Hi guys I have a Norden Bombsight for sale , more than likely the only one in NZ . also comes with the autopilot aswell looks to be in pretty good con for 60+ years old . Its missing the rubber and glass eye piece and an inspection plate , Im looking for $2000. for it will try and put some photos up later . Ph Mike 078437520 pick up only its very heavy
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 22, 2018 20:35:38 GMT 12
I got a call today from Don Subritzky asking me to post this for him - he said when he went to the USA to pick up his Spitfire TE330 years ago he met a high ranking USAF Museum staff member, I think he said, who was warning him about the danger of the radium in the instruments. Don poo-pooed it because he'd never heard about the radium issue at that time but the chap insisted and he told him "If you ever come across anyone who has a Norden Bombsight, tell them to never, ever look into it because loads of guys have died from the radium effects."
Don said today he could not sit there and say nothing so he asked me to make people aware of this just in case.
Sounds like an example of the changing Health and Safety world. Ever hear the stories about WW2 instrument makers who licked the bristles of the paint brushes they used to apply the luminous paint to the dials to make getting fine detail easier. And the terrible cancers they later suffered from. My guess is the dials and indicator needles inside the Norton device where painted with a heavily radium based paint (luminous). The effects of applying the human eye to this concoction is for scientific comment. But as to how the world has changed take this very short version of a long story.
The RNZAF uses a low pressure walk round oxygen system on the C-130 for both emergency and general use when depressurised at high altitude. For some reason there were two part numbers for what was otherwise identical bits of kit. A serendipitous event lead to finding a requirement to check the gauges with a Geiger counter. It transpired that all the older P/Ns had radio activity readings that were outside current hazard limits. It must have been that WW2 luminous paint.
So from all this if you are wearing your Dad's family heirloom wristwatch with the really good luminous dial - you might want to toss it before your hand falls off.
There is no such thing as a stupid question - It is stupid answers that cause all the worlds problems.
Ever hear the stories about WW2 instrument makers who licked the bristles of the paint brushes they used to apply the luminous paint to the dials to make getting fine detail easier. And the terrible cancers they later suffered from. My guess is the dials and indicator needles inside the Norton device where painted with a heavily radium based paint (luminous).
Is there actually much true in this regarding the WWII time frame.
It appears the first big demand for Radium paint was wrist watches for US troops in WWI. The New Jersey coroner had proved that licking the brushes was killing the painters by the 1925 or so. They ingested sufficient Radium that they breathed out detectable levels of Radon gas (caused by nuclear decay in their bodies). I seem to recall reading there was a public scandal about the Radium painting in the early 1930's.
Note: The Poisoners handbook by D Blum has a good chapter on Radium poisoning and other posionings using commonly available dangerous materials of the early 2oth century.
I recall that during my training as an Instrument Mechanic in 1966, we were told about the radiation effects of the luminous instrument dials and pointers. These instruments were not normally held in our bay, and had a specific area in the store. This area and our work area was checked every so often by some boffin from DSIR with a Geiger counter. I can also recall checks being done on various aircraft flight decks with varying results.
Good to see this radiation topic rekindled. When we trained at 2 TTS Wigram in the early 60's there was no serious warning or concern expressed. I don't think that 2 TTS glowed at night any more than the main store ought to have.
But, at home as school boys we had a household torch (2 size D cells) that had the whole barrel of the plastic body that was luminous green through some sort of impregnation. I used it as a night-light; it sat on the dressing table next to the bed. It put out a really good glow, so had a fair bit of something luminous in it. I don't know when it was manufactured, but it was not new when we were using it in the 1950's.
After WW2, there must have been big surpluses of luminous paint put on the open market because one could buy it by mail-order from advertisements in magazines; somebody was making a killing from it!
What some people don't know is that they don't know enough to know that they don't know anything