Kerrison Predictor

 The Kerrison Predictor was one of the first fully automated anti-aircraft fire-control systems. The predictor could aim a gun at an aircraft based on simple inputs like the observed speed and the angle to the target. Such devices had been used on ships for gunnery control for some time, and versions such as the Vickers Predictor were available for larger anti-aircraft guns intended to be used against high-altitude bombers, but the Kerrison's electromechanical analog computer was the first to be fast enough to be used in the demanding high-speed low-altitude role, which involved very short engagement times and high angular rates.

                    The Kerrison Predictor was a relatively simple device compared to high-altitude predictors and was designed to meet these particular requirements. It was designed by Major A.V. Kerrison at the Admiralty Research Laboratory, Teddington, in the late 1930s. After the war, Kerrison went on to become Director of Aeronautical and Engineering Research at the British Admiralty.

The Predictor solved the problem by doing all of the calculations mechanically through a complex system of gears. Inputs to its calculations included wind speed, ballistics of the gun and the rounds it fired, angle to the target in azimuth and altitude, and a user-input estimated target speed. Some of these inputs were fed in by dials, which turned gearing inside the Predictor to calculate the range (from the change in angle and estimated speed) and direction of motion. The "output" of the device drove hydraulic servo-motors attached to the traversal and elevation gears of the otherwise unmodified Bofors gun, allowing it to follow the predictor's indications automatically without manual intervention. The gunners simply kept the gun loaded, while the three aimers simply had to point the Predictor, mounted on a large tripod, at the target. The Kerrison predictor did not calculate fuse settings, as the shells fired by the 40 mm Bofors gun, with which it was designed to work, were contact-fused.

The Predictor proved to be able to hit practically anything that flew in a straight line, and it was particularly effective against dive bombers. However, it was also very complex, including over 1,000 precision parts and weighing over 500 lb (230 kg), even though much of it was made of aluminium to reduce weight. With the demands of the RAF for almost all light metals and machinists, the Predictor was far too difficult for the Army to produce in any quantity.

While the Predictor proved to be an excellent addition to the Bofors, it was not without its faults. The main problem was that the system required a fairly large electrical generator in order to drive the gun, increasing the logistics load in supplying the generators with fuel. Setting the system up was also a fairly complex task, and not something that could be done "on the fly". In the end they were used almost entirely for static emplacements, field units continuing to rely on their original iron sights or the simple Stiffkey-Stick sights that were introduced in late 1943.

The No.7 anti-aircraft composite predictor, also designed by Kerrison was similar in some ways. It was originally developed for the 6-pounder naval gun, for close-in defence and also against targets at intermediate altitudes of 6,000 to 14,000 ft (1,800 to 4,300 m). It was later adapted for use with the 40 mm Bofors.

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