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American COP Jan/Feb 2010 - Page 38
Dave Douglas Night Vision For Dummies The Zeiss NV5.6X62T* any of us believe night vision equipment was initially developed for uS military forces during the Vietnam War — part of that’s true. The first usable NV devices were developed around 1939 by Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (German Electricity Company). Some sources say as many as 50 German Panther Tanks were equipped with night vision by the end of the European campaign in WWII. WWII Germany equipped some Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifles with their “Vampyr” man-portable system. The soldiers were called Nachtjäger or night-hunters. It wasn’t something you’d want to want to carry on a rapidly evolving SWAT mission. To operate this earliest of “man-portable” Generation 0 devices you’d need to carry a 30-lb battery for the light and a second smaller battery for the image converter. The light was a 35-watt tungsten spotlight with an infrared filter. The battery system was strapped to a pack frame and the light and scope attached 38 M to the rifle. It wasn’t something to pull out of your gear bag and head off to kick in a few doors. Technology Marches On The uS, British and Russian Armies were in parallel development of Gen 0 devices and actually deployed some units near the end of the war. The Korean War saw increased use of Gen 0 NV, but it wasn’t until Vietnam the next great leap into Gen 1, or true starlight equipment occurred. Previous iterations were active devices requiring an infrared light source, but with the starlight systems there was no need for an external light source. Gen 2 NV equipment incorporated a micro channel plate consisting of a wafer manufactured from thousands of hollow glass tubes. A single wafer boosted light amplification to 30,000 times, but by increasing the wafers they found they could achieve amplification of 1,000,000 times. Gen 3 was accomplished by adding a micro thin layer of aluminum oxide and a gated power supply. Some manuWWW.AMERICANCOPMAGAZINE.COM • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010