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I recently bought a number of items and included was a box that held the three items I am going to post . I know that the third one is an azimuth - and I think it has something to do with finding the horizon - apart from that it is a total mystery. Probably only an older seaman will know how it works - satellite navigation must have stopped all of these old instruments.

The question that is of importance is - do all of these three pieces work together, or, have they just come together in the box ? The first is the compass - brass and similar quality to the others - however, the Indians have been making excellent copies of compasses. There is no makers mark, or other identifying mark.

Edited by Mervyn Mitton
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This is the main instrument - the Azimuth. The crown is almost certainly Edward 7th (1902-10) - unless it is late Victorian. There appears to be maker's initials - or, are they owner's - or, the branch of the Service ? Is it Naval or, mercantile marine? Does it go with either of the above pieces ?

Edited by Mervyn Mitton
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My only contribution is to wonder whether the fact that the thing is named [identified] means it's military. I would think that in the civilian world the assumption would be that you'd know what it was before you bought it and only matelots and squaddies had to have everything named and labelled: "Shoe, leather, feet for the covering of". :rolleyes:

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Because it is marked with "A.M." (Air Ministry), it is military and must post-date the creation of that Ministry in January, 1918. If I had to bet, I would say 1920's-1930's.

Edited by Harrier
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Thankyou John and Peter. I feel we have made some advance with the Air Ministry - I was convinced it was Naval, which is why I put it on this sub-forum. A friend - who I think belongs to Forum, but doesn't post - has pointed out that the bars on the compass show military use - he thinks 1930's for them - and cleverly, has pointed out that they have been stripped of their original paint, to show the brass which is more attractive in a collection. If they are from the RAF - then how and why, did they use them. I can't imagine it being on a plane - was it at the aerodrome - to guide planes in ? Another thought - could it be anything to do with anti-aircraft guns - or, observers posts?

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The only contribution I can make to this post is that I think it highly unlikely that this was ever used in the air. I agree with the Air Ministry markings but if you look at the scales the upper one is a vernier scale with a graduation of 2 minutes of arc, in post #5 the reading would be 179 degrees 12 minutes. I doubt that present fly by wire can manage 2 minute accuracy certainly not long enough for someone to sight then read the scale then make the appropriate action. I would say as a guess a piece of ground based calibration equipment. I look forward to learning what it really is though, my guesses are seldom correct.

Edited by Jim Maclean
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Everybody was so sure that it was to do with ships navigation, that we overlooked the -now- obvious AM initials. I think the only way to have proper I.D. will be to forward pictures to an RAF Museum. There used to be one near Hendon Police College in North London - probably closed now. Can anyone help with an address or, email ?

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  • 1 month later...

This is DEFINITELY an aircraft instrument. My (limited) knowledge of the Air Ministry (RAF) stores system is that Section 6 = Aircraft equipment, with 6A = instrument, 6D = Oxygen equipment, et, etc. All you have to do it to locate a copy of AP (Air Publication) 1086 (RAF Catalogue of Stores and Equipment), Section 6, and look up Sub-section A, then check in index to find 0890 and see what it says! Of course not everybody happens to have the right volume of AP 1086 to hand, and you also have to have the issue which covers the right era (they are continually updated, and new editions are periodically issued to keep up with changing technology and style), so the suggestion to check with the RAF Museum is an excellent one. Good hunting! I also agree that in its original condition, this compass would be painted with grey enamel or similar rather than polished brass.

David D

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