IMAGE: Mark XIV Bomber Sight,  SOURCE: Wikipedia


The Mark XIV Computing Bomb Sight was a bombsight which is developed during World War II by Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command. The bombsight was also known as the Blackett sight after its primary inventor, P. M. S. Blackett. Production of a slightly modified version was also undertaken in the United States as the Sperry T-1, which was interchangeable with UK-built version. It was the RAF’s standard bombsight for the second half of the War.

Developed starting in 1939, the Mark XIV began replacing the First World War–era Course Setting Bomb Sight in 1942. The Mark XIV was essentially an automated version of the Course Setting sight, using a mechanical computer to update the sights in real-time as conditions changed.

The Mark XIV required only 10 seconds of straight flight before the drop and automatically accounted for shallow climbs and dives. More importantly, the Mark XIV sighting unit was much smaller than the Course Setting sight, which allowed it to contain a gyro stabilization platform. This kept the sight pointed at the target even as the bomber manoeuvred, dramatically increasing its accuracy and ease of sighting.

The Mark XIV was theoretically less accurate than the contemporary Norden bombsight but was smaller, easier to use, faster-acting and better suited to night bombing. In practice, it demonstrated accuracy roughly equal to the Norden’s. It equipped the majority of the RAF bomber fleet during the second half of the war; small numbers of the Stabilized Automatic Bomb Sight and Low Level Bombsight, Mark III were used in specialist roles. The Low Level Bombsight was built using parts of the Mark XIV, stabilized in pitch rather than roll.

A post-war upgrade, the T-4, also known by its rainbow code Blue Devil, connected directly to the Navigation and Bombing System computers to automate the setting of wind speed and direction. 

This eliminated the one potential inaccuracy in the system, further increased accuracy, and simplified operation. These equipped the V Bomber force as well as other aircraft until their retirement from service in the 1960s.

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