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Guide to the Robert B. King Fuze Collection Documents, 1943-1945
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Robert B. King Fuze Collection Documents,
    Date (inclusive): 1943-1945
    Creator: King, Robert Burnett, 1908-1995
    Extent: .5 linear feet
    Repository: California Institute of Technology. Archives.
    Pasadena, California 91125
    Abstract: The Robert B. King Fuze Collection Documents, 1943-1945, donated with the fuzes, include a set of the Confidential Bulletins of Section L (OSRD Contract OEMsr-418), as well as several technical manuals published by the U.S.Navy. All materials have been declassified.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, Box and file number], Robert B. King Fuze Collection Documents, Archives, California Institute of Technology.


    A native of Pasadena, Robert Burnett King (1908-1995) was the son of Arthur S. King, an eminent spectroscopist, who served as director of the physical laboratory of the Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena under George Ellery Hale. Robert King graduated from Pomona College in 1930 and received his PhD in astronomy from Princeton in 1933. During the 1930s he taught at MIT and then returned to Pasadena to the Mount Wilson Observatory as a research fellow, beginning what would be his principal research work for the rest of his life-the measurement of so-called f-values for spectral lines of astronomical importance. After the reorganization of the Observatory following World War II and its association with Caltech, King was named professor of physics at Caltech in 1948, a position he held until his retirement in 1968.
    During the war King was head of the Fuze Group within the Caltech rocket project, headed by Charles Lauritsen and funded by the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) under contract OEMsr-418. The project was also known as Section L (for Lauritsen). The Fuze Group designed more than fifty fuzes, including the successful "Mousetrap" antisubmarine rocket fuze, so-called for its shipboard launching mechanism, which was used in combat as early as 1942. King and his group received several awards for their work, including the Presidential Certificate of Merit.
    The Robert B. King Fuze Collection, donated by King's daughters, contains thirty-four rocket fuzes and parts, designed and manufactured by Caltech for the U.S. armed services, mostly the navy, during World War II. The entire fuze collection has been photographed and may be viewed online through the Caltech Archives' web page ( http://www.caltech.edu/~archives ) on PhotoNet.