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Motor Searchlights With the French Army.

2nd October 1913, Page 21
2nd October 1913
Page 21
Page 21, 2nd October 1913 — Motor Searchlights With the French Army.
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Remarkable Results Achieved in the Manceuvres.—Cancellation of Orders for Horsed Plant.

While the main manceuvres, with three army corps, were being carried out in the south-west of France, special attention was being paid in the Brittany manceuvres to night attacks with and without the use of searchlights, and to effective firing in daylight and at night. The French army has a most varied selection of searchlights in use, supplied by such firms as De Dion Bouton, Breguet, and Sautter-Harle, The vehicles are both horse-drawn and motor-driven. Tho former generally comprise two vehicles. one carrying a 12-16 h.p. four-cylinder motor and dynamo, and the other the searchlight, the two being connected by a couple of hundred yards of cable. In competition with this equipment was a new model, presented by Messrs. Santter Heade, of Paris; this is the subject of our illustrations. The chassis is practically a standard type of 14 h.p., the four-cylinder motor having a bore and stroke of 75 mm. by 130 ram. respectively. It has a four-speed gearbox and shaft drive on orthodox lines. The pleasing feature of these new vehicles is the neat way in which the electric installation has been carried ont. The dynamo is mounted under the front seat, and is driven by a silent chain front the gearbox, which has been modified to provide for this drive. The dynamo is only in operation when the vehicle is at a standstill, it being put into engagement by the operation of a small lever close to the driver's left hand, While being fully protected under the seat, the dynamo is decidedly accessible by means of a large door in the side panel.

Can be Operated 250 Yards Away.

As will be seen from one of our illustrations, a pleasing torpedo type of body has been designed, with accommodation for two officers facing rearwards. These fifilr steel cable stays with spring attachments. The searchlight can be operated while in position on the motor vehicle and can be swung about in any position. In addition, provision is made for taking it off the vehicle, placing it en a tripod carried on one side of the car, and operating it a distance of 250 yards away from the vehicle. The cable for this purpose is contained within achest at the rear of the body.

These vehicles are capable of a speed of about 40 miles an hour on the open road, and should give an average of 24 to 25 miles an hour on give-and-take roads. There is adequate clearance for operatingin rough country, the wheels being shod with pneumatic tires of 935 mm, by 105 mm. section.

More Accurate Shooting Results.

The practical tests proved that this type of vehicle was so superior to the horse-drawn searchlight, that further orders for the latter pattern were immediately cancelled. Having an adequate clearance, the motor vehicle could travel over any ground passable for horses, while possessing an immense advantage in

the matter of speed. The method of operating was to lay plans for the night attack during daylight hours, pick out the position and get the range, then take up that position in the dark. In the effective firing tests, using life-sized dummy figures, it. was found that the average number of hits was much higher when firing at night with the use of the searchlight than during broad daylight. This applied not only to rifle firing but to machine guns, there being an improvement of 3 per cent. -and 5 per cent. respectively. The conditions were those of a genuine night attack, the targets being picked out by the searchlights and the troops having to discover the range. Undoubtedly as the result of these manceuvres there will be a considerable increase in the number of light motor-driven searchlights for use with both light artillery and infantry. The 14-16 lisp. type with a 24 in. searchlight appears to be the type giving the greatest satisfaction. The inability to make use of the searchlight while the vehicle is in motion does riot appear to be a disadvantage, for within 30 or 40 seconds of the vehicle being brought to a standstill the searchlight can be put into operation.

The Heavier Types in Use.

Among the bigger types of vehicles. with searchlights having a diameter of 3 to 4 ft., there was less novelty. These being very heavy vehicles have naturally a lower rate of speed. Their obvious -place is with heavy artillery for coastdefence work or in connection with a line of forts. These vehicles differ from the lighter type by being able to bring their searchlights into play when under way. They have an arrangement for quickly detaching the searchlight, which is carried on a bogey, and drawing it to any suitable position not accessible to the entire vehicle. So far as can be learned from the opinions expressed by members of the commission charged to follow those trials, the motor searchlights gave considerably better results then had ever been hoped for. Tho outstanding advantage which these outfits possess over the old form of two-vehicled horse-drawn equipment is, of course, their great mobility.


Organisations: French Army
People: Dion Bouton
Locations: Paris

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