The VT Fuze is the most important new development in the ammunition field,
since the introduction of high-explosive projectiles
(Gen Benjamin Lear)
I think when all armies get this shell
we will have to devise some new method of warfare
(Gen George S. Patton Jr)
Adm Lewis L. Strauss wrote : One of the most original and effective military developments in World War II was the proximity, or VT fuse. It was of incalculable value to both the Army and Navy, and it helped save London from obliteration. While no one invention won the war, the proximity fuse must be listed among the very small group of developments, such as radar, upon which victory very largely depended.
The proximity fuze was a dramatic improvement over previously used contact fuzes or timed fuzes, against both aircraft and land targets. Gen George S. Patton Jr called its effects devastating on the enemy, and said that the proximity fuze won the Battle of the Bulge for us.
One of the first practical proximity fuzes was codenamed the VT Fuze and nicknamed : Pozit ! Buck Rogers ! Special Influence ! Bonzo !, an acronym of Variable Time Fuze, as deliberate camouflage for its operating principle. The VT fuze concept in the context of artillery shells originated in the UK with British researchers (Samuel Curran and W. A. S. Butement, whose schematic design for a radar proximity fuze was used with only minor variations and was developed under the direction of physicist Merle A. Tuve at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. The Germans were supposedly also working on proximity fuses in the 1930s, based on capacitive effects rather than radar. Research and prototype work at Rheinmetall were halted in 1940 to devote available resources to projects deemed more necessary.