Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


This is coolbert:


The use of searchlights in warfare has been made anachronistic by modern night vision devices [NOD]? Prior to the advent of NOD, searchlights were valuable!?

One of Hobart's Funnies was the Canal Defence Light [CDL]. A "secret weapon" deliberately mis-named to confuse.

"Canal Defence Light (CDL) was a British 'secret weapon' of the Second World War [WW2]."

"It was based upon the use of a powerful carbon-arc searchlight to dazzle and confuse enemy troops. A demonstration had shown that the use of a vehicle mounted searchlight both disoriented the units facing it and masked activities behind the searchlight"

"Canal Defence Light This was a powerful carbon-arc searchlight carried . . . inside a modified turret. The name of the device was deliberately inaccurate in order to help keep it secret - its true purpose was to blind the defenders during a night attack and so help obscure attacking forces. An ingenious optical design allowed the light to flood out of a comparatively small slit in the armour, minimising the chance of damage by enemy fire."

The concept of using searchlights en masse' to dazzle and confuse the defenders during an attack was also used by the Soviet during the latter days of WW2. Used at Seelowe Heights in an effort to blind the German defender. WAS NOT effective. A hindrance rather. The Soviet preparatory bombardment had kicked up too much dust for the searchlights to be useful.

"At 5:30 AM, three Soviet armies moved forward from the Soviet bridgehead into the churned-up German front lines. Their way was in principle illuminated by 143 searchlights on the east bank of the Oder, which Zhukov had arranged to help blind the Germans and give his people an advantage. In fact, in all the smoke and dust the searchlights simply confused the troops, and most of the soldiers halted to wait for daylight."

"Searchlights were occasionally used tactically in ground battles. One famous occasion was the Soviet's use of searchlights during the Battle of Berlin in April 1945. 143 searchlights, aimed to blind Nazi General Henrici's defense force across the Neisse River, failed as the morning fog diffused the light and made silhouettes of the attacking Soviet [soldiers]"

The CDL did play a role in the war for which it was not intended? That role being to provide artificial moonlight for illumination during combat operations!

"artificial moonlight

(NATO) Illumination of an intensity between that of starlight and that of a full moon on a clear night . . . "

"Searchlights were first used in World War I to create "artificial moonlight" to enhance opportunities for night attacks, a practice which continued in World War II. Artificial moonlight was invented by historian and tank warfare theorist, Gen. J.F.C. Fuller."

The idea was to "bounce" the intense light of a searchlight off the BOTTOM of a cloud. Light reflected downward would provide a degree of light allowing for continued combat operations. A NUMBER of searchlights operating simultaneously could illuminate a wide area and do so continuously.

"was used during the attack on the Geilenkirchen salient to create indirect artificial daylight"

"Dash to the Rhine"

"That night we experienced something strange, new and different. A detachment of troops equipped with huge searchlights pulled into the area and began to bounce light off the bottoms of the clouds that covered the sky. An eerie sort of light filled the area."

"Artificial moonlight! One could certainly see more with it than without it. It was not like daytime, but it was light!"

Searchlights at war! Gone forever!?




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