The Mk. 49 gun director was an anti-aircraft fire director fitted on some US warships mid-WW2. They replaced the Mk. 45 gun director, which was too large and heavy and overly complex to operate. The Mk. 49 had a resemblance to R2D2, with the
operator sitting inside an enclosed ball with an opening at the top front. A hatch on the top rear was the means to get into the ball and when operating, the ball would rotate on two axes for train and elevation. They were intended as directors for the quad
1.1-inch anti-aircraft guns but they were mainly used with twin and quad 40mm Bofors mounts that replaced the “Chicago Pianos”. Mk. 49 directors were fitted on a variety of ships, ranging from some
Essex class carriers and Iowa class battleships down
to destroyers like the
Farragut, Benson/Gleaves and Fletcher classes. The Mk. 49s were relatively short-lived and were replaced with the simpler pedestal-mounted Mk. 51 directors starting late 1943.
Black Cat Models line of 1:350 scale 3D printed accessories includes a set of Mk. 49 gun directors. The set includes four directors, beautifully detailed and one piece each. All you have to do is remove the part from the wafer by cutting the very thin
attachment points, cleaning up the bottoms if needed. Then paint, glue into place and voilà! – you are done. Some research is need to see which ships had these fitted and when, and a great resource is the Mk. 49 director page at the Researcher@Large
website (
http://www.researcheratlarge.com/Ships/Misc/Mk49/). I plan on using two on my Farragut build to back date her a bit. My thanks to Ben Druel at Black Cat Models for the review sample.
Felix Bustelo
New York

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