[Lone Sentry: www.LoneSentry.com] [Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]
Photos, Articles, & Research on the European Theater in World War II
"Night Driving Equipment" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A report on German night driving equipment, from the Intelligence Bulletin, September 1942.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on German tactics and equipment is available in postwar publications.]



German vehicles have special night-driving equipment which compares favorably with that used by the United Nations. The equipment includes the following:

a. Blackout Headlights

The headlight is mounted on the left-hand side of the vehicle, about 3 to 4 feet from the ground. The headlight-opening for passage of light is flat-shaped. A 35-watt bulb gives off light to the rear, against a mirror which is half oval in shape. The mirror, in turn, reflects the light forward through a glass panel under the overhanging hood. The glass panel spreads the light, which extends to the front a distance of 100 to 130 feet. The longest width of the light is about 80 feet. The light rays are scattered more on the sides than in the middle.

The headlight will burn at three stages of brightness. A three-stage switch will turn it on "dim," "medium," or "full." The Germans claim that at heights of over 2,000 feet the light cannot be seen while it is on "dim." It is further claimed that it cannot be seen on "medium" at heights of 3,400 feet or more, and while on "full" it is not visible above 6,400 feet.

While in movement, the headlight of the leading vehicle is turned on at the lowest possible stage to permit travel. As a rule, the darker the night, the less light needed. The danger of observation also is taken into account in deciding the amount of light to turn on.

b. Interval-Judging Rear Light and Stop Lights

The panel containing the lights is divided into two parts, the upper half and the lower half. The upper half includes the interval-judging device itself, while the lower half contains the usual red tail-light and a yellow "stop" light, which goes on when the brakes are put on. The interval-judging device has four small windows, rectangular in shape and grouped in pairs. When the device is working, a yellowish green light shines through the windows.

The use of the interval-judging device is based on the way the human eye sees lights at different distances. When viewed from a certain distance, lights close to each other appear to be just one light. For instance, at 325 yards the lights shining through the four rectangular openings in the interval-judging device will seem to be only one light. At 35 to 40 yards, the four lights look like two, and at about 25 to 30 yards all four may be seen. In a convoy all drivers except the first one keep an interval so that two of the lights are always visible. In other words, they maintain a distance of 35 to 40 yards.

On the under side of the housing which contains the interval-judging device is a shutter, which, when open, allows a dim light to shine down on the vehicle's number plate.

c. Additional Rear Lights

One is on the left side of the vehicle and the other is on the right. German regulations require this arrangement of rear lights to indicate the width of the vehicle's rear as well as its front. Each of these side rear lights has two windows, one above the other. The upper one shows a dim light and the lower one a normal light. A shutter is provided to shut out either of the lights so that only one can show at a time.


Only the leading vehicle will normally use its black-out headlight when convoys are close to opposing forces. All the other vehicles will have only the interval-judging rear light on. It cannot be seen from the air, and cannot be seen on the ground at distances of more than 325 yards.

[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page

Copyright 2003-2005, LoneSentry.com. All Rights Reserved. Contact: info@lonesentry.com.  

Web LoneSentry.com