Flying Missiles CAN Be Stopped! (Oct, 1949)

As opposed to the walking kind?

Also, henceforth I am going to use the spelling “computor”.

By the way, if you’re at all interested, this army training video detailing how an mechanical fire control computer works is amazing.

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Flying Missiles CAN Be Stopped!

Here is a sure-fire plan to down supersonic rockets like ducks—and wipe out the terror of sneak attacks.

By Frank Tinsley

HITLER was right when he ranted about the fearful havoc a “secret weapon” would wreak on his enemies. His V-2 rockets unleashed such terror on battered Britain that they nearly won the war—for the Nazis. For there was absolutely no defense against these mighty 3500-mph missiles—and no way to tell when—or where—they would strike next.

Today our military experts are still searching frantically for a weapon to kill the terrible menace of the V-2 type missile. Rocket specialists are concentrating on ground-to-air projectiles to intercept and destroy enemy rockets. But the experts admit that practical development of mechanical minute-men is years away. Right now, we are as wide open as a blind, broken-armed boxer— with still no defense against the knockout punch of the flying missile.

But even with the old ack-ack guns of World War II, high-flying supersonic missiles can be stopped. Here’s how we could set up a sure- fire anti-missile system this very moment: An enemy wants to blitz a key target— such as New York. Unlike wartime London, with rocket-launching sites just across the narrow English Channel, New York would be vulnerable only to long-range missiles— from another continent or—more probably—from rocket-firing subs off the coast.

Search radars—girding New York by ship and by high points from the outer tip of Long Island through northern Connecticut and the Catskills, then south and east around New Jersey—would warn of the attack and track the oncoming missiles. The nearest radar ship or station flashes by telemeter the exact bearing and position of each missile to the closest ack-ack batteries.

A central electronic brain controls the distribution of targets among the guns. Radars attached to every battery track the assigned target and keep close tab on the missile’s precise speed and trajectory. Instantaneous battery computors figure the lead, wind allowance and time of the shells to intercept the rocket. Then, based on these calculations, the guns point and fire the instant the target comes in range. As each salvo roars out to ring a missile, the computors pick a new aiming point for the guns and set ’em up for the next blast.

Proximity fuses explode the anti-missile shells when they’re within lethal range of the target. When the shells go off, hardened steel balls hurl forward in overlapping cones so that the blasting projectiles form a circular, shotgun pattern, densest in the center. This deadly shrapnel wrecks the missile’s delicate mechanisms, throws it out of control or explodes it in midair.

Basis for this anti-guided missile setup is the recently revealed plan General Sir Frederick Pile, chief of Britain’s antiaircraft defenses during the war, developed in the hope of combatting the V-2.

Pile’s ingenious plan won the approval of Britain’s War Ministry in March. 1945, and might have checked the V-2 campaign. Before he could set up his system, however, the invading Allies overran the Nazis’ launching areas in France and Holland and cleaned out the V-2 bases. The plan then was buried away with other top secrets in the British war office.

To prevent surprise atomic attacks, defense rings could be maintained around every important target area in the United States. The cost in money, time and effort, of course, would be huge—but not so staggering as the destruction and panic that may hit our vital centers if they remain sitting ducks for rocket attacks. So, till our missile men finally do perfect those long-range counter-rockets, it’s comforting to know that we can stop flying missiles—with the equipment we have on hand today.

  1. Deth says: February 1, 20124:43 am

    I’m kind of surprised they were already thinking about putting missiles on subs as early as ’49.

    i recall there was some plan to basically cover the sky in flak to take out incoming v2’s that got shot down (no pun intended) because of the failure rate of the shells; it meant that thousands of flak projectiles would rain down on the city.

    Everything old is new again – after 9/11, i heard alot of people suggesting we should emplace anti-air facilities around our cities.

  2. Nomen Nescio says: February 1, 20127:58 am

    walking missiles are easy to stop, it’s the swimming kind you have to watch out for.

    the first ballistic missile submarine in U.S. service was launched in the late 1950’s. it had to surface to use (and load, or reload) its one missile launcher; sort of like world war one-era submarines with their deck cannons. i’m unsure when other countries’ navies started experimenting with the concept, though the soviets can’t have been far behind.

    and it’s sort of funny that if you take all the components of this proposed system and bolt them into one unit, you get a CIWS.

  3. Hirudinea says: February 1, 201211:25 am

    @ Deth – Yea, not to mention if its a nuclear missile you have all that radioactive waste falling on the city.

    @ Nomen Nescio – I think the Germans were looking into towing a container with V2s in it behind a sub towards the end of the war, so the idea goes back aways.

  4. Kosher Ham says: February 1, 201212:22 pm

    Well it looks like we really did create Babbage’s computing engine after all.

  5. Charlene says: February 1, 201212:27 pm

    I wonder who made inferior union suits.

  6. Kosher Ham says: February 1, 20125:09 pm

    Re: inferior union suits? A nonunion shop?

  7. Links – February 1, 2012 | zota says: February 2, 201212:25 am

    […] Flying Missiles CAN Be Stopped! […]

  8. Charlene says: February 3, 20121:15 am

    @Kosher Ham: So instead of being unionized, it’d be ionized?

  9. Charlie says: February 3, 201210:50 am

    Kosher Ham » Funny you mention that. I went to the Computer History Museum in San Jose and they have a working Difference Engine:…

  10. GaryM says: February 3, 20121:35 pm

    (Hums the “Star Wars” theme)

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