Author Topic: IR searchlight on planes?  (Read 313 times)

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Offline comrade harps

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IR searchlight on planes?
« on: January 12, 2019, 04:55:12 am »
Just toying with an idea circa whif-world 1960ish for a night attack bomber.

I know tanks like the M48 and M60 had infrared searchlights about then, but would that kind of thing work on a jet? Since I can't think of any, perhaps not - maybe the range is too short to be useful?

Another option would be an IR detector for IR target or navigation markers. Could IR be used before lasers became small enough to be carried?

Any thoughts from the brains trust?
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Offline Hobbes

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2019, 05:00:10 am »
IR detectors are widely used. Short-range AA missiles (Sidewinder, Red Top) use them (they home in on the IR emissions from the hot jet exhaust). Some fighters have IR sensors (IRST, IR Search and Track). IRST has the advantage over radar that it's a passive system (no emissions that can be detected), the disadvantage is shorter range.
Thermal cameras are used by SAR and police (useful to find people, who stand out pretty well in IR).

IR searchlights, I don't know.

Offline kitnut617

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2019, 06:39:45 am »
Um! a FLIR turret maybe ---   :unsure:
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Offline Air21

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2019, 06:46:11 am »
I knew there were purpose built illumination aircraft used in Vietnam so I googled around and found THIS Wikipedia page mentioning...

Quote
The US Army had been managing a piece of equipment referred to as S-202, which combined four IR cameras, a display, and operator chains, an artificial illumination component (described as "covert UV," using Ultraviolet light to provide illumination), and a freeze display function.

It was tested on a few different aircraft it seems.  I don't know the size difference between IR and UV lamps but I could see you're idea in practice.

Offline AS.12

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2019, 10:38:51 am »
IR searchlights were used on Gazelles and Pumas operating over Northern Ireland, back in the days when imaging IR wasn't sufficiently mature for field deployment.  I think they generally migrated over to IIR in the late-80s / early-90s.

Offline sandiego89

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2019, 02:47:14 pm »
It seems that given the time frame @1960 that IR systems were primary seekers like on certain interceptors and missiles, not really what we think of as sensor for an air to ground mission. I do know that a few IR Falcon missiles were used for (expensive) truck plinking in Vietnam, with probably the same success rate it had in the air to air role...
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Offline rickshaw

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2019, 03:50:20 pm »
IR illumination is fairly commonplace nowadays.   Back in the early 1960s, it was known technology - being first used by the Germans in 1945 on their Panther tanks and after WWII on sniper rifles by the US Army.  It was though, relatively short-ranged and required heavy batteries or a power source.  IR was used also for photoflashes for airborne recce aircraft - the aircraft would drop a photoflash bomb, it was explode above the target, bathing it in a flash of IR light and a camera would take a picture.  That dated to the Korean war.  UV was similar but newer.   ISTR that the IR searchlight on tanks was limited to about 1,000 metres range.  It was a combination problem of both the searchlight and the detectors.  In Vietnam, most engagement ranges were well within that limit on the ground.   
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Offline comrade harps

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2019, 03:59:53 pm »
I was mostly thinking about using IR in the air to surface role and reckoned that range would be a big limitation, what with altitude and speed combined.

When did IR linescan come in? I know the Patricia Lynn Canberra was about in the 60s over Vietnam giving real time IR surveillance.

Anyway, thanks for the responses. Just curious.
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Offline Mondria

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2019, 04:27:51 pm »
IR was tested on German planes during the war I think it was on the Bf110 as a anti shipping
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Offline Dizzyfugu

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2019, 03:11:59 am »
There was a pretty compact IR sight (called "Spanner") for nightfighters in WWII Germany, mounted on some Do 17Z. In the pic you can also see the IR headlamp that illuminates the targets, then made visible by the sensor in the Spanner device.





A derivative was also adapted for the Army and mounted on some Panther tanks, and even a portable version ("Vampir") that could be mounted on an MP or machine gun.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 05:12:16 am by Dizzyfugu »

Offline AS.12

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Re: IR searchlight on planes?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2019, 03:41:09 am »

The US M3 Carbine was the most widely-used IR illuminating device of WW Part 2 and remained on the secret list well into the 1950s!  It was originally designed to counter Japanese night-time infiltration on semi-occupied islands.