Aviators at sea faced a new challenge: they had to track both their own location and their ship’s location.
Naval aviators launching from aircraft carriers had a challenge not experienced by their land-based peers—their airfield moved while they were away. Two navigational breakthroughs during the 1930s proved crucial to the success of naval aviation in World War II. The first was an effective plotting board. The second was the YE-ZB electronic navigation system, which enabled flight crews to home in on their carrier without giving its position away to the enemy.
“How did those Navy pilots navigate? How could they find an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean and make a landing? At least an Air Corps’ field stayed put.” —Lt. Col. Harry Crosby, U.S. Army Air Forces