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6rant6's avatar

What's the title of someone who aimed the guns?

Asked by 6rant6 (13629 points ) June 21st, 2012

I’m looking for what a sailor would have been called whose responsibility it was to target the big guns. The specific case is for the bombardment of Iwo Jima in WWII.

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12 Answers

majorrich's avatar

There were spotters on land who would call in coordinates that the gunners would use to zero in on their target. We still use spotters, but it’s done with lasers for smarter munitions.

6rant6's avatar

@majorrich Were spotters used at Iwo Jima? If not, what specialty called out elevation and range? My suspicion is that “gunner” covers everyone who was involved with loading and unloading the beasts, not just choosing the targets.

majorrich's avatar

I think the pre-landing bombardments were done by spotters aboard ship who would help the gunners get their initial shots in, then they could walk the fire in to the targets. For the most part, gunners were inside the turrets and unable to see where they were shooting at. The spotter would call the azimuth relative to the ship, then the distance, which was on a circular chart with a plastic slider thing that would give solutions based on the projectile and the charge. I’ve seen the calculator, but not closely.

6rant6's avatar

so probably saying that “spotters” called the shots is accurate either way.

majorrich's avatar

The Really big guns (16 inchers) could be aimed using a map over miles. The shells weighed about 2 tons, and they used a known amount of propellant so all they had to do was calculate the angle of the barrel and physics. They were able to get within feet depending on atmospheric conditions.

WestRiverrat's avatar

This might have your answer, I don’t have time to watch the video right now.

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majorrich's avatar

I was in the Army, so I am more familiar with directing artillery fire from the spotter point of view, but my specialty was pushing papers from one side of my desk to the other. Signing whatever the SGM tells me to sign.

jaytkay's avatar

The US radar was advanced enough to direct the guns.

They could shoot accurately at night and even over the horizon.

Radar and optical sights both fed information to an extremely complex 3,000 pound electro-mechanical computer (not a digital computer) buried deep in the ship, which combined that information with the ship’s motion to aim the guns.

And yes, spotters on the beach would be used, too.

The gunnery officer would be in charge of everyone running the fire control system.

A couple of pertinent links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_gun_fire-control_system
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_I_Fire_Control_Computer

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