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#327017 - 10th Jun 2009 8:11am WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
Posts: 7850
Loc: tranmere
Following up on Diggingdeeper's excellent work on HAA gun sights, these gun sites and anti aircraft batteries would have been useless at night without the use of searchlights. In WW2 searchlights were part of the aircraft detection. They were used extensively in defence of night time aerial bomber raids. Pairs of searchlights spaced at a know distance apart were used to determine (via Triangulation) the altitude of enemy bombers. This then enabled the fuses to be set on the anti aircraft flak shells for maximum effect. It was also know that the lights had a blinding effect on enemy bombardiers using optical bomb-sights. Searchlight were static as well as mobile, on average 20,000 rounds of ammunition was used to bring down one enemy aircraft. The need for accurate methods of engagement and destroying the enemy was needed, especially at night and also to save on ammunition. Initially Locator's were introduced based on sound and heat detection and later on Radar became the prefered method of detection. Early on the radar was separate but then was developed and integrated into the searchlights.


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#327018 - 10th Jun 2009 8:12am Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: bert1]
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
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Sound Locator


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#327022 - 10th Jun 2009 8:18am Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: bert1]
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
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SCR RADAR
The SCR-268 was considered a searchlight radar from the outset, a short-range, height-finding unit expressly designed for fixed antiaircraft defenses such as coastal batteries or other static positions. The method for using the SCR-268 would be to use it to pick up the airplanes at night and to synchronize the radar plot with a searchlight through an already developed gun director. The director performed the basic mathematical function of taking the range and angle data out of the radar and aimed the searchlight in that direction. At the appropriate moment, when range and angle to target were known, the contoller would order the searchlight turned on. At that momemnt, the target was illuminated and it could be engaged by guns. A side benefit was that the pilot would be blinded. It was also advantageous to wait as long as possible to turn on the light since the longer the beam remained on, the more vulnerable the light and crew was to retaliatory fire
Below SCR radar and Radar intergrated with searchlight.


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#327024 - 10th Jun 2009 9:02am Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: bert1]
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
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Though searchlights fell under the umbrella of the Royal Artillery there were of cause other regiments involved, RE, NAVY and RAF etc.
The 93rd Searchlight regiment was the only regiment that was all woman and was disbanded in 1945. Below are some notes on ATS and woman at that time.

Once the Government had decided that women could be attached to Mixed Batteries of Anti Aircraft Command of the Royal Artillery it was agreed that this could well include searchlight duties. A secret experiment was carried out in April 1941 to see if women were capable of carrying out the tasks that were required of Searchlight Regiments. On 23 April 1941 54 A.T.S. members were sent for training at Newark. They were aged between 19 and 35 "the Army Intelligence tests showed the general intelligence to be rather higher than that of the men: the members were fairly representative of A.T.S. personnel."


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#327035 - 10th Jun 2009 9:29am Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: bert1]
MerseyMan Offline

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Registered: 17th Jan 2008
Posts: 526
Loc: Wallasey
Very interesting, anyone know how bright the average searchlight was?

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#327071 - 10th Jun 2009 10:55am Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: bert1]
bri445 Offline

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Registered: 27th Apr 2009
Posts: 678
Loc: Isle of Wight
Excellent topic.
It all sounds pretty basic, shining a light to pick out a plane high in the sky, (similarly using barage balloons) but I did not know about the later combination of searchlight and radar. It all made sense, being a development in the art of warfare in those days.
I agree with the bit about the Lister diesel generators. They were hard work to start, even for a hefty male, doing National Service later!!

Bri

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#327196 - 10th Jun 2009 4:43pm Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: bri445]
diggingdeeper Offline

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Registered: 9th Jul 2008
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Top quality there Bert - well done mate. My dad worked on radar/searchlight mobile units, I haven't got any pictures on them so made up with this topic.

The searchlights used about 12 Kilowatt of power and being carbon arc were fairly efficient giving about 800 Million Candlepower. Usable range over 5 miles - to about 30,000 feet, where the 60 inch reflector would give a beamwidth between quarter and half a mile wide, depending how the the carbon arc was set up.

A few earlier ones had manual feed on the carbon rods which were one inch diameter, most had automatic feed.
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#327215 - 10th Jun 2009 6:35pm Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: diggingdeeper]
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
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Loc: tranmere
Good info DD, some photo's below of Lister generators used to power the searchlights, First one unrestored,


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lister generator used with british searchlight.jpg

gen1.jpg

gen2.jpg


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#327241 - 10th Jun 2009 8:30pm Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: bert1]
KevinFinity Offline

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Registered: 30th Apr 2009
Posts: 2311
Loc: Wirral
Some guy in america bought a restored one and posted up a thread about it on a forum I am a member of. There is more info about them there plus more pictures for anyone who is interested.
I thought I wasted a lot of money on boys toys! laugh

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=170556


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#327340 - 11th Jun 2009 1:40am Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: KevinFinity]
w10694 Offline
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Registered: 31st Dec 2008
Posts: 240
Loc: cheshire
OR - even earlier - a Sound Mirror - Kilnsea, nr Spurn Point, to detect engine sounds (from WW1). there was an entire chain of these on the East Coast.



It was (still is !) approx 14 feet high.




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#327382 - 11th Jun 2009 11:53am Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: diggingdeeper]
chriskay Offline
Forum Veteran

Registered: 25th Oct 2007
Posts: 4868
Loc: shropshire
Originally Posted By: diggingdeeper


A few earlier ones had manual feed on the carbon rods which were one inch diameter, most had automatic feed.


Wow, 1" diameter; the ones we used in the cinema projectors were only about 1/4" They were auto feed too, but you had to keep them centered manually, otherwise the screen would go blue at one edge & brown at the other.
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#327385 - 11th Jun 2009 12:08pm Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: chriskay]
diggingdeeper Offline

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Registered: 9th Jul 2008
Posts: 9675
Loc: Birkenhead
Was the strike automatic on the projectors?

For the searchlight carbon rods I said 1" above but I notice some other sites are saying 5/8" and some 1/2". The correct figure is 5/8", the 1" figure is the length of the arc - I should remember not to rely on my memory!
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#430317 - 10th Sep 2010 5:22pm Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: diggingdeeper]
fivewheeler Offline


Registered: 4th Sep 2010
Posts: 2
Loc: london Borough Bexley

New on here. We had a searchlight battery at the bottom of our garden in ww2!! How do I find out what battery it was, they had a lister generator in a small shed. Soldiers ran it at first then the ATS took it over(Bars of chocolate, manna from Heaven)
The site was in Barnehurst Kent which came under Crayford Kent.

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#430330 - 10th Sep 2010 6:53pm Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: fivewheeler]
bert1 Offline

Wiki Veteran

Registered: 27th Nov 2008
Posts: 7850
Loc: tranmere
It must have been after 41 if the ATS took over, try Searchlight regiment archives, have a look at link, might find some info there.

http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/allied-unit...egiment-ra.html
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Don't send Jesus,
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#430331 - 10th Sep 2010 6:53pm Re: WW2 SEARCHLIGHTS [Re: fivewheeler]
diggingdeeper Offline

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Registered: 9th Jul 2008
Posts: 9675
Loc: Birkenhead
The greater majority of searchlights were mobile units with their own generator van and in some cases a radar as well. Documentation for them is generally poor, and needless to say, Kent is a bit outside my zone, but here are a few things in the area of Barnehurst, Bexley Heath and Crayford, Dartford. These are WW2 sites roughly in order of distance from Barnehurst (but don't shoot me if they're not)address are modern and may not have existed in WW2 ....

Unknown defence site 110 North Cray Road, Bexley
HAA gunsite, Crayford Marshes near to Burgate Close
HAA gunsite, Slade Green, nearest road is Duriun Way
HAA gunsite, Welling, Danson Lane
HAA Gunsite, Bostall Heath, Bostall Hill, A206
Infantry Post, Bexley, near Clarendon Mews
US army comms centre, Hall Place, Bexley.
Starfish decoy site, Rainham marshes.

Nearest airfields
Kidbrooke
Hornchurch

As well as quite a number of Pillboxes

There were quite a few military establishments around that area, but records of their defences are poor
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