White Light

In my era, night fighting was based on turning night into day using either mortar illumination (hopefully) or searchlight illumination (hopefully not).

 

M-60 tank with searchlight

M-60 tank with searchlight

 

The TV-like box mounted above the gun tube on these old tanks were searchlights.  When they worked properly (sometimes) we could certainly light up the neighborhood.

 

TV dinners anyone?

TV dinners anyone?

 

Incidentally there was quite a difference in the amount of light provided (in decreasing order of illumination capability) by the searchlight in white-light mode, the headlights in white-light mode, and the headlights in blackout-drive mode (i.e., the cat’s eyes).

 

Searchlight – close view

Searchlight – close view

 

However, the big beam of bright white light ran both ways, thus pinpointing one’s location to any bad guys about with the means to return fire.

 

Turret, cannon, and searchlight

Turret, cannon, and searchlight

 

As a result, we practiced the art of shoot and scoot, or in this case, light and scoot.  A very few moments of white light of this magnitude might be long enough to be too long for the searchlight tanks, so the firing tanks had to be ready to send rounds downrange almost instantly.

 

Searchlight – another close view

Searchlight – another close view

 

Fire and move.  Relocate quickly and be ready to fire and move again.  With these tactics, a night defensive position for a tank platoon could be a busy place with a lot of elephants dancing around.

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