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A bit of history for the weapons geeks

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A bit of history for the weapons geeks

Unread postAuthor: D_Hall » Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:55 pm

As a teenager, I was digging around in my parent's garage and I came across a rather curious photograph. I was looking at it trying to figure out what I was looking at when my father walked in, saw what I was doing, and explained.... Once upon a time he'd been an engineer on the team that designed/built the very first FLIR. When the team was ready, they'd driven the FLIR to the top of a local mountain, turned it on, and viewed the surrounding valley. At night, of course. It was the first time a FLIR had ever been used outside of their laboratory.

They took a picture of the display.

That picture was what I held in my hands: The very first photograph taken anywhere in the world using a FLIR system.

Two weeks ago, my father passed away. While going through his things, I came across the picture and figured folks here might be interested in a bit of history.

Image

I also spent some time on google maps trying to figure out exactly where the photo was taken. It wasn't easy given that the photo would have been taken nearly 50 years ago and much has changed, but I believe I have found the location. Note that the FLIR would have been facing west.
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Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:04 pm

Fantastic!

Are you sure it was the first FLIR though?

http://www.achtungpanzer.com/german-inf ... werfer.htm

It depends on your definition of FLIR I suppose.
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Unread postAuthor: D_Hall » Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:20 pm

Didn't say it was the first night vision device. Said it was the first FLIR.

And oddly enough... What we call a "FLIR" today isn't really a FLIR. It's the descendant of the FLIR, but it isn't actually a FLIR anymore. Something about that turret means it's no longer Forward Looking (by definition).
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Unread postAuthor: dewey-1 » Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:29 pm

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Unread postAuthor: jackssmirkingrevenge » Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:30 pm

D_Hall wrote:Didn't say it was the first night vision device. Said it was the first FLIR.


True, the early German developments weren't passive thermal imaging devices in that sense.
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Unread postAuthor: D_Hall » Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:44 pm



Nope. He worked for the Navy. TI was involved. So was the Air Force. So was Hughes Aircraft. So were some other alpha bet soup agencies. From what I gathered from the old man there was a lot of....

"We need somebody who knows TechX and another who knows TechY."

"Well, there's this guy at AgencyA who knows TechX pretty well and I know that TechY is AgencyB's bread and butter...."


I don't know all the details, but I know my old man got to go along for the ride mostly because he was young, enthusiastic and willing to travel a lot (It was his first project after being hired...graduated school in '63).
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Unread postAuthor: dewey-1 » Sun Aug 26, 2012 4:02 pm

Still very interesting about the history.

My condolences to you on his passing.
His age is pretty close to mine. (65)
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Unread postAuthor: Labtecpower » Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:23 pm

very interesting stuff!

Your father must have been a great source of inspiration to you, nice :)
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Unread postAuthor: D_Hall » Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:58 pm

Labtecpower wrote:Your father must have been a great source of inspiration to you, nice :)

He was, but he screwed up in a way....

After working on the FLIR stuff he got involved in IR seekers. He was head of the team that developed the Navy's first IR guided Maverick missile(*). When I was 6 years old, his shop had an Open House event. They'd recently had their first successful test shot. I watched that movie and was enthralled....

...By the wrong end of the missile. I've been a rocket motor junkie ever since. :lol:




(*) The Air Force had a competing design that ultimately went into production, but that's not the point here.
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