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The Importance of Timing

From The American Horologist magazine, May, 1945

The Importance of Timing
By Elgin National Watch Company

Modern naval war is above all a war of timing. Just as the efficient performance of each individual ship and plane in the fleet is absolutely dependent upon accurate timepieces, so is the success of every large-scale operation, where huge sea and air forces must be coordinated for split second action.

A vast undertaking like one of our major amphibious operations in the Pacific, involving hundreds of fighting ships, escort 'vessels, landing craft, transports, supply vessels and auxiliaries, hundreds of carrier-based and land-based aircraft, and many thousands of combined personnel of the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, would be impossible without the close integration made possible by reliable time-keeping instruments.

The very fact that such a tremendous assault on enemy territory can be staged with the utmost precision is in itself a splendid tribute to the man and woman engaged in producing- time-pieces for the armed forces.

So important is the element of timing in an invasion, in fact, that every member of the Navy's amphibious forces is now provided with a water-proof, radium-dialed wristwatch, so that each man can carry out his combat task at the exact second.

On a warship, the chronometer and stopwatch are as vital as guns, for without these timepieces safe and unerring navigation would be out of the question. The chronometer; used in connection with celestial navigation, is essential in determining- the ship's position at any specified moment. The stopwatch, one of the most important of the navigation officer's instruments, is indispensable not only in taking sights, but also in identifying lights by timing the intervals between flashes. It is likewise valuable for checking chronometers and ship's watches against radio time signals.

When it is realized that a slight error in timing might prevent an important rendezvous and thus foredoom a naval engagement, it can be easily understood why the men of the fleet attach so much significance to the accuracy of their timepieces.

To insure maximum efficiency of our naval guns, it is necessary that the time-clocks on various types of fire-control equipment be constantly checked by stopwatch. This instrument also times the rapidity of fire, and the flight of projectiles, among its other vital functions in naval gunnery.

One of the little known but highly essential uses of a stopwatch aboard our fighting ships is to determine how quickly battle stations can be manned when the alarm sounds over the battle-announcing system.

On our submarines, in addition to the navigational aid rendered by various kinds of timers, stopwatches are often used to check on their torpedo fire. By timing the run of a torpedo until it explodes, it is possible to discover which "tin fish" hit which target, even when operating conditions prevent such determination by visual means. The stopwatch is also employed in timing submarine dives, as well as in keeping tabs on the length of time the sea valve is open when firing a torpedo, in order that no excess water enter to upset the delicate "trim" of the craft.

Additionally, the stopwatch is an invaluable aid to our anti-submarine vessels in tracking down Axis undersea raiders, since it helps them figure the rate of speed of the enemy craft they are pursuing.

Timing devices are equally indispensable to our fighting planes. With the flight of all aircraft strictly limited to fuel capacity, it is imperative that the planes be provided with accurate instruments to register elapsed time. Therefore the elapsed time clock is standard equipment on our planes to determine the elapsed time on long missions, such as long range bombings, while an aviation stopwatch is used in much the same manner for shorter operations.

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