American Physicist Louis W. McKeehan

American Physicist Louis W. McKeehan


Description: [SCIENCE - WAR] The following are from the papers of the American physicist Louis W. McKeehan (1887-1975) Director of the Physics Laboratories Yale. He took leave of his teaching position to help out with the war effort. He was the driving force behind the creation of the torpedo called Fido. Capt. Louis McKeehan, head of the Mine Warfare Branch of the Bureau of Ordnance. Scientists at the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island had been considering acoustic homing torpedoes for fifteen years but insisted that torpedoes made too much noise themselves to be able to home on any external noise source and until McKeehan came along to challenge them they seemed to have a point. But McKeehan was not a career naval officer. He was a reserve officer, on active duty for the duration, whose peacetime job was director of the physics laboratories at Yale University. Unimpressed by the received wisdom of Navy engineers, McKeehan turned to HUSL and BTL where his idea for an acoustic homing torpedo quickly bore fruit. With support and funding from the NDRC, HUSL and BTL proved Newport wrong and only seventeen months after the beginning of the project Fido had entered service and made his first kill. After the war, the scientists at Bell Labs who had worked on Fido returned to telephone work, Captain McKeehan returned to Yale, and Harvard - like some other universities - anxious to shed the military connection as soon as possible took back its buildings and ended its classified work. Louis McKeehan was, among other things, author of Yale Science: The First Hundred Years, 1701-1801 (New York: H. Schuman, 1947). Offered here are several pieces. Includes: 1940 letter to his wife Grace [scan 1]; a 1932 Naval Reserve Fitness document signed by McKeehan [scan 2]; an interesting 1940 document pencil signed by McKeehan [scan 3]; plus 5 other pieces, all showing below. (Inventory 33)
Condition Report: VG
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