[Proj] MGRS invented by Germany?

Charles Karney charles.karney at sri.com
Fri Jan 22 17:03:26 EST 2016

I agree a lot of what went into UTM/UPS as "in the air" before the
second world war

  * Grid notations with letter designations for a 100km square and
    numerals within the square (a British invention?).
  * Transverse Mercator with a sucession of central meridians, equally
    spaced at 3 degree or 6 degree intervals (Germany, Russia?).

and I recognize that the AMS did sterling work in the 50s defining a
worldwide ellipsoid and datum.

The evidence from the paper is that the German military had adopted by

  * a world-wide system of 60 6-degree zones numbered starting at 180W;
  * 500km false easting, 0km false northing for N hemisphere;
  * 8 degree latitude bands lettered C thru X (skipping I+O);
  * letters A+B used for the S pole, Y+Z used for the N pole (no
    indication of the projection);
  * A thru Z used for column labeling of 100km square repeating every 3
  * A thru V used for row labeling repeating every 20 squares;
  * a five letter offset on the row labels for even numbered zones.

All of these are elements of UTM and MGRS.  It's possible that the first
two of these might have been arrived independently.  However it's
difficult to make that argument with the lettering conventions.


On 01/22/16 16:25, Clifford J Mugnier wrote:
> Other differences include Zone numbering increasing East - starting at the 180° meridian; zero mention of ANY datums - just the five basic “spheroids:” Clarke 1866, Clarke 1880, Everest 1830, Bessel 1841, & International 1909 - AND the fact that UTM and UPS Grids replaced the United States Domestic and World Polyconic Grids.  There were some mighty similar conventions between the WPG and the later-developed MGRS. I agree that the UTM has many similarities to the DHG and the Russia Belts; however I’m not convinced that the the DHG is the sole originator of the UTM.  The British Grids, albeit different, might be the grand daddy of ‘em all.  The Loxodrome Grid boundaries, of course were exceptions.
> To compute the European Datum 1950, the Grid projection tables first had to be computed for the International 1909 ellipsoid.  AMS did that with the 1/2500 scale factor reduction (0.9996) first - before the German computing staff did the work under the supervision of U.S. Army Map Service geodesists.  I think Professor Gigas was the German site representative for that operation supervised by the Americans: Col. Hough C.E., Andrew Glusic, and Jacob A. Wolkeau.
> Clifford J. Mugnier, C.P., C.M.S.
> Chief of Geodesy,
> Center for GeoInformatics (C4G)
> 266 ERAD (Research)
> 3531 PFT  (Academic)
> Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering
> Baton Rouge, LA  70803
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> On 1/22/16, 9:31 AM, "proj-bounces at lists.maptools.org on behalf of Charles Karney" <proj-bounces at lists.maptools.org on behalf of charles.karney at sri.com> wrote:
>> This paper
>>    M. F. Buchroithner and R. Pfahlbusch,
>>    "Geodetic grids in authoritative maps -- new
>>    findings about the origin of the UTM grid" (2016)
>>    http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15230406.2015.1128851
>> has some interesting background on the origins of UTM and MGRS.
>> In particular, the division of non-polar regions into 60 zones, the
>> numbering of the zones, and the specific conventions adopted for MGRS
>> all seem to have been borrowed by the US Army Map Service from the
>> German military work in 1943-1944.
>> Figures 3 and 8 show 2 wartime orthophotos of 1km squares in Estonia and
>> Lithuania with designations (UTMREF), 35VLF6992 and 34UEG0578, which
>> coincide with the present-day MGRS designations for these areas
>> (respectively 59.451N 24.698E and 55.752N 21.088E).
>> (The correspondence isn't exact because of differences in the datum and
>> in the choice of the scale on the central meridian.)
>> --
>> Charles Karney <charles.karney at sri.com>
>> SRI International, Princeton, NJ 08543-5300
>> Tel: +1 609 734 2312
>> Fax: +1 609 734 2662
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Charles Karney <charles.karney at sri.com>
SRI International, Princeton, NJ 08543-5300

Tel: +1 609 734 2312
Fax: +1 609 734 2662

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