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Simple gun sightTaking aim

Since man first took to the skies he wanted to use the ability to fight in the air. As soon as the other side started looking at your side they wanted to get rid of the snooper. It quickly became obvious that the best platform to do that was another flying machine.

The early aces were the ones who could calculate where to shoot when you are in a machine travelling at 100mph at another doing about the same.

As fighting in the air progressed science started to lend a hand and gun sights became far more than the simple ring sight shown here. Initially mechanical aids helped overcome problems of calculating how far ahead of the other aeroplane to shoot, and to overcome drift caused by the wind. Later on this became more and more complex, until today's head-up displays show much more information than where your bullets are going to end up. Gun sights also became bomb sights and missile and rocket firing sights. Radar started to be used as well as quite complex computers.

Jaguar sightThe museum's collection of sights contains examples across the years from First World War to the mid 1970s, from simple sights to Head Up displays. The collection started to outgrow it's cabinet space a few years ago, then we received a legacy from a former member which allowed us to greatly increase the amount of sights on display.

We have also used to opportunity to get a more of the sights working so that visitors can see what the pilot/gunner would have seen when using them. The working electrical sights are operated by a push button system which runs that sight for about a minute, and visitors can take aim at our targets (actually tie pin aircraft pinned to the back of the cabinet). Unfortunately getting the later radar sights to work is too difficult, and would require too much power, but there are seven electrical sights as well as three mechanical ones that visitors can see working.

We have also provided additional information on the sights via a Raspberry Pi computer with a small touchscreen showing an intranet site.

This display has been created in memory of member Malcolm Lowe.

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