- L -
Additional compass used for swinging
aircraft compasses. Its use is explained in The Aircraft Engineer's Handbook
(follow this link
by Sloley and Coulthard (No. 4 Instruments, 6th ed. 1946). Example: Air
Ministry Type O6A (later models: Sestrel
PROFILE - The French company Société des établissements
HENRY-LEPAUTE (11, rue Desnouettes, Paris XVe) was a famous
manufacturer of clocks and watches. It also produced numerous
electrical and optical materiel. This compass type
was patented in 1910 (no. 407.416). Its
characteristic feature is the double pivot. The upper one's length can
be adjusted vertically (see image from Patent below).
French inventor of a drift computer called navigraphe
Letecke Pristroje Praha
Profile - Letecke Pristroje Praha (Aircraft Equipment Prague) was a
Czechoslovakian company located in Prague.
On his transatlantic flight from NY to Paris in 1927, Charles
Lindbergh's aircraft the Spirit
of St. Louis
* was equipped with an earth induction compass
He had then made by Longines the hour angle watch
called after him. (*
note the T-shaped anemometer protruding out of the fuselage behind the
PROFILE - W. LUDOLPH GmbH & Co. KG (Bremerhaven) is a German
company manufacturing nautical and aeronautical compasses.
(more information HERE
Examples of older compasses: FK 6, FK 10, FK 13 (FK = Führerkompass =
PROFILE - A. J. Hughes writes in his History of Air Navigation
(1946, p. 34) that the first experiments (dealing with the behaviour of
the compass) 'were made by Keith LUKAS at the Royal Aircraft Factory
(Farnborough) in 1917 and this led to very important results, as the
compass had to be carefully observed and special methods of
damping introduced which minimized the effect of northerly turning
error. The work of Keith Lukas was the most important scientific
contribution made during the 1914-18 war to air navigation' (See
chapter AIR MINISTRY
Compass type Mark II).
- M -
by Pioneer Instr. Co. (patent no. ?, in 19xx ?). The system
consists of a transmitter and from one to three indicators as desired.
It has no moving parts other than a compass float and the indicator
pointers. The transmitter unit comprises a liquid magnetic compass,
below which is mounted an electrical pick-off of the stationary
induction (source: A. J. Hughes, History
of Air Navigation
, p. 109).
PROFILE - Alexander G. MARQUIS, a Briton living in Rochester, N.Y. USA,
invented in 1911 a new compass type which was tested by the aviator
William Hilliard in his aeroplane at Mineola, L. I. The needle pointed
south and was observed in a mirror apparently pointing north (see pic.
at right). Full description available, published in The
, March 1911.
PROFILE - On some WWI compasses the maker's name indicated is "MAUVE Paris
together with the words Aéronautique
which also appear on the early AERA and VION
compasses. The only available data are to be found in the U.S. document
dated 1923 about all compass types used at that moment.
Dia.: 92 mm, Height 60 mm
See the enlarged views of the compasses displayed at left (excerpt of
the document Report No.
PROFILE - A flyer tells us that the manufacturer L. MAXANT
rue Belgrand in Paris) built a compass
for airplanes and airships
(click on link for pic.) probably
shortly after WWI. It was available in three sizes (dia.: 55mm, 80mm
and 105mm - weight: 700, 900 and 1400 grs).
PROFILE - The
French captain Antoine Marius Camille MOREL (address: Villa
Joséphine, 17, rue Joseph. Mourillon-Toulon) filed as early
as 1909 several patents together with A. KRAUSS (see examples below
The company MOREL merged with Ets. Barbier,
Bénard et Turenne - B.B.T.
(successor of KRAUSS) and was
It was located 82, rue Curial, Paris 19. MOREL built these instruments
in the 1930's and 40's. Go to B.B.T. for the compass types
The compensation procedures for the MOREL & B.B.T. compass
types are explained in Capitaine Gaujour
's books (published in 1936 and 1946,
Pic at r. : Description and user
instruction for MOREL & BBT compasses (
12 p. +
1 oversize fig., photocopies available)
Fig. of a patent for a compass
for aircraft and vessels
dated 1922: CLICK
- N -
like out at sea, the compass is only one of several instruments used
for air navigation. In the early days of air travelling, the navigators
could determine their position and course using highly precise clocks
and observing the stars. The large long-range aircraft had until not so
long ago an instrument for this purpose (see pic. SPERTI astro-compass
) that indicated
true north when pointed at a known star (incl. the sun!). Due to the
higher speed of modern aircraft, computing had to be performed in
always shorter time. Before computers took over this task, several
instruments were used (we won't deal here with GPS !).
at r. courtesy Brooke Clark. N6GCE
For flights above ground, artificial means like radio beacons are used
(see VOR - in Wikipedia
whose signals are computed by radio compasses - examples: Bendix
Because of the aircraft's speed, the rapidly changing position of the
aircraft in relation to the earth's magnetic field and the influence of
the aircraft's own metallic masses, an additional device is used
valve or flux gate
). Its information is transmitted to the
compass gyro (examples: Siemens-Halske
). In the event
that these electronic means fail, aircraft are equiped with a
conventional stand-by compass
After the International Air Traffic Commission (the forerunner of the IATA
was created in 1919, navigators had to possess a certificate (click on
link for syllabus).
Lateral winds put an aircraft off-course. We display instruments used
to compute the drift
(link to descr. of early
) caused by the wind:
1 - Navigraphe Le Prieur (for earlier drift assessing devices
go to DALOZ
2 - Estimateur Arcaute (April 1932)
Manufacturer: La Précision Moderne
Ad. published in L'Aéronautique (1926-1928)
Description in Engl., French and Spanish
Drift computer by Arcaute (1932) as published in L'Aéronautique
(full user instr. available)
|Winteris Drift Sight
3 - Course and Distance
(in German Dreiecksrechner
otherwise stipulated, all pics by K. Pätzold - click for
|Course and Distance Calculator
GB / WW1
Hist. of Air Nav. by A. J. Hughes, 1946)
DR-3, German Luftwaffe / Wehrmacht (1943)
Manufacturer: Dennert & Pape. Ein anderes Modell war
das von K. E. Tröger (Foto
Computing Ruler (NVA / GDR) and user instr.
NPL (USSR) integrated in the leg tablet (Knieplanchet)
(Red Army / USSR)
with user instr.
- O -
PROFILE - Ottica
(OMI) was an Italian company producing
photogrammetric instruments. It was founded in Rome in 1926 by Umberto
Nistri (1895 ?-1962). From 1962 on, his son Raffaello Nistri
was president of the company. Since the 1980s the company has been part
of Agusta. The air photography branch split into S.A.R.A.
Nistri and Aerofotogrammetrica Nistri.
Three aircraft compasses are known, the two instruments described below
and the PEZZANI model (scroll
). Nistri filed in 1956 a patent for a
marching compass. See also in Marching compasses / Barker - 4.2.
- P -
- Albert PATIN was a French engineer and industrialist who lived in
Germany in the 1930's and during WWII. He filed among others a
Patent (no. 853.724
) for a remote indicating
distant reading, DR) compass (compare
to BISSON's patent for a ship compass
). This system was
installed in the German
transport aircraft type Junkers
. He created in 1938 his own company Albert Patin Werkstätten für
located in a village called Mittelsteine (renamed
Średnia in 1947) at the
Slovakian-Polish border where he developed and manufactured
devices for the German Airforce Luftwaffe
and German patents)
company's condidential three-letter code was gzy
. A. J. Hughes
writes in his History of Air Navigation (1946) : The Patin compass [see pic. at
r.] is a repeater compass that has proved to be one of the most
important compasses in this war.
WWII, U.S. special services brought A. Patin to the USA so
that he worked for the U.S. Airforce together with many other German
technicians and scientists (link to excerpt
of W. Samuel
's book American
) although he participated in the Nazi Germany's
war industry (link to excerpt
of Linda Hunt
's book Secret
A. P. Remote Control Engineering Co. Ltd
Source: German Archives, Col. Gaujour (s. below), Wikipedia, Secret Agenda
Hunt, 1991), American Raiders
Note: This entry is about
aeronautical compasses. For ships compass patterns please got to
Nautical Compasses / DENT & Co.
courtesy website Deutscheluftwaffe.de)
Descr. in col. Gaujour's compensation
instructions (1946). A
picture of the system called Patin
Repeater Compass (invented in 1933?) was also published in
the book History
of Air Navigation by A. J. Hughes (1946).
Original Luftwaffe doct.
Label on 1st series instrument
Three versions of the pilot slave compass
KT / f8
|Patent no. 853.724
The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) defines its requirements for
supply of instruments, weapons, equipment, by the issue of patterns.
Any supplier may manufacture and offer such items for sale,
but those items will be examined and certified as type-approved, i.e.
they comply with the official pattern. A pattern number is
purely a mark of compliance to a standard set out by the MoD.
In the following examples, the compass Pattern 200
mix of the typical aircraft compass featuring a horizontal card
(installed in the lower part of the instrument panel and to be read
from above) and a prism for observation at eyes' height. The Pattern
was the first compass to be officially designated an
aeroplane compass. It was designed and patented by Captain
Creagh-Osborne (patent no. 1148/15, see also marching and wrist
compasses). This design was continuously used but without the prism
until at least the end of WWII on the Air Ministry compasses.
The instrument Pattern
is the only British a/c compass that we know
of featuring quadrantal side spheres for correction of
deviation (compare with the French VION compasses). Go to the HUGHES
chapter for more
patterns (especially the Centesimal
The compasses Pattern
255, 259 and 261
are displayed in the chapter Creagh-Osborne
(See also Verner's pattern and Nautical Compasses / DENT).
Pattern 250, 251, 252
information about this series go to Creagh
Pattern 253 D.B. (Dead
Beat) & A.C. (Centesimal
Pattern 254 (compare to
the Air Ministry O.6 Landing Compass,
see also HUGHES)
Pattern 255, 256, 257, 258, 259.
Pics above and at
left: Air Pub 802
Pattern 261 micrometric (identical to the marching model)
Pattern 5/17: s. Creagh Osborne
Pattern 5/27: small Pattern 253
Pattern 6/18 and R.A.F. MARK II:
see chapter Air Ministry (A.M.)
PDK / ПДК in Russian
PROFILE - PDK is the abbreviation of
the Russian words Потенциометрический
дистанционный компас (ПДК) i.e. Distant Potentiometer Compass). These
were made by a Russian manufacturer. No other data momentarily
available. Your help is needed. Two models are known: PDK-3
and PDK-45. These are master compasses. They feature only a
small compass inside a round window and deliver a signal for
indicators in the cockpit (see
PDK-49 below) and elsewhere in the aircraft called repeaters.
courtesy eBay seller Bokluci)
- Dim.: 100 x 80 mm.
- Inscription on label:
УКАЗАТЕЛЬ РДК-49 = Indicator PDK-49
PROFILE - Dr. James PENTZ published in 1919 in several reviews and
newspapers a description of a compass that would also tell a
pilot of an aircraft in the clouds where up and down is. This system
was also studied by a U.S. government agency (Rep. no. 128 / 1923).
PROFILE - Maurice Percheron was a French aircraft
engineer. He wrote a manual about the use of the map and the compass in
The drawing of the compass doesn't seem to represent a specific compass
model. Read his biography
on the website of the
French editor Denoël.
Fig. 4 - Setting the course for a flight from Evreux to
Beauvais (50° N-E) taking the declination into account (NM = magn.
Fig. 9 - Taking side wind drift into account
(Click on images for enlarged views)
PROFILE - The Italian manufacturer Ottica Meccanica
Italiana (OMI), founded in Rome in 1926 by Umberto Nistri (1895 - 1962)
and taken over by AGUSTA in 1980), produced from the
early 1930the end of WWII a compass called PEZZANI
Tipo 0-2 (for
more details go to historicacollectibles
a button for automated translation).
Picture courtesy historicacollectibles.com
more pics on this website)
Photo at left and drawing above: handbook
(Click on images
for enlarged views)
Dim.: see fig. at l.
Weight : 2 1/2 lbs/1.250 kg
PROFILE - Pfadfinder
für Aviatik (link
to ads 1915 & 1917)
was a German maker
located in Berlin-Johannisthal who built a compass of the same
name during WWI. It was probably bought (after the war?) by C. PLATH
who built several compass types of the same name (see pics below).
In 1925 the Italian marchese di Pinedo flew from Rome to Australia,
then to Tokyo and back to Rome. He had designed his own
version of an aperiodic observer's compass type S.O.2
that equipped his
Savoia-Marchetti seaplane (source: H. Hughes, History of Air Navigation
1946, p. 49 - pictures at right: History
of Air Navigation
for Aerial Navigation
, 1930s - enlarged view).
PROFILE - The U.S. manufacturer PIONEER Instrument Company was created
in 1919 by Morris Maxey Titterington and was acquired by and
became a Division of BENDIX
Aviation Corporation, New Jersey (N.Y.) in 1928. For more information
go to our BENDIX entry and check also "Rockwell Collins" in Wikipedia.
The inventors Adolf URFER
and Ch. H. COLVIN
(among others) filed patents for compasses when working with Pioneer
& Bendix. Pioneer invented the MAGSYN Compass and also produced
utilized by Lindbergh on his transatlantic
flight in 1927 (falsely called there Earth INDICATOR compass!). More
. See also SALMOIRAGHI below.
Picture courtesy R. Pavan
(Click on the image for enlarged view)
View of the compass in instruments panels
The design's patent was filed by J.
P. WARBURG in 1919.
PROFILE - C. PLATH was a German manufacturer (more information
in Nautical Compasses). C. Plath built many aeronautical compasses.
They featured a counter-clockwise 360 degrees scale on the bowl's rim
and some were apparently only half-gimballed probably to be mounted in
Zeppelin balloons were lateral bank angles are negligeable. Descr. and
user instr. in the book Der Flugzeugkompass
by captn. Fritz
Gansberg, 1917 (copy
at r. courtesy McMillan
Pictures courtesy Jürgen Plesse
(Click on the images for enlarged views)
Inscriptions on both sides of the NORTH mark:
Pfadfinder* Armee-Kompass III
On the opposite side of the disk:
C. PLATH - HAMBURG
- Dim. (dia. x height) : 120 x 90mm.
- S/N: 17160
- Divisions: 360° clockwise every 10° both on the disk and the chapter
ring of the bearing setting hand
- Lighting device: side lamp
|The Pfadfinder compass in Der Flugzeugkompass
PROFILE - Compass made by the Polish optics
maker P.Z.O. created in 1921 in Warsaw and sold in 1996.
Successor of Fabryka
Aparatów Optycznych i Precyzyjnych H. (Henryk) Kolberg
and Precision Instruments H. Kolberg). This compass is called Z-6
and described as
having been built by H.
KOLBERG i. Ska
(i.e. & Co.) on the Polish
web sites like the forum on Polish Aviation Lotniczapolska
. The instrument's
label indicates ZÜRN
, so that the inventor should be an engineer called
ZÜRN about whom no information is available. The only other information
available about this compass are to be found in the French
en Pologne (1935
, p. 117/119). Source: the Museum of
Polands Aeronautics' (Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego
library (see note and watermark on pictures below).
Pic. court. W. WOZNIAK
courtesy Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego
(Click on the images for enlarged
Dim.: unknown; weight: 3 lb 12 oz / 1.7 kg
Installled on Bomber aircraft Pzl 37
The Museum of Polands' Aeronautics offers an online library but the
access is only possible on the Polish version, the English version is
not implemented: first click on Zbiory in the pull-down menue, then on
and then on the red words Digitalizacja
zasobów ikonograficznych i archiwalnych MLP. The list comprises numerous
works in several European Languages.
- R -
Radiation hazard, radioactivity
The self luminescent paint used for markings between the years 1915 and
1950 contained Radium. Click HERE
for more details.
R.A.E. / R.A.F.
- Royal Aircraft Establishment / Factory
The designation of the first compasses specially designed for
aircraft is somehow confusing (Air Compass, Aerocompass,
R.A.E. / R.A.F etc.). Most of them are described here in the AIR MINISTRY
chapter but some
will be found in the chapter dedicated to one of their inventor Cptn
CREAGH-OSBORNE. The compass designated R.A.F. was developed
by the ROYAL AIRCRAFT FACTORY in Farnborough, not to be confused
with the Royal
Air Force (R.A.F.
) which resulted from the
merging of the Royal
(air arm of the British
Army) and the Royal
Naval Air Service
(RNAS) in 1918. The abbreviation RAE /
RAF refers hier to the Royal
Aircraft Establishment / Factory
founded in 1910
in Farnborough which participated in the specification of
navigation compasses and bombing sights (s. a. ANDREWS
at right: The R.A.F. pilot's compass Mk II and the Air Compass Mark II
(excerpt of Report
'As its name implies,
the remote indicator of this type of instrument comprises a full 360°
repeater dial read against a lubber-line, or a fixed 360° dial with a
revolvable pointer. The repeater is usually fitted with an adjustable
grid to prominently denote the course set to be steered
(source: A. J. Hughes, History
of Air Navigation
, p. 102-103). Example: PATIN
. Check also the table showing
the separate development of Tele- and Repeater compasses
(source: ibid. p. 106).
PROFILE - This compass was designed by Henri Rosenfeld, 38,
rue de Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth
In the (luxurious) flyer, he pretends that fluid-filled compasses were
not as good as dry-capsule compasses...
- Dimensions : ?
- Weight : ?
- Production period: probably WWI
- S -
PROFILE - Angelo Salmoiraghi was an Italian engineer (1848-1939, see
his photograph in Wikipedia in Italian language) who joined in 1870
the manufacturer FILOTECNICA located in Milano and became its
head and owner later. A compass called type ns 1200
described in the French review L'Aérophile
Aug.1936. Two models were offered: Atlantico
(rose window breadth: 94 mm) and Mediterraneo
for light aircraft.
(For original version click on
image at r.)
Salmoiraghi is also famous for his driftmeter (see DALOZ) and for an
adapted version of a PIONEER
(see below) signed FILOTECNICA
courtesy R. Pavan
Instrument with lamp - At right: click for full text of advert.
- see pic below
PROFILE - Michael Sendtner A.G., Fabrik für
Präzisions-Instrumente, München, Schillerstraße 22 (Munich, Germany).
The company founded in 1879 (closed in 1930?) built precision
instruments (telescopes etc.). This compass principle is
similar to the models issued to the German Imperial Navy (Kaiserliche Marine
namely C. Plath's Pfadfinder
- Ø bowl: 115 mm, height: 60 mm
- Ø Compass card: 85 mm
- Weight: 4.8 lbs
- Production period: WWI
Description (in the NASA Technical
Report No. 128, 1923)
Maxime Louis Jean
was granted a patent (no. 423,468 on 19 Apr. 1910) for a drift
correction device called Map Compass for Aircraft (Boussole-carte destinée à être
employée plus spécialement en
aéroplane, dirigeable et autres machines volantes
). It was
described in L'Aérophile,
(copy available). This system
resembles Daloz' design. It was built by HUE (HUET
d'instruments de précision, 63, rue des Archives, Paris. (At r. : Fig.
PROFILE - Sestrel
is the trademark brand of Henry
Browne & Son
who were important British compass
makers. This company was sold to John Lilley & Gillie
Ltd and SIRS Navigation (both in UK) in 1993 (read more in
the section Nautical Compasses).
version Mk II of this instrument was described in the aeronautics
review FLIGHT in Feb. 1933 (compare to the A.M. / Air Ministry
compasses) where it is designated an a-trochilic
compass, another name for aperiodic
on the image at right for fulll description.
- Dim. (H x Ø): 160 x 115mm
- Weight: 2.35 kgs
- Manufacture date: WWI
courtesy G. Rooney
- Dim. (H x Ø): 100 x 200mm
- Weight: c. 5 kgs
- Production year: early 1920s
Pictures courtesy videmaison2000
PROFILE - The Sherrill Research Corporation was founded in 1938 in
Indiana, and later headquartered in Mexico, Indiana. It made Sherrill
(and later, Air Way) brand compasses for decades for automotive,
marine, aviation and military use. We display here a special version
designed for the M6 battle tank and other WWII land vehicles, called
models AEG and
Picture courtesy friebe-aero
Ads published in Flying Magazine, Aug. and Dec. 1944
Fig. excerpt of the Instruction
Manual (link to a view of the tank)
- Dim. (H x Ø): ... x ... mm
- Ordnance drawing no. C121174
PROFILE - Siemens Halske was the name of a German company established
in 1847 by Werner von Siemens and Johann Georg Halske called
Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske and located in
1 - Siemens developed shortly after WWI an electrical tele-compass
2 - Auto pilot with a tele-compass for rudder command
3 - Gyro-magnetic compass (Kurskreisel
Lku4, Siemens-Halske, built 1943-1945. This equipment was installed in
the instrument panel of the German Junkers aircraft Ju 52 and Ju 88.
The center picture shows a JU 88 cockpit. The Lku4 appears (in red) at
the top in the middle of the instrument panel.
Excerpt from the original notice "D.(Luft)T.5404", issued January 1943:
"The upper scale is the course setting rose. The desired course is set
by means of a motor activated by a flux valve. The lower scale shows
the actual course indicated by the inertial navigation system (gyro)."
PROFILE - Model name of a compass sold by Air Transport Equipment Inc.
(ATECO) New York. USA. Probably identical to the type F made by Consolidated Instruments
Dim.: 7" high x 4.5" wide.
Overall depth: 3"
(Pic. courtesy cturtles1958
- Click on the images for enlarged views)
PROFILE - Company founded in 1851 by instrument maker Samuel
SMITH, watchmaker to the Admiralty (read more in Wikipedia). Aircraft
business started with the outbreak of WWI. Henry Hughes became a
subsidiary of SMITH & SON in 1935 but the HUSUN
appear in ads published in FLIGHT
in 1929 under SMITH's logo (the abbrev. MA between the wings stands for
Maker to the Admiralty
PROFILE - See also SPERRY GYROSCOPE in Wikipedia. An early large
compass (76mm Ø card) called Navy
standard compass no. I
(pic at right) was
carried in large flying boats and bombers. It is described in the Report
. For unknown reasons, it is also described in FLIGHT
(date ???) as a Mk XVI
! A smaller Type II (50mm Ø
card) was used on the smaller airplanes. Another one was an adapted Creagh-Osborne
design called Air
compass Mark II
. As early as in 1915, Sperry had developed an
instrument called drift indicator
The compass used was the first KELVIN
(Click on the image for an
- Dimensions: 70 x 60 x 60 mm
- Weight: 8 ozs./240 gr
- Manufacturer: AIRPATH
- Type: C2300
- Date stamp: APR 82.
The deviation can be rectified by turning the screws concealed
behind the plate at the lower front part:
- the left hand screw is for the north-south axis
- the right one for the east-west axis.
PROFILE - Former manufacturer of compasses located in Boston,
created by Gustave A. Salzgeber who patented in 1931 a compass design
(no. 1,799,648, copy avlbl.) also produced by Consolidated
(source Milton Historical Soc.
Click on the image at
r. for a full-page view of the patent figs.
PROFILE - Telltale (overhead) compasse produced by this Swiss
manufacturer (read more details about the company in the dept. SURVEY
COMPASSES). Read below its description in Report
- T -
Apparently some tests were conducted during WWI with compasses fitted
in battle tanks (see SHERRILL
Captain F. Creagh-Osborne
R.N. wrote a
booklet (The Magnetic
Compass on Land
, 15 p., 1915) for the armoured
car section of the Naval Air Service
(link to short description, p. 14
but he mainly describes therein two other
(p. 7 & 8), a wrist compass (see Chetwynd/Kelvin
and a marching compass featuring a
- designed by himself.
Picture courtesy S. Wiggins
NOTES: We received a message sent by a former Lt Col of the Royal Tank
Regiment about a document kept in The National Archives (TNA,
WO 194 54 - Tanks and Ancillary Vehicles 1915 - 1918 - Notes-
Warfare Department, Inspection Department Royal Arsenal dated Jan 1925
Mark V Sheet 1) telling us "that
the Mark V was the last British heavy tank to be used in WW1 and had an
extensive number of modifications / improvements compared to the early
Mark I to IV. The reference does mention when a specification was
planned but not implemented and the compass has no such caveat by it
Another contributor wrote: "All
I know about tank compasses, is that they never worked reliably. Every
time you changed the direction of the gun barrel or its elevation, the
compass card flew all over the place. The Americans tried them. Bendix
made various models (see type 1829), but they just didn't work. In
desert conditions they used sun compasses. Later, in the 1960s and
1970s they started using gyro compasses. Nowadays they use GPS."
The French system called T.A. 103 builds the transition from
the pure compass-based navigation to a compound system in which a
compass delivers a signal to several devices to form a magnetic
gyroscopic navigation instrument, i.e. a compass gyro. The letters T
and A are the initials of its inventor J. C. Thédenat
below) and of the company that built it, ALKAN
. It was at the
base of the development of the system called D.R.C. (Distant Reading
(only in French available
in col. Gaujour
book, 1946. Link to pic.: Le
club des collectionneurs / Collection Willys69
This type of instrument was invented after WWI. Several technical
solutions were developed first by C.
(optical device), Askania
(pneumatic d.) and Siemens
(electrical d.). In 1932 Holmes
and Hughes added another design made by Smith's Aircraft Instruments
(read descr. in Flight
It was a primitive remote indicating compass not to be confused with
the improved system called repeater
The indicator of a tele-compass is not a conventional compass dial but
merely a centre zero dial with a swinger pointer (galvanometer) which
plainly shows when the plane is headed right on its set course or is
deviating therefrom to the right or left. Check also the table showing
the separate development of Tele- and Repeater compasses
(source: A. J. Hughes, History
of Air Navigation
, p. 106). Compare with BAMBERG's
photo-electrical system and with MOREL typ CR12 Mengden.
PROFILE - Jean
(1901-1935) was a French Navy officer and a
pilot. He invented an early compass gyro called Appareil Directeur T.A. 103
. He filed a
* (published on Jan. 21, 1936): Perfectionnements aux
installations permettant à bord des engins de navigation, notamment à
bord des aéronefs, de déterminer, de faire prendre à ces engins et de
contrôler le cap convenable pour la navigation et pour le jet sur un
point déterminé de projectiles ou charges quelconques, ainsi que pour
* Note: on fig. 1, the compass is referenced by the letter C.
SILVA's head Gunnar Tillander invented in 1944 an aircraft compass.
Pic. at right: Figs of U.S. patent no. 2,359,691.
PROFILE - Morris Maxey Titterington was a
US inventor. He founded PIONEER and invented the earth
(see also Lindbergh).
- U -
UGR-4 (УГР-4 in
PROFILE - Russian-made (USSR) radio compass. Unknown
Pictures courtesy K. Pätzold
Marking on dial:
KURS - RP
The label reads:
UGR-4Uk SERIA 3
(Click for enlarged view)
| Technical Data
- Diameter: ? mm
- Weight : ? kg
PROFILE - Adolf URFER was an inventor who filed at least two
patents implemented in compasses built by Pioneer
, the #1.873.684
(in 1932) and 1.939.374
PROFILE - Former French company (for more information click HERE
Visit also the sections nautical and survey compasses).
at r.: advertisement published in L'Aéronautique (Paris, 1923)
- Source: gallica.bnf.fr
for some VION compass types are explained in Capitaine Gaujour
's book (copies available
Auguste Henri Eugène VION filed several patents between the two World
Wars. They describe precisely the development of the main instruments
shown below. Some were translated into English (UK and US issues) and
one into German. The successor company Société
d'Exploitation des Etablissements VION
also filed 2
patents in 1966.
French Patents and US or
GB issues if available (copies
- 558.994 - Perfectionnements aux compas à liquide - gobe-bulles et
éclairage en-dessus (sept. 1923)
- 564.946 - Dispositif pour la compensation des déviations des roses de
compas (janv. 1924); GB: Compass
for Navigation Purposes
, 214.209; USA: 1.596.639
- 639.734 - Compas de pilote avec dispositifs pour sa transformation en
compas de relèvement (janv. 1928); USA: Compass, 1.694.194
- xxx.xxx - Compas pour avions (ou aéronefs -
titre supposé, 18 juin 1927 - voir détails dans le tableau); GB: Improvements in or relating to
292.489 (15 nov. 1928); USA: Magnetic Compass for Aviation,
Navigation and other Purposes
insbes. für Flugzeuge
, 566.628 (1928 / 1932)
- 640.901 - Dispositif pour la compensation de la déviation
supplémentaire des roses de compas (juil. 1928)
- 670.915 - Dispositif pour l'observation et la rectification des
orientations de marche, en navigation aérienne ou maritime (déc. 1929);
GB: Improvements in
Electro-magnetic Apparatus for the Observation and Correction of Travel
of Aerial and Marine Craft
- 749.267 - Perfectionnements aux compas pour pilotes (1932) - see
- 794.813 - Compas de planches de bord, pour navigation
aérienne ou autres applications (1934) - see table below
- 798.902 - Compas à rose cylindrique dite "verticale" (1935) - see
|Wing compass V.P.S. 28
(patent no. DE*
566.628, U.S. pat. no. 1,962,312, 1928). It was attached to the wing
above and in front of the pilot's head. The angle values could be read
via a prism.
* DE stands for DEUTSCH = German,
We didn't find the French original patent no.
(Click on images for enlarged
Click on image
for view on aircraft
German issue, page 1:
This invention was patented on June 19, 1928 but published as late as
on December 8, 1932 only!
pat. no. 749,267 (1932)
Topic: friction of the pivot
catalogues/manuals for compasses with vertical (pic. at left) and with
horizontal (right) rose:
Enlarged view: Text and Figs.
In a manual for compasses
with vertical rose of winds
(1930's) we find a list of
the VION compasses then available:
- Type V.31 (dia. 60mm) for fighters and T.31 for tourism
- Type Q.S.C.V.29 (dia. 85mm) for reconnaissance aircraft, bombers and
also for medium-size airmail and commercial aircraft
- Type G.N.R.V.30 (dia. 120mm) for large-size commercial and freight
aircraft and heavy bombers.
at right: Cockpit of a Latécoère 631 with the compass types V.A.82 and
150 (behind the steering horns)
Compasses with Horizontal
rose of winds:
Courtesy Collection ville de Biscarrosse-Musée de
- Orientation : Q.S.C. 25 Pilote (Navigation)
- Navigation : Q.S.C. 27 Pilote et Relèvement (pilot and bearing
- Grande Navigation et Grand Raid : Q.S.C. 27 Pilote et Relèvement.
Two other special
compasses are also described in the book Traité
pratique de navigation aérienne
(Duval & Hébrard,
- type P.B. 50 (PB = planche de bord = instrument panel, see
- type H.
32 for aerial photography
at right: Cockpit of a Potez 54 with the compass type GNRV 30 in North
Africa in 1942 on a reconnaissance base
Courtesy U.S. Army archives
These two instruments (Type 14 and 143) were installed in UV's driven
by French geologists of the French Nuclear Energy Authority
(CEA) in the 70's in Africa (Niger). Information and pictures
communicated by P. C. Guiollard, Ph.D. in History of Science and
Techniques and collector of mine compasses.
Type 143 featured an integrated red-light illumination.
- W -
PROFILE - J. P. WARBURG was a U.S. engineer residing in Washington D.C.
who patented a magnetic compass in 1919 (no. 1,474,394).
This design was re-used by HUGHES & Son and PIONEER.
The abbreviation W.D. stands for WAR DEPARTMENT. We don't know
on which vehicles and during which period this instr. was
used. Thank you for helping us.
Dia.: 80 mm
Period: Probably WWII
This company published
in the booklet The Magnetic Compass in Aircraft by
Captain Creagh-Osborne (1915).
- X -
The following pictures show compasses with no manufacturer's name.
Pictures courtesy G. Rooney
View of the compass card, the 1-2-3-0 cross and the scale for
adjustment of declination
Dim. (height x dia.): 700 x 500 mm
No external marking
Above the compass card is a cross made of four thin rods bearing each a
mirrored figure with luminous paint: 1, 2, 3 and 0.
They are attached to a central post on top of which is a broad white
arrow (for flight direction?).
- Z -
ZÜRN was a Polish
engineer who designed aircraft compasses shortly after WWI. The most
famous model is the type Z-6 built by PZO
(see description and pics in this entry) but a report on the Polish
aircraft industry names more models all beginning with the letter Z,
also listed in the German C. PLATH catalogue.