Friday, September 20, 2013

Brazilian battleship Minas Geraes, Bahia, 1942.

The prominent clock-like device near her topmast is a range clock. This device was used to communicate range (distance to target) between ships. Battleships preferably used to form a so-called battle line and fire broadsides at the enemy. Once one of them found the correct range (by straddling the enemy ship), she would indicate this distance on the clock-like display for others in the line to see and use (one hand meaning 10,000 yards, the other 1,000 yards). Bearing (direction towards target) was shown by compass-like markings on the sides of some turrets.

Example of bearing markers on the turrets of Queen Elizabeth:

Dreadnoughts used this visual method (with some officers training binoculars on the neighboring ships in a battle line to keep watch for this) before radio became the prevalent tool to transmit such information. Later still, radar provided each ship with both range and bearing.
Ship details:

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