CAUGHT IN THE CROSSHAIRS: THE NORDEN BOMBSIGHT
Carl L. Norden
THE MAN AND THE COMPANY
Carl Lukas Norden was born April 23, 1880 in Indonesia, the third of five children. Following the death of his father in 1885, his family moved to Holland, then Dresden. In 1896 he began a three-year apprenticeship in a Swiss machine shop, and entered the world-famous Zurich Federal Polytechnic School. He graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1904 and emigrated to the United States.
In the U.S., Norden started working with the Sperry Gyroscope Company on their marine stabilizer contracts until 1917. In 1921, he began the development of an instrument which could drop bombs from an aircraft, the famed Norden Bombsight. In 1923, Norden and Theodore H. Barth became business partners. Norden worked on the bombsight in Zurich and Barth assembled the parts in the U.S.
In 1928, they incorporated their company as Carl L. Norden, Inc. with an order for two precision bombsights.
The Norden Company planned to produce 800 bombsights a month, but the demand increased to 2000 a month in 1943. By the end of the World War II, more than 43,000 bombsights were built, 25,000 by Norden, at a cost of $10,000 each. Neither man got rich from this innovation as they sold the rights to the bombsight to the government for $1.
Norden was proud that the bombsight could be used for strategically striking military targets while minimizing collateral damage to surrounding civilian populations and structures. Carl Norden returned to Switzerland shortly after World War II and died there in 1965.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE BOMBSIGHT
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NORDEN SYSTEMS IN NORWALK