WWII naval coordinate system
August 2, 2011 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Anyone able to help with naval coordinates from WWII? I'm writing a play set in WWII and I want to make it more authentic by using the technical jargon of the time. It's set in the pacific and I'm coming up empty-handed with other searches on how they plotted courses and the coordinate systems used. If anyone could help it would be greatly appreciated!
posted by rawredmeat to Education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Check out Edward Beach's WWII submarine books, Run Silent Run Deep and Dust on the Sea. More recommendations here w/r/t technically accurate books and whatnot.
posted by jquinby at 7:37 AM on August 2, 2011

Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Rememberance are all set (or feature large portions set) in the Pacific in World War II. Wouk was himself the executive officer of a destroyer minesweeper (the setting of The Caine Mutiny).

I think the techinical aspects of Wouk's novels are handled very well, there's flavor, but not an overload.

Wouk writes in the frontmatter to Caine something that may or may not apply mutatis mutandis to the technical details of your novel:
One comment on style: The general obscenity and blasphemy of shipboard talk have gone almost wholly unrecorded. This good-humored billingsgate is largely monotonous and not significant, mere verbal punctuation of a sort, and its appearance in print annoys some readers. The traces that remain are necessary where occurring.
The technical details may also be largely monotonous and not signifigant... important if you get them wrong, but how much torpedo solution plotting detail will people really want?

You'd probably benefit from getting your hands on an 11th (1943), 12th (1944), or 13th (1946) edition copy of the Bluejackets' Manual (Amazon), which will have lots of general techical information (parts of the ship, basics of gun crews, the smoking lamp, watch and station bill info, etc.).
posted by Jahaza at 7:54 AM on August 2, 2011

Dutton's Navigation and nautical astronomy (1939) would have been among the standard navigation textbooks at the time.
posted by Jahaza at 8:06 AM on August 2, 2011

Former Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison wrote an exhaustive, 15-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. I'm sure if you could spend an afternoon in a library with it, you will find just what you are looking for.
posted by timsteil at 8:57 AM on August 2, 2011

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