The multi-barrel Vickers 40mm "Pom-Pom" antiaircraft mounting was introduced to the Royal Navy in the early 1930s. The mounting was capable of a tremendous volume of fire but the crew had great difficulty in aiming the mounting due to the smoke and vibration created by the guns. It was, therefore, essential to aim the mount from a remote location, using a director that had a clear view, free from smoke and vibration. The director crew would aim at the target aircraft and, in the early versions of the director, cause layer ( altitude ) and trainer ( azimuth ) pointers to rotate on the gun mount. The gun crew would then move the mount to match the pointers rather than having to try and aim at the target aircraft.
The Pom-Pom director mark I - III
Pom-pom directors I through III controlled the gun mounting through "follow the pointer" control and aimed at aircraft using eye shooting techniques through a simple ring sight. These directors began to appear on Royal Navy cruisers, battleships, and aircraft carriers in 1930, and were universally fitted, one per pom-pom gun mounting, by the late 1930s. Most destroyers and smaller ships that carried Pom-Pom guns continued to rely on aiming the guns with the on-mount gun-sights due to the lack of space on these ships to site a Pom-Pom director.
The Pom-Pom director Mark IV
The Mk IV director was a considerable improvement and used gyroscopes in a gyro rate unit coupled to an optical rangefinder and Type 282 radar to determine the range, speed and direction of enemy aircraft and then used an on-director computer to produce an accurate fire control solution to hit the target. Later versions of the Mk IV director introduced remote power control (RPC) and could control the Pom-Pom mounting by remote control from the director. The Mk IV director was fully tachymetric but suffered from the fact that the director was not stabilized against the movement of the ship, and consequently required a carefully trained crew to achieve good results. Even so, the Mk IV director was highly advanced and placed the Royal Navy in the forefront of naval anti-aircraft fire control when it was introduced to the Royal Navy on HMS King George V in 1940. Later versions were upgraded with Type 282 radar and RPC beginning in 1941, with HMS Prince of Wales being one of the first ships to receive the radar upgrade, which she first used in action during Operation Halberd.
Media related to QF 2 pounder pom-pom at Wikimedia Commons
Notes and references
- Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p429
- Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p159
- Campbell, Naval Weapons of WW2
- Campbell, Naval Weapons of WW2, p20
- Campbell, Naval Weapons of World War Two,p20
- Campbell, Naval Weapons of WW2,p113, 178, 226 and 319. Campbell notes that the first USN tachymetric 40mm gun directors did not appear until 1942, while neither the Italian, German nor the Japanese navy had comparable close range AA directors.
- Raven and Roberts, British Battleship of WW2, p429
- Tarrant, King George V class Battleships, p88
- The Pom-Pom Director, Mark IV in The Gunnery Pocket Book, B.R. 224/45, 1945 placed online courtesy of Historic Naval Ships Association
- Illustration of the Pom-Pom Director, Mark IV in The Gunnery Pocket Book, B.R. 224/45, 1945 placed online courtesy of Historic Naval Ships Association