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Thread: Purple searchlights

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    Default Purple searchlights

    Hi,

    263 Sqn's ORB has an entry for 19th January 1940. Part of which reads;

    Co-operation with the searchlights was successfully completed and a definite conclusion made as to the value of the purple searchlight. It is considered that this type of searchlight is not yet bright enough to aid homing facilities. They are easily discernible when a beam, but when flying up or down the beam very little light can be seen. Since the object of the purple light is to direct pilots either onto a patrol line or for their safe return to base, it is thought necessary to have abeam that is discernible from all angles. A total of 16 hours night flying was completed.

    I have never heard of these purple searchlights before and I am very intrigued by their proposed use. Has anyone else come across trials of these purple searchlights?

    Regards,

    Alex

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    Not a direct answer to the question posed but it might help.

    The RAF Museum at Hendon has a display mounted poster which shows a variety of lights, sounds etc which were used for the aid of aircrews during the war years and afterwards. Amongst these aids is the coloured searchlight. At some stage, I think the use of searchlights included experiments with bouncing the light off the undersides of clouds, seeing the penetration effects of different coloured and powered lights through cloud and I seem to remember that one of the 'homing' searchlights was called SARAH - not to be confused with the later life saving jackets in which the homing beacon was called SARAH and is now SARBE.

    Another and very different use of coloured searchlights was as a 'master searchlight' for anti aircraft artillery. Still further, the army made use of searchlights to assist fire direction against ground targets and as demarcation lines.

    There will probably be a body of work on this topic - give DORIS at Hendon a call and ask the question; I can already see them ferreting away in their archives looking for the answer!!!

    Colin Cummings

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    Hi Colin,

    Thanks for the info, I'll look into this further.

    Regards,

    Alex

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    Colin, you must be thinking of Sandra Lights but Sarah was close! The official records I've turned up make no mention of them being coloured, just ordinary searchlights. All that means, of course, is that I haven't found the right documents!

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    SANDRA it is!!! Sarah was someone entirely different. I may also be wrong about the coloured beam but I have a recollection that colours were used but won't be too emphatic about it.

    Colin Cummings

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    As a side question, I came across reference in an ORB to an "aerial lighthouse", it was in relation to a pilot who became lost on a night navex. He found the light but still couldn't determine his location so circled it until dawn (which couldn't have been far away) and then force landed.

    The aerial lighthouse was at or very close to an airfield but the forced landing was in a normal field. What was it that the spotted? I'd have thought that advertising your presence in 1942 was not a very good idea unless you wanted to receive the unwanted attention of the Luftwaffe.
    Alan Clark

    Peak District Air Accident Research

    http://www.peakdistrictaircrashes.co.uk/

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