US Army Sun Compass

US Army Sun Compass

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The U.S. Army Sun Compass was produced during World War II in the early 1940s by Abrams Instrument Co. of Lansing, MI, designated Model SC-1. In operation, it could determine direction accurately by noting the angle of the sun at a known time of day. It was designed for daylight use, mounted on a vehicle in environments where a magnetic compass might not work properly, such as inside an aircraft or truck due to the metal content or electrical circuits nearby.

The exterior of the box is painted olive drab and the lid is lettered:

C. of E.
U.S.A.
SUN COMPASS

"C. of E." is no doubt the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for military compasses and other instruments during World War II.

According to researcher François Pineau, in World War II the SC-1 was used in the North African desert by the Long Range Desert Patrol (the famed Desert Rats) and other American, British or Australian units. Other uses were in B-24 Liberator bombers and by Army ground troops in the Philippines. It is reported to have been used through the 1970s for polar region expeditions where magnetic readings are unreliable or in the Sahara desert.

The manual visible in the case is TM 5-9422 War Department Maintenance Manual and Parts Catalog for Compass, Sun, Universal Type, Abrams Model SC-1. The second manual underneath is probably the matching Operator's Manual.

Today in WW II: 17 Oct 1941 USS Kearny [DD-432] torpedoed but not sunk by German submarine U-568, near Iceland, killing 11 sailors, the first American military casualties of WW II.  More 
17 Oct 1943 At Gothenburg, about 10,000 seriously wounded and sick German and British POWs, about half from each side, make up the first British-German prisoner exchange of WW II [17-21 Oct].
Visit the Olive-Drab.com World War II Timeline for day-by-day events 1939-1945! See also WW2 Books.

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