Over The Target
During World War II, the Norden bombsight was so secret it could not even be mentioned. Nordens were kept in air-conditioned, dustproof vaults, surrounded by high barbed wire and constantly patrolled by armed guards.
When a bombsight was taken to a plane it was always carried by two armed guards and its canvas cover was never removed until the aircraft was in flight. Bombardiers swore a solemn oath to guard the Norden with their lives or ensure it was destroyed.
The complete bombsight actually is two mechanisms — a lower unit or stabilizer, and an upper unit consisting of a number of assemblies, most important of which are the telescope, the computer and the gyro.
The stabilizer keeps the line-of-sight direction fixed, or controlled. It also initiates a signal that tells the pilot or auto pilot how the plane is to be maneuvered to solve the bombing problem. The stabilizer also controls the flight of the plane, through the auto-pilot. The stabilizer and auto-pilot perform this function so well that once the bombsight has been set on the bombing run, the plane would continue its flight on a perfectly even keel and drop its bombs at exactly the right instant in time and the right spot in space, even if the crew were dead. The plane itself would continue on the predetermined course until it ran out of gas or was shot down.
The telescope is used to sight on the target. The gyroscopes hold the bombsight stable. The computer solves the various mathematical problems which confront the bombardier just prior to the bombing run.