Military Review

"I see you, and you do not have me!" Strobe domes on tanks

The development of such a promising means of warfare as a tank, set before its designers many different tasks, which had to be solved in a hurry, literally on the go, and solved effectively, because the lives of people depended on their qualitative solution.

The French tank FCM 2C hit people of that time with one of its appearance: two turrets, a long-barreled 75-mm cannon, four machine guns, a 13 man crew. There are two stroboscopes: on the front tower and on the back, for the machine gunner.

For example, a full car reservation. It was necessary, understandable, but how to survey the surrounding area? After all, no one needs a blind armored wagon! Make "viewing windows"? But bullets and splinters would freely fly into them! So that should be thought over and this question, which became for tanks World War I is very important.

The decision to execute was simple and cheap. These were narrow "slots" (slots) in armor, the probability of a direct bullet hit in which was extremely small. Also tested and periscopes already used at this time in the infantry. But it turned out that the field of view through the periscope is rather limited. The gaps are better, although not only could bullets fly through them, but poisonous gases and flammable liquids could also get into the tank. It was also impossible to make inspection slits completely narrow (smaller than the diameter of the bullet). In this case, you would have to bring your eyes close to them, which would also be unsafe.

Soon, however, it turned out that the gaps, first of all, give a limited view and the tank commander does not see the whole surrounding area. And secondly, the bullets, splitting about the armor next to the viewing slits, scattered splashes of molten lead in all directions. Moreover, even the smallest such “drop” deduces the tank driver! Ideally, a device was required that would allow the tank commander to have an overview of all 360 degrees and not be exposed to the danger of bullets and shell fragments. At first they tried to solve this problem by installing “commander's turrets” on the tanks - quadrangular logging with four observation slots. After looking in turn at each, the commander remembered the “picture” of the surrounding area and could react to a change in the situation. But ... something he could not notice, and he could not, sitting in his "booth", continuously spin like a top!

And a very elegant solution was found and first used in France on the FCM tank (Société des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée) immediately after the First World War. It was based on the ... stroboscopic effect. Moreover, this effect itself was used in the Victorian era in the entertainment setting Zeotrope, which used a slit cylinder with a series of images on the inside of the cylinder. When the cylinder rotates, the images merge into one moving image, and it seems that the gaps between frames disappear. This is caused by the phenomenon of persistence of vision - since the human eye sees the world "at speed" 0,1 seconds. That is, our brain at a higher rate of breaks simply does not see. Nor do we see frame breaks on the film, although they are there, of course.

The first stroboscopic tank dome was installed on the FCM 1A prototype, possibly already in the 1919 year. And the same dome was also installed on the FCM Char de Bataille prototype. The two strobe domes were mounted on two towers of the absolutely monstrous FCM 2C tank. No other French tanks, as far as is known, were equipped with stroboscopic domes.

An experienced FCM tank Char de Bataille also had a stroboscope.

Tanks from other countries were not equipped with such impressive innovations. The British thought that in the coming 10-20 there would be no war in Europe for years, so what's the point of hurrying them? The Germans had no time for tanks, in Russia and the tank “Fighter for Freedom comrade. Lenin ”was a marvel and it would have never occurred to anyone to improve him in such an expensive way in those years, and in the USA the tanks generally had a rather strange attitude after the war, moreover, the British shared the opinion there. And only the French went to all these innovations, because they had a solid foundation for the future and did not want to just give it up. As a result, strobe lights appeared on the heavy FCM 2C, but the impressive FT-17 / 18 light park never received them.

The device is a French strobe.

The device of the strobes installed on FCM 1A and Char de Batayle prototypes is unknown, but it is known how they were arranged on the FCM 2C tank. The domes on FCM 2C consisted of two cylinders inserted one into the other, an internal frame with seven triplex glass blocks, and an electric motor for rotating the external body of the dome. This outer cylinder was made of chromium-nickel steel 30 mm thick. That is, it was essentially a first-class armor! Slots for the stroboscopic effect were 2 mm wide, wedge-shaped, that is wider on the outside than on the inside. It is clear that no bullet standard caliber 7,5-mm could not penetrate into the hole, even with a direct hit in it. The slots were located in 9 groups of 5 slots in each, and the intervals between them were approximately 20% less than the intervals between the groups. The outer shell of the dome rotated at a speed of about 250-300 rpm, which gave quite a satisfactory stroboscopic effect. The inner and outer shells visually seemed to dissolve, and the tank commander's head turned out to be ... "in an open field," so that he could freely observe all the space around him in any direction! The entire dome leaned back, which was done to allow direct observation outside combat conditions. In the base ring of the stroboscopic dome there were additional viewing holes, fitted with glass blocks. It was claimed that the French stroboscopic domes were resistant to bullet hit and gave the tank commander an overview of 360 °, although the brightness of the view was somewhat reduced.

American tank Mk VIII with a strobe on the commander's cabin.

Although the Americans essentially froze their tank program and did not release new cars, in the period from 1920 to 1925, the US Army Combat Division conducted numerous experiments with stroboscopic domes mounted on tanks. The American stroboscopic dome had only one slit cylinder, and not two, like the French. It was argued that the dome was very vulnerable to 0.30 caliber rifle bullets. The project was closed in 1926 with the conclusion that conventional periscopes are superior to the stroboscopic dome. To test the dome was prepared heavy tank Mark VIII, in which it was installed on the command post. Other examples are unknown and, by the way, quite surprising that Americans limited themselves to such a simple strobe design and did not even try to increase the thickness of the cylinder armor. Well, would make it 20 mm thick. In any case, such armor at that time was rifle bullets too tough!

"I see you, and you do not have me!" Strobe domes on tanks

The same tank, side view.

The last time the strobe came into view was the German tank designer Edward Grote, who was invited by the Soviet government to head the design bureau to develop new advanced tanks for the Red Army at the end of the 1920s. The medium tank, created by a team of engineers under his leadership, was something of a “show of force” object and the most advanced tank technology at that time. So is it any wonder that the Grote put on it a stroboscopic dome. It was assumed that the tank will have two towers, one above the other with independent rotation.

Tank Grote: all in guns and machine guns and a stroboscope on the upper turret.

And at the very top and a strobe was installed for the commander. “I am sitting high, looking far!” - this is what could be said about such an arrangement, which in this case and for a given tank would be completely justified. In 1931, only one prototype of the T-22 tank was released, since the Soviet authorities believed that this tank would be too expensive and difficult to manufacture with the limited capabilities of Russian factories. No information was found on the characteristics of its stroboscopic dome. Well, more strobe lights on the tanks have not been used. That is, they were used on the French FCM 2C, who ingloriously died under the bombs of the German dive bombers at the very beginning of the war during their transportation by rail!

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  1. Dead duck
    Dead duck 15 August 2017 15: 46
    The "helmet of virtual reality" at the beginning of the 20 century laughing
  2. Cat
    Cat 15 August 2017 15: 58
    Expensive and unreliable!
    All these "super-duper technologies" were made by a pole with the MK-IV triplex. Whose instrument of observation on their tanks put everything from the Allies to the USSR.
    1. hohol95
      hohol95 15 August 2017 16: 15
      The periscope device created by Gundlach, which is now better known as the Vickers Tank Periscope MK.IV (or simply MK.IV), is perhaps the best example of tank optics of that time period. It had good visibility and was distinguished by the ability to quickly replace a damaged prism. This periscope was first copied by the British, and then by the tank builders of many other countries. In the Soviet Union, this periscope device did not seem to be noticed, it was remembered only in 1943. At the same time, in our country he received the MK-IV designation not in accordance with the British specification, but in honor of the heavy Churchill MK-IV tank.
      1. Cat
        Cat 15 August 2017 16: 29
        The most interesting thing is that during the war years our designers of the Mk-4 were considered an English invention, not a Polish one. Awareness came after 1945.
        Here we must be fair and remember another Polish know-how diesel tank engine.
        1. hohol95
          hohol95 15 August 2017 16: 51
          Do not consider our military men to be complete idiots - after going to Western Ukraine and Belarus at the training ground near Moscow, both TKS wedges and a 7TP tank with these observation devices were tested - they wanted to get them from industry, BUT ALUMS THE INDUSTRY DECLIDED ...
          1. Cat
            Cat 15 August 2017 17: 49
            In the documents of the plant N183 - "Modern UVZ" the device is named as "British", not Polish. Apparently, his samples came to the factory with Lend-Lease tanks or the military simply did not share Polish trophies. From here comes the story with the name of the MK-4 observation device. In Tagil documents, it is produced on behalf of the model of the British tank Mk-IV. Moreover, in 1941, the evacuated Kharkov team worked at the plant, which is ridiculous to suspect of illiteracy and stupidity.
            By the way, their pre-war project T-34m with a new tower was equipped with old surveillance devices, and not the Mk-4.
            1. hohol95
              hohol95 15 August 2017 18: 33
              Military WISH - PRODUCERS - ............ Sad
              T-34 IN BATTLE. Baryatinsky.
              “It is interesting to note that the Mk IV device is not an English invention. It was developed by the Polish engineer Gundlach in the mid-1930s, and the British simply purchased a license for its production. Our military was able to familiarize themselves with this device in 1939 when testing the captured Polish tank 7TR and even then brought this device into the list of "what to borrow."
              1. Cat
                Cat 15 August 2017 20: 02
                These are the military who tested the tanks and wedges produced by the Poles. Tagil and Sverdlovsk archives do not confirm that the designers in 1939-1940 knew something about the existence of the MK-IV. But attempts to copy the Zeiss tank re-search in Sverdlovsk in 1941-42 were, unfortunately, unsuccessful.
                1. hohol95
                  hohol95 15 August 2017 20: 11
                  The military experienced, and the MANUFACTURERS WERE NOT A JOURNEY ... Interesting!
                  As with the production of LB-62 !!! Well, they were not able to start production of this BA on GAZ - and NOBODY FAILED TO PUNISH! During the war, the BA-64 army was appeased!
                  1. Cat
                    Cat 15 August 2017 21: 02
                    According to LB-62, a sad story!
                    Moreover, all post-war historians are blaming the People’s Commissariat for Medium Machine Building of the USSR, indicating specific personalities (by the way, gentlemen of the star of the heroes of labor), and you are right for the outright sabotage of “nothing”!
                    On tanks, the story is different! Morozov and his team do not recall in their memoirs about the MK-4 until 1942. Only with the advent of Lend-Lease tanks, experiments on the equipment of turrets of the Mk-4 domestic tanks begin. The situation is similar at the factories in Krasnoye Samarov and UZTM.
                    1. hohol95
                      hohol95 15 August 2017 21: 39
                      And where does Morozov! There was also ZHORES KOTIN! And the others were for sure! There were FACTORY DIRECTORS who “WERE NOT ABLE” or drug addicts who “DID NOT WANT” to produce! ...
                      After all, for the first T-34s they made, SOMETHING THE CIRCLE REVIEW DEVICE ...
            2. iouris
              iouris 16 August 2017 00: 45
              Firstly, Poland did not exist at that time. Secondly, the Pole could turn out to be Russian, or rather, the former Russian citizen born in tsarist Russia.
          2. bandabas
            bandabas 16 August 2017 13: 44
            Just all the money really was not enough. Unlike our time - "There is no money, but you hold on." (Lady).
    2. mvg
      mvg 15 August 2017 16: 46
      Only in the USSR it took a long 3.5 years of war to copy the MK-IV. Although they had a sample before the war. And on all lend-leases he stood.
      1. hohol95
        hohol95 15 August 2017 16: 53
        Desire was not at the manufacturers! But if you have other information ... Share!
        1. Cat
          Cat 15 August 2017 18: 02
          Apparently the trouble was not in reluctance, but in the fact that the captured Polish equipment as a whole looked very poor in their performance characteristics. And the industrialists simply did not pay attention to isolated criticisms from the military. Illumination came in 1941, but the object of imitation was no longer Polish, but Lend-Lease cars. Because of what and confusion.
          1. hohol95
            hohol95 15 August 2017 23: 00
            Moreover, the performance characteristics of the machine and its separate unit?
            After all, SOMETHING they DID THIS

            the device of the circular review of the T-34 tank !!!
            But not for long!
            1. Narak-zempo
              Narak-zempo April 2 2018 12: 57
              I don’t remember where, perhaps, at Drabkin’s, I read that on the T-34 of the early series the periscopes were specular, not prismatic, and the mirrors were steel (just polished plates), and the picture was terribly muddy and dull. In your illustration, it’s just a mirror device, perhaps it’s about him.
              1. hohol95
                hohol95 April 2 2018 13: 37
                Mikhail Baryatinsky
                T-34 IN BATTLE
                Inconveniently located and surveillance devices on the sides of the tower. In order to use them in a cramped tower, it was necessary to be able to dodge. In addition, until 1942, these devices (and the driver's mechanics too) were mirrored, with mirrors made of polished steel. Image quality was still that. In 1942 they were replaced by prismatic ones, and in the "improved" tower there were already viewing slots with triplex glass blocks.
                In the frontal sheet of the hull on both sides of the driver’s hatch at an angle of 60 ° to the longitudinal axis of the tank were two mirrored viewing devices. In the upper part of the manhole cover, a central specular periscope viewing device was installed. From the beginning of 1942, a simpler driver’s hatch appeared with two prismatic viewing devices. To protect against bullets and fragments of shells, prisms were closed on the outside with hinged armor caps, the so-called “cilia”.
                The quality of prisms made of plexiglas of yellowish or greenish hues in the observation devices was ugly. It was almost impossible to see anything through them, and even in a moving, swaying tank. Therefore, driver mechanics, for example, often opened their hatch in the palm of their hand, which allowed them to somehow orient themselves. The viewing devices of the driver, in addition, were very quickly clogged with dirt. The appearance of a hatch with “cilia” made it possible to somehow slow down this process. In motion, one “eyelash” was closed, and the driver was observing through another. When it got dirty, it closed.

          2. hohol95
            hohol95 15 August 2017 23: 12
            There are many photos of the T-34 tanks manufactured by STZ - for the loader there they installed an observation device from the T-60 tank!
      2. Amurets
        Amurets 15 August 2017 17: 20
        Quote: mvg
        Only in the USSR it took a long 3.5 years of war to copy the MK-IV. Although they had a sample before the war. And on all lend-leases he stood.

        Yes, do not copy. The whole problem was in glass, in the technology of cooking and processing. It is one thing to produce piece goods, and another mass production. Before WWII and during the war years in the USSR, Zeiss optics was very appreciated for its quality.
        1. Cat
          Cat 15 August 2017 17: 53
          I agree in essence.
          By the way, in the T-34 observation instruments, a polished stainless steel plate was used instead of a mirror.
          I did not hear about Zeiss optics on serial tanks.
          1. mvg
            mvg 15 August 2017 19: 30
            The Germans were Zeiss, or are you talking about domestic equipment.
            Yes, do not copy.

            A series of articles about the T-34, about the options for towers, guns, which plants and what they made. Interchangeability, maintainability. In battles, etc.
            /index.php //
            Mk-4 is mentioned there, ours were seen by him on Matilda. Although before the war, he was also known. It was asked to put such, but the commander's turrets and Mk-4 went since 1943.
            1. Cat
              Cat 15 August 2017 19: 47
              I mean the same! See above.
              1. mvg
                mvg 15 August 2017 19: 56
                Yes, I read it. The truth about Poland did not know. The fact that Poland had good aircraft (relatively) PZL knew, and armored vehicles were bearable only in France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Britain.
                Now, the cost of what is in the tower reaches 60% of the cost of the tank ... And then less attention was paid to this. For which they paid with their lives. The gun is thicker, but the armor is larger, and the wheels are wider ((
                1. hohol95
                  hohol95 15 August 2017 20: 13
                  So you think that Soviet tanks were FUFLO ???
                  If you did not mention the USSR in your comment ...
                  1. mvg
                    mvg 15 August 2017 21: 16
                    No, there were KVs, there were T-34s, there were T-26s still tolerable, BT-7s, but at the time of the attack, the USSR had> 20 tanks, and by the end of 000 there were about 41 of them. The Germans attacked with <1500 tanks.
                    In Africa, the Britons and Germans did not have that ratio, 2 to 1 in favor of the Anglo-Saxons, and they won. In France, the Germans have a 4 to 1 advantage, and they won. Also in the Czech Republic, Poland, etc.
                    PS: What to say, think for yourself.
                    1. hohol95
                      hohol95 15 August 2017 23: 38
                      Excuse me for being poor - with what edge on TANKs did the Anglo-American troops manage to break the ridge of the GERMAN-ITALIAN troops in northern Africa?
                      The Germans surrendered in 1943 tentatively LOUDLY SLAMING THE DOOR IN THE KASSERIN Aisle -
                      In seven days of fighting in the Kasserin passage, the Americans lost 183 tanks of all types, 194 armored personnel carriers and 208 self-propelled and field guns. The losses of the Germans during this period amounted to only 20 tanks, 67 other military vehicles and 14 guns. Only the joint efforts of almost half of all the Anglo-American forces in Tunisia could stop the German offensive.
                      YOU ARE 2 TO 1 ...
                      [b] During Operation Cruzeider, for example, in November 1941, the British attacked with 748 tanks, including 213 Matild and Valentine, 220 Cruiser, 150 older cruiser tanks and 165 Stuart "American production. The African corps could oppose them only 249 German and 146 Italian tanks. At the same time, the armament and armor protection of most British combat vehicles were similar, and sometimes surpassed the German ones. As a result of two-month battles, British troops missed 278 tanks. The losses of the Italo-German troops were comparable - 292 tanks.
                      The English 8th Army pushed the enemy back almost 800 km and captured the whole of Cyrenaica. But she could not solve her main task - to destroy the forces of Rommel. On January 5, 1942, a convoy arrived in Tripoli, delivering 117 German and 79 Italian tanks. Having received this reinforcement, Rommel launched a decisive attack on January 21. In two days the Germans advanced eastward for 120–130 km, and the British rapidly retreated. The defeat of the British tank units was as devastating as the defeat of the Italians just a year ago. For example, the 2nd English Panzer Division retreated, retaining only 30 tanks in service. Having absolutely insufficient forces for such an operation, Rommel easily captured Benghazi, and by February 4 he entered the Ghazal-Bir-Hakeim line.
        2. hohol95
          hohol95 15 August 2017 23: 26
          You confuse the SIGHTS and ordinary SURVEILLING INSTRUMENTS in the sides of the towers, in the commander’s towers, with the mechanics of drivers, machine gunners! Was there Zeiss Optics on the sides of German tanks?
          1. Narak-zempo
            Narak-zempo April 2 2018 13: 03
            At least quality triplex. TRANSPARENT, which is important: D Without turbidity, bubbles and bottle greens.
            1. hohol95
              hohol95 April 2 2018 13: 40
              The disease is not only such, but also the aviation of the USSR of that period - low quality plexiglass!
  3. tchoni
    tchoni 15 August 2017 16: 07
    Very interesting topic. It would be nice if it resulted in a series of articles devoted to tank observing devices in particular and the organization of monitoring the terrain in tanks in general.
  4. Curious
    Curious 15 August 2017 16: 35
    "The last time a strobe came to the attention of German tank designer Edward Grothe, who was invited by the Soviet government to head a design bureau for the development of new advanced tanks for the Red Army in the late 1920s. "
    No, not at the last. In the spring of 1931, on a special assignment from the ECO OGPU LVO, a group of design engineers consisting of Asafov, Alekseev and Skvortsov proceeded to design a new tank.
    The result of these works was the so-called Asafov tanks TA 1, TA 2 and T 3. All of them were equipped with stroboscopic observation devices.

    Project of the TA-2 wheeled-caterpillar tank, left side view, longitudinal section and plan section (copy of the factory drawing).

    All three projects were transferred to the UMM of the Red Army, as well as to the OKMO of the Bolshevik plant. In November 1931, the OKMO of the Bolshevik plant according to the TTT developed by the UMM RKKA, an order was issued for the design and manufacture of two experimental heavy tanks. The deadline for finished samples was scheduled for July 1932. The new tank project was approved by the UMM on February 8, 1932. These works led to the creation of the T-35 heavy tank. But on the T-35 stroboscopes were gone. Why - let's say below.
    1. Curious
      Curious 15 August 2017 16: 55

      And this is a prototype of the D-2 armored car before passing the tests. February 1931 Direnkov armored tires consisted of a mass series (more than 30 pieces of only the heaviest, D-2), were produced by several factories and stood in service until the end of the 40s, at least.
      And they were equipped with stroboscopic observation devices.
      Excerpt from the test report.
      “With the presence of positive aspects, there are also a number of deficiencies of a constructive nature, which boil down to:

      Improve the cooling system D-2, D-3, which is very unreliable.
      Improve speed switching and, if possible, simplify the management of BIE (scattered control levers).
      Adjust the air brake valves.
      4. At D-3 lower the wheel covers, thereby increasing the firing angles of the four machine guns.
      5. The command cabin (strobe) to improve. Equip it with fire controls, intercom and radio.
      6. Equip the BIE with adequate ventilation.
      7. Equip appropriate shelving for shells, cartridges and spare parts. "
      And then the interest in these devices really disappeared. Just appeared normal (relative to that time) optical instruments.
      After all, the strobe has one fundamental drawback. Light enters the eye so many times less, how many times less is the area of ​​the cracks in relation to the area of ​​the cylinder. Therefore, in the conditions of twilight, fog, smoke, nothing is visible in it.
      In addition, it is still a complex mechanism with its own drive, very vulnerable to external influences. The stroboscope lasted a little longer in the form of a horizontal slit closed by a moving steel tape with slots. Triplex was better.
      There is an interesting book that tells well about this stage of the development of military equipment, including strobe lights.
      Vnukov V.P. Physics and defense of the country. / Edition 5, revised. - M .: State publishing house of technical and theoretical literature, 1943
  5. Settlement Oparyshev
    Settlement Oparyshev 15 August 2017 19: 03
    Do not believe it, I first read about stroboscopes. A very entertaining article and informative comments. It was interesting. Only the past is completely.
    1. Cat
      Cat 15 August 2017 19: 54
      Shpakovsky is an old and "sick" topic! At least three books, where he in vain reflects on the benefits and disadvantages of strobe lights. If you want to look in the internet, or contact the author since it is available on VO. I think it will not refuse.
      1. Settlement Oparyshev
        Settlement Oparyshev 15 August 2017 20: 43
        No sir! Thank you. And there is too much new, not all at once.
  6. Operator
    Operator 15 August 2017 21: 50
    Article plus.

    Stroboscope - meaningless and merciless design laughing

    Firstly, it protects only from 50 percent of bullets and fragments - at the moment when the holes in the rotating and fixed parts of the strobe overlap with armor.
    Secondly, he wedges from a bullet or shrapnel strike.
    Thirdly, it halves the light intensity, i.e. creates twilight in the daytime.

    Steers the periscope.