1940 - 1949
The United States Military was in the need for an all weather navigational system. In 1940, the U.S. Army Signal Corps proposed the following requirement for a "Precision Navigational Equipment for Guiding Airplanes:" to guide aircraft tpo a predetermine point in space over or in an overcast by radio beams, detection apparatus, or direction finders with a distance of 500 miles maximum with an altitude about 35,000 feet and an accuracy of 1000 feet at 200 miles.
Alfred L. Loomis, then the chairman of the Microwave Committee, suggested a pulsed hyperbolic, radio grid-laying system. By mid-1941, a navigational group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory had assumed the project. A pair test station was established at two abandon US Coast Guard Life Saving Stations (Montauk and Fenwick). On air testing began in Dec 1941 and in June 1942, operational test were conducted for the military.
On May 25, 1942, LCDR Lawrence L. Harding, USCG, was assigned as the Navy Liaison Officer to oversee the project. He is credit with the term LORAN, an acronym for Long Range Navigation which was accepted by both the Navy and the Radiation Laboratory.
The June 1942 experiential testing prove that the was potential for the system and two more stations were authorized. In October 1942, Boccaro and Deming stations were placed in operation by the Royal Canadian Navy. Both Canadian stations were commanded by women. In 1943, LORAN Monitor Station Chatham was staff with an all female crew.
In following months, new stations were established in the North Atlantic (Bonavista, Battle Harbor, Fredericksdal and Port-aux-Basques). In the meantime, the British established stations in the Eastern North Atlantic, which provided LORAN coverage for the North Atlantic.
There was also a requirement for LORAN in the Pacific theater. The first stations were in the western part of Alaska located at Attu Island, Amchitka Unimak, St. Paul and St. Matthew. St. Matthew was so isolated the decision was made that all LORAN stations were expendable and established a 1 year rotation. To ensure the men of the station had an adequate food supply, twenty-nine (24 female & 5 male) reindeer were transferred from Nunivak Island. Upon the closing of the station the reindeer population grew to almost 6000. In 1966 the last of the reindeer subsume to starvation.
As new territory was retaken by American forces, LORAN chains were established to provide viable navigation to the bombing missions. LORAN stations were also established in China, India and Australia by the U.S. Army Air Corp.
In the European theater, the LORAN SS system was utilized in order to have precision bombing over Germany. In 1944, Germany reverse engineered a LORAN receiver and was able to locally jammed the LORAN signals. A high power transmitter for this propose was to be placed into operation in June 1945 to cover the entire country. There is no indication that the Japanese tried to jammed or use the LORAN system.
In 1946, with the draw down of military, LORAN chain stations were placed into caretaker status and eventually disestablished.
During the latter part of the 40's there was research of improving the system. The Standard LORAN equipment was redesign improving the reliability, envelope and cycle matching of different frequencies and phase shifting.
In the late 40's was a time of budget reductions. The LORAN program was in question of maintaining such a system.