Gun data computer

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

Coastal artillery Military service branch equipped with artillery in defense of territory against attack from the sea

Coastal artillery is the branch of the armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications.

Field artillery artillery piece designed to deploy with army units in the field

Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, short range, long range, and extremely long range target engagement.

Director (military) computer that continuously calculates trigonometric firing solutions

A director, also called an auxiliary predictor, is a mechanical or electronic computer that continuously calculates trigonometric firing solutions for use against a moving target, and transmits targeting data to direct the weapon firing crew.



TACFIRE Communications Terminal Box FADAC gun computer.jpg
TACFIRE Communications Terminal Box
Azimuth the angle between a reference plane and a point

An azimuth is an angular measurement in a spherical coordinate system. The vector from an observer (origin) to a point of interest is projected perpendicularly onto a reference plane; the angle between the projected vector and a reference vector on the reference plane is called the azimuth.

In ballistics, the elevation is the angle between the horizontal plane and the axial direction of the barrel of a gun, mortar or heavy artillery. Originally, elevation was a linear measure of how high the gunners had to physically lift the muzzle of a gun up from the gun carriage to compensate for projectile drop and hit targets at a certain distance.

Bell Labs research and scientific development company

Nokia Bell Labs is an industrial research and scientific development company owned by Finnish company Nokia. Its headquarters are located in Murray Hill, New Jersey. Other laboratories are located around the world. Bell Labs has its origins in the complex past of the Bell System.


AN/GSG-10 TACFIRE TACFIRE firing computer.jpg
United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Artillery class of weapons which fires munitions beyond the range and power of personal weapons

Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.

Digital Message Device

The AN/PSG-2 and AN/PSG-2B Digital Message Device (DMD) are portable data-entry terminals manufactured by Magnavox and used by artillery forward observers to communicate with artillery batteries to request and control artillery fire missions. DMDs were first fielded as part of the TACFIRE artillery fire control system.

The last TACFIRE fielding was completed in 1987. Replacement of TACFIRE equipment began in 1994.

TACFIRE used the AN/GYK-12, a second-generation mainframe computer developed primarily by Litton Industries for Army Divisional Field Artillery (DIVARTY) units. It had two configurations, division and battalion level, housed in mobile command shelters. Field Artillery Brigades also use the division configuration.

AN/GYK-12 obsolete 32-bit minicomputer developed by Litton Industries for the United States Army

The AN/GYK-12 is an obsolete 32-bit minicomputer developed by Litton Industries for the United States Army. The AN/GYK-12 is a militarized version of the L-3050 computer ruggedized for use in the TACFIRE tactical fire direction system. The design dates from the 1960s.

Litton Industries defense contractor in the United States

Litton Industries was a large defense contractor in the United States named after inventor Charles Litton, Sr., bought by the Northrop Grumman Corporation in 2001.

Components of the system were identified using acronyms:

Central processing unit Electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logical, control and input/output (I/O) operations specified by the instructions

A central processing unit (CPU), also called a central processor or main processor, is the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetic, logic, controlling, and input/output (I/O) operations specified by the instructions. The computer industry has used the term "central processing unit" at least since the early 1960s. Traditionally, the term "CPU" refers to a processor, more specifically to its processing unit and control unit (CU), distinguishing these core elements of a computer from external components such as main memory and I/O circuitry.

The successor to the TACFIRE system is the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS).

Surviving examples

One reason for a lack of surviving examples of early units was the use of radium on the dials, which officially made them hazardous waste, and as such were disposed of by the United States Department of Energy. Currently there is one surviving example of FADAC at the Fort Sill artillery museum. [8]

See also

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  1. Kempf, Karl (November 1961). "CHAPTER VI -- COMPUTERS FOR SOLVING GUNNERY PROBLEMS". Electronic Computers Within The Ordnance Corps, Computers for Solving Gunnery Problems.
  2. "Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer (FADAC)". Department of Defense Appropriations for 1970, part 5. Hearings 91st Congress 1st Session 1969. HathiTrust. 9: 644–645, 647–648.
  3. Lieutenant Albert R. Milavec. "On FADAC Maintenance". p. 32 of "Artillery Trends" May 1968. "The FADAC is an all-transistorized, stored-program, general purpose digital computer ... Weighing approximately 200 pounds ... the FADAC components utilize approximately 1,600 transistors, 9,000 diodes, 6,000 resistors, 500 capacitors, and many other switches, transformers, and neon lamps."
  4. Department of Defense appropriations for 1965, pt.3, p. 283.
  5. "Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer". p. 254 of Martin H. Weik. "A Third Survey of Domestic Electronic Digital Computing Systems". 1961.
  6. Datamation. F.D. Thompson Publications. January 1964. p. 61.
  7. "The United States Army | Fires Bulletin". "First Round Hits" With FADAC. September 1960. p. 9. Retrieved 2018-03-09.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. "U.S. Army Field Artillery Museum - Home".