M18 Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer from R&D Progress Report No 5 1964 US Army





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Published on Jul 21, 2012

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Public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).


The gun data computer is a series of artillery computers used by the U.S. Army, for coastal artillery, field artillery, and antiaircraft artillery applications. In antiaircraft applications they are used in conjunction with a director...


- M1 Gun Data Computer is used by seacoast artillery for major caliber seacoast guns, it computes continuous firing data for a battery of two guns that are separated by not more than 1000 feet. it utilizes the same type of input data furnished a range section with the present (1940) type of position finding and fire control.
- M3 gun data computer is used in conjunction with the M9, and M10 Directors, to compute all the firing data of azimuth, elevation, and fuze time. The computations are made continuously, so that the gun is at all times correctly pointed, and the fuze correctly timed, for firing at any instant. the computer is mounted in the M13, or M14 Director trailer.
- M4 The M3 and M4 are Identical except for those mechanisms and parts which vary with the ammunition used.
- M8 Gun Data Computer (built by Bell Labs) is used by coast artillery with medium caliber guns (up to 8-inches). The M8 series uses electrical methods for computing firing data. it will make the following corrections, wind, drift, earth's rotation, muzzle velocity, air density, height of site, and spot corrections.
- M9 The M8 and M9 are Identical except for those mechanisms and parts which vary with the ammunition and gun size used.
- M10 Ballistics computer, part of the M38 fire control system, for the Skysweeper
- M13 Ballistics computer, for M48 tank
- M14 Ballistics computer, for M103 heavy tank
- M15 part of the M35 field artillery fire control system, which included the M1 gunnery officer console, and M27 power supply.
- M16 Ballistics computer for M60A1 tank

- M18 FADAC (Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer) FADAC was first fielded in 1960, it was the first Solid state (electronics) Digital electronics field artillery computer.

- M19 Ballistics computer for M60A2 tank
- M21 Ballistics computer for M60A3 tank
- (M1 Ballistics computer for M1 Abrams)
- M23 mortar Ballistics computer
- M26 fire control computer for AH-1 Cobra, (AH-1F)
- M31 Mortar ballistics computer
- M32 Mortar ballistics computer, (handheld)...

Surviving examples

One reason for a lack of surviving examples of early units was the use of radium on the dials. This in essence made them hazardous waste, and therefore these type were disposed of by the United States Department of Energy. Currently there is one surviving example of FADAC at the Fort Sill artillery museum...



...The field artillery digital computer, such as gun direction computer M18 (FADAC), was developed primarily to compute accurate firing data, rapidly for artillery weapons from data inputs defining target location, weapon location, and prevailing conditions of equipment, material, and weather.

The principle advantage gained in using a digital computer to solve the gunnery problem is a significant improvement in the accuracy and flexibility in the delivery of surprise fires.
This is possible because the final computer solution can be based upon an electronic simulation of the trajectory, using existing ballistic conditions, thereby resulting in a higher probability-that the first actual fired round will be on target.

Although designed for a specific use in the field, the field artillery digital computer can be used as a tactical digital computer for such other applications as survey computations, weapons-effects analysis, sound and flash ranging, triangulation in photogrammetry and meteorological data reduction. Limited only by the size of its memory unit (8,192 words for FADAC), the computer can also be programmed for general military or non-military usage...

The importance of the equipment mission indicates the need for engineering tests to ensure that the commodity meets applicable requirements and has the specialized characteristics for its intended use...


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