A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2017 Jul 6, 10:08 -0700
Noel, please see my comments below:
I realize that the training dictated military practices but I also remember that in my sleep deprived time in Navy OCS I made it through a brief exposure with CelNav with no memory of what I had done. I also remember reading about a fairly recent ( 10 years ago) trip to a WWII plane that had overflown the Libyan coast, continued south into the desert, run out of fuel, and crashed. The visitor to that remote site said he found the navigators notebook full of doodles - not navigation calculations. My conclusion was that some know and practice the training and some don't.
All factors like these are why I asked "If the navigator could choose - -".
You're talking about 'Lady be Good'. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Be_Good_(aircraft) The inexperienced crew had a lot stacked against them on their first combat mission. I'm not sure what height they were at, but don't discount partial anoxia as the reason for 'doodles'.
My time with the A-10 was on land. I still get a fair amount of bubble movement. Part of this is due to my 70+ years but my thought was that I could move the reading dial to track the bubble if the sextant were ridgidly mounted but, handheld in an airplane and considering extra outside factors, it would be hard to know whether I was adjusting for outside forces or for my own shaking. I have read the articles recently posted on the increasing accuracy with multiple shots.
Try putting some string through that mounting hole and hanging it from the top of a stepladder. Stand on the bottom strep leaning against the steps. The trouble with American sextants is they rarely put decent handles on them. UK sextants from the MkIX inwards had good solid hansdles to grab hold of.
I was also probably thinking about other inherent inaccuracies in an airplane - but - also about the view from 8000 feet. Close counts when you can see a long way.
I realize that all bets are off if you are trying to find a field at night in wartime England.
It was considered bad form to descend on a celestial fix. They were known not to be accurate enough. Acording to Bomber Harris, the thing that got most of them safely home in the UK was GEE. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gee_(navigation) Close to the tranmitters, jamming was less of a problem. In extreme emergency you could call 'Darkie' . http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/the-british-darky-system.24240/ Many aircraft still flew into high ground though.
Maybe I'm not cut out to be a WWII bomber navigator.