Aberdeen chronograph

The Aberdeen chronograph was the first portable gun chronograph, an instrument for measuring the muzzle velocity and striking power of a projectile fired by a gun. It was invented in 1918 by Alfred Lee Loomis at the U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground.[1]

The method prevalent at the time was the Boulengé chronograph, which relied on the projectile passing through two wire screens. Breaking the first screen would release a rod held by electromagnets. While the rod was free-falling, breaking the second screen would activate a knife that marked the rod.[2]

Loomis' chronograph had a drum rotating at constant speed with a tape spooled inside. The projectile would pass through two screens, breaking the insulation between metal plates and creating a short circuit. This created a spark that left two visible marks on the tape and measuring the distance between these marks would give the speed of the projectile.[2][3] This method made it easier to measure the speed of larger shells and aircraft catapults.[4][2] Loomis was issued a patent in 1921 for his chronograph.[5]


  1. ^ Aberdeen Proving Ground (brochure), p.2 Archived November 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c "Naval Ordnance 1937 Chapter XV". Gene Slover's US Navy pages. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  3. ^ Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II, Jennet Conant, pp. 32-33
  4. ^ Biographical Memoirs. 51. National Academy of Sciences. 1980. p. 314.
  5. ^ U.S. Patent 1,376,890