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View Full Version : Was there REALLY no navigation lights on runway at night during WWII?



Bang_D
10-04-2006, 03:55 AM
Sounds scary... At least in the game, the runway was compeletely dark at night, just http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif too difficult to land.

Bang_D
10-04-2006, 03:55 AM
Sounds scary... At least in the game, the runway was compeletely dark at night, just http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif too difficult to land.

XyZspineZyX
10-04-2006, 05:58 AM
I think that if they were waiting on planes at night that they lit up fires at the ends of the runway. Since the often moved from place to place, I dont think it was viable for them to set up proper lighting at airfields.

Dumbo_AK32nd
10-04-2006, 09:22 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Bang_D:
Sounds scary... At least in the game, the runway was compeletely dark at night, just http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif too difficult to land. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

If you've got a clear night and a full moon, what I usually do to help my tired old eyes is to turn the lights off in my room. Makes things look a tad brighter on the screen and, hence, easier to land...particularly on carriers!

Of course, when the wife peeks in on me she thinks I'm bonkers... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/53.gif

berg417448
10-04-2006, 09:26 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Bang_D:
Sounds scary... At least in the game, the runway was compeletely dark at night, just http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif too difficult to land. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

If your airfield was lit up at night then enemy night intruder aircraft would have an easier time finding it and bombing it. Blackout regulations were taken quite seriously.

Waldo.Pepper
10-04-2006, 09:58 PM
Decent lighting, navigational radio beacons, GCI Radars, and a host of other night time navigational aids were all but non-existent at the beginning of the war (1939), and were developed during the course of the war. If you were a pilot expected to fly at night as late a 1941, you were lucky to have a single light at the far end of the runway to tell you the direction to takeoff.

major_setback
10-05-2006, 04:26 PM
This is a bit off topic but fog dispersal systems were used consisting of thin perforated fuel pipes running alongside the runway, it was supposed to be effective in getting rid of fog around the airfield:

sorry it's a small picture, the main site is down:

http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:Oue2CMgRalAtrM:http://www.stelzriede.com/ms/photos/planes/lancs18.jpg

Philipscdrw
10-05-2006, 05:11 PM
In "Reach for the sky", Paul Brickhill's biography of Douglas Bader, there's a story of Bader passing over several flares while landing in a Spitfire at night. He overran the runway, hit a wall, broke the gear from his Spit and crushed his legs under the rudder-bar. Fortunately he'd already done this ten years before and already had tin legs, so they were just a bit dented.

He rammed a Bf109 while showing off in 1941, I believe, so flares along the sides of a runway at night were in use before that, at least by the RAF.

There's another anecdote of Bader, frustrated with the extremely slow progress of the civilian contractors tasked with painting Tangmere's long concrete runways green, tipped off a newspaper reporter. After headline news of Tangmere's glistening white runways acting as a beacon to the Luftwaffe en route to London, the job of repainting the runways and taxiways was completed much faster...

Chuck_Older
10-06-2006, 05:31 AM
On at least one occassion in '41 or '42, AVG pilots and ground presonnel used colored lanterns to illuminate a runway at night

mortoma1958
10-07-2006, 10:38 PM
It's easy in the game, you should try landing a real plane with no landing light. Even if there are runway lights, it's a very sobering experience. I have done it a few times....no fun.

VW-IceFire
10-07-2006, 10:50 PM
Funny story I read in a Spitfire book where a 109 pilot later in the war got turned around at night and landed at a RAF airfield. The field had its lights temporarily on for the landing Spitfires. The lights were then off again. I guess it was so dark the ground handlers went upto the plane and were scratching their heads when they couldn't find the access hatch for the gas.

So lights were mentioned in the story.

I guess the thing is that in some cases you don't want lights on at all.

Blanche2005
10-08-2006, 06:45 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by VW-IceFire:
Funny story I read in a Spitfire book where a 109 pilot later in the war got turned around at night and landed at a RAF airfield. The field had its lights temporarily on for the landing Spitfires. The lights were then off again. I guess it was so dark the ground handlers went upto the plane and were scratching their heads when they couldn't find the access hatch for the gas.

So lights were mentioned in the story.

I guess the thing is that in some cases you don't want lights on at all. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

That must've been so embarrassing for that poor hun!!

I wonder if bribery may have got a man out of that situation?

VW-IceFire
10-08-2006, 07:35 AM
There's some thought that he really wanted to defect but I guess he was pretty surprised and did try and make a short run for it.

I guess the ground crew was pretty surprised too...it was so dark outside they didn't immediately recognize that it wasn't a Spitfire so they were asking for flashlights.

major_setback
10-08-2006, 08:22 AM
I always turn the landing light off before going to bed. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

x6BL_Brando
10-08-2006, 10:49 AM
It's one of the features that I'd hope to see in SoW:BoB - that is, the ability to request that someone light a few flares on one's return. Timed, of course, because flares don't last too long. I think it would make a lot of difference to the immersion factor.
It would be controlled by things like the presence of enemy aircraft (or even ground forces - post BoB, of course) and would be suitably modelled so that the majority of any return night-flight would rely on map-reading.

Timed lighting has always been a sad lack in the FB repertoire imo, along with the transparency of objects in regards to setting lights inside buidings, tents and so on. I hope it will have been improved - along with the effect of moonlight reflecting off railway lines, rivers, lakes & so on. These were huge navigational aids during the Blitz and all the rest.

Then there's that stirring story about the American Admiral who sent off his pilots to find a Japanese fleet, and took the stirring decision to switch on the fleet's lights when they returned - low on fuel, and be-nighted - in spite of the danger from possible submarines and/or surface raiders. Was that Halsey? Please pardon my ignorance! I believe he is still revered by U.S. pilots for the decision.
Anyway, it's not something that can be done in FB with any spontaneity - which is a pity for the mission builders among us.

B.

darkhorizon11
10-12-2006, 10:57 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by VW-IceFire:
There's some thought that he really wanted to defect but I guess he was pretty surprised and did try and make a short run for it.

I guess the ground crew was pretty surprised too...it was so dark outside they didn't immediately recognize that it wasn't a Spitfire so they were asking for flashlights. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hah Now thats funny! A bit ridiculous though I'm gonna have to see some sources on that one!

Wtornado_439th
10-12-2006, 11:51 PM
Often read they would often position vehicle lights to light up the runways