View Full Version : Flashing searchlights

Genghis the Engineer
4th Dec 2017, 10:57
I was reading up over the weekend on some issues related to airborne strobes and physiological effects on pilots. In the course of that I came across a reference to German searchlights during WW2 being designed to strobe and thus disorient bomber pilots.

Being generally interested, I did a bit of googling, and did find some historical papers describing this being used on ground defences...


Canal Defence Light (CDL) Tanks - Tank Encyclopedia (http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/canal-defence-light-cdl-tanks/)

But I couldn't find any sources describing anything being used against aircraft, beyond some IR groundschool notes that don't list their references.

Does anybody know if this was actually the case? If so, I'd be interested to read about it.


4th Dec 2017, 13:37
Perhaps they knew about flicker vertigo. Had a passenger suffer once (helo) and he was non compos mentis, required return to base ten minutes away, cause sun through the rotor blades.


Genghis the Engineer
4th Dec 2017, 14:24
Given that flicker vertigo seems to have been at the root of the CDL project, roughly contemporaneously - I'm sure that *if* the Germans did have flickering searchlights, that's why.

What I'm wondering, is *did* they.


5th Dec 2017, 13:00
I think all the searchlights were of the carbon arc variety, so any flickering would have to be mechanically introduced (shutters as in shipboard morse signalling lights), that's if they did flicker of course. Not read, or seen in any docos, any mention.

5th Dec 2017, 16:44
This may be relevant.....

Maskelyne came up with the unorthodox idea of constructing 21 'dazzle lights' along the length of the Canal. These powerful searchlights, containing 24 different spinning beams, projected a swirling, cartwheeling confusion of light up to nine miles into the sky. A barrage of light to confuse and blind the enemy bombers, which Maskelyne dubbed Whirling Spray.

Fisher claims that this radical defensive shield of light was highly effective and was a major reason why the Suez Canal remained open for the duration of the war.

From the book: The War Magician

Whirling Spray (https://www.wired.com/2008/05/wwii-strobe-t-1/)