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Lighting -other than fuses & flares


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Reading on the fuses and flares post got me to thinking on spot lights and their use on the battlefield. I've read in a couple of places about the use of arial spotlights to light a battle. The Russians would aim at cloud cover and the light would bounce back and diffuse enough to operate with at ground level. I think one source was Ryans book on the battle for Berlin. The Russians tried a variation on their old trick and pointed their lights onto the german line to try and blind them. Was anything like that tried elsewhere?

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Guest Germanboy

The British and Candians used it during Totalize and I think Goodwood in Normandy. It was not entirely successful during Goodwood, because it silhouetted the advancing troops, making it a shooting range for the German MGs. It seems to have been more successful during the first phase of Totalize. They might have used it again later. I am quite sure it was only used as part of large operations. Smaller (batallion-size) night attacks were using Very lights and star shells to illuminate the area.

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Andreas

It is amazing what you can learn from a good book...

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*** Repost Repost Repost ***

Use of searchlights in combat... Repost below.

September 8, 1939, near Ilza, Poland. A heavy Polish counterattack is in progress. I/Flakregiment No. 22 finds itself in the front line. They are positioned badly and pinned down by numerous machine guns. A single 20mm Flak gun is ordered to position itself on a prominent hill on the right flank...

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>

"Obediently the crew of 5 Battery's No. 3 gun, led by Section Leader Maurischat, manhandled their weapon on to a knoll just behind the vital hill. But from here its field of fire was still limited, so the bombardiers, rushing their 16-cwt. charge down its slope, tried to get its momentum to carry it up the slope of Hill 246 opposite. Half-way up it stuck.

Down ran the observation officers and, putting their weight behind it, forced the gun up to just short of the summit. With everything ready and the magazines loaded, gunner Kniehase lined up his target with the observer's telescope and took his seat. Then, choosing the moment when the Poles were reloading their nearest machine gun, officers and men pushed the gun to the pinnacle and it opened up. Forty shots were fired, straight into the target.

Almost at once, Kniehase and his gun were behind the hill again. Not a moment too soon, for seconds later the summit was lashed with fire.

The performance was repeated eight times. And each time one enemy machine gun or anti-tank post was reduced to silence, to the cheers of the troopers who for hours had been pinned down in the undulating scrubland, unable to inch forward or back.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Later that evening, another Polish attack was repulsed. As the beleaguered Flak crews prepared to receive the next attack, two 60 cm searchlights arrived at the front...

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>

To Seidenath, the two 60-cm searchlights came as a Godsend. Carefully he arranged them so they could illuminate the battery's foreground from either side.

The night was pitch black. Around 23.30 hours Polish words of command were heard just in front of the German positions. The message to get ready to fire was passed in a whisper from one crew to the next. Then the right-hand searchlight was switched on. As the enemy ducked under its glare, the flak hammered forth. After three seconds the light went out, to be replaced by the left one. So they alternated, changing their positions during the moments of extinction. Before the Poles could aim the machine guns at the shining orbs they had always gone out.

In this way, after a quarter of an hour's battle, this attack too was beaten off...

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

From the Luftwaffe War Diaries, by Cajus Bekker.

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My father a WWII Naval Lieutenant, flew anti-sub missions in the Caribbean, protecting ports and oil refineries in the Dutch Antilles. He flew patrols from Puerto Rico to Curacao. The Navy in their infinite wisdom, retro fitted his bomber with search lights for night searches. Upon finding a U- boat, turning lights on and circling for a bombing run, his plane was immediately shot at, lost a wing. ditched the plane and he and his crew had to spend a day floating in a raft till rescued. Needless to say , the Navy reconsidered the search lights and removed them from further flights.

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Mikester:

Can't remember where I read it. But I'm almost absolutely positive that the Germans (maybe it was the Americans?) used the tactic of shining the spot lights off the clouds during the Battle of the Bulge.

Mikester out.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You are correct, it was the Germans ( Manteuffel's 5th PZ army to be exact).

I read where he used it twice during the initial attack in the Ardennes. Once to light the way for the 'Storm battalions' in the early morning hours of the attack, and later on that evening to help guide the tanks.

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"I do like to see the arms and legs fly"

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by freelancal:

Upon finding a U- boat, turning lights on and circling for a bombing run, his plane was immediately shot at, lost a wing. ditched the plane and he and his crew had to spend a day floating in a raft till rescued.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

DOH!

I saw something on the Hitler (History) Channel last week about asw planes in the Atlantic that would spot a surfaced U-Boat on radar and glide in to the radar designated location and then hit the engines and forward facing spot lights at a few hundred yards. The idea was that the glare blinded lookouts as the boat was raked with heavy MG or light arty fire from the plane (looked like a pby or some other large float plane.... not sure on the plane type, you know how some of those documentries are when they need a fast cutaway shot to show a plane....).

This would seem to be a bit after freelancl's father's mishap.

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Guest Scott Clinton

Compassion:

The lights were actually turned on at much greater distances. The idea was NOT to 'blind' anyone with the direct light.

Instead the lights made the aircraft as bright (or nearly so) as the daytime sky behind the plane, thus the plane blended in with the sky and was much harder to spot.

The system was supposedly pretty effective. Sorry, but I forget the name of the project/system...anyone?

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Please note: The above is solely the opinion of 'The Grumbling Grognard' and reflects no one else's views but his own.

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I can't remember the name of the system, but a long time ago on TV there was a documentary

describing this, and how the British Army was experimenting with this trick lighting effect

again in the early '80s.It seemed pretty absurd, but they took an FV432 APC, covered it with light bulbs, and put it on the skyline. The day was solid overcast, but fairly bright. By carefully adjusting the illumination, the FV432 actually "disappeared" at about 500m viewing range. Now all they need is for someone to invent armoured light bulbs...

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