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"German Night Driving Equipment" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on German night driving equipment was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 1, June 18, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The special night-driving equipment which is fitted to German vehicles was designed by the Nova-Technik G.M.B.H. of Munich in collaboration with the Army Mechanization Experimental Department, Wuensdorf, before the outbreak of war. The equipment consists of the following parts:

(a) The black-out headlamp mounted on the left-hand side of the vehicle between 32" and 48" from the ground.

(b) The special interval-judging rear light and stop light, carried on the left-hand side of the vehicle.

(c) The additional rear light, fitted with a dimming device, and carried on the left-hand side of the vehicle.

(d) The additional rear light, fitted with a dimming device, carried on the right-hand side of the vehicle.

(e) A three-stage dimmer switch is installed.

The Head-Lamp is of a peculiar flattened shape, and makes use of a horizontal 35-watt lamp emitting light rearwards against a semi-oval mirror. This mirror in turn reflects the light back through a glass diffusion-panel under the over-hanging hood. A soft, almost flat-topped beam of light results. The beam is projected for a length of 30-40 meters and a width of about 25 meters and is particularly diffused towards the edges.

It is claimed that the beam from the head-lamp is invisible when on "low," from heights exceeding 500 meters, when on "medium" above 800 meters, and when on "full" above 1500 meters. The same distances also apply to ground observation, horizontally.

It should be noted that the vehicle's normal sidelights are also kept on in order to mark clearly the breadth of the vehicle, but they are masked very thoroughly so that their light is not visible beyond 500 meters.

The headlamp of the leading vehicle is switched down to the lowest possible switch position compatible with the darkness of the night and the danger of observation. The rule is that the darker the night, the less is the light to be used.

In convoys only the leading vehicle will normally use its blackout headlamp, and all the remaining vehicles will switch to the H position (see above), using the interval-judging panel to keep station.

It is possible that drivers are trained to follow a convoy with the switch in H position and without sidelights, in which case each fifth vehicle would have its headlamp switched on.

It is emphasized that care is to be taken when negotiating gradients at night, as ground observers may obtain a glimpse of the light source when the vehicle is climbing a hill or just descending into a valley. The headlamp should be switched off when it begins to illuminate the crest of a rise.

(Issue No. 43, G.S.I., G.H.Q., Middle East, Technical Intelligence Summary.)


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