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D. Holdener

WWII - Aircraft Instruments: Fundamentals


This is a heavily Illustrated Guide for most aircraft instruments. Required study for every World War II Pilot. During the war Bendix manufactured about three quarters of all avionics in American aircraft (they published this in 1943). Instruments were of absolute importance and a thorough understanding was required by all pilots. Without instrument training and proficiency the absolute best pilot is helpless in a vertigo situation seconds after losing sight of the horizon.

For example, an account of  a F6F Navy Fighter Pilot?s experiences:
Immediately after shooting off the end of the carrier, I had no reference but my instrument gauges glowing in the dark. For a moment, I experienced intense vertigo. That soon passed as I locked my vision on the instruments...
— the sky was inky black with a low overcast and a light drizzle. It was a very interesting join up of twelve planes in the dark, we were then over the ocean, and you haven?t seen black until you see the ocean at night under an overcast.

Instrument training was doubtless the most important part of our basic curriculum. Experience in combat underlined the necessity of flying at night and under all weather conditions, and such missions required operation of aircraft by instruments.

Navigation information was displayed on a group of instruments called the basic or primary six, which included the attitude indicator, a vertical speed indicator showing the rate of climb and descent, airspeed indicator, turn-and-bank coordinator, a heading indicator showing the magnetic compass course, and the altimeter.

  • An aircraft can be flown remarkably accurately with the six basic flight instruments, the basic principles for which were developed in the early 1930's.

During instrument flight, the pilot must guard against spatial disorientation, or vertigo. This is caused by the motion-sensing organs of the inner ear becoming confused during instrument flight. This requires that the pilot develop a sense of reliance on the flight instruments and disregard other indications of motion. And you?ve got to learn not only to interpret but also to rely on your instruments.

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WWII Principles and Operation of Aircraft Instruments:

 Bendix Aviation Corp., Pioneer Instrument Division (1943) . This was the ultimate reference manual. Required reading by all Pilots. A wealth of information. Multiple sections include detailed information on flight instruments as well as the navigation and engine instruments. This manual includes a large number of illustrations, many color. A fascinating study into World War II aviation.
WWII pilots, B-17 B-24 B-25 P-38 P-40 P-51 etc.

  View: Original 1943 / Aircraft Instruments: Fundamentals of Operation and Principal Uses

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