Flame War!!

I like the web-comic The Oatmeal.  I read articles posted at Forbes.com.  Here is what happens when they don’t get along.

The Oatmeal comic that started it.

The Forbes response.

The Oatmeal response to the Forbes article. 

Read them all – good stuff.

I’ll agree with The Oatmeal’s author – Tesla is drastically undersold.  However – I think both of them miss a central point about radar’s usefulness for tracking U-boats in WW I.  U-boats spent most of their time on the surface – they were diesel-powered, small, cramped, slow above surface, and even slower below.  When they were submerged they ran on battery – 1914 era battery technology.  They could only spend extended time under water if they moved at speeds in the 1-3 knot range.  Convoys moved at speeds of 10-14 knots.  Radar – if sufficient advances had been made – would have been able to detect surfaced U-boats and allow the destroyers and other escort ships to chase them underwater while the convoy sailed past.

This is not to say it would have been easy – or that Tesla’s Radar would have saved lives.  The technology didn’t exist.  Even in WWII shipborne radar was in its infancy – the US Navy had it and the Japanese Navy did not and this allowed the US Navy to win the few gun battles that occurred.  In WWI, radar would have been hard-pressed to detect a U-boat’s exposed conning tower and lower hull against anything except the calmest seas.

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