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The NORCO thread

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Joseph Bates worked as a machinist at National Ordnance Laboratory – Corona. Or so the Internet tells me.

NOLC and the NORCO base had a long and interesting history. It opened as a luxury resort 10 months before the Great Depression. The Navy used its as a hospital during World War II. In the 1960s, it was mainly used to test Navy missiles, warheads, and other weapons. It also had one of the most powerful computer facilities of its time. That brings up a lot of interesting possibilities with regard to Zodiac. Some theorize that Zodiac’s connection to the Bates family comes through her father’s work at NORCO.

I found the following document online. It is a government report that contains a treasure trove of history about the NORCO base. It was made to determine if the site was eligible for historical preservation. If you think Zodiac came into contact with the Bates family through NORCO, this report probably will not change your mind. There’s all sorts of stuff in it.

http://www.norco.ca.us/civicax/filebank … obID=23474

Posted : January 27, 2021 4:58 pm
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So the most important thing to remember about NORCO is that it served a similar function for the Navy as Vandenberg AFB, near Lompoc, served for the Air Force. They were both involved heavily in missile testing.

At VAFB, the Air Force tested ICBMs. In addition, VAFB launched satellites for the Air Force, the spy agencies and other government agencies. Keep in mind that VAFB was one place that was selling the lot number of the Super X .22 caliber ammunition used in the Domingos-Edwards shootings.

NOLC at NORCO tested missiles and other weapons for the Navy. Examples are air-to-air missiles, missiles used for to defend ships, etc. I’m starting to think it also was involved in developing submarine-based nuclear missiles, like the Polaris missile, which is mentioned in this document. I don’t have much information on Polaris at this time. It certainly would stir the pot.

It’s important to remember that when you’re working with satellites and missiles, you are doing a lot of work with computers. NORCO had a huge computer operation. VAFB presumably had a similar computer system, although VAFB computer resources is a topic I have not looked into yet.

Given the similar nature of these operations, it is not hard to imagine that a person who worked in missile development, or satellites or computers or something else, might have business in multiple locations.

Posted : January 28, 2021 8:47 pm
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The NOLC Fuze Program

Apparently NOLC was renowned for its expertise in fuze work. What is fuze work? I had no idea until researching this topic. Basically, it means designing a warhead so that it explodes at the right time, i.e. when it gets to the right point to take out the target, not when someone drops the missile in the warehouse (or before it gets to the target, or after it gets to the target).

Fuse Department: Detachment Corona was best known for its work on proximity fuzing. In February of 1954, the Department of Defense (DoD) designated NOLC as the Technical Director of all Navy fuze work. The successful management of this mission required intensive laboratory and test related work in electronic circuits, microwaves, electromechanics, and component miniaturization. To accomplish this, sophisticated equipment was developed and put into use, including drop towers, massive computers, environmental laboratories, simulation laboratories, telemetering equipment, radar systems, and the like.

Missile Component RDT&E: This aspect of Detachment Corona’s work involved the development of missile components, guidance systems, and proximity fuzes. The Fuze and Research Departments worked closely with each other in this endeavor, perfecting the accuracy, reliability, and technological superiority of U.S. guided missiles in an overall effort to maintain superiority during the Cold War.

So figuring out how to make a bomb explode when you want it to explode was a big part of the mission at NOLC. This is especially interesting when we look at the bus bomb letter. The whole set up with the mirrors and light beams is fuze work of a kind. When you look at the diagram, it involves using light to trip an electrical switch and start an explosion. I’m not sure it’s particularly sophisticated. But it’s probably seems less sophisticated now than at a time when automatic sliding doors were Star Trek stuff.

Note the mention of electronic circuits in the text.

Posted : January 28, 2021 9:07 pm