Following on from my leave, the parts are arriving thick and fast although there is nothing here yet to bolt it to, I now have 2 VRC 353s with most of the ancillaries but no cabling.
I want to carry out a bench test on the components before I fit them either in the RB44 or the Scorpion. The Scorpion is perhaps more important as access to the turret with the 353 is very difficult and I do not want to do it any more than I have to.
The difficult cables are those from the radio to the ARFAT and TUUAM which are not wired as straightforwardly as they seem.
I will locate and post a schematic so that they can be made.
I was successful in the Witham’s auction and now have the 321 set up. A friend has collected them for me and says that they look OK, but we have not tested them as yet. Again I probably paid slight over the odds for them, but I keep forgetting the VAT and I really wanted to get them all in one go. Once they are fitted I doubt that they will come out and will probably be sold with the truck anyway, so over the next few years the memory of paying for them will diminish.
As well as the radios, I have been thinking about what else I can put into the RB44 to make it look like a command post. It has a map board and I am sure that I can get a sufficiently “warry” looking map that I can draw targets and battle lines on. I can hang some DPM in it and camouflage it up, but there has to be something more. The original was filled with equipment for the BMETS role, and I need something to replace that.
Looking around, the artillery was probably one of the first arms of service to use technology to make tasks easier and more accurate. To a certain extent this was forced on them once the ranges of guns increased so that the fall of shot was away from direct sight. If you merely pointed the business end of your cannon at a body of troops and let it off, you could adjust elevation by sight and observe the outcome with your own eyes. As a result, spotting and correction was done by the crew and there was no real need for any other input. However once the concept of indirect fire was introduced, then that brought with it a number of issues that were not previously necessary. The first was that it introduced the need for a mathematical calculation to establish the required elevation to ensure that the shot fell in the right place, and also maps that were sufficiently accurate to measure the distances and to show the topography. It is no co-incidence that the mapping of the British Isles was carried out by the Board of Ordnance.
The guns also needed to be zeroed, they had to be lined up so that the barrels were parallel and then any corrections in azimuth (the horizontal plane) can be applied to all. Having this fixed point also enabled observers to calculate corrections and express them in relation to the gun line. Added to this you have meteorology, incremental charges, barrel wear, differences in height between the target and the guns and you can see that the calculations become more complex. Prior to the introduction of computers the Artillery used a mixture of mechanical calculators, pre-calculated tables and corrections from forward observers. Nowadays it is all computer controlled and the calculations are much quicker and therefore a higher rate of fire ensues. I found an ex military rugged laptop and data station on eBay which I think will fit the bill and at least look like a fire control terminal.
This has opened up a number of possibilities on the radio side. I will load some small programs which can calculate propagation predictions as well as antenna calculations so that I can use these when I am out in it, but my REME mate reckons that we should be able to attach it to the clansman radios to run a real time Morse decoder.
That sounds like fun and if anyone has some suggestions about how we do this please let me know.
Radio Amateurs Exam
As far as radio is concerned I have finished the basic course – there is a mock exam on Monday, one revision week and the real test on the 25th of March. I am revising and it’s all beginning to take shape, but I will find out any weak areas on Monday.