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During the Dark Times • Damn interesting

WW2 night fighter tanks
WW2 night fighter tanks

As early as 1943, the German army deployed a small number of special Panther tanks in the European theater of World War II. This Night fighter or “Nachtjäger” tanks were equipped with powerful searchlights, but these lights did not throw any light into the visible spectrum. They emitted invisible infrared light with rays of about 600 meters. Inside the tank, operators viewed the scene from the outside through a small monochrome cathode ray tube (CRT) fed by an image intensifier that converted the infrared spectrum into visible light. That way, the night fighter Panther tank operators had a crude system that they could see outside in complete darkness ̵

1; essentially the first practical night vision device. About 50 to 60 such night vision tanks were used during the war.

Towards the end of the war, some German soldiers were similarly equipped with the new “vampire” variant of the assault rifle 44 Assault rifle. The vampire was equipped with a miniaturized night vision device with a backpack drive for nighttime snipers. Whether or not these weapons contributed to victories on the battlefield is uncertain.

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