Monday 21 October 2019

Night Driving

"To the Deputy Chair of the Committee of Defense, comrade Molotov

In accordance with State Committee of Defense decree #2181ss issued on August 18th, 1942, the Special Design Bureau of the NKEP produced a batch of 25 night driving devices for T-34 tanks.

24 devices were installed on commanders' T-34 tanks in the 19th and 157th Tank Brigades of the 26th Tank Corps, 5th Tank Army, subjected to trials, and left with the brigade for further use in order to determine their worth in night combat.

During the trials it was established that:
  1. The devices are high quality and easy to use.
  2. If the driver strains, it is possible to drive in total darkness with closed hatches at a speed of 12-15 kph. 
  3. While stationary, a human, tree, bush, building, or car can be seen at a range of up to 50 meters. When moving the aforementioned objects can be seen at a range of up to 30 meters.
  4. A dirt road without a well defined edge is hard to see both while stationary or moving.
  5. The device does not have padding on either of the eyepieces. The driver cannot use the device if the tank is shaking severely for fear of injury.
  6. If the device is installed instead of the observation periscope then the field of view is shifted relative to the center of the tank.
  7. The headlights need to be protected from the effect of bullets, shell splinters, and shockwaves.
  8. The dimensions of the power supply and spare parts box need to be reduced.
Without the correction of the aforementioned defects it would be impossible to accept the device into mass production for use on T-34 tanks.

In addition, the commanders of the 26th Tank Corps suggest that a variant should be developed for the commander to observe and fire at night time.

I consider it necessary to order the NKEP OKB to urgently correct the design defects in night vision devices and produce 60 sets in the 4th quarter of 1942 to install on tanks with the goal of reaching a final verdict regarding the possibility of using these devices in the tank forces.

At the same time, I ask you to order the NKEP to produce a new device for the tank commander to observe and fire the gun at night at a range of 200-250 meters by December 1st of this year.

Deputy Chief of the GABTU, Major-General of the Tank Forces, Korobkov
October 23rd, 1942"


  1. What sort of device is this? IR??m

    1. Near IR receiver plus active IR illuminator (presumably the "headlights" mentioned in the report) was more or less the default for period NV devices yeah. Wasn't until around Vietnam that the tech got refined enough to get by on ambient light alone.

    2. There's a decent summary on Wikipedia actually:

      "Unlike later technologies, early Generation 0 night vision devices were unable to significantly amplify the available ambient light and so, to be useful, required an infra-red source." Fully passive "starlight" imaging in an actually militarily useful size factor took the developement of fiberoptics in the early Sixties (the tech itself dated to the Fifties and the Germans had already done some preliminary experiments with the concept during the war).