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Brief history of Russian night fighting sensors & TKN-1C

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Found this over on an ebay ad for a TKN-1C and wanted to preserve it lest it be lost. No idea where the seller found it, but the account seems authoritative. Seller is eugeua6 in Ukraine. I deem this account quite valuable, starting with its disclosure the Russians had a few tanks with active IR driving lights during the Battle of Stalingrad! What's here is nothing less than account of Russian development of active IR, image intensifiers, cutouts to prevent overload of detectors by own fire or flares and so much more. This article places the TKN-1C squarely in the context of the overall Russian night vision effort. From the standpoint of a former Threat Analyst, this is sell your mother grade material. Would also note there are quite a few handheld Russian night vision sensors on ebay, not one of which I ever read about during my military aerospace days.

(Fair Use)

Tank Binocular NIGHT VISION TKN-1C Periscope Soviet Army Military Optic

Production of tank day sights and their accessories was carried out on the Krasnogorsk mechanical plant (nowadays FNPTs JSC The Krasnogorsk Plant of S. A. Zverev), Novosibirsk instrument-making plant, the Kazan optical-mechanical plant, the Mari engineering plant (till 1949) and other enterprises of branch.
The great value in increase of fire power of tanks and efficiency of their fighting use had creation and acceptance on arms of devices of night vision and night sights.
The first domestic samples of devices of night vision were used on tanks during the Great Patriotic War during the Battle of Stalingrad for commission of marches at night. These devices developed in 1942 in design office of All-Union electrotechnical institute of V. I. Lenin (VEI) and made by a pilot batch in number of 25 sets did not justify themselves at the front as had small range of vision (20-25 m), the small width of a field of vision (5-6 m) and a poor visibility of a land relief. Besides, they demanded very high level of illumination created by infra-red searchlights that also limited their application.
Considering complexity of works on devices of night vision, in 1946 the specialized research institute NII-801 renamed then in scientific research institute of applied physics was created (nowadays NPO Orion). Research and developmental works on creation of tank devices of night vision were conducted by group of designers under the leadership of P. V. Timofeev in VEI of V. I. Lenin with the assistance of the staff of the State Optical Institute (SOI). Besides, design offices of Krasnogorsk mechanical (SKB-2) and Zagorsk the optical-mechanical plants were involved in works on this subject.
The monocular device of night vision of TVN-1 created in 1951 in CB of the Zagorsk optical-mechanical plant was the first serial night device installed in the T-54 tank. This device after completion and tests in 1954 on the skilled T-54M tank obr. 1954 accepted on supply and began to mount in the serial T-54A tank, and since 1956 – and in the heavy T-10A tank. FG-10 headlight with the infrared filter was applied to illumination of the district when using the TVN-1 device.
In parallel with completion of the device of night vision of TVN-1 in 1952-1954 in VEI it V. I. Lenina at the scientific guide of P. V. Timofeev were designed: together with CB of the Zagorsk optical-mechanical plant – the night monocular device of supervision of the commander (the code "Pattern"), and with SKB-2 of the Krasnogorsk mechanical plant – a night monocular tank sight of the tipper-of (the code "the Moon of II"). Besides, works on improvement of a design of the TVN-1 device which led to creation on its basis of the binocular night device (the code "Corner") were continued.
The project of installation of the commander night device of supervision "Pattern" in the T-54 tank was executed by CB of plant No. 183 in December, 1952. The model of the device passed production tests in the tank at the beginning of 1953, however introduction in a mass production required completion of its design which lasted till 1955.
Only in 1955-1956 in CB of plant No. 183 together with CB of the Zagorsk optical-mechanical plant works on installation in the T-54 tank of a complete set of night devices were complete: devices of night vision of the mechanic-driver "Corner", commander of the Pattern tank and night sight of the tipper-of "Moon of II". In June, 1956 two T-54A tanks equipped with night devices came for the state tests. Upon completion of tests and carrying out the corresponding completions by the resolution of Council of ministers of the USSR devices of night vision "Corner", "Pattern" and a night sight "the Moon of II" were taken No. 367-179 of April 5, 1957 advantage and began to be mounted in the serial T-54B tank under the corresponding brands: TVN-2, TKN-1 and TPN-1.
The sight of TPN-1 had an infra-red searchlight of L-2G with the glow lamp and the film infrared filter. During the work with the TKN-1 device for illumination of the district the lighter of OU-3, and for the TVN-2 device – a headlight of FG-10 (FG-100), equipped with infrared filters was used.
Use of devices of night vision of TVN-1 and TVN-2 provided possibility of driving of tanks at night both on march, and in fighting conditions with a speed of 15-25 km/h.
TVN-2, TKN-1 devices and sight of TPN-1 were issued in several modifications, depending on type (brand) of the car on which they were established. The following modifications of devices were issued: TVN-2, TVN-2B, TVN-2BM, TVN-2T, TKN-1, TKN-1B and TKN-1T; a sight – TPN-1,TPN-1-22-11, TPN-1-29-14, TPN-1-41-11 and TPN-1-432. The design of all modifications of devices and a sight was identical. Modifications of the TVN-2 device differed only in dimensions, ways of fastening and consolidation in mine, the TKN-1 device – existence of handles and the draft connecting the lighter to the device, TPN-1 sight – an arrangement of eyes on the case and the parallelogram lever, and also various scales of an aiming corresponding to ballistics of those guns for which it intended.
So, for example, night TKH-1T, TBH-2T devices and a sight of TPN-1-29-14 were installed in the T-10M tank taken advantage in 1957, and TKN-1, TVN-2 devices and a sight of TPN-1-22-11 – in the T-55 tank taken advantage in 1958. Subsequently the night TKN-1 device was replaced with the TKN-1S device (differed from previous in the built-in power unit), and the TVN-2 device with a headlight of FG-10 (FG-100) – the TVNO-2 device (with an electrical heating of a head prism and eyepieces) with FG-125 headlight.
Along with completion of a design of the night device of supervision of the commander "Pattern" in CB of the Zagorsk optical-mechanical plant in 1956 work on creation of the combined (day-night) binocular viewing device of the commander who received the code "Carmine" was developed. In 1957 the skilled T-55 tank equipped with the Carmine device passed tests at plant No. 183. In 1958 this device under the name of TKN-2 was accepted on supply and since 1961 was installed in the T-62 tank. In 1964 he gave way to more perfect combined TKN-3 device with the built-in power unit of the electron-optical converter. Besides, in optical (day) branches of the TKN-3 device the brightened-up lenses that doubled a svetopropuskaniye of branches were used. The TKN-3 device was issued also in the modification which had designation of TKN-ZA which differed from basic option only in a periskopichnost (260 mm).
In parallel with development of devices of night vision in 1956 the device of night vision of the mechanic-driver of BVN intending to installation in tanks and SAU of the period of the Great Patriotic War which were on arms of the Soviet Army was developed and taken advantage.
The mass production of devices of night vision was organized on Novosibirsk and Izyumsk instrument-making plants, Minsk and Zagorsk the optical-mechanical plants. In addition for production of night devices the special shop at Ekran plant in Novosibirsk was constructed.
Besides, in 1959 in VEI of V. I. Lenin for driving of the tank in situation in a marching way in night conditions for the mechanic-driver created the night points of PNV-57 fastening on the shlemofena. Range of vision made 40 m, a corner of a field of vision – 20 °. The mass production of points was organized on Zagorski the optical-mechanical plant and Lytkarinsky plant of optical glass.
Design of the night passive ("bespodsvetochnykh") devices and sights working in the conditions of natural night illumination without use of infrared sources of illumination began in the 1950th. In August, 1960 in GKOT prepared "Offers on development tank and the anti-tank operated jet arms, and also to development of types of tanks and tank arms" in which the separate section was devoted to the devices of night vision functioning at natural night illumination. Creation of a night sight with range of vision to 800 m and the commander night Carmine-2 device with range of vision to 500 m was supposed, and also need of continuation of NIR on development of a night passive tank sight with range of vision to 3000 m was emphasized. It was in the long term supposed to equip all tanks with the night devices working at natural night illumination with range of vision not less than 3000 m and also to design the special commander tank equipped with night devices of supervision with range of vision to 5000 m and a tank night sight range finder with range of vision to 3000 m for control of linear tanks when conducting fight in night conditions.
In 1961-1962 in CB of the Zagorsk optical-mechanical plant the periscopic combined tank sight of TPNB-1-22 which intended for conducting firing from a 100-mm gun of D-10T2S was created. In May-June, 1962 two such sights installed by Ural Carriage-Building Plant in T-55 tanks passed production tests. Use of this sight demanded entering of a number of changes into a tank tower design (abolition of an embrasure of a regular telescopic sight, additional cut in a tower roof under installation of replaceable heads of a sight with armored protection).
The sight of TPNB-1-22 was equipped with two replaceable heads: day and combined (with day and night branches). The increase in a day branch of a sight made 3,5khi 7,0kh, a field of vision – 18 ° and 9 ° respectively. Increase in a night branch – 6kh with a field of vision 5 °. In a night branch there was a blind for overlapping from above of a field of vision. The range of vision (at natural illumination 5×103 lx) providing aim firing on the "Tank" purpose at any foreshortening made 800 m Besides, the sight was equipped: automatic system of protection of the electron-optical converter against flares (on the special photo multiplier); the protection against flares own shot blocked with the trigger mechanism of a gun; electric refrigerator; the power unit on 45 kV with a divider and a voltage stabilizer. Power supply of the refrigerator was carried out from an onboard network of the tank via the converter.
The sight of TPNB-1-22 did not pass production tests because of insufficient range and clearness of visibility at supervision in a night branch (600 m instead of 800 m), premature failure of the electron-optical converter, and also unreliable work when firing from a gun. The sight was sent back for revision.
Work on creation of night passive ("bespodsvetochnykh") devices at the end of the considered period led to creation in VEI of V. I. Lenin and CB of the Zagorsk optical-mechanical plant of the binocular passive and active device of the mechanic-driver (TVNE-1 of PA) who was taken advantage and is introduced in a mass production already in the second post-war period.


John Kettler

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