German Night Vision tanks of world war ii - Axis History Forum

German Night Vision tanks of world war ii

Discussions on the vehicles used by the Axis forces. Hosted by Christian Ankerstjerne
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Postby wildboar » 31 Mar 2002 16:15

As the war progressed, growing Allied air superiority made daytime travel nearly impossible for armored units. Furthermore, daytime fighting had become an increasingly dangerous proposition. As early as 1942 an infra-red gunsight had been created for the 7.5cm Pak40 self-propelled gun (which used an IR headlamp in addition to a viewer). The reports from troop testing were favorable, therefore it was decided that sighting devices should be developed for tanks as well. The effect of massed armored assault under the cover of night (as the Allies had no night-fighting capability) could have been potentially devastating.

Series production reached roughly 100 pieces per month during the last few months of the war. At the end of the war, when 1000 IR units were available, there were too few tanks and too little fuel to carry out the great night operations envisioned by Guderian.

the following website is good information source for it-

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Postby Penrose » 25 May 2003 02:38

Wow i had never even heard of that. Thats crazy!

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Postby Trommelfeuer » 25 May 2003 11:43

Here's another good source: ... nthers.htm

Nightfighting Panthers in Action


In summer 1944 the Panthers of 3.Kompanie, 24th Panzerregiment, 116th Panzerdivision, were equipped with UHU on the battle/excercise-area BERGEN, and actually trained the use of the nightfighting concept SPERBER. Hitler planned the mission of this Kompanie to be during the Operation WACHT AM RHEIN (Battle of the Bulge) and actually some squads were tranfered to the western front, but never saw action there.

One SPERBER squad including their Panthers was transfered to STUHLWEISSENBURG (Hungary) in early 1945 with 6th SS-Panzerarmee, intended to support the german counterattack to secure the area of Budapest. The rest of the Kompanie followed, but without nightfighting equipment. In 1945 the Wehrmacht planned to form 5 SPERBER Kompanies, but this concept proved to be illusory. 2 SPERBER squads joined the spontanuous formed Panzerdivision "CLAUSEWITZ", which was formed in spring 1945 on the western front. On 21st of april, these 2 squads ran down an american ambush, which has been set up at the WESER-ELBE-KANAL, and by this ensured the only documented action of the nightfighting concept SPERBER.

In march 1945 the Panzerdivision "MÜNCHEBERG" received one fully equipped Kompanie of 10 SPERBER capable Panthers and one SPERBER capable Panzer Grenadier Kompanie. The Division took part in the last fights during the battle of BERLIN. If this Division used the SPERBER concept isn´t documented.

The armoured forces school at FALLINGBOSTEL developed an even more mature solution called "LÖSUNG B - solution B" to make use of the FG 1250 device. Since the system SPERBER had the critical drawback that only the tankcommander had nightvision and therefore had to direct the driver and the gunner, experiments were made with some Panther As and Ds which were equipped with an infrared-searchlight and image converter for the driver and a periscope for the gunner. This way 3 crewmembers obtained nightfighting ability. In April 1945 some of the solution B equiped Panthers were ordered to the Division "CLAUSEWITZ". In mid april these Panthers saw their only doctumented action near UELZEN, where they destroyed a full platoon equipped with the brandnew british Comet tanks.

And another good source:



Some more info on the "Vampir" ZG 1229 Infrared System :

Specific Features: The Vampir was not the first German Infrared System, but by the end of the war in 1945 it was the most compact and advanced system they had. The technology itself dates back to around the start of the war, when engineers developed the first infrared rangefinder for German light anti-tank artillery. This was improved and some heavier direct-fire artillery was equipped with it as well. By 1944 the Germans had developed a version flexible enough to be mounted on the Panther tank (Germany's most technologically advanced and complex tank) and by the last year of the war were ready to issue the man-portable Vampir system.

The Vampir system consisted of a "black" spot light, one component of its active infrared system, fixed atop the impressive StG-44 assault rifle. Below this infrared light was a range finder that could detect the light emitted by the IR lamp. Since this light was invisible to anyone not equipped with the system it gave a massive edge over relying on flashlights and flares for illumination. The system mounted on the gun was linked by insulated wire to a heavy battery pack and simple control box that the soldier wore in place of his normal gear. Think of it as a very crude analog to today's "OICW" system being developed by the United States. It could transform a normal soldier it one capable of fighting in complete darkness, be it a cave or a moonless night, without revealing his position.

There is dispute over whether or not the Vampir was actually issued to combat soldiers. Some reports claim it was given to special units of the Waffen-SS for testing, others claim it was issued to crews of the similarly equipped Panther tanks (although this seems unlikely due to the unit's bulk). My theory is that what few units were combat-ready were probably issued to the ultra-elite commandos of commanders like Otto Skorzeny and perhaps in the final defense of Berlin. Chances are we will never know the exact truth as no photographs exist of troops utilizing the weapons in the field, but the system was proven to work.

source ... 1-2003.htm

With friendly greetings, Trommelfeuer
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Postby Lexikonderwehrmacht » 25 May 2003 12:57

There is a very good book about the night-fight panthers at Panzerdivsion CLAUSEWITZ (but only in german):
"Letzte Divisionen, die Panzerdivision Clausewitz und die Infanterie-Division Schill".
In this chronik about the two divisions, the author describes very good the SPERBER.


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Postby Redbaron1908 » 25 May 2003 15:21

I did not know about soldier having this type of equipment and I though only a few panthers had the infared system.

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Postby Paul Hanson » 25 May 2003 17:07

This comes up all the time and all these "factual accounts" of IR usage are quoted off sites with not a shred of evidence to support their claims.

This was thoroughly discussed on Missing Links and Feldgrau. Here is a link to the best discussion of the subject. And it demolishes that old chestnut about Clausewitz destroying the platoon of Comets using IR.


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Postby Kugelblitz » 26 May 2003 05:09

The sistem device was used on both eastern and western front?

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Postby Daniel L » 26 May 2003 11:23

It only saw combat on the Eastern front, you would have known that if you had read Paul's link.

Best regards/ Daniel

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Postby Kugelblitz » 27 May 2003 05:40

Ok, but also it could been very usefull in the western front to move safety against the allied air force.

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Postby rongfanlf » 27 May 2003 09:02

As I know,this night-sight equipment for infantry was used in western line at early 1945------some SS killed a group of British soldiors at night by using this.

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Postby Daniel L » 27 May 2003 14:24


Best regards/ Daniel

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Postby Phil Bishop » 25 Oct 2005 23:30

Earlier in this thread there is mention of ifra red night sights being used on anti tank guns, Marder 11 and Jagdanther. Anyone with more information or photos?

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Postby LWD » 26 Oct 2005 11:11

I have also read that the Western allies had some IR equipment. I believe in both cases it was fairly shock sensative and so reliability was not the greatest in the field.

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Postby Blistex » 29 Oct 2005 08:28

Whenever I picture German IR tanks advancing at night through allied lines I'm also picturing Bazooka and PIAT rounds streaking out from behind every tree and rock. Day or night tanks are vunerable to infantry, and given tha there is no way german infantry could all have IR units ast well on such missions the tanks would be quite vunerable.

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Postby Christian Ankerstjerne » 29 Oct 2005 10:06

Well, since they never advanced through [western] Allied lines, there would be few PIATs or Bazookas there ;)


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