal where they bellied in on Cape Henslow - - - with the wingman keeping a running commentary with the ship the whole time.

Result was two of the ship's 18 F4Fs were lost for no apparent reason.

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