The 'Block III' aeroplane missile guiding television monitoring system, secretly manufactured by RCA for use during WWII, 1944-45,
Lot 666W
The 'Block III' aeroplane missile guiding television monitoring system, secretly manufactured by RCA for use during WWII, 1944-45,
Sold for £36,000 (US$ 60,509) inc. premium
Lot Details
The 'Block III' aeroplane missile guiding television monitoring system,
secretly manufactured by RCA for use during WWII, 1944-45,
the WWII prototype of the cruise missile system -
comprising:
Iconoscope television camera, with static lens mounting;
HT power supply unit for the Iconoscope television camera, type T-61, with multiple input/output line sockets,
Television technician's monitor unit, with 6.1/2-inch circular screen with black mask,
Bomb aimer's monitor, with 6.1/2-inch green bulls-eye target-cascade screen, type CRV-60ABK - respective as listed: 20.1/2in. (52cm) deep, 8.1/2in. (22cm) wide; 17in. (44cm) deep, 11.1/2in. (29cm) wide; 22in. (56cm) deep, 17.1/2in. (44.5cm) wide; 19in. (48cm) deep, 9in. (23cm) wide

Footnotes

  • M.B-L comments: "In the final stages of WWII beginning in 1944 the US devised a television system with the idea of using a B17 bomber filled with explosives to be guided by remote control to crash on to specific targets such as the submarine pens at Saint-Nazaire.

    B17 bombers were fitted with a television camera in the nose, stripped out and filled with explosives. Two pilots took off from an airbase in the UK in the B17 and just before the plane left the mainland switched on the camera and the remote control and bailed out. The B17 was then guided towards its target by a 'mother' plane, flying between ten to twenty miles in the rear, using the navigator’s television receiver with the white screen. The green television in the mother ship with a target inscribed on the screen, was for use by the bomb aimer in the final approach.

    Two of the B17s blew up in practice runs when the pilots switched on the television camera, probably due to the high voltage sparking and firing the explosives. One of the pilots killed was Joe Kennedy, the elder brother of President Jack Kennedy who had been due to return to the US but volunteered to join what was described as 'a dangerous operation'.

    In action only two B17s got near their targets. One was shot down on approach and the other overshot the target.

    So secret was this system that the television sets in the 'mother' plane were each fitted with seven small explosive charges in marked slots to blow them up comprehensively if there was any chance of them falling into enemy hands. The explosives have long been removed! The camera and transmitting unit in the B17 were never fitted with explosives. It was assumed the B17 had enough explosive on board to do the job without any addition being necessary! Actually the Germans were experimenting with a near identical system at the end of the war, but no original sets survive.

    RCA made fifty of these sets. By definition the majority were blown up. This surviving set is stamped with the date April 1945 which explains why it was never used."
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