A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2017 Aug 14, 03:29 -0700
Frank, you wrote: Ah yes, a "bright" future... A future of atomic mushroom clouds, glowing brightly. :)
I was a child of the times, born 1943, and in the UK at least, there was definitely a sense of a bright future about to develop. I don’t know about the USA, but 1951 saw the Festival of Britain aimed at promoting the feeling of recovery by at celebrating British industry, arts and science and inspiring the thought of a better Britain. I953 saw the conquering of Everest and the Coronation, new stop-gap and permanent housing estates were springing up all around to replace slums and bombed dwellings. Children’s comics, notably the Eagle, contained cutaways of the latest engineering projects. The World's first nuclear power station opened at Calder Hall in 1956. Yes there was the partition of India, the Berlin Airlift, Israel, and Korea, but that seemed a long way away to those not directly or indirectly affected. ‘The Bomb’ thing came a bit later. Russia didn’t explode her first A Bomb until 1949 and her first H Bomb until 1953. The origins of HO249 go back several years before 1947 to George Hoehne and Cdr C H Hutchins USN, when few people had knowledge of the Manhaton Project or things nuclear.
You also said: And that context which led directly to H.O.249 was the "polar milk run" --delivering nuclear weapons to targets in the Soviet Union.
I think that was probably only a small part of the reasons behind the production of HO249/AP3270. Trans Oceanic air travel was only just developing seriously after WW2, and long range civil aircraft had astrodomes and eventually periscopic sextant mountings well into the 70s. I’ve no idea what the civil/military split was, but I’m sure the civil share must have been significant. Even in the military, the long range nuclear deterrent share of celestial activity must not have been great compared to the medium range conventional bombing, long range transport, and maritime requirement. The long range transport requirement was huge with Britain needing to support overseas protectorates, dominions, and treaties and the USA having huge commitments across the Pacific and the Atlantic. Although Canada was significantly involved with nuclear deterrence, she did not as far as I recall have any long range nuclear bombers. The UK had no need to deliver weapons via the Polar Route, and was able to rely on radar fixing over land for the V Force and her earlier heavy bombers travelling eastwards and GEE, Decca and visual, when available, for her medium bombers.
It’s funny how the military enjoys using number references, although as an alternative you could read ‘The Naming of Parts’ by Henry Reed http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/poems/naming-of-parts/ . During training the seemingly aged instructors liked to impress the students by following all component names by there reference number: Control Unit 626, Indicator 301, Waveform Generator 68 http://www.tatjavanvark.nl/tvve/viewer135.html . After a bit you catch the bug and start doing it yourself, to be remembered well after you can no longer remember what you had for tea last night. DaveP