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Author Topic: Bushnell Sextant Box  (Read 7566 times)

Kevin Weeks

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #30 on: November 02, 2018, 02:45:52 PM »


The closest Bushnell secondary survey point is a mile from the Seven Site.  That's not "very close."
Prior to the discovery of the bones and box in September 1940 the only people known to have been on the island were:
• The 24 Norwich City survivors, whose movements are well documented.
• The New Zealand Survey party who certainly did not "walk through every part of the island."
• The Bushnell Survey party - ditto
• The initial Gilbertese laborers who were probably attracted to the site by the kanawa trees and one of whom probably left the box at the site.

really a mile?? doing the math puts the 80ft tower 1.5 miles away from the southern tip of the island and the secondary point is halfway between that. the 7 site is just south along the beach of the tower... maybe .25 miles max
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #31 on: November 02, 2018, 03:21:20 PM »

maybe .25 miles max

I'll split it with you.  By overlaying the Bushnell chart with the Kiwi map I get about 700 yards (.4 mile).
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Kevin Weeks

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #32 on: November 02, 2018, 05:19:14 PM »

maybe .25 miles max

I'll split it with you.  By overlaying the Bushnell chart with the Kiwi map I get about 700 yards (.4 mile).

lol, google earth pro says .29 miles... not bad for an off the cuff guess.

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Jon Romig

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #33 on: November 02, 2018, 10:37:55 PM »


The closest Bushnell secondary survey point is a mile from the Seven Site.  That's not "very close."
Prior to the discovery of the bones and box in September 1940 the only people known to have been on the island were:
• The 24 Norwich City survivors, whose movements are well documented.
• The New Zealand Survey party who certainly did not "walk through every part of the island."
• The Bushnell Survey party - ditto
• The initial Gilbertese laborers who were probably attracted to the site by the kanawa trees and one of whom probably left the box at the site.

Is this the scenario?
1. The Bushnell surveyor brought the box to the island and lost/left it on Niku, almost certainly leaving it .29 miles or more from the seven site.
2. An unknown person later found the box in the near-wilderness of Niku.
3. That second person then transported the box to the seven site.
4. The second person then also lost/left the box on Niku.
5. By sheer coincidence, the second person happened to lose/leave the box near human remains.

To both parties the box had value and yet they both lost/left it on Niku within months of each other. This scenario, depending upon one odd event piled upon another upon another, seems extremely unlikely to me.

Alternately, however unlikely it is that the surveyor went near the seven site, action by a single individual seems more likely than this coincidence of two people doing the same (unlikely) thing with the box.

Jon
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« Last Edit: November 02, 2018, 10:45:42 PM by Jon Romig »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2018, 10:19:54 AM »

Is this the scenario?
1. The Bushnell surveyor brought the box to the island and lost/left it on Niku, almost certainly leaving it .29 miles or more from the seven site.

Well, he left it someplace on the island, that's for sure.

2. An unknown person later found the box in the near-wilderness of Niku.

Not necessarily. The box might not have been "found."  For example, if the sextant was lost overboard during the lagoon survey (easy to do) the box would be useless and might have been gifted to one of the resident laborers who then removed the interior furnishings to make it more useful.
 
3. That second person then transported the box to the seven site.

We know that laborers who were around at the time of the Bushnell survey went to the Seven Site in April 1940 when the skull was found and buried.  That's a perfectly plausible way for the modified box to be transported to the site.
 
4. The second person then also lost/left the box on Niku.

Yep. Dunno why.

5. By sheer coincidence, the second person happened to lose/leave the box near human remains.

The laborers were not there by sheer coincidence. They were cutting kanawa. The only coincidence is that the kanawa tree was near enough to the castaway camp for the laborers to come upon the skull.  They buried the skull without venturing inland far enough to find the rest of the skeleton.

To both parties the box had value and yet they both lost/left it on Niku within months of each other.

The box doesn't have value to the surveyor if the sextant has been lost.  The box had value to the laborer as a receptacle.  We don't know why he left it behind. Was he freaked out by the skull or did he just forget it?  I left an item of value - a pair of leather gloves - at the Aukeraime shoe site in 1991.  They were still there, greatly deteriorated, when we went back in 1997.


This scenario, depending upon one odd event piled upon another upon another, seems extremely unlikely to me.

We don't know what the events were, but the scenario I've suggested isn't odd at all.

Alternately, however unlikely it is that the surveyor went near the seven site

Extremely unlikely.  There is no known reason for a surveyor to be at the site and no known reason for a surveyor to modify the box and use it "merely as a receptacle."  Moving the modified box to the site via one of the laborers who found the skull gets it there by a series of known events.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2018, 10:51:59 AM »

Back to the question of where the Bushnell surveyors were.
Last night I remembered that there is a much better source than the rough hand-drawn sketch for where the survey points were.  The end product of the Bushnell survey was a map similar to, but far more detailed than, the New Zealand survey map.
There were many more survey points than are shown in the rough sketch.  As you can see from the attached images, the lagoon shore was mapped from survey points roughly 200 to 500 yards apart along the shoreline.  One of the points was on the lagoon shore very close to the castaway camp.  It's conceivable that the box was left there but that doesn't explain why it ended up looking like it had been used "merely as a receptacle."
The closest survey point on the ocean beach, according to the scale on the map, was 1,850 yards (1.1. miles) from the castaway camp. (I've included a scan that includes the scale.)
In case anybody thinks it would be inviting to venture into the interior from either the beach or the lagoon shore, I've attached photos taken during our 2010 expedition. In 1939, the interior  was open forest, but the ocean and lagoon shorelines looked much as they did in 2010.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2018, 10:54:18 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #36 on: November 03, 2018, 11:39:52 AM »

Lovely pictures.  For the Lagoon picture was the camera tilted a bit.  Clouds look level, but slope seems steep and tree trunks are not vertical.  Had they been pushed over by wind, etc.?

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #37 on: November 03, 2018, 12:14:02 PM »

Lovely pictures.  For the Lagoon picture was the camera tilted a bit.  Clouds look level, but slope seems steep and tree trunks are not vertical.  Had they been pushed over by wind, etc.?

Camera was tilted.  There is no hill at the shore.  Once you get 50 meters or so into the interior there's a mild upslope to the ridge.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #38 on: November 03, 2018, 12:20:58 PM »

Last night I remembered that there is a much better source than the rough hand-drawn sketch for where the survey points were.  The end product of the Bushnell survey was a map similar to, but far more detailed than, the New Zealand survey map.

I know that it is fashionable to doubt, but my impression is that the tiny printing on the map says:

Aerial photograph assembly sheet
South Pacific Ocean
Phoenix Islands
Gardner Island

Soundings in fathoms and feet
Survey by U.S.S. Bushnell - 1939
Compiled in U.S. Hydrographic Office
From single lens aerial photographs


It is possible that the legend doesn't mean what it says.

Perhaps you have used Photoshop to alter this image.

Or else the question of whether aerial photographs were used to map the island has been answered.

Obviously, the photos are not the sole source.  The soundings were not take by aerial reconnaissance.

But it looks as though the whole process was kind of regularized.

I'm especially impressed by the notation that reads "from single lens aerial photographs."

That suggests that there may have been cameras with multiple lenses.

And, yes, that does seem to have been the case, FWIW, in 1939:

Digital Oblique Aerial Cameras

"There is nothing new about taking oblique images – they have already been in use for over a century for military survey and large-scale mapping projects. Around the year 1900, Scheimflug developed a multiple-lens camera viewing oblique in 8 directions. During World War 1, the US developed a tri-lens camera. In the interwar period, engineers employed by Sherman Fairchild extended this multiple lens system to the five-lens T3A, which remained the precision-mapping camera of the US Army until 1940. The T3A can be considered as the forerunner of today’s Maltese cross digital oblique cameras as it acquired five negatives sized 5.5 by 6 inches simultaneously (Figure 2). The central lens pointed vertically, i.e. in nadir direction, and the other four, which were spaced at 90 degrees intervals around the central lens, were tilted 43 degrees away from the vertical. During a mapping conference held in Washington in 1940, the military use of the T3A was abandoned in favour of the tri-metrogon, a cluster of three K-17 wide-angle reconnaissance cameras; one pointing in the vertical and the other two at a tilt angle of 60 degrees on each side to provide horizon-to-horizon coverage. The digital variant of the tri-camera configuration has also become popular in recent years. Figure 3 shows the so-called Fan configuration when one camera is looking into the nadir, the second to the left and the third to the right. In general, the Fan consists of two or more digital cameras which have been assembled such that their optical axes are in the same vertical plane, but each camera views at a different angle resulting in a panoramic view across track. Multiple camera heads can also be mounted in a block such that they allow extensive ground coverage – equal in all directions – during one exposure. Another method to obtain oblique views is by sweeping one or more cameras across track. The scan motion allows a large field of view across the flight direction and provides oblique views. Vision Map’s A3 dual-camera system operates according to this sweeping principle."

And all of this is, of course, moot.  I don't see that it gives any leverage for deciding one way or the other about the Niku Hypothesis.

Just fun facts. 
LTM,

           Marty
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #39 on: November 03, 2018, 12:49:26 PM »

Ughhh. . . does this mean there may be other aerial photographs Tighar hasn't seen, doesn't have?

Bill Mangus
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #40 on: November 03, 2018, 01:06:11 PM »

Perhaps you have used Photoshop to alter this image.

I used Photoshop to add the colored arrows and other obviously added notations. I did not alter the map in any way.

It's good that we're dredging up all of this information from research we did 20 years ago (and more).

The U.S. Navy survey process for creating a detailed map of an island was much like what the New Zealanders did - a ground survey and aerial photos.  In the New Zealanders case, the aerial photos were taken when the ground survey party arrived on December 1, 1938.  In the U.S. Navy's case, the aerial photos were taken five months before the ground survey.

On April 30, 1939, the USN seaplane tender USS Pelican arrived at Gardner carrying a single Grumman J2F "Duck" amphibian.  By fortunate coincidence, an aircraft mechanic seaman by the name of Gerald Berger was aboard and had a camera. Berger contacted us in March of 2000.  He and I had a long telephone conversation.  Incredibly, in March 1937, Berger was assigned to Fleet Air Base Pearl Harbor.  He was on the scene and took photos when Earhart wreck the Electra. He gave us copies of the photos he took that morning and also of his visit to Gardner aboard Pelican. Gerber took the photo below from a navy launch returning to Pelican after a visit to the village on Gardner.  You can see the Duck on the fantail.

The National Archives has the composite map that was assembled from the photos taken by the Duck (see below), but - unlike the New Zealand aerial photos which were discovered by accident in 2015 - the individual USN photos have never turned up.

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Bill Mangus

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #41 on: November 03, 2018, 01:38:20 PM »

More about the USS Pelican, AM-27, then re-commissioned as AVP-6 in January 1936

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Pelican_(AM-27)

From the Wikipedia article it's lucky she survived until 1936.

Bill Mangus
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Bushnell Sextant Box
« Reply #42 on: November 03, 2018, 02:48:50 PM »

The National Archives has the composite map that was assembled from the photos taken by the Duck ...

That is a thing of beauty!
LTM,

           Marty
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