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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 10. August, 7, 1946

Firearms and Physicists

Firearms and Physicists

There was something of a nautical atmosphere in A2 on Thursday last, when Mr. Feeney coached the Maths, and Physics Society in A.A. gunnery. He set the mood by giving a rousing naval oath as he fell off the end of the platform, and proceeded to sketch for us his favourite gun in quite a passable imitation of the style of Picasso. This, he explained, was necessary for security reasons.

Gunnery, it appears, is simple if three rules are observed. First, you must fix the position of your gun (A), secondly the position of the target (B), and thirdly you must point A at B. At sea there are several difficulties in doing this, as bits of your ship tend to get in the road if you put your guns low down, and if you put them high up. the ship capsizes. In any case, the course of a shell is unpredictable when the elevation is more than eighty-five degrees.

The real problem is to predict the course of the target in the time you take to set your fuse and lay your gun. On land, they have quite a creditable predictor, which measures the range by radar, works out the course if you keep the target on the crosswires of a telescope, and feeds all the information to the guns. This scheme is too simple for the navy. In their predictor, the speed of the aircraft is guessed by the operator, and the course by the Control Officer. This is claimed to possess the advantage that If you don't hit the target, you can ask the Control Officer to try another guess, and start all over again. In the words of Mr. Feeney. "It works. The gong rings, the lights go up, and shell and aircraft coincide at the indicated range!" After dealing with objectors he proudly assured us, "And it's British, too!"

Professor Florance once again provided one of his excellent suppers, and animated discussion lingered on until well after ten o'clock.