Gun Data Computer
The gun data computer is a series of artillery computers used by the U.S. Army, for coastal artillery
Coastal artillery
Coastal artillery is the branch of armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications....

, field artillery
Field artillery
Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, long range, short range and extremely long range target engagement....

, and antiaircraft artillery applications. In antiaircraft applications they are used in conjunction with a director
Director (military)
A director, also called an auxiliary predictor, is a mechanical or electronic computer that continuously calculates trigonometric firing solutions for use against a moving target, and transmits targeting data to direct the weapon firing crew....



  • M1 Gun Data Computer is used by seacoast artillery for major caliber seacoast guns, it computes continuous firing data for a battery of two guns that are separated by not more than 1000 feet. it utilizes the same type of input data furnished a range section with the present (1940) type of position finding and fire control.
  • M3 gun data computer is used in conjunction with the M9, and M10 Directors, to compute all the firing data of azimuth, elevation
    The elevation of a geographic location is its height above a fixed reference point, most commonly a reference geoid, a mathematical model of the Earth's sea level as an equipotential gravitational surface ....

    , and fuze time. The computations are made continuously, so that the gun is at all times correctly pointed, and the fuze correctly timed, for firing at any instant. the computer is mounted in the M13, or M14 Director trailer.
  • M4 The M3 and M4 are Identical except for those mechanisms and parts which vary with the ammunition used.
  • M8 Gun Data Computer (built by Bell Labs
    Bell Labs
    Bell Laboratories is the research and development subsidiary of the French-owned Alcatel-Lucent and previously of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company , half-owned through its Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary.Bell Laboratories operates its...

    ) is used by coast artillery with medium caliber guns (up to 8-inches). The M8 series uses electrical methods for computing firing data. it will make the following corrections, wind, drift, earth's rotation, muzzle velocity, air density, height of site, and spot corrections.
  • M9 The M8 and M9 are Identical except for those mechanisms and parts which vary with the ammunition and gun size used.
  • M10 Ballistics computer, part of the M38 fire control system, for the Skysweeper
    Skysweeper was an anti-aircraft gun deployed in the early 1950s by both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force...

  • M13 Ballistics computer, for M48 tank
  • M14 Ballistics computer, for M103 heavy tank
    M103 heavy tank
    The M103 heavy tank served the United States Army and the US Marines during the Cold War. Until the development of the M1A1 in the mid 1980s, it was the heaviest and most heavily armed tank in US service...

  • M15 part of the M35 field artillery fire control system, which included the M1 gunnery officer console, and M27 power supply.
  • M16 Ballistics computer for M60A1 tank
  • M18 FADAC (Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer) FADAC was first fielded in 1960, it was the first Solid state (electronics)
    Solid state (electronics)
    Solid-state electronics are those circuits or devices built entirely from solid materials and in which the electrons, or other charge carriers, are confined entirely within the solid material...

     Digital electronics field artillery computer.
  • M19 Ballistics computer for M60A2 tank
  • M21 Ballistics computer for M60A3 tank
  • (M1 Ballistics computer for M1 Abrams
    M1 Abrams
    The M1 Abrams is a third-generation main battle tank produced in the United States. It is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and Commander of US military forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972. The M1 is a well armed, heavily armored, and highly mobile tank designed for...

  • M23 mortar Ballistics computer
  • M26 fire control computer for AH-1 Cobra
    AH-1 Cobra
    The Bell AH-1 Cobra is a two-bladed, single engine attack helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It shares a common engine, transmission and rotor system with the older UH-1 Iroquois...

    , (AH-1F)
  • M31 Mortar ballistics computer
  • M32 Mortar ballistics computer, (handheld)


  • The Battery Computer System (BCS) AN/GYK-29 is a computer used by the United States Army
    United States Army
    The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

     for computing artillery
    Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

     fire mission data. It replaced the Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer. (FADAC). It is small enough to fit on a HMMWV.

  • The AN/GSG-10 TACFIRE system automated Field Artillery
    Field artillery
    Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, long range, short range and extremely long range target engagement....

     command and control functions. It was composed of computers and remote devices such as the Variable Format Message Entry Device (VFMED), the Digital Message Device
    Digital Message Device
    The AN/PSG-2 Digital Message Device is a portable data-entry terminal used by artillery forward observers to communicate with artillery batteries to request and control artillery fire missions...

     (DMD) and the Firefinder
    AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radar
    AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder is a mobile radar system manufactured by Northrop Grumman and ThalesRaytheonSystems . The system is a "weapon-locating radar", designed to detect and track incoming artillery and rocket fire to determine the point of origin for counterbattery fire...

     Field Artillery target acquisition radar
    Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

     system linked by digital communications using existing radio and wire communications equipment. Later in its service life, it also linked with the Battery Computer System (BCS) which had more advanced targeting algorithms.

The last TACFIRE fielding was completed in 1987. Replacement of TACFIRE equipment began in 1994.

TACFIRE was a second generation mainframe computer developed primarily by Litton Industries
Litton Industries
Named after inventor Charles Litton, Sr., Litton Industries was a large defense contractor in the United States, bought by the Northrop Grumman Corporation in 2001.-History:...

 for Army Divisional Field Artillery (DIVARTY) units. It had two configurations, Division and Battalion level, housed in mobile command shelters. Field Artillery Brigades also use the Division configuration.

Components of the system were identified using acronyms:
  • CPU (central processing unit
    Central processing unit
    The central processing unit is the portion of a computer system that carries out the instructions of a computer program, to perform the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system. The CPU plays a role somewhat analogous to the brain in the computer. The term has been in...

  • IOU (input/output unit)
  • MCMU (mass core memory unit)
  • DDT (digital data terminal)
  • MTU (magnetic tape unit)
  • PCG (power converter group)
  • ELP (electronic line printer)
  • DPM( digital plotter map)
  • ACC (artillery control console)
  • RCMU (remote control monitoring unit)

The successor to the TACFIRE system is the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS).
  • The AFATDS is the "Fires XXI" computer system for both tactical and technical fire control. It replaces both BCS (for technical fire solutions) and IFSAS/L-TACFIRE (for tactical fire control) systems in U.S. Field Artillery organizations, as well as in maneuver fire support elements at the battalion level and higher. As of 2009, the U.S. Army was transitioning from a Sun Microsystems
    Sun Microsystems
    Sun Microsystems, Inc. was a company that sold :computers, computer components, :computer software, and :information technology services. Sun was founded on February 24, 1982...

    SPARC is a RISC instruction set architecture developed by Sun Microsystems and introduced in mid-1987....

     Computer based AFATDS running off the Linux kernel
    Linux kernel
    The Linux kernel is an operating system kernel used by the Linux family of Unix-like operating systems. It is one of the most prominent examples of free and open source software....

    , to a Windows-based version run on laptop computers.

Surviving examples

One reason for a lack of surviving examples of early units, was the use of radium
Radium is a chemical element with atomic number 88, represented by the symbol Ra. Radium is an almost pure-white alkaline earth metal, but it readily oxidizes on exposure to air, becoming black in color. All isotopes of radium are highly radioactive, with the most stable isotope being radium-226,...

 on the dials, this in essence made them hazardous waste
Hazardous waste
A hazardous waste is waste that poses substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment. According to the U.S. environmental laws hazardous wastes fall into two major categories: characteristic wastes and listed wastes.Characteristic hazardous wastes are materials that are known...

, and therefore these type were disposed of by the United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

. Currently there is one surviving example of FADAC at the Fort Sill
Fort Sill
Fort Sill is a United States Army post near Lawton, Oklahoma, about 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.Today, Fort Sill remains the only active Army installation of all the forts on the South Plains built during the Indian Wars...

 artillery museum.

See also

  • Fire-control system
    Fire-control system
    A fire-control system is a number of components working together, usually a gun data computer, a director, and radar, which is designed to assist a weapon system in hitting its target. It performs the same task as a human gunner firing a weapon, but attempts to do so faster and more...

  • Director (military)
    Director (military)
    A director, also called an auxiliary predictor, is a mechanical or electronic computer that continuously calculates trigonometric firing solutions for use against a moving target, and transmits targeting data to direct the weapon firing crew....

  • Rangekeeper
    Rangekeepers were electromechanical fire control computers used primarily during the early part of the 20th century. They were sophisticated analog computers whose development reached its zenith following World War II, specifically the Computer Mk 47 in the Mk 68 Gun Fire Control system. During...

  • Kerrison Predictor
    Kerrison Predictor
    The Kerrison Predictor was one of the first fully automated anti-aircraft fire-control systems. The predictor could aim a gun at an aircraft based on simple inputs like the observed speed and the angle to the target...

  • Numerical control
    Numerical control
    Numerical control refers to the automation of machine tools that are operated by abstractly programmed commands encoded on a storage medium, as opposed to controlled manually via handwheels or levers, or mechanically automated via cams alone...

  • Project Manager Battle Command
    Project Manager Battle Command
    Project Manager Battle Command develops, deploys and sustains integrated Battle Command software capabilities to the Army and Joint forces. PM BC supports the Warfighter by ensuring units are efficiently fielded, effectively trained and professionally supported...

External links

  • modern system
  • Bell labs patent
  • tacfire
  • BCS components
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