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Author Topic: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?  (Read 29522 times)

Gary LaPook

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Re: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?
« Reply #45 on: December 26, 2011, 07:59:38 PM »



I have attached these photos.
Attached is one more photo of the Japanese B&L octant box.

gl
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Gary LaPook

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Re: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?
« Reply #46 on: December 26, 2011, 08:26:52 PM »

I am attaching 4 photos of the box for the A-8 Bausch & Lomb octant. You can see that it is shaped more like the Pioneer octant box in that it is tall and not flat like the boxes marine sextants. The same is true of the box for the Japanese version of this instrument. There is no way that Gatty could have confused either of the boxes for a marine sextant box. It is also unlikely that anybody who was familiar with only marine sextants would have identified either a Pioneer or a B&L (or a Japanese version of the B&L) octant box as a marine sextant box. As i said before, the shape of the octant determines the shape of the box.

gl
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richie conroy

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We are an echo of the past


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richie conroy

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We are an echo of the past


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Gary LaPook

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Re: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?
« Reply #49 on: April 26, 2012, 12:53:51 AM »

http://usaaf.forumactif.com/t793-navigation-aerienne
I wonder if the box was for this Hagner celestial computer? Notice, the plane in the background is a Lockheed Electra regestration NC140 something. The video shows it being used inside the Electra.

gl
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 12:55:45 AM by Gary LaPook »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?
« Reply #50 on: June 22, 2012, 10:08:21 AM »

Just an update that some folks may find of interest.  Member Erik Davis has been digging through boxes of Naval Observatory correspondance at the National Archives recently, and has been finding documents that refer to lots of sextants and octants, including documents that rightfully ought to have been filed in Air Force records.  He has not yet found anything that relates to Harry Manning or Fred Noonan's instruments, nor anything that relates to the Sextant box found on Gardner, but the kinds of documents he has found so far suggest that he is looking in the right area.  It's a daunting task, and my hat's off to him for pursuing it.
There are only a few things we know, to help guide his search:
Harry Manning gave an aircraft octant to Fred Noonan before the flight.  It was Bu.Aero. S/N 12-36.  That's a number we're hoping to find mentioned in the records, which might then tell us specifically what the make and model were, and possibly a N.O. number.  Some of the records are of repairs done, receipts for instruments sent or received, etc, including calibrations.
A sextant box was found on Gardner, and was reportedly marked with the numbers 3500, and 1542.
It seems highly unlikely that Manning's octant box would have been the same one found on Gardner.  If Erik is successful in his search, we may be able to definitively prove or disprove a connection.  We may also discover what ship or person owned the 3500/1542 sextant box.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Kurt Kummer

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Re: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?
« Reply #51 on: November 11, 2016, 10:07:12 PM »

Hello all.  I was at the National Archives in San Bruno a few days ago and going through records related to the 1937 search for AE.  Here are a couple of despatches from the 12th Naval District in San Francisco that show that AE had requested and had been loaned the use of a Navy octant for her flight from Oakland to Hawaii.  I'm wondering if she kept that octant and subsequently kept it for her trip in June/July 1937  And would the same octant have then been the one located by the British in 1940 at the castaway's site (the 7 site?) 

Have you seen this info before?

Sorry the copy is not great.  Hope you can see it.

Kurt
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?
« Reply #52 on: November 12, 2016, 03:43:37 AM »

Hello all.  I was at the National Archives in San Bruno a few days ago and going through records related to the 1937 search for AE.  Here are a couple of despatches from the 12th Naval District in San Francisco that show that AE had requested and had been loaned the use of a Navy octant for her flight from Oakland to Hawaii.  ...   

Have you seen this info before?

Yes.  These telegrams were discussed in an earlier version of the Forum in 2000.  By using the handy search function linked to every page of this Forum, I asked Google to search for "octant being shipped."  Three search results were returned.  The first and third show discussions about the telegram.  The second is a link to Randy Jacobson's magnificent collection of naval traffic about the two around-the-world attempts.



Quote
I'm wondering if she kept that octant and subsequently kept it for her trip in June/July 1937


Using the same handy search function, I searched for "noonan manning sextant," because I have a dim recollection that Manning signed an instrument over to Noonan for use on the second attempt.  The very first search result led to a thread on this Forum: "What was Fred's Sextant and its box?"  The first paragraph of the first post in that thread has a link to the receipt for this transaction:



Quote
And would the same octant have then been the one located by the British in 1940 at the castaway's site (the 7 site?)

That's a great question!  We have been trying to answer it for lo! these many years. 
LTM,

           Marty
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Kurt Kummer

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Re: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?
« Reply #53 on: November 12, 2016, 11:48:01 AM »

Thanks Marty.  Guess I got a little excited when I saw the word 'octant' in the records.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?
« Reply #54 on: November 12, 2016, 02:22:55 PM »

Thanks Marty.  Guess I got a little excited when I saw the word 'octant' in the records.

Understood.

I don't actually remember how we sorted it all out.

But the trusty search function leads me to this pretty excellent paragraph:

P. V. H. Weems, Air Navigation, 1938, second edition, p. 301:

"Since an arc of 45 degrees is one-eighth of a circle, instruments of this general type, having a maximum angle of 45 degrees between the two reflectors, are known as octants. Instruments having an arc or limb of 60 degrees, or one-sixth of a circle, for measuring the angle between reflectors are called sextants, and those having arcs of 90 degrees, or one-quarter of a circle are called quadrants. Either octants or sextants are suitable for aerial use, but the quadrant is too bulky. For a great many years practically all instruments used by marine navigators for measuring altitudes have been sextants, and the term sextant has become so generally used that it is now applied to all instruments for measuring altitudes of heavenly bodies whether they are actually quadrants, sextants, or octants."

Good arguments can be made either way.  The best I can think of against the identifcation of the Niku box as the Manning/Navy box is this: although the word "sextant" could be used for "quadrants, sextants, or octants," it does not logically follow that the word "octant" could be used to stand for "sextant."  If the naval telegrams are correct that the instrument loaned to Manning was an octant, and if the investigation in Fiji was correct that the box found on Niku was definitely for a sextant, then it follows that the box found on Niku cannot have housed the instrument on loan to Noonan.

But Noonan may have both borrowed an octant and taken his own sextant.  The Niku box does not have to be the Manning/Navy box in order to be from the fatal flight.

The folks in Fiji who examined the box reported that it had two numbers on it: "3500 (stencilled) and 1542."  We have found quite a large number of boxes with two four-digit numbers on them.  Brandis instruments that were collimated by the Navy had a maker's serial number and a Naval Observatory number on them. 

If you look on the table of sextant numbers, there is this little subset:

Brandis:Naval Observatory
   3444:1461
   3500:1542 -- numbers on box found on Niku
   3483:1567
   3987:1584
   3511:1585

Nothing we have found so far disqualifies the box on Niku from having come from Brandis via the Navy.  It is an interesting coincidence.  It does not seem to me to be entirely inconceivable that the Niku box might have been the Manning/Navy box.
LTM,

           Marty
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« Last Edit: November 12, 2016, 02:24:43 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Arthur Rypinski

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Re: What was Fred's Sextant and its box?
« Reply #55 on: December 21, 2016, 11:57:53 AM »

The Smithsonian's "Time and Navigation" exhibition broke loose a new (to me) photograph of Fred Noonan ostensibly navigating aboard the Pan American/Sikorsky S-42, "China Clipper," presumably in 1935.  ON the left-hand side, you will see what looks to me like an aviation octant.  Behind the octant is a box sitting in a carefully designed enclosure designed to prevent the box from sliding or banging around.  I am guessing that this is an authentic pre-war octant box, and the design of the box is probably diagnostic for the model of octant.  If I were guessing, i would guess Pioneer.   

I don't recognize the map, but possibly it is a large scale chart of American Samoa.


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