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The Mark Twain Bombsight


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#1 Col. Hessler

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 09:23 PM

Captain Greening built a special bombsight for the Doolittle Raiders named the "Mark Twain." Anyone know why they called it this?

#2 TA152

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 02:37 AM

I think it was because it was just a stick but it has been a few years since I read up on it. At the time they thought the Nordon bombsite was really special but it did not turn out that way in practice.
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#3 TA152

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 02:42 AM

Here is a story on the mission and the bomb site part is approx. a 1/4 down the page.

http://www.kued.org/...elson_chase.php
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#4 Col. Hessler

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 03:54 AM

Thanks for the link TA. But was it called the "Mark Twain" because it was so simple or because it was cheap perhaps?

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#5 howard38

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 04:00 AM

I believe the bombsigt was manufactured in Elmira, NY where Mark Twain lived for much of his adult life.

#6 Fortune

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Posted 11 February 2006 - 04:21 PM

i would believe it was named that, because its rather primitive design...but im just taking shots in the dark with this one... :confused:
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#7 Fury

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 07:35 PM

My research has suggested that the bombsight has been known by several monikers; The 20 cent bombsight, The Greening bombsight, and The Mark Twain.
Developed by C.R. Greening, one of the Doolittle Raiders and a remarkable man, the mechanism was cobbled together at Elgin AAFB from scrap aluminum. The Norden unit was ineffective at low altitude and too heavy for the long distance Tokyo mission and as it turned out, the simple device worked quite well at the low altitudes the Raiders would be flying.
The prevailing theories on the "Mark Twain" name are; 1) The Greening family was related to the Clemmons family, so he chose the pen name of his famous relative. 2) In the early days of river piloting, depth was measured by a weighted line with knots at specified intervals. When the the water reached the second knot, the leadsman's call was, "Mark Twain"! The Raider's felt that they would be flying and using the bombsight at about the same height off the ground, hence "Mark Twain"! You get to decide which reason is better! ;)
On a different note, Elmira New York was where the Norden Bombsights were built for a while.
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#8 Col. Hessler

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 11:28 PM

I like the second one better. smile.gif

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#9 HooahKennedy

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 05:42 PM

I realize I am answering an old post, but maybe this will be useful information to someone? I was just at the Pease Air Show in NH and met the owner of the B-25 called Panchito. He said that the viewfinder was called the Mark Twain because it was so simple, Huck Fin could've made it.

Here is more info: Jimmy Doolittle: Commander of the Doolittle Raid During World War II » HistoryNet

#10 Biak

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 06:00 PM

Thanks for bumping the post ( I had not read it) and Welcome to the forum Hooah !

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#11 brndirt1

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 06:54 PM

That is post/thread I too had missed. As to the pen name of Sam Clemmons, it has also been suggested that it wasn't from his riverboat pilot days at all. The alternative story claims that when he had gone west and started writting for various newspapers he used many psuedonymns but Mark Twain was one of the last.

It is suggested that during this period in time, since he was paid on "spec" as a free-lance writer, he would , when he drank at the local watering hole call out for two more drinks to be put on his "tab", i.e. mark twain.

Thought that was a cute story as well.
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