Course Setting Bomb Sight Mk VIIA 1938 (BOMB1)
This is a pre-WWII bomb sight used by the RAF and RCAF.
According to collector George Fulford's notes:
Check this heavy antique! Would you believe this overly complex piece of machinery designed for WW1, was fitted into the RAF’s front line bombers at the start of WW2? And wouldn’t you agree with me that it is the most fascinating gizmo that was ever taken into combat? Take the size and weight and imagine trying to board and stow this in the tiny spaces allocated to the bomb aimer’s ‘string and canvass’ aircraft like the Wellington. And then consider the large assortment of metal gauges needed exchanging for every altitude and bomb type – that’s the separate box that has all those black rulers in place. Plus all the multiple manipulations necessary on all the myriad knobs that would drive me crazy in a classroom, let alone in the cramped noisy claustrophobic bomb aimer’s position.
Clearly, a lot of intellectual thought went into this design and what you have here is not an original idea but something that grew out of the need from a simple drift sight, and the man who came up with the first mechanical solution was a brilliant Royal Navy engineer called Wimperis. His bombsight evolved from that humble drift sight beginning.
Many thousands of these were sent off to the US Army Air Corps early in WW2 who quickly found out that they needed a stabilizing device to compensate for the inability to maintain “straight and level” flying for its use, very much like the bubble sextant that got me going on all of this collecting. So they gave one to Norden to play with, and he had a better idea and created his own famous version – with the gyro-stabilizing feature.
Wimperis was the genesis for the Norden, Luftwaffe, and all other modern bombsights, so I should not be so dismissive of his early, almost heroic insights, but the bottom line is his bombsight is an enormously complicated piece of mechanical aeronautical esoterica. And I’m not surprised a South African buyer paid over $10,000 for a copy more than twenty years ago. Lucky for you, this is the first of my two complete copies of this unique bombsight.