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History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy, Captain Linwood S. Howeth, USN (Retired), 1963, pages 417-431:


United  States  Navy  Administration  of  Electronics


For several years following World War I, electronics in the Navy continued to be primarily limited to radio, with material and budgetary control centered in the Bureau of Steam Engineering1 in a Radio Division which was established in 1903. Its operational use, under the Chief of Naval Operations and directed by Director, Naval Communications, remained almost limited to an extension of landline telegraphic circuits. Its use for tactical and strategical purposes was not looked upon highly by those in command. A fairly reliable shore radio system covering our shorelines and connecting us with our territories and possessions had been established, but its use in the Fleet had remained limited. During World War I efforts had been made to utilize electronic principles in sonar, pilotless aircraft, and remote control of torpedoes, but little success was attained.
    Naval radio and sound research activities were consolidated at the Naval Research Station, Anacostia, D.C., in 1923. Previous to that time, radio research had been conducted by the Naval Radio Laboratory under Dr. L. W. Austin at the Bureau of Standards, the Radio Test Shop of the Washington Navy Yard under Lt. W. A. Eaton, USN, and the Naval Aircraft Laboratory under Lt. Comdr. A. Hoyt Taylor. Taylor became head of the consolidated activity. Sound research was moved from New London, Conn., to Annapolis, Md., following the termination of World War I hostilities. Later, with the establishment of the Laboratory at Anacostia they were transferred there under the direction of Dr. H. C. Hayes.
    The development of pilotless aircraft was commenced under contract with the Sperry Gyroscope Co. at Amityville, Long Island, but after the conclusion of World War I this work was transferred to the Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren, Va., and carried out by naval personnel under the supervision of the Bureau of Ordnance with the assistance of the Bureau of Engineering. Interest lagged in the project and its active development temporarily ceased in 1926.
    The development of the radio-controlled torpedo, initially the interest of the Coast Artillery Corps, U.S. Army, was commenced just prior to World War I. When active work began on this project it was supervised by a joint board, and conducted under contract by John Hays Hammond, Jr. Following the close of the war the Army ceased to be interested. The project was transferred to the Navy and was carried to a successful conclusion, but no practical application of its use was immediately made insofar as the torpedo was concerned. The principles developed were utilized in the development of equipment for remote radio control of surface vessels and aircraft. Under naval jurisdiction this project was also under the cognizance of The Bureau of Ordnance with the technical assistance of the Bureau of Engineering.
    Changing concepts of naval operations resulted in a reorganization of our naval forces in 1923, at which time the U.S. Fleet was formed. These new concepts necessitated increased uses of radio which far exceeded the capabilities of the medium. These increased requirements called for multiple transmission and reception by individual ships. The ship installations were not capable of this with any degree of reliability.
    Radio had never been understood by the majority of the senior officers, and they took little interest in it. Junior officers shied from duty assignments in communications, for little credit was given when they conducted satisfactory communications and when they could not, which happened more often than the former, they were subject to disdain. One of the first requirements necessary in broadening fleet radio communications was building up a fleet radio organization of capable and qualified personnel. To accomplish this, Hooper was ordered to sea in July 1923, as Fleet Radio Officer, relieving Lt. T. A. M. Craven, USN. Capt. R. W. McNeely, USN, became Head of the Radio Division, and Craven became his assistant for ship's installations.


Prior to the assignment of Hooper as Atlantic Fleet Radio Officer in 1912, there had been no specific fleet organization for radio communications. As a result of this there had been little strategical and no tactical use made of this method of communication. Hooper convinced the Commander in Chief of the necessity of having officers assigned specific radio duties in individual ships. In the major units it was a full-time assignment, while in the smaller ones it was a corollary duty. Following the improvements affected in the Atlantic Fleet radio discipline, all fleet and forces were assigned radio officers.
    After the outbreak of World War I further steps were taken to strengthen the fleet radio organization. "U.S. Naval Communications Regulations, 1918," promulgated by Secretary Daniels on 1 April 1918, consolidated all previous orders and regulations. All commands were required to have a communication officer responsible for all means of communication, including the handling and routing of mail. In the case of flagships, this function was normally assigned the flag secretary, but a flag officer could designate any officer of his staff to perform this duty. In addition to the communication officer, all commands were required to designate radio officers and signal officers as assistants to the communication officer. Major commands were required to assign additional officers for purposes of watchstanding and coding. Radio gunners were provided for maintenance of equipment.
    The "U.S. Naval Communications Regulations, 1918," prescribed the specific duties of these officers. Excerpts of the duties of radio officers are quoted:
Staff radio officers are just as much responsible for the radio of all ships under their particular flag officer's command as they are for the radio of their own flagship. They shall make frequent inspections, tests of material and examination of personnel of all ships under their flag officer's command;
    All radio officers will familiarize themselves with the general organization and operation of the communication service and with the instructions that may be issued from time to time in regard to them;
    Fleet, force, division, and flotilla radio officers, and radio officer of battleships, first-class cruisers, destroyer division flagships, and submarine tenders shall be qualified operators;
    On ships for which qualified officer operators have not been assigned, one of the ship's officers, preferably a watch officer, shall be assigned as radio officer, in addition to his other duties, and will be in charge of the administration of the radio office and responsible for the radio service and radio material of the ship, and may in some cases also be the communication officer;
    Radio officers of first-rate ships shall not be assigned to any other station, and shall perform no other duty than that of radio officer, except at fire and collision quarters. He shall be on duty at least six hours daily in the radio signal station. In addition he shall be responsible for the efficiency of the radio force, and further the observance of the regulations and instructions relating thereto, and to this end he shall exercise constant surveillance over the operators and shall inspect radio record books;
    The officer to be detailed as ship's radio officer shall be notified in advance of his detail as such, and shall be required to train himself and become sufficiently proficient to take a regular watch. Upon assuming duty as radio officer, he shall be relieved of all other duties. This officer shall be placed on watch two months after assuming this duty, and shall take the watch prescribed by the force commander. A regular operator may listen in additionally to assist this officer in receiving, but the radio officer shall do all sending during the time he is on watch when this does not delay communication;
    The ship's radio officer is responsible for the care and efficient operation of the ship's portable radio set. He shall drill all members of the crew of this set and shall take charge of the set and land with it when the ship's battalion acting singly lands for service. He shall calibrate the portable set for the various tunes to be used and shall have his crews so instructed in the operation of the set that it may be landed and operated at any time without delay;
    The radio officer of the flagship of the torpedo flotilla shall be attached to the staff of the flotilla commander for duty as flotilla radio officer. The radio officer on each torpedo division flag boat and submarine tender shall act as radio officer of those divisions;
    In the absence of a radio officer on the staff of a squadron or division commander the radio officer of the flagship shall be directly under the authority of the flag officer and shall act as squadron or division radio officer;
    The radio force attached to the fleet flagship shall be under the immediate direction of the fleet radio officer, and similarly the radio force of a force or division flagship shall be under the immediate direction of the force or division radio officer; and,
    A tendency of radio operators to become lax in military habits exists, due to the way of these men living apart, to a certain extent, from the crew. Radio officers should be required to instruct operators, with a view of correcting this.


The United States emerged from World War I as one of the most important world powers. The support of our foreign policy necessitated the Navy showing the flag in various, troubled areas such as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the Asiatic areas. To provide the commanders of our forces in these areas with information upon which to base decisions, the Secretary of the Navy on 1 December 1922, issued a paper entitled "United States Naval Policy." This contained the following provisions with regard to communications:
The maintenance and operation of a naval communication system based on the requirements of the forces afloat in a campaign in either or both oceans;
    The provision of adequate communication facilities to mariners along the United States coasts were privately owned facilities are not made available;
    The promotion of harmony and cooperation between naval radio facilities and all other radio systems and the areas of their activities;
    The safeguarding of the radio and cable interests of the United States;
    The provision and operation of radio direction finder stations as required;
    The development and coordination of all systems and methods of communication which efficiently transmit information;
    The development of the uses of all forms of communication in the fleet necessary for increased battle efficiency; and,
    The use of the naval radio communication system in time of peace to assist in the development of American interests abroad.
    In consonance with this policy the following was prescribed:
The mission of the Naval Communication Service is to afford efficient communication for our fleets. This includes furnishing accurate and rapid communication, secret if necessary, within the fleets, and between the fleets, the Navy Department, the shore bases, outlying possessions, the merchant marine, our own nationals, friendly or allied vessels, and friendly or allied nationals. The system for accomplishing this is capable of a number of subsidiary uses. This fact has caused the establishment of a number of special services, such as direct communication with some foreign capitals; transmission of press news; provision of commercial facilities where private facilities are inadequate or do not exist; aids to mariners, such as time signals, hurricane and storm warnings, weather forecasts, hydrographic reports, distress reports and radio direction finder services; and, handling of messages for other government departments as a measure of national economy.2
    The issuance of naval policy and the establishing of the mission of naval communications necessitated a complete revision of the communications regulations. This was done under the supervision of Capt. Ridley McLean, USN, Director, Naval Communications. They were promulgated by the Chief of Naval Operations on 9 March 1925 as "Communication Instructions, U.S. Navy, 1925."


The "Communication Instructions, U.S. Navy, 1925," were broader in scope, less specific in detail, than the "U.S. Communications Regulations, 1918." The general responsibilities for communications were delineated. The Naval Communication Service was to be administered under the Secretary of the Navy, by the Chief of Naval Operation, through the commandants of naval districts, commanding officers of shore stations and other shore activities, including naval attachés abroad, and through the Commanders in Chief, U.S. and Asiatic Fleets, commanders of forces, squadrons and other units, and commanding officers of vessels afloat. To provide this administration the Chief of Naval Operations was assigned an officer, designated the Director of Naval Communications, who, in turn, was assisted by a staff. Heretofore the personnel of the Naval Communication Service had been administered by the Office of the Director. By this change their administration became a function of the Bureau of Navigation, at that time charged with the administration of all naval personnel. The development, provision, and maintenance of electronics equipment and the budgetary support of the Naval Communication Service continued a function of the Bureau of Engineering. At this time the Bureaus of Ordnance and Aeronautics had practically ceased to have interest in the application of radio to control torpedoes and aircraft and had no electronics organization.
    Between 1925 and 1939 only minor changes were made in the electronics organization. The world economic situation of the early thirties resulted in reduced military appropriations and the Bureau was able to handle only the most urgent of the electronic material needs of the moment. Research and development was reduced to the most urgent requirements such as radar, sonar, and the development of radio-controlled aircraft and limited-range voice radio equipments. Since industry was likewise affected by the depression, practically no research was conducted to improve normal radio communication apparatus. By 1939 the excellent equipment which had been provided following the approval of the 1929 modernization plan was obsolescent. The personnel of the Radio Division had been reduced to the bare minimum necessary to handle the urgent day-to-day administration, and they were not in a position to generate plans for improvements. During this period the Radio Division was administered by the following officers:
Comdr. S. C. Hooper, USN, March 1926-July 1928
Comdr. E. C. Raquet, USN, July 1928-December 1930
Comdr. S. A. Manahan, USN, December 1930-October 1930
Comdr. W. J. Ruble, USN, October 1935-June 1938
Lt. Comdr. J. B. Dow, USN, June 1938-January 1940
    During the same period the Naval Communication Service continued to be administered and operated under several successive directors based on the "Communication Instruction, 1925," as amended slightly from time to time. The several directors during the period 1925-39 were:
Capt. Ridley McLean, USN, June 1924-June 1927
Capt. T. T. Craven, USN, June 1927-August 1928
Capt. S. C. Hooper, USN, August 1928-July 1935
Rear Admiral C. E. Courtney, USN, July 1935-July 1937
Capt. Leigh Noyes, USN, July 1937
    The reduction in naval personnel strengths following the treaty on the limitation of arms and continuing on through the depression years placed a heavy burden on naval communications. During 30 years service, mostly in communications, the author has had ample opportunities to note that reductions in personnel without commensurate reductions in naval tonnage and functions always sharply increased the volume of radio traffic. This is the result of personnel not being able to timely perform their duties and because of the lack of sufficient clerical personnel. When units of the fleet put to sea, officers had better opportunity to catch up with their work, and since correspondence would be delayed in mailing until arrival, the use of radio for administrative and logistic purposes was greatly increased. Even in port this condition existed to a lesser extent because of lack of stenographic assistance. This situation has never been understood by the Navy personnel management which has normally insisted upon "across-the-board" cuts following personnel reductions. This has always compounded the problems of communication personnel.
    The handling of the ever-increasing volume of radio communications necessitated improved efficiency on the part of all communications personnel. The communication requirements in battle efficiency competition were increased. These requirements were based more upon the capability of handling large volumes of traffic with minimum of error, than upon proper wartime usage. Hooper, always in position to more or less dictate these requirements, was insistent that all radio officers be qualified operators. This questionable requirement did much to discourage officer interest in naval communications. Despite the fact that communication efficiency was an integral part of the battle efficiency competition, most commanding and executive officers continued to consider it a service rather than a weapons system, made no concerted effort to reduce the number of messages originated by their officers, and normally assigned officer personnel to it after the gunnery and engineering officers had had their choices of newly reporting officers. The practice of using radio personnel for extraneous duties became so universal that it necessitated the issuance of a departmental order prohibiting such action.


In June 1940 the two ship Bureaus, Engineering and Construction and Repair, were consolidated into a single Bureau of Ships. Failing to envision the rapid electronic developments which were to ensue in the next several years, the responsibility for radio and sound was assigned to a Radio and Sound Branch of the Design Division. The developments in electronics during 1940 and 1941 placed this organization under a heavy strain. The radar development program was nearing completion, and radar cognizance was about to be transferred from the Special Development Section to the Radio and Sound Branch. It appeared that it would be necessary to establish a separate unit in that Branch since it required new skills. Fleet personnel were not trained in its use, navy yard technicians lacked installation knowledge and experience, and contractors did not know how to engineer and produce it nor were they capable of estimating its production costs.3
    When the transfer of cognizance was made the personnel who had been responsible for radar development were also transferred, and a separate unit was established which handled radar design, procurement, installation, maintenance, and training.
    The declaration of a limited emergency accelerated the electronic procurement and installation plan. New military characteristics were established, specifications for production were drawn, and ships' allowances were determined. From the latter, estimated requirements were calculated and the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts was requested to procure the equipments by competitive biddings of manufacturers who were approved by the Bureau of Ships. The existence of a completely separate radar unit resulted in a lack of consolidated procurement effort, which, in turn, established undesirable competition for the services of manufacturers. However, this organization continued to function until late in 1942, first under Spriggs and then under Dow, who relieved him in December 1941 after having spent the better part of a year studying British radar developments.4
    The rapidly expanding scope of electronics activity and the unwieldy organization with which it was being conducted necessitated the reestablishment of a Radio and Sound Division in October 1942. This functional organization consisted of a Design Branch, a Procurement and Production Branch, an Installation and Maintenance Branch, and an Aircraft Radio Branch. This brought together the various personnel who possessed similar talent and training, standardized electronic research, consolidated field staffs, and aided in coordinating procurement.
    The Design Branch prepared design and performance characteristics from military characteristics (which they assisted the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in providing), established manufacturing specifications, and initiated and coordinated design and development of all electronics equipment other than that under the cognizance of the Bureau of Ordnance. The Procurement and Production Branch was responsible for procurement and distribution of all electronic material and for expediting its manufacture. Increased technical complexity and rapid developments, combined with accelerated procurement and lack of qualified technical personnel in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, made it necessary that this Branch assume the responsibility for contracting for electronic material, subject only to the legal approval of the contracts by that Bureau. The Installation and Maintenance Branch determined type allowances and worked with the various ship-type sections of the Bureau of Ships to provide for proper installation and maintenance. Additionally this Branch had cognizance of the naval district electronic material officers and the manufacturers' field groups. It coordinated electronics publications and the curricula of electronics schools. The Aircraft Radio Branch was responsible for radar and communication equipment for aircraft.5
    Basically this organization operated with only minor changes until mid-1944 when it was retitled the Electronics Division. At that time, because of severe criticism of the electronic procurement program, the responsibility for procurement was transferred to the Contract Division of the Bureau of Ships. The functions of progressing, expediting, and aiding manufacturers to procure labor and material were assigned to a newly established Equipment Branch. The Procurement and Production Branch was disestablished and its personnel were reassigned either to the Contract Division or to the Equipment Branch. Following this there were no further major changes in this organization for the remainder of the wartime period.


When the Bureau of Aeronautics was established in 1921 it was assigned, among other functions, the task of design and procurement of aircraft and aircraft equipments. These had formerly been functions of the Bureau of Engineering. The new Bureau had no personnel sufficiently familiar with radio to assume these functions, and they were continued in the Bureau of Engineering with the Bureau of Aeronautics providing them with one naval aviator, responsible to the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics.6
    On 18 November 1925, a radio desk was established in the Scientific Group, Design Branch, Material Division of the Bureau of Aeronautics. It continued as a single desk until August 1931, when it became a section directly under the supervision of the head of the Design Branch. In April 1932 radio interference generated by the ignition and electrical systems of aircraft prompted the Radio Section to point out the need for having cognizance over the entire electrical plant. This was approved and the section was retitled the Radio and Electrical Section.7
    In 1934 the Bureau of Engineering purchased some radio equipment for aircraft without obtaining the approval of the Bureau of Aeronautics. At about the same time the Bureau of Engineering endeavored to obtain direct control of appropriations for the purchase of aircraft radio material. These two actions brought into the open a growing conflict between the two Bureaus concerning cognizance over aircraft radio equipment. The differences were settled by conferences between the Chiefs of the two Bureaus, and a joint letter defining the responsibilities of each Bureau in this field was drafted and signed. It provided that the Bureau of Aeronautics would initiate all aircraft radio equipment procurement requests, that the Bureau of Engineering would issue the requisitions and select the contractors subject to the approval of the Bureau of Aeronautics.8
    In 1936 this question of cognizance was reopened following further indications on the part of the Bureau of Engineering that it desired to assume complete control. The Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, pointed out that lack of trained officers had prevented the Bureau from assuming the responsibility for aircraft radio installations upon its establishment, but that this condition no longer existed. He maintained that the Bureau of Aeronautics should have complete control of aircraft radio, since it had become a specialized area--an integral part of the airplane, and thus limited in size and weight, requiring special design considerations and involving peculiar problems of installation, maintenance, and operation. This letter was referred to the Navy General Board, where opposition from the Bureau of Engineering succeeded in preventing a complete transfer of cognizance. However, a revised joint agreement was reached which gave the Bureau of Engineering the responsibility for research, design, development, preparation of specifications, and contracting, provided these met the approval of the Bureau of Aeronautics. The latter Bureau was to define the policies, subject to the approval of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and was to provide the Bureau of Engineering with specific items upon which research and development were desired. The direct charges entailed in this were to be borne by the Bureau of Aeronautics. This agreement was approved by the Secretary of the Navy.9
    Following this action, the Bureau of Engineering established an Aviation Radio Section in the Radio and Sound Division. This was staffed with one naval aviator, having dual responsibilities to both Bureaus, and four radio engineers. At this time there were seven officers and engineers attached to the Radio and Electrical Section in the Bureau of Aeronautics.10
    With the advent of the war in Europe, it became apparent that the preparedness program would necessitate an expansion of the Radio and Electrical Section, and additional engineers were procured. By 1940 six additional officers and engineers had been assigned to it.
    In 1940, preliminary to an anticipated major expansion, the question of assuming the entire cognizance of aircraft radio was again raised. It was proposed that the Bureau of Ships Aircraft Radio Section be assimilated by the Bureau of Aeronautics. The move at that time was considered simple since the section consisted only of one lieutenant, four engineers, and one clerk. The proposed move received favorable consideration by higher authority in the Bureau of Aeronautics, but was opposed by the Bureau of Ships. A fundamental basis for opposition was the apparent possible duplication of effort and the feeling that centralization of radio engineering talent in the Bureau of Ships was most economical of personnel. The Bureau of Aeronautics did not push the issue and no change was made.11
    On 24 April 1941, Lt. Comdr. G. H. B. Hall, USN, became Head of the Radio and Electrical Section, Bureau of Aeronautics. Hall, realizing the tremendous expansion that must take place and the many problems which had to be solved, immediately undertook the tremendous task of outlining the aviation radio and electrical organization the Navy would require in event of war. The period just prior to the war was occupied with the establishment of policies upon which future development and programs of unprecedented scope were to be made. Representative of the increased importance attached to these plans was the total of $1,377,550 obtained for experiments and development of aircraft electronic and electrical, equipment for the fiscal year beginning July 1941. This was a 330 percent increase over the estimates made in 1940 for the same fiscal year.12
    It became apparent to Hall that his organization must be further increased by the addition of strong key men from the aviation radio industry who could form the nucleus for the much larger organization which would follow. In the period between August and October, 1941, three reserve officers and one civilian, all well qualified as aviation radio engineers, were added to his section. At this time Hall also pointed out the imminent need of the aeronautical organization for additional trained personnel in the field of radio and radar. He invited attention to available schools and recommended the training of communications officers, radio electricians, and two selected radiomen per squadron. He further recommended the setting up of an East Coast Fleet School for Radar Training. On 26, June 1941, he initiated action for the procurement and training of 50 ensigns for inspection and maintenance of radio, and electrical equipment, and this resulted in the detailing of officers to the new radar school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.13
    On 1 May 1941, the Aircraft Radio Maintenance Section was established in the Maintenance Division, Bureau of Aeronautics, with the function of administering aircraft electronic maintenance. This relieved the Radio and Electric Section of these responsibilities.
    The second major step along this same line was the recommendation on 11 October 1941 that the Production Division, Bureau of Aeronautics, establish a section to handle the quantity procurement of radio, radar, and accessories, which procurement was then being handled by Radio and Electric. This proposed section was also to handle the requests for necessary appropriations for production quantities of electrical and electronic equipment. This recommendation was approved, and in January 1942 the Production Division took over the electronic procurement function.14
    A fundamental policy memorandum on aircraft radio and radar equipment was approved by Rear Adm. J. H. Towers, USN, Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, which covered complete policy on inspection, distribution, storage, and overhaul. It also set forth the fundamental policy that radio equipment should be installed by the airplane contractor instead of by the service. It also recommended that the installation of radar equipment initially be done by squadron personnel, but later be turned over to the airplane manufacturer when the security classifications of the equipment could be reduced. This latter policy was put into effect in 1944. The policy of quality control test by the Naval Aircraft Factory of selected equipments out of the production lines was set up to replace the existing one of having all equipment delivered to that activity for test, final acceptance, and storage. The policy on spare equipments and their distribution was also covered.15
    A policy of basing all estimates and procurement of radar and radio against specific classes and numbers of aircraft, rather than simply asking for pool stock quantities as had been the general practice, was adopted during October 1941. This made it far easier to obtain approval for the expenditure of such seemingly vast sums as contained in Radio and Electric Section request of 23 December 1951 for $27,654,000 for radar search equipment and $3,538,000 for IFF (identification, friend or foe), equipment.16
    The entry of the United States into the war brought about a greatly increased acceleration of the aircraft construction program and increased the development of electronics of new and unknown potentialities. The Bureau of Aeronautics, for example, was to spend almost $5 million in fiscal 1943 for such development. This was three times greater than the amount expended for the same purpose during the preceding fiscal year. This required continuing expansion of the Radio and Electrical Section and an almost continuous reorganization. The problem of obtaining qualified personnel was a serious one which necessitated the Secretary of the Navy convening a special board in early 1942 in an endeavor to cope with the problem. This Board found that 489 key radar specialists were required by the Navy material bureaus, the Fleet, and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and made the following recommendations: that radar specialists be procured and commissioned as reserve officers to meet the requirements as specified by the Bureaus; that reserve radar officers be indicated by a special designation; that in the case of radio engineers whose appointment was desired and recommended by material Bureaus, the nominal age limit be waived as may be deemed expedient; that the War and Navy Departments reach an agreement whereby neither service would commission a civilian employee of the other service without first obtaining a release; and that agreement be met with regard to rank given to newly commissioned radar specialists so that the standards of both services may be alike.17 This report was approved by the Secretary of the Navy on 2 July 1942. He directed the Chief of Naval Personnel to take appropriate action necessary to carry out the recommendations.
    During this period, the Radio and Electrical Section continued to divest itself of functions more properly belonging to the Maintenance and Production Divisions. On 3 February 1942, it was arranged that the Production and Maintenance Divisions would handle radar on the same basis that it handled radio. The Maintenance Division assumed its new responsibilities on 1 March 1943, and the Production Division began making radar procurements on 20 May of that year.
    Early radar equipment was reaching the Fleet, and it soon became apparent that it was necessary to provide fleet personnel general information on aircraft radar characteristics. Aeronautics was prepared in the Radio and Electrical Section and published as a confidential registered publication in April, 1942. This publication was continually revised and kept up to date.
    To facilitate the installation of radar equipment, the policy of dividing radar equipment into groups of parts was evolved. A Bureau of Aeronautics letter to the Bureau of Ships, on 19 April 1942, requested that all contracts for radar provide for separation into three parts: Group A, consisting of plugs, shock mounts, and accessories to be delivered to the airplane manufacturer for installation; group B, containing all confidential parts, basic equipment, components, instruction books, and operating spares; and group C, consisting of bulk spares. This became standard procedure and facilitated the program of having the airplane contractor install as much of the electronic equipment as possible consistent with security considerations and reduced the load on naval activities, which completed the installation by installing the group B parts.
    The problem of cognizance of aircraft radio and radar equipment continued to plague the personnel of the Bureau of Aeronautics. On September 1941 it was again recommended that cognizance be transferred completely to the Bureau of Aeronautics effective the first of July 1942. The proposal pointed out the advantages of direct control by the Bureau of Aeronautics over all phases of engineering, the provision of direct action by the Bureau instead of through the Bureau of Ships as intermediary, the closer coordination between design, productions installation, maintenance, and training that would result, the elimination of shipboard design concepts of weight, space and power requirements, and the elimination, of joint control and duplication of paper work. It was pointed out that in June 1941, the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics had asked the Head of the Radio and Electrical Section if it was desirable for the Bureau of Aeronautics to assume greater control of aircraft radio and radar. Hall had stated at that time that the small Radio and Electrical Section could not take on the tremendous increase in work, but that as more personnel were obtained it might be well to do so. Towers had then stated, at a conference held by the Chief of Naval Operations to discuss transfer of fire control radar design and procurement from the Bureau of Ships to the Bureau of Ordnance, that the existing procedure for aircraft radio and radar was satisfactory for the immediate future, but that later developments might require similar action by the Bureau of Aeronautics. As a result of these and further discussions, and at the suggestion of Hall, the Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, in a memorandum to the Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ships, suggested that representatives of the two Bureaus revise the existing joint letter on the subject of aircraft radio because of the development of a large number of new types of equipment which were more nearly an integral part of the airplane frame. Subsequent conferences evolved a revised joint letter which was approved by the Secretary of the Navy on 4 December 1942. No basic changes in cognizance were made but the previous joint agreement was clarified and amplified. A significant point made clear, however, was the stated policy that the Bureau of Aeronautics controlled and prepared descriptive and performance specifications of aircraft electronic equipment, in order to insure that the equipment would perform satisfactorily as an integral part of the airplane and fulfill its special functions.18
    On 7 December 1942 Hall was detached for sea duty. He was relieved by Comdr. Frank Akers, USN. Under Akers' direction there was a continued building up of the staff and its translation into a smooth-working organization, the refining of procedures and methods, and the shift of emphasis from individual material developments to the engineering of complete electronic systems for aircraft. The initial step taken in this direction was the establishment of the Systems Planning Board on 11 December 1942 to consider and recommend on problems of overall electronic equipage of naval aircraft. A complete reorganization of the section to implement operation along these lines became effective 22 March 1943. For this functional organization there were two groups, one of which comprised the technical subsections who were responsible for project engineering of individual items of electrical and electronic equipment, and the second comprising the aircraft installation desks, the engineers of each being responsible for manufacturing liaison with aircraft manufacturers on problems relating to the actual installation of this equipment in aircraft of their specifically assigned type. The Technical Subsections were Radio Communications, Accessories, Navigation, and Advanced Communication Design, Radar, Radio Control, and Electrical.19
    As a further implementation to the Systems Planning Board, provision was made for the establishment of "Engineering Type Groups" for each new airplane, comprised of responsible engineers from each technical subsection whose equipment was involved, with the Aircraft Installations Subsection member cognizant of that airplane as chairman. These engineering type groups were charged with the responsibility of producing the necessary detailed information leading to proper installation of the equipment in aircraft.
    On 23 July 1943, in accordance with the general reorganization of the Bureau and the establishment of engineering as a division, the Radio and Electrical Section became a branch and its former subsections were redesignated as sections. In line with minor reorganizations effected at this time, the Technical Assistant for Material became the Assistant for Electronics Material and assumed direction of the Material Section and the Electronic Coordination Section, while the Technical Assistant for Installation Coordination became the Assistant for Installations and assumed direction over the Aircraft Type Installation sections.20
    In February 1944 the Countermeasures Section was formed from a subsection of the Radar Section because of increased operational importance of countermeasures equipment and because countermeasures work applied not only to radar but to radio and IFF as well.21
    One of the chief duties of the Systems Planning Board was the specifying of equipage for the types of naval aircraft. It soon became apparent that the directives in the form of the minutes of the Board were unwieldy and confusing. The Board established, in May 1943, the system of listing equipage recommended by the Radio and Electrical Section in the form of a numbered directive which was submitted to the class desk, military requirements and to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for approval. After approval the directive was issued to all interested activities for action and initiation of necessary procurement. At this time the "Radio and Electrical Assembly Sheet" was established. In effect this was a specification for procurement purposes. It listed all components required for a specific installation of a given type of equipment. Another procedure established at this time was the provision for stock pool procurement. It had been the practice to procure quantities of new equipment for the purpose of initiating manufacture so as to assure that quantity production would be available to meet estimated aircraft equipage needs without actual allocation to specific aircraft. The stock pool was set up as a standard method of making such procurement in the future.22
    While the preparation of a joint Bureau of Aeronautics and Bureau of Ships letter in December 1942 clarified the cognizance of the two bureaus with respect to aircraft electronic equipment, the growing importance of airborne fire control radar equipment anti other airborne electronic equipment related to ordnance material brought up questions of respective cognizance of the Bureau of Ordnance and the Bureau of Aeronautics. In November 1942, the Bureau of Ordnance had asked for a review of cognizance equipment and the Bureau of Aeronautics proposed on the 18th of November 1942 that a group from the Bureau of Ordnance, the Bureau of Ships, and the Bureau of Aeronautics review the entire subject of airborne electronic ordnance devices.23 The Bureau of Ordnance and the Bureau of Ships concurred with this proposal and Comdr. H. C. Owen, USN, Bureau of Ships, Comdr. D. P. Tucker, USN, Bureau of Ordnance, and Lt. Comdr. L. V. Berkner, USNR, Bureau of Aeronautics, met to draw up a proposed agreement defining the responsibilities of the respective Bureaus. They recommended definition of responsibilities in a letter dated 14 April 1943.24 The Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics directed the Radio and Electrical Section to incorporate these agreements into the previous joint Bureau of Aeronautics and the Bureau of Ships letter. No immediate action was taken, however, because the Bureau of Aeronautics and the Bureau of Ships negotiations on a change of cognizance had again been reopened. A Bureau of Aeronautics and a Bureau of Ordnance letter was not prepared because the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance failed to approve the recommendations.
    Delays late in 1942 in the delivery of essential airborne radio and radar equipment needed by the Fleet had been called to the attention of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air who became seriously concerned and asked for corrective measures. Captain Akers stated that the problem of divided cognizance was to a large measure responsible, and stated the existing problems in writing in a memorandum of 6 February 1943, pointing out the previous history of difficulties which had resulted from divided cognizance and the lack of contact between the Bureau of Aeronautics and the manufacturer.25 The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (air) appointed Mr. Fred Riebel to look into the situation both in the Bureau of Aeronautics and the Bureau of Ships. He proposed no sweeping changes but did cause some reorganization of the Bureau of Ships Radio Division.
    About this same time management engineers were about to begin a survey of the Bureau of Aeronautics. After discussions with Akers, they decided to survey the situation in the Bureau of Ships. After considerable study they recommended the transfer of cognizance over aircraft electronic material to the Bureau of Aeronautics. Captain J. B. Dow, USN, Head of the Bureau of Ships Radio Division was also convinced that the change would be the best solution. A Bureau of Ships letter was prepared proposing this change but it was not effected. Vice Adm. S. M. Robinson, USN, of the Office of Procurement and Material became interested and indicated his opposition. Rear Adms. E. M. Pace and E. W. Mills, USN, were directed by the Chiefs of the Bureau of Aeronautics and the Bureau of Ships respectively to investigate all steps short of an actual transfer of cognizance that might be taken to improve the situation. Akers' memo of 6 February and the proposed letter defining the cognizance of the Bureau of Aeronautics, Bureau of Ordnance, and the Bureau of Ships were forwarded to them for consideration. On 8 June 1943 they recommended that cognizance not be transferred but that representatives of the two Bureaus reach agreement on means of improving the coordination of electronics administration and production under the existing divided cognizance. It was further recommended that the personnel of the two Bureaus should have it instilled in their minds that it was a joint effort and further discussions concerning change in cognizance should be discouraged. These recommendations were approved by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air on 16 June 1943. Subsequent action resulted in a revised draft of the joint cognizance letter which gave both bureaus joint responsibility for all phases of development and procurement. This letter was approved by the Acting Secretary of the Navy in October 1943.
    With this question of cognizance settled, it was possible to hold further conferences to consider cognizance of the Bureau of Ordnance. A Bureau of Ordnance-Bureau of Ships joint letter covering fire control radar was prepared 27 December 1943, and on 18 February, 1944 a Bureau of Aeronautics - Bureau of Ordnance - Bureau of Ships letter was approved. Following approval of this letter specific action on individual airborne ordnance radar equipment under development was decided upon in light of directives of the joint letter.26
    The desirability of clarifying and consolidating all the existing cognizance letters was brought out by a Director, Naval Communications letter27 of 11 May 1944, which pointed out the responsibilities of the Director, Naval Communications insofar as electronic equipment was concerned. This letter directed that new joint letters be prepared which conformed to the policy that the Director of Naval Communications was responsible for the assignment of frequencies, the military characteristics and allowances of all electronic equipment (except fire control), the IFF policy, countermeasure doctrines and policies, integration of the material training program for electronics personnel, and the coordination of fire control radar, countermeasures and antijamming. Rear Adms. W. A. Kitts and Joseph R. Redman, USN, and Capts. Dow and Akers, were designated to draw up a new letter. On 11 July a letter was prepared by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to the Chiefs of the three Bureaus covering cognizance of radio and radar equipment. This letter gives the Bureau of Aeronautics primary cognizance of all airborne radio and radar equipment, and assigns the Bureau of Ships the responsibility for design and procurement of such equipment. It requires the Bureau of Ships to follow the recommendations of the project groups of the Bureau of Aeronautics, the Bureau of Ordnance, and the Bureau of Ships in developing airborne fire control radar. Although not promulgated, it was accepted as a modus operandi, and was followed during the remainder of the war.
    The Radio and Electrical Section had early enunciated the policy that as much as possible of the complete electrical and electronic installation should be made by the airplane contractor. For confidential equipment, however, no arrangements had been made to permit handling by the contractor and such equipment was actually installed by naval activities after provisions had been made in the airplane for mounting and connections. It was realized that such a policy tended to militate against the best possible installation. The airplane contractor could not consider the confidential equipment as an integral part of the airplane and make his design accordingly and considered the radar equipment merely an attachment which he knew nothing about and had no concern with. In order to correct this situation an extensive study of the subject was undertaken in early 1944. A determination was made as to when aircraft contractors would be able to undertake installation of confidential equipment.
    Concurrently, formal approval of this policy was sought and obtained from the Chief of Naval Operations.28 To implement this, more detailed training of contractor personnel was begun in a course convened at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on 21 August 1944. Following the fundamental principle that the greatest value accrues from incorporation of the many electronic devices as a coordinated system in the basic airplane design, the Radio and Electrical Branch initiated the first contract change to provide for contractor installation on an experimental design, the XTSF. The change was approved on 10 October 1944.


The Bureau of Ordnance, established in 1842 before the time when gun mounts entered into ships structural design to any great extent, was one of the longest lived of the Navy's material Bureaus.29 It survived the reorganization of 1940 when the Bureaus of Engineering and Construction and Repair were consolidated into the Bureau of Ships. In the field of ordnance it became supreme and dictated ship construction to meet the need for guns of ever-increasing calibre.
    The early interests of this Bureau in electronics were in the development of the radio-controlled torpedo and radio-controlled flying missile, but in both of these the engineering Bureau was responsible for the radio installations. Neither of these projects reached the production stage prior to the end of World War II and cognizance was of little consequence.
    Radar was first adapted to fire-control purposes under the aegis of the Bureau of Ships as the agency responsible for electronics. In 1940 the Bell Telephone Laboratories developed a fire control radar working in a frequency band which made possible the extremely narrow beam required for fire-control purposes. The Bureau of Ships purchased 10 of these sets, originally designated CXAS, later changed to FA and finally redesignated Radar Mark I. This equipment fell short of expectations and it was abandoned in favor of Radar Mark III.30
    As the importance of radar to the fire-control problem became apparent, the matter of cognizance became extremely important. The Bureau of Ordnance was faced with the necessity of repackaging and redesigning equipment procured by the Bureau of Engineering in order to integrate it with existing fire-control installations. Bureau of Ships officers were less familiar with fire-control problems and less impressed with the necessity of rapid improvement of fire-control radar. Although close liaison was maintained the dual cognizance was annoying and hampering.31
    In the summer of 1941 an informal agreement was reached between the two Bureaus which gave Ordnance cognizance over all aspects of fire-control radar except the electronic features. This agreement was formalized in October of the same year and was immediately followed by a parallel agreement with the Bureau of Aeronautics. By these agreements Ordnance exercised control over military requirements, mechanical design, packaging, production, and installation in ordnance locations in ships and aircraft. In carrying out its new responsibilities the Bureau made little change in its basic organization. A Fire Control Radar Section, successively headed by Capts. M. E. Murphy and D. P. Tucker, USN, was added to the Research and Development Division. The negotiation of contracts for procurement of fire-control radar was handled by the Production Division. In early 1942 all existing fire-control contracts were transferred from the Bureau of Ships and subsequent ones were placed by the Bureau of Ordnance. This organization, with considerable personnel expansion, continued throughout the war.32
    The Bureau of Ordnance exercised a strong control over fire-control radar design by the Bureau of Ships but this was considered as outside interference by the personnel of the latter activity. In December 1943 the cognizance problems between the two Bureaus was further reduced, by increasing Ordnance's production responsibility, but much was left to be desired. Moreover relations with the Bureau of Aeronautics were not completely satisfactory because the development of instruments satisfactory to both Bureaus was extremely difficult.33
    The positions of the Bureaus of Ordnance and Aeronautics and their relationships with the Bureau of Ships in the radar field were identical with the exception that Ordnance was able to make its own contracts and select its contractors without interference. The "Administrative History of the Bureau of Ships During World War II" (p. 248) justifies the difference in the agreements with the two bureaus by the following statement:
The transfer of fire control procurement to the Bureau of Ordnance . . . stemmed primarily from the fact that fire control procurement amounted to only five or six million dollars monthly and was concentrated almost entirely in our company, Western Electric. By contrast, however, the Bureau of Aeronautics procurements constituted a very large volume--even larger than that of the Bureau of Ships--and were scattered among many of the same companies furnishing Bureau of Ships requirements. To allow the Bureau of Aeronautics to procure independently would have split the Navy contracting into competing and administratively independent camps . . . .
    In the proximity fuze program the Bureau of Ordnance had no cognizance problem. Despite the fact that its actuating device is in all respects a miniature radar it is so intimately integral with the remainder of the fuze train that to have considered it a component under the cognizance of the Bureau of Ships would have been ridiculous. Moreover, it was developed under the sponsorship of the Bureau of Ordnance, by contract with commercial research activities with whom the Bureau of Ships was never involved.


In retrospect the divided cognizance did not greatly hamper the war effort. Equipments were designed, developed, produced, and distributed satisfactorily. Perhaps this could have been accomplished with less administrative effort had there been undivided cognizance over components of weapons systems. However, radar, which was the main bone of contention, developed quite rapidly, and before the problem had become evident the war was upon us. During war rapid expansion of existing organization presents serious problems and basic changes and realignments only serve to compound them. In the years that followed the war, the problems of divided cognizance were slowly resolved and from a consolidation of Ordnance and Aeronautics there was established a Bureau of Weapons, which has complete control over the components of all weapons systems.

    1 The title of the Bureau of Steam Engineering was changed to the Bureau of Engineering on 4 June 1920. This had no effect upon the organization of the Bureau.
    2 "Communication Instructions, U.S. Navy," Washington, Government Printing Office, 1925, p. 14.
    3 "An Administrative History of the Bureau Ships During World War II," unpublished and undated draft narrative prepared by the Historical Section Bureau of Ships pp. 238-239.
    4 Ibid.
    5 Ibid., pp. 247-248.
    6 Letter, dated 1 Nov. 1944, Bureau of Aeronautics file Aer-3-310-IHG.
    7 Ibid.
    8 Letter, dated 22 Oct. 1934, Bureau of Aeronautics file Aer-E-31-FAM, F-42.
    9 Letter, dated 31 Dec. 1936, Bureau of Engineering file F42-1 (12-31-W).
    10 Letter, dated 1 Nov. 1944, Bureau of Aeronautics file Aer.-3-310-IHG.
    11 Ibid.
    12 Ibid.
    13 Ibid.
    14 Ibid.
    15 Ibid.
    16 Ibid.
    17 Letter, dated 25 June 1942, Office of Chief of Naval Operations, file Op-23R/AB.
    18 Letter, dated 4 Dec. 1942, Bureau of Ships, files F42-1 (900).
    19 Letter, dated Nov. 1944, Bureau of Aeronautics file, Aer-3-310-IHG.
    20 Ibid.
    21 Ibid.
    22 Ibid.
    23 Letter, dated 18 Nov. 1942, Bureau of Aeronautics file, Aer-E-314-JTK, F42-8 (1).
    24 Letter, dated 14 Apr. 1943, Bureau of Aeronautics file, Aer-E-31T-CG, F42-5, F42-8 (1).
    25 Letter, dated 6 Feb. 1943, Bureau of Aeronautics, files, Aer-E-31HES, F42-1, F42-5.
    26 Letter, dated 18 Feb. 1944, Bureau of Aeronautics, file Aer-E-31-LVB, F42-5, F42-1.
    27 Letter, dated 11 May 1944, Director Naval Communication, file Op. 20-E/AB (1132120).
    28 Letter, dated 6 July 1944, Director Naval Communications file Op-20-Ells (0220720).
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