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P-8 Compass

The P-8 compass is a bowl-shaped instrument renowned for its robust reliability, but it has one inherent issue; you have to set the course by turning the grid ring (which has directions marked every 10 degrees graduated in 2-degree divisions, and is also divided into four quarters by two parallel wires which connect N to S, and E to W) until the required course is set against the lubber line (a small white marker on the inner ring of the compass).

You are then on course when the pointer with a red cross is on the large red square marked 'N' for North (hence the expression, "Red on Red"); wonderful, you may well say, so there's no problem getting there and back, right? Not quite; there is a problem, one that is all the more dangerous because it is an insidious one. You see, you have to remember that when you want to get home, you must make sure that you re-set the course home. In this case, the course to Tamu was 150 degrees on the way out. On the way back, a pilot had to set 330 degrees, the way back to Imphal and home, and then make sure that the pointer with the red cross was back on 'N.' The only problem was that, in the heat of

but . such compasses were not fitted on several of the British service aircraft of WWII. pilots could (and frequently did) forget to set the reciprocal course home. In fact.combat. with its usually horrendous results. and run out of fuel. Whereas most British aeroplanes had the P Type compass described above. this problem was so severe that some squadrons used to block off the bottom or Southern half of the grid ring as a reminder . or RIC's).you still had to re-set the course home… One can't emphasise enough how the Gyrosyn or Gyro-Magnetic or Remote Indicating Compass (which is a gyro compass which senses the earth's magnetic field) would have eased the pain although these existed from the thirties itself and were used for several record-breaking flights. blindly keep turning until they had put 'N' on the pointer with the cross. and head farther and farther away from home. . especially fighters. most American ones had the simple E Type magnetic compass in which you could simply read your heading on the face of the instrument (British bombers such as the Avro Lancaster and some others had Remote Indicating Compasses.