Military Review

Infrared devices for German tanks

Work on the creation of infrared devices that could provide driving combat and transport vehicles at night, as well as the possibility of aimed shooting from guns and small weapons in the dark, were in Germany since the beginning of the 1930-s. In 1939, AFG presented the first infrared sight suitable for use in the military. His tests were carried out on the 37 / 35 XRUM Cannon, but their results did not satisfy the military. It should be said that it was not a night sight in the modern sense. The gun was equipped with a device that provided visibility at night, and the gun was guided along the barrel. Nevertheless, it was a serious success in this area.

In the fall of 1942, tests began on a similar device for the 75-mm Cannon 40 cannon, which ended in the middle of next year. In spite of the fact that quite good results were obtained - the aimed shooting could be conducted at a distance of up to 400 m - the control of the armaments of the ground forces attracted the adoption of the device. At the beginning of 1944, AEG, without waiting for a final decision, manufactured 1000 sets of such devices for the 40 Cancer.

The test results of infrared devices were quickly assessed by the inspector general tank troops G. Guderian. In the summer of 1943, infrared equipment was demonstrated to him at the Fallingbostle test site. After that, Guderian ordered to begin work on equipping Panther tanks with such devices. The design of new models was supervised by Doctor of Technical Sciences H. Gertner, who worked in the testing department of sights and optical devices (WaPruf 8) of the Army's Armaments Directorate. The production of prototypes was carried out by the enterprises of the companies AEG and Zeiss.

Tests of the tank "Panther" Ausf. G with a tower mounted infrared device FG 1250. September 1944 of the year

General view of the installation of an infrared device FG 1250 on the commander's turret "Panther" Ausf. G. September 1944 of the year

Armored Sd. Kfz. 251 / 20 "Falke" with 600-mm infrared illuminator. Such machines were supposed to provide more efficient “panther” actions with infrared equipment at night. The driver's seat is also equipped with an infrared device (NM)

By the summer of 1944, AEG had manufactured and tested several types of infrared instruments that had a common design. They consisted of an infrared headlight, an image converter, batteries and a generator. In this case, the instrument headlights could be of different diameters, but they all received the designation “Uhu” - the eagle owl. Depending on the destination, there were several instrument options: three types for night firing “Zielgerat” 1128, 1221 and 1222, the same for night driving “Fahrgerat” 1250, 1252 and 1253, and one for observing the “Beobachtungsgerat” 1251. Mainly among themselves, these devices differed in size of headlights, converters and could be installed on tanks, self-propelled guns or cars.

In the first decade of September 1944, on the "Panther" Ausf. G MNH (presumably chassis No. 128495) first installed the infrared equipment FG 1250 (in the literature this device is often called a sight, which is not true: the FG designation is an abbreviation for Fahrgerat - a device for movement.). This set on the "Panther" received the designation "Sperber" - sparrow hawk.

For the installation of infrared equipment, a special bracket was welded inside the commander's turret to the scale of the azimuth pointer, which had divisions from 1 to 12. In the turret in front of the commander's turret, a hole was drilled for the steel strip connecting the infrared sight with the vertical tool guidance mechanism. In the back of the case, instead of the right box for the property, four plates were welded to fasten an armored container in which it was supposed to store infrared equipment. In the fighting compartment (at the starboard side), instead of laying on three artillery shots, a rack was mounted for the GG 400 electric generator and the battery, which ensures operation of the device for four hours.

In the same month, the vehicle underwent tests that showed satisfactory results - the device provided the tank commander with visibility up to 400 meters. True, while driving and, especially shooting, demanded great skill and coherence of the crew. The fact is that only the commander who gave commands to the driver and gunner could see the road and the targets at night.

In order to increase the field of view at night, we designed the “Uhu” searchlight of a larger diameter - 600 mm. He was installed on the Sd. Kfz. 251 / 20, which received its own name "Falke" - falcon. With the help of this device one could “see” at night at a distance of up to 600 meters. The Sokol was supposed to act together with the units of the Panthers, detect targets and report them to the radio by tank crews. It was supposed to attach one armored personnel carrier to a company of five “panthers”, also equipped with infrared equipment.

According to a schedule approved by 7 August 1944 of the year, MNH received instructions from the Army Arms Directorate for installing FG 1250 infrared equipment in accordance with the following schedule: 50 machines in September, 70 in October, 80 in November and 100 in December 1944. In turn, the firm offered to end all 120 Panthers with FG 1250 in October, instead of putting them in September and October.

Rear view of the operator's position 600-mm infrared searchlight armored Sd. Kfz. 251 / 20 Falke. It is clearly seen that the operator’s seat is also equipped with an infrared device (ASKM)

But the very next day, August 8, due to the difficult situation on the Eastern Front, the Army High Command rejected the MNH proposal, insisting that the first panthers with infrared devices be surrendered in September 1944.

Due to the delay in the receipt of technical specifications for the acceptance of tanks with FG 1250 equipment, in September 1944 of the year MNH manufactured only 20 Ausf panthers. G with infrared devices. The installation of FG 1250 on 30 machines of the September program was “shifted” to October. And then in November.

But on November 18, 1944, the MNH company, received orders from the main command of the ground forces to cancel the installation of the infrared equipment on the “panthers” already prepared for this. Tanks converted into ordinary cars modifications Ausf. G - the brackets for the transformer and the FG 1250 device were removed from them, the spare parts of the spare parts were installed on the stern instead of the armored container. True, at the same order it was prescribed to equip 30 “panthers” with 1944 infrared equipment in December. MNH was later instructed to install FG 1250 devices on all “panthers”, starting 15 in January 1945. Accurate data on how many tanks equipped with infrared equipment is not. Based on information about sending "panthers" with such devices to the troops, it can be assumed that they were of the order of 55 — 60 pieces.

Apparently the first to receive the "Panther" with infrared equipment 3-I company of the 1-th battalion of the 24-th tank regiment. At the end of November 1944, this company in the tank school of Bergen, near the city of Fallingbostel, began crew training here. According to the memoirs of E. Bernard, who served at that time in the 24 regiment, during combat training, the crews at night hit targets at a distance of up to 2500 meters. According to the author, this distance is five times too high - the characteristics of those infrared devices could not provide such high results. At the beginning of the 1945 of the year, the 3-th company of the 1-th battalion as part of the 24-th tank regiment headed for the front in Hungary. True, all infrared equipment was left in Fal-lingbostel. The reason why FG 1250 devices were left at school is unknown.

2 February 1945, the tank inspector general, ordered the 1 company of the 101 tank regiment of the Fuhrer's Grenadiers (Fueher-Grenadier-Division) to begin military tests of the FG 1250 infrared device. For this, ten "panthers" of the company were sent to the Altengrabs, where the Daimler-Benz company sent its engineers to install the equipment on the tanks. According to the reports of the “Daimler” representatives, the installation of infrared devices passed without any problems. In addition to the ten "Panthers" equipped with FG 1250, this company of the 101-th tank regiment received three Sd armored personnel carriers. Kfz. 251 / 20 with 600-mm infrared illuminators.

In addition, at the start of 1945, the Panthers with infrared equipment received the following tank units: the 1 Battalion of the 6 Tank Regiment of the 3 Tank Division (March 1 received 10 "Panther"), the training center in Fallingbostel (March 16, 4 Machines), 1 Battalion of 130 Tank Regiment, 25 Tank Division (March 23, 10 Machines), 1 Battalion of 29 Tank Regiment of Müncheberg Tank (5 April, 10 Machines) and 4 Tank Regiment (11 April, 8 Machines) and 10 Tank Regiment of the Tank Division I am a company of the XNUMX th tank regiment (April XNUMX, XNUMX machines). All of these units, with the exception of the training center tanks, participated in battles on the Eastern Front against units of the Red Army.

Rear view of the installation of 600-mm infrared searchlight armored Sd. Kfz. 251 / 20 "Falke"

Information about the combat use of "panther" with infrared equipment is extremely stingy and contradictory. There is a brief report by Major Velwarth from the Fuhrer's Grenadiers division of 25 March 1945 of the year in which he reports on the first bout with the use of infrared devices. But there are no details in the report, it says only that the battle was successful, and the equipment turned out to be quite reliable in operation.

Some sources cite a reference to the memoirs of one of the veterans of the 1-th SS Panzer Division, who reports that "perhaps several" panthers "of the 116-Tank Division with infrared devices participated in the German attack in the Ardennes." True, there is no documentary evidence of the dispatch of such tanks to the 116 division.

There are also references to the fact that in April 1945 of the year two “panthers” with infrared instruments from the Clausewitz tank division destroyed a platoon of British comets near the city of Uelzen, and two anti-tank guns were shot on April 21 on April 1 in 2. This information raises strong doubts, since there is no evidence of the “panther” with infrared equipment being received by the Clausewitz division. In addition, according to other data, in April 21, the guns were indeed destroyed, but by the usual "panthers".

Some sources mention another option to equip the "Panther" with infrared devices. It is also known as the “version B” and included three sets of equipment (for the driver, gunner and commander) mounted on the Ausf Panther. D or Ausf. A. Sometimes even given
a photograph of such a machine, allegedly captured on the Western Front, and also mentioning military episodes involving “panthers” with the “option B”. However, more recent studies have shown that this option of installing infrared equipment did not exist, and the photo presented is a fake.

As for the Sd. Kfz. 251 / 20 “Falke” with 600-mm infrared illuminators, then in the autumn of 1944, an order was issued for the production of a batch of 600 such machines. However, according to the data of the German researcher V. Shpilberger, only about 60 Sd were manufactured by the end of the war. Kfz. 251 / 20. And besides the 60-centimeter searchlight, they were equipped with another night-vision device installed by the driver. Also, judging by the photos, on some Sd. Kfz. 251 / 20 night vision device was installed on the machine gun.

Armored Sd. Kfz. 251 / 20, close-up (the same machine is shown in the next photo on the right). The sign on the board is clearly visible, as well as the infrared instruments on the machine gun and the driver, and they are the same in design (SZ)

Armored personnel carriers Sd. Kfz. 251 / 20 "Falke", captured by the Allied forces. Spring 1945 of the year. Probably, the machines were in some kind of training center. Please note that there is no 600-mm searchlight on the right armored personnel carrier, but infrared devices are installed at the driver and on the MS 42 (NW) machine gun
Articles from this series:
German tank industry to 1945 year
Infrared devices for German tanks
Modernization of the "Royal Tiger", 1945 year
Tanks "Panther" in 1945 year
Jagdpanzer 38D tank destroyer
German anti-aircraft tanks
Small tank destroyers of Germany
E series tanks
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  1. makarov
    makarov 17 December 2013 08: 54
    I thank the author for the excellent review material. Bow.
  2. washi
    washi 17 December 2013 10: 25
    Well done Germans. During the time of 2 MB, so much was invented.
    1. Andreitas
      Andreitas 17 December 2013 11: 01
      Yes, the Hans rushed well in new types of weapons during the war. Discoverers of many ideas. Clever, disciplined pedants. What to say. The present Germany is once again a confirmation of this.
      1. Uhe
        Uhe 17 December 2013 18: 03
        What ideas, please voice;)

        By the way, do you know who invented LEDs and what happened to them through the fault of these "smart, disciplined pedants"? This is so, one example at the expense of the discoverers of many ideas.

        The Nazis are scum who killed truly smart, even brilliant people. And modern pedaristic Turkish Germany is just this to confirm.
        1. I think so
          I think so 17 December 2013 21: 13
          Dear Uhe.
          To your question - "What ideas, please voice;)"
          Offhand and in memory I inform.
          1. Missile technology.
          2. Jet aircraft.
          3. Nuclear weapons.
          4. Grenade launchers. (In common parlance, Faustpatrons.)
          5. Cumulative shells.
          6. Well, these night sights are like a small but important product.
          7. Remote controlled wedges. (Now called battle robots).
          8. Remote control of anti-aircraft missiles. (Today, almost all missile defense systems use this guidance method).
          Well, and a lot of small things in the military field.
    2. luiswoo
      luiswoo 17 December 2013 12: 53
      Yes, yes, the Mal-Ladts-tsy fascists - they invented as many things as they did by the slave labor of "underdeveloped Asians" for the "bright future of the Third Reich", which had to be burned out with a red-hot iron and flooded with the blood of Soviet citizens these creative impulses of inventive Aryans.
    3. Uhe
      Uhe 17 December 2013 18: 01
      So what? Ours before the war worked on all this (often together with the Germans, by the way), and during the war they focused on the vital, and therefore won.

      Do not forget that it was our people who often fought at night, while the Germans did not like this business extremely. So they wanted to somehow help their troops, who were not accustomed to fight at night and did not know how. Unlike "wild" Russians :)))
      1. The comment was deleted.
      2. Aryan
        Aryan 17 December 2013 23: 24
        but is the fact that nights in spring and summer are much shorter?
  3. avt
    avt 17 December 2013 10: 34
    Whoever said anything about the horrors of Stalin, who drove the soldiers to take the cities before the holidays, but the reality is here it is. The Germans did not lose control of the troops almost until April 45th, re-equipped during the war with a qualitatively new weapon {they also made an infrared sight on the gun, Vampire "though there was a battery with a backpack and it was glowing with a red light}, with all the late groaning, all the flyers considered it an honor to shoot down the jet" Swallow ", the Americans generally overwhelmed them when blocking airfields on takeoff, so it was not clear with them until end. They were the first to build a heavy water plant and there is no doubt that there was a uranium bomb. We had a very strong enemy! The more our glory !!!
    1. sevtrash
      sevtrash 17 December 2013 11: 09
      Quote: avt
      We had a very strong enemy! The more our glory !!!

      That's right.
      Regarding infrared sights - perhaps the Germans created them before the urgent need for them appeared. I read somewhere in my memoirs that the Germans didn’t fight at night, with the exception of scouts, saboteurs, and some particular situations, of course. As the others. It is clear that the troops also need rest, and the assessment of the situation, management - all better in the afternoon.
    2. chunga-changa
      chunga-changa 17 December 2013 13: 09
      Quote: avt
      The Germans did not lose command of the troops almost until April 45th, reequipped during the war on a qualitatively new weapon

      It did not help them. The war was won by the resilience of watered systems, powerful allies, the economy, and the reserve training system. Advanced weapons are somewhere at the very end of the list, even lower than cheap mass weapons.
      1. avt
        avt 17 December 2013 13: 41
        Quote: chunga-changa
        It did not help them.

        Medical fact.
        Quote: chunga-changa
        The war was won by the resilience of watered systems, powerful allies, the economy, and the reserve training system.

        Naturally significant factors, with competent strategically correct decisions made by management.
        Quote: chunga-changa
        Advanced weapons somewhere at the very end of the list,

        But this is not so, not at all! Look at least at the numerical ratio of the issued armored vehicles, the Germans had half as many tanks, moreover, released from the late thirties, against the total output of the Allied countries. And at the same time they did not lose their breakdown power until the Balaton operation, when they fought for the latest sources of fuel and lubricants. If we had not knocked them out of the Romanian oil and Polish coal sources, forcing them to order fuel to be drained from damaged cars in an orderly order and not to be involved in the repair, first of all, they would give us a lot of blood.
        1. Uhe
          Uhe 17 December 2013 18: 13
          You are considering only one Germany, and many more European countries were behind it. The rear of Germany was huge. Namely, that we cut off the Germans from their allies and accomplices, and they did not succeed with us - they did not succeed in cutting us off from our union republics and their resources.

          It was not science and technology that won, not even people as such, but precisely the political system, which managed to collect all the means into a single fist, and sent strong-minded people to the enemy. The victory was won by the Soviet socialist system called "union" created by the Russian Slavs.
      2. Uhe
        Uhe 17 December 2013 18: 09
        That's right. The Stalinist USSR outplayed Germany and the United States and Britain that stood behind it geopolitically.
    3. postman
      postman 17 December 2013 13: 14
      Quote: avt
      and there is no doubt - the uranium bomb was

      Errors of Heisenberg (1) and Bothe (1940) / graphite 1941
      2. "careerism" Karl Wirtz and Karl Friedrich Weizsacker
      3. Americans beat Abwehr
      4. 12 Nobel laureates and more than two billion dollars (from 1939 to 1945, for the Manhattan project).
    4. Uhe
      Uhe 17 December 2013 18: 08
      The whole of Europe worked for the Germans, for a long time they were helped with money, resources and technologies of the USA and Britain, neutral countries. The USSR fought against half the world. To say that the USSR fought against Germany is not right. The USSR fought not just with half the world, but with all Western civilization. He fought and won. Not the Germans were smart fellows, as one XXX put it, and this Nazi scum was brought to the fore by Western gates and sent them to a new crusade against the Slavic Russian state. It survived, became a superpower, once again showing the West the power of the Russian spirit and mind. This is where our glory is.
      1. postman
        postman 18 December 2013 16: 55
        Quote: Uhe
        To say that the USSR fought against Germany is not right. The USSR fought not just with half the world, but with all Western civilization

        Well .. bent.
        Fighting an adversary using the POTENTIAL AND RESOURCES of Europe ... is one thing.
        And to fight with ALL EUROPE is another
        How much did the fascists help Mussolini, the "blue division" (! one) Franco, the Romanians (who just want to weigh the pendal!), and other scum like the Balts?
        / The Germans themselves were not happy with such "allies" /
        Quote: Uhe
        Not the Germans were smart fellows,

        clever, sleek, big-headed, bold, prudent - THE MOST STRONG ENEMY
        AND IT IS THE GERMANS ONE (practically) who fought with the rest of the world (USSR, England, USA, Australia, South Africa and other Africa, Canada, India, etc.).
        Moreover, they fought not badly, persistently, and the industry worked for them like a clock, until the very end.
        Well, like England in 1939-1940, ONE, against this
        Quote: Uhe
        Nazi scum
        and industry throughout Europe,IN COUPE WITH RESOURCES provided by Germany to the USSR.
        Moreover (!) At this time Ribentrop and Molotov (and behind them, Stalin and Hitler), agreed on how to divide the British Empire and the world.

        Quote: Uhe
        sent them on a new crusade against the Slavic Russian state.

        yeah ...
        FIRST, the truth was sent against the Jews and Gypsies, Danes, Norwegians, Belgians and Dutch, French and English.
        How is this "sewn"? again with white thread
    5. Jager
      Jager 17 December 2013 19: 26
      Interestingly, if the Germans did not lose control of the troops, then who then skidded in the spring and autumn of the 44th along the entire front? Why were heavy tank battalions used as a "fire brigade" when, under the blows of our troops, the front split at the seams and without the support of heavy tanks, infantry divisions rolled into a thin pancake?
      In my opinion, the strategic mistake of the Germans is that they were overly carried away by various kinds of "wunderwaves". Look at how many self-propelled guns alone were in service (I won't say anything about modifications). Dark! How many artillery systems were in the troops and how many calibers? Dozens! All this had to be supplied with various shells, spare parts, fuels and lubricants, and specialists had to be trained.
      Instead of a well-thought-out unification of armaments and industrial restructuring, new orders and systems sprang up, in my opinion this BADAK could not end well. With an initially thought-out production policy, Germany could have resisted much longer. Yes, and German engineers are guys with the head, but forever they have not done everything humanly, complicated and not technologically. Judging at least by my German car.
  4. creak
    creak 17 December 2013 11: 26
    The pack is undoubtedly a plus since it’s always interesting to get acquainted with material whose author knows what he is writing about, which distinguishes it from some other authors ....
  5. Stas57
    Stas57 17 December 2013 12: 28
    Tests of the “Pipe” infrared night vision device on the BT-7 tank
    1. Uhe
      Uhe 17 December 2013 18: 16
      The fact of the matter is that our and German developments went in parallel. In general, in science it always happens - scientists of the same era often move foot in foot. The only question is who will be in time earlier. Ours felt that we should focus on grinding finished weapons and bringing them to perfection, both military and technological, and the Germans tried to invent miraculous weapons and put them raw in the army. On the contrary, the views of many realist generals, as I understand it. Therefore, they paid. Tell me who the clever pedant is and who built castles in the air :) It was not for nothing that Goebbels called the Russian generals a higher race than the German one — he called it closer to the end of the war;)
    2. iConst
      iConst 18 December 2013 00: 27
      Quote: Stas57
      Tests of the “Pipe” infrared night vision device on the BT-7 tank

      Monstrous! laughing
    3. The comment was deleted.
  6. Corsair
    Corsair 17 December 2013 13: 05
    Quote from the article:
    Information about the combat use of “panthers” with infrared equipment is extremely stingy and contradictory.

    According to some reports, tanks with night vision devices participated in the German counterattack in the Lake District. Balaton, having achieved extremely limited, local success.

    The lack of a night vision system, namely a SYSTEM (a tank with a night vision weapon + an escort armored personnel carrier with an IFK headlamp "illumination") was obvious.
    As soon as the tank left the "highlight" zone for any reason, it became "BLIND"
  7. IRBIS
    IRBIS 17 December 2013 13: 23
    I met the memories of our officers and soldiers who experienced the use of tanks with night sights by the Germans. The accuracy of shooting at night boggled everyone's imagination. After that, they specially set fire to something on the front line in order to "blind" the German gunners.
    1. Uhe
      Uhe 17 December 2013 18: 19
      So what? It is worth reading the recollections of how our tankers fought at night in the light of the headlights on the tanks, and the Germans were draping, not accustomed to such a battle, and then they were offended that the Russians were fighting against the rules.

      By the way, at the present time it is the other way around: the West is well prepared for an all-weather war, and in our country there is a terrible lag.
    2. user
      user 17 December 2013 22: 24
      Yes, information slipped about the use of such equipment during the German counterattack near Lake Balaton, in the Szekesfehervar region, but I don’t remember who wrote.
  8. Sirop
    Sirop 17 December 2013 15: 00
    Very interesting article !! I would like to read more of such material !!! 100% +
  9. Volkhov
    Volkhov 17 December 2013 15: 19
    The armored personnel carrier in the picture with rubber cushions on the tracks is for underground evacuation bases.
    The Germans simply conducted tests at the front of the new technology and took it away. At the front, everything - lighting missiles will start and the difference is small, and with secret landings it is irreplaceable - who else has infrared optics in the wild.
    1. Hort
      Hort 20 December 2013 13: 25
      rubber cushions - for improved traction
      1. Volkhov
        Volkhov 21 December 2013 01: 33
        Rubber improves grip only on smooth granite, which is what we are talking about. Another track on concrete and asphalt is not formed.
        1. Hort
          Hort 21 December 2013 08: 21
          what bl. granite? Have you seen rubber pads on the Taiga all-terrain vehicle?
          1. Volkhov
            Volkhov 21 December 2013 15: 03
            So it’s for the sake of roads, so that operation is not prohibited in the summer. The same goal is not to spoil the coating.
  10. Alf
    Alf 17 December 2013 22: 15
    Quote: Volkhov
    TR in the picture with rubber cushions on the tracks is for underground evacuation bases.
    The Germans simply conducted tests at the front of the new technology and took it away. At the front, everything - lighting missiles will start and the difference is small, and with secret landings it is irreplaceable - who else has infrared optics in the wild.

    It is not clear where the Germans were going to land like that? If infantry is secretly landed, then such infrared devices with such mass-dimensional characteristics are not needed, and if tanks are landed, a bridgehead of sufficient depth must first be created, and with such a bridgehead, simple headlights can be dispensed with.
    1. Volkhov
      Volkhov 21 December 2013 01: 45
      Lights at night can be seen for tens of kilometers - the base will immediately become known, and IR - only in the device.
      Now the areas of their bases are not particularly hidden - the "Republic of Botnia" in Sweden, Chile, Portugal, Greenland, Kotelny, Poland, Ukraine.
      In Ukraine, an auction with them - who will get ... Franklin Templeton - 5 billion, Russia - 15 billion - sold ... although a minority Ukraine is possible in the western regions.