Arranged roughly chronologically relative to the development of the searchlight for warfare, the photos collected below depict lights in and out of action from WW I through Vietnam. If any reader has more information regarding a particular photograph, please contact the Webmaster. Also, if anyone holds a copyright on any image, please contact the Webmaster for proper crediting or removal.
Thomas Edison with a searchlight, 1915. The searchlight pictured used a new gas-filled, tungsten-filament
lamp an improvement (developed in 1913 by GE's Irving Langmuir) which was rapidly replacing the vacuum,
carbon-filament lamp pioneered by Edison. The cart in the photo is labeled "Edison Storage Battery Co.,"
an indication of the direction in which the inventor's interests had turned.
(SI Negative No. 87-1654, © Smithsonian Institution.)
A French searchlight (or "auto-projector") used in the aerial war against German zeppelins, February 1916.
The postcard below depicts the failed attempt of a German aviator to negotiate the aerial defenses
of Paris on the night of March 27, 1916.
A German searchlight mounted on an artillery carriage heads into battle during World War I.
A powerful searchlight used by the Federales in Monterrey, Mexico,
undoubtedly to deal with Mexican rebels hiding in the mountains.
A new type of searchlight, called the neon beacon light, is shown on November 9, 1927.
Invented by Dr. C.G. Found, General Electric scientist, standing beside it, this new
beacon sends out a powerful beam of red, fog-penetrating light. (© General Electric Co.)
Two views of the largest searchlight in the world at the time (1920s),
built by the London Electrical Co., Croydon, England.
A U. S. Marine Searchlight Squad pictured in Quantico, Virginia between the wars.
Another pre WW II photo captures a 60-inch light on a wooden platform.
This light was probably set up to assist coast artillery guns in tracking targets.
Two searchlight operators attached to A Battery of the 29th Coast Artillery Training Battalion pose with their unit
in the late 1930s. Note the carbon rod inserted through the hole in the center of the lens.
WW II combat artist John LaValle's depiction of "Coning Searchlights."
A U. S Army 60-inch searchlight lights up the night somewhere on the Italian front, 1944.
Photo by U. S. Signal Corps, courtesy National Archives.
A 24-inch searchlight on the WW II destroyer escort Slater. Today, the U.S.S. Slater is berthed
in Albany, NY, and is open to visitors. (Photo by Clifton W. Woltz.)
Two GIs pose with a captured Italian searchlight, 1944.
Two views of a German "Uhu" half-track, Sd.Kfz. 251/20. In order to increase the maximum effecive range of infrared-equipped
tank units, the Uhu was developed. A Sd.Kfz. 251 armored personnel carrier was equipped with a 60-cm antiaircraft carbon-arc
searchlight to which an infrared filter had been added. The maximum range of observation using a 10x scissors sight
was 1500 meters, and the light increased the maximum range of the standard IR sight to 700 meters.
Above: A U. S. Army searchlight crew at Fort Sill, Oklahoma early in the Vietnam era.
Below: 30-inch lights at the ready.
Members of the 2nd Platoon, H-29 (SLT) (29th Field Artillery, Searchlight), are pictured in Dong Tam,
Vietnam with their 30-inch jeep-mounted lights (see below for detail).
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