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JetScootr t1_je4jyyu wrote

My father was in the Navy during WWII, and was stationed on an aircraft carrier. His job was maintaining the drones that the gunners used for target practice.

When the kamakazi attacks started, the Navy ordered the drone pilots to fly the drones into the ship if the gunners didn't shoot them down. The aircraft carrier's command crew was not happy about these orders, but it was from Washington, so they had to.

I've had a hard time the last ten years or so even convincing people that radio controlled drones were even a thing that far back. Thanks for finding this link.


jaa101 t1_je4ljjc wrote

Another amazing technology that helped beat the kamakazi attacks was the proximity fuse. Without that, you have to set your AA shells to explode at some fixed time from firing which is hard to get right against incoming aircraft. Proximity-fused shells would automatically explode when they got near something—a huge advantage—but it involved having vacuum tubes survive being fired from a gun.


Meior t1_je55ugt wrote

Holy shit that engineering is incredible. I have to read up on that tonight.


WanderingCamper t1_je5wpaw wrote

It was one of the most closely guarded Allied technologies during the war. Similar in importance to radar, cracking enigma, and the Manhattan project.


kelldricked t1_je9wwh2 wrote

Its insane how much technology progressed during the war. Especially once you start reading up to all the non deployed develop weapons, shit that was working but just not practicle or to expensive.


ZLUCremisi t1_je5jx9x wrote

US Army AirForce try to remote control a bomber but the fewcrew inside it switching it over to remote diedcwhen i crashed


JetScootr t1_je5nwbe wrote

My dad had a souvenir propeller - about 3 feet long. The drones he worked on had a 9 foot wingspan and were purpose built.


buntopolis t1_je5uspf wrote

Shit my grandfather served on the USS Essex as a PBY Radioman, and I had no clue that drones were ever a thing. Never mentioned them, ever. Very cool to learn!


JetScootr t1_je657gw wrote

Dad said they weren't allowed to talk about it then, but when he was telling me, it was because my brother had a RC model plane that Dad said was about the same level of tech - in a model plane a little bigger than a notebook. Dad didn't figure that the stuff he worked on was secret anymore :)


buntopolis t1_je6d1eq wrote

Haha that’s awesome. Such a cool thing to learn about your parent. I didn’t learn much because my grandpa really didn’t like to talk about the war. He only really opened up about it after his cancer diagnosis. That’s when he told me his plane was shot down by Zeroes on patrol, the aircraft sheared in half before hitting the water - only he and the pilot survived. Floated there for over 24 hours until rescue came. Like, holy shit. Really puts my own problems into perspective there.


bros402 t1_je75gbp wrote

You might be able to get his records from the National Archives if you are one of the lucky ones


buntopolis t1_je7awfh wrote

Army and Air Force records - were Navy records lost in the fire too??


bros402 t1_je7e5cx wrote

Nope - they were at a different facility. You can request them here


neoplastic_pleonasm t1_je5vzrg wrote

When I was a little kid, my grandfather, an air force mechanic, gave me a weird little model airplane for Christmas. It was black and pointy and had no cockpit. It wasn't until many years later I learned it was a real plane, a Lockheed D-21 hypersonic supersonic drone, and he'd worked on the project. It absolutely blew my mind that we had hypersonic supersonic drones in the late 60s.


FiveFive55 t1_je65r7m wrote

When I read this the first time I thought that your dad gave you an actual, decommissioned drone and just told you it was a model. Had to look up how large it was to be certain that wasn't the case. At 43' long I'm assuming it was not a real drone, unless you had an exceptionally large bedroom to put it inside.

It's kind of wild how our perspective on a word can change. 20 years ago if someone mentioned drones people would picture a giant military drone ready to drop bombs. Now you say it and pictures of tiny little toy-sized quadcopters pop into most people's minds.


ambulancisto t1_je6w6q7 wrote

What's amazing is that there were drones that could be piloted with TV. TV was in its infancy. I know the Germans had some TV guided missiles, but talk about bleeding edge tech for the early 1940s...