SPECIAL REPORT: Bob Burggraaf's
WW II Searchlight Restoration

[Photos and Text By Bob Burggraaf]

   The following photos come to Skylighters from De Kwakel, The Netherlands, where Bob Burggraaf and his father are rebuilding and restoring a searchlight, power plant, M1 trailer, and truck. Bob's father is a WW II vehicle collector, and he found some of the equipment bearing markings of the 225th, which means they are original Skylighters equipment left behind when the battalion departed Europe in 1945!

   Clicking on a thumbnail version will allow you to view an enlargement.

   NOTE: Bob and his father are in search of an original copy of the technical manual for the M1 trailer (TM 5-7044). Anyone who has one for sale can contact the Webmaster, who will get in touch with Bob.

PHOTO 1 (9 K)   Two former WW II searchlights with their power plants pictured at a facility of the Kema Company, which is responsible for testing all electrical equipment used in the Netherlands. Kema used the searchlights to film electrical transformers (background) during operational testing. The lights were used to illuminate the transformers during filming of tests with a high-speed camera, which enabled the results to be visible for the camera to record them.

   The same lights as above. After WW II, the lights were given to the Dutch government under the auspices of the Marshall Plan. In 1963, they were sold to Kema, who used them until 1996. Kema modified the power plants in 1973, during the oil crisis of that year, removing both the Hercules JXD engine and the control panel, replacing the former with a 90-horsepower electric motor. Bob writes: "We're still looking for an original power plant, so perhaps you can help us with that. We are trying to get the searchlight as complete as possible to keep the memory alive."PHOTO 2 (10 K)

PHOTO 3 (14 K)   The completely rebuilt searchlight positioned aboard an M17 trailer. Bob comments: "Do you know what kind of markings the searchlight had during WW II? And where were they placed?" (An American searchlight operator, Jim Mulligan, has asked the same question regarding his restored 1942A GE unit, so please contact the Webmaster if you can help.)

   Close-up of the power plant, with the body work completed. The radiator fill cap (top of unit, center-right) has been welded closed. The General Electric nameplate is clearly visible on the left-hand access door.PHOTO 4 (11 K)

PHOTO 5 (11 K)   The searchlight in traveling position under its canvas cover and on its trailer being towed by a restored GMC two-and-a-half-ton truck (which belongs to Bob and his father too!). The power plant has been loaded onto the truck bed. The picture was taken at Schiphol, Holland's main airport. Bob adds: "The canvas cover over the searchlight is made by our company. We manufacture all kinds of covers, and, of course, original WW II army covers."

   An M1 Fruehauf searchlight trailer hitched to the GMC in front of the Burggraaf home. An English Lister engine has been placed inside the M1, which was used to power landing lights on airfields. The number 7089 appears on the trailer's identification plate as the trailer number, but the space for the searchlight number is blank. Following WW II, this trailer saw service with the French army. Bob and his father have since removed the Lister engine and are restoring the M1 to its original state.PHOTO 6 (13 K)

PHOTO 8 (7 K)The Burggraaf GMC with the searchlight power plant in the back. In the background is the Burggraaf's English airborne jeep. The DC-3 belongs to His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.

   Closeup of the airborne jeep with a BSA airborne bicycle. The bicycle is Bob's first WW II "vehicle" and — to date — the only one he personally owns.PHOTO 7 (9 K)

PHOTO 9 (13 K)   The Burggraaf light on display at an historical exhibition in Amsterdam. Visible in this shot (at lower left) are the color-coded connection plugs (yellow, blue, and red) used for linking the searchlight to the powerplant, radars, and control equipment. The power plant is in the center rear, behind the American flag (note the eyehole-style towbar in the stowage position).

   Here's the light doing the thing that it does best, as Bob says; that is, "searching the sky." Bob's dad is busy making adjustments. Imagine the light beam stalking enemy aircraft nearly 60 years ago, with a young Skylighter at its side!PHOTO 10 (7 K)

PHOTO 11 (11 K)   A former WW II American searchlight on an M1 trailer on duty with the Dutch army. The photo was taken during the Queen's birthday parade in 1953. The truck is a DAF (DAF was taken over by an American company, PACCAR). The Netherlands no longers features a show of military vehicles during this annual celebration.

   Taken in Arnhem (site of the infamous "Bridge Too Far" immortalized in the film of the same name) in 1953, Dutch soldiers mill about two searchlights (at left, in front of the building). The lights are stowed under canvas on two M1 trailers.PHOTO 12 (15 K)


Click on the V-2
to Rocket to the Top!

[ Main Menu | Ten Hut! | Sign In! | First Aid | History | Members | Memories ]
[ Photos | Credits | Signals | Links | Allies ]

Contents & Layout Copyright 1996-99,2000 Skylighters
Comments welcome at