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WWII Night Vision - I had no idea!


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From the latest Shotgun News, July 20, 2003, p 4:

“Like many instruments designed to wage war, the Edenic home of night vision weapon’s sights is to be found in Germany. One of Hitler’s “super weapons,” infrared night vision devices were deployed both on Panther tanks and as driving equipment on trucks.

Of interest to us here is a request made in October of 1944 for the development of a small infrared telescopic sight for use on the new 7.92x33mm Kurz Sturmgewehr 44. Such a device was desired to help protect armored units against nighttime attack by infantry tank-killer parties.

Within five months a working model, the Zielgerat 1229, was developed and successfully passed testing. Aptly code named the Vampir, it allowed the gunner to detect and engage targets in total darkness by means of electronic detection of invisible infrared radiation. With the fielding of Vampir units by the Panzergrenadiers, a new chapter of technology, and warfare, was begun.”

Anyone know anything of this? The article isn’t footnoted, so I don’t know the source. Any credibility to it, or is it another Super Weapon of the Third Reich fantasy?

------------------ (After a bit of looking on the www…) ------------------

Ahhh, the web. Ya gotta love it. From Night Fighting Panthers:

“Starting in September 1944, a limited number of Panthers were to be outfitted with an infrared searchlight and scope mounted on the commander's cupola. The 200 watt screened light, in combination with the infrared receiver/gun sight, had a range of up to 600 meters in clear weather at night. A steel band connected the infrared sight to an internal control for gun elevation.”

The site above looks great; lots more text than my little snippet, footnoted (mostly German language sources by the look of it), with some cool pics.

So, this original quest for info has turned into a post of info. Enjoy. Any chance we’ll see infrared modelled in the next CM patch/release? :D

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So, this original quest for info has turned into a post of info. Enjoy. Any chance we’ll see infrared modelled in the next CM patch/release?

Saddly no, I think the main reason was that because of "Borg Spotting" a night vision capable tank would make any night fight way to unfair.

"Hey you! Yeah you, the MG42 HMG that is over 1/2 a mile from my position. There a SMG squad sneaking up behind you!"

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Originally posted by Nippy:

So, this original quest for info has turned into a post of info. Enjoy. Any chance we’ll see infrared modelled in the next CM patch/release?

Saddly no, I think the main reason was that because of "Borg Spotting" a night vision capable tank would make any night fight way to unfair.

i'm not so sure the germans weren't borg. they certainly seemed to fight as one. perhaps the reason their fighting efficiency declined during the war was because the green recruits didn't have time to be assimilated....
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Yep, this is where it started. The technology actually was developed in Holland I believe. This is what is called today "Generation zero", and it required strong infrared illumination to work at decent ranges. Part of the problem with the Vampir was its size, its weight, and the short battery life.

Martin

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Originally posted by mattman2000:

Stephen Hunter included a night vision sniper's scope in one of his WWII novels -- device was called "Vampir." I thought it was total quasi sci-fi. Who'd thunk it? They really had something like that.

"The Master Sniper" (actually I got it as a present from Steve smile.gif ). Except for the name of the device, though, there isn't much based on reality in that book. It's described there as if it was a thermal imager (humans stand out against the background), but it's not.

Martin

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Most interesting to me is the reference to research beginning in the early 30s, and the military turning it down in the late 30s! I mean, of course, what advantage would being able to see in the dark give in battle? :rolleyes:

Maybe it’s the arrogance of hindsight, maybe it’s being a programmer for so many years, or maybe it’s a cultural difference, but I could never understand the conservatism of the military mind. At the most basic level ‘New Gadgets = Cool Stuff’ - who would turn down a new gadget without at least trying it out? Much less a new gadget that gives a real world advantage... like, say, being able to see in the dark.

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Well, for starters, things never work out as well in the field as they do in the laboratory. And the military commanders are the ones whose MEN are killed when the new gadget doesn't really work, but you were relying on it anyway...

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Hey Matt..mb they were part of a special TOP SECRET unit called the "Blue Rinse Brigade" ;)

BTW...there were also a number of Marder IIs fitted with experimental night vision devices afaik...and there was some talk of a Jagdpanther or two being similarly equipped.

regards

Måkjager

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Originally posted by Three_Oh_Eight:

Most interesting to me is the reference to research beginning in the early 30s, and the military turning it down in the late 30s! I mean, of course, what advantage would being able to see in the dark give in battle? :rolleyes:

Maybe it’s the arrogance of hindsight, maybe it’s being a programmer for so many years, or maybe it’s a cultural difference, but I could never understand the conservatism of the military mind. At the most basic level ‘New Gadgets = Cool Stuff’ - who would turn down a new gadget without at least trying it out? Much less a new gadget that gives a real world advantage... like, say, being able to see in the dark.

The Vampire never made it through the prototype phase from what I know. In a way, the military was right back then - the technology in no way was advanced enough to lead to any meaningful use in the fieldfor decades. This includes the night vision side of things (light sensitivity, amplification and resolution) but also the electronics and power supply issues. It took well into the 60s/70s before the first night vision devices that were of any use actually started popping up, and it took until the 80s before the advantage they offered started becoming signficant enough.

As for vehicle mounted night vision, that took a different path (becoming more useful quicker), since the restrictions of weight and size aren't as limiting. Thermal vision is state of the art right now, but up to today portable thermal vision is so-so facing much of the same problems that infrared image intensifiers faced back in the mid-40s.

Martin

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Originally posted by Moon:

Thermal vision is state of the art right now, but up to today portable thermal vision is so-so facing much of the same problems that infrared image intensifiers faced back in the mid-40s.

That is an understatement. The current TVS for the M16 is about the size of an old (early 90s) camcorder. It has a nice image but is so unwieldy that it is next to useless when manuevering.
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