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NVG-s in the 80's


apelles
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NVGs existed, the question is just if they were available in meaningful numbers. For Germany, selected rifles would either have IR scopes or sometimes image intensifier scopes (one or two per rifle squad), vehicle commanders would have nothing. 1990/91 after the reunification I bought a Soviet night vision goggle cap on the black market. I suppose that means that at least the Russian tank commanders were equipped with them.

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I suppose that means that at least the Russian tank commanders were equipped with them.

Primary users for helmet-mounted NVGs were HET(and similar type vehicles) drivers. So in the Soviet army NVGs normally not existed at regimental level(but there were some night sights for small arms and night vision binoculars for recce)...

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Don't forget that it's harder on the computer than in real life, where you have smell, more sound/noise sources, full (and natural) surround sound, and you may have had the chance to memorize some parts of the terrain. You sense small hills and dips in the ground, you may remember that odd stone and instantly recognize where you are, you might even prepare some routes with glowing tape stripes.

Furthermore, the human eye can adapt to low light conditions better than it can while you squint in a more or less brightly lit room at a not too dark computer screen (where black rarely is "black" actually - just look at how much light is still coming from an LCD monitor at night when you have a simple black screensaver on (while the screen itself hasn't switched off yet).

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I try a little road march at night in Fort Knox. Without NVG it is incredible hard to orient myself. All of my respect for soldiers who did it without night vision equipment (and not lost).

The real terror (IMO, at least) was night-driving during the winter before Battle Management Systems and the like. Once you're off the road, tellling the difference between a snow-covered plain and an ice-covered pond is next to impossible. And this is true even with NVG (We had those, I'd never venture off road without them in areas close to water). Better be sure about your navigation in areas with plenty of small ponds around! My army lost at least two tanks this way during my service, with fatal outcomes for crew members in the last case.

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Here's a view though the PVS-5 nvg's which first showed up in the U.S. in the late 1970's, up until they started replacing them with later 3rd gen. PVS-7and PVS-14's after 1991. View is after a street light power failure.

At 0:25 seconds in you can see the light turn off in the distance, yet you don't get the glare like you see with the PNV-57 system because the Automatic Brightness Control is kicking in to maintain a uniform output brightness to your eyes to protect from glare and loss of vision on the battlefield.

View though the Russian PNV-57E for comparison. (Skip to 2:00 in to see through the device.)

and here:

You'll notice the sort of warping on the edges of the screen in the PNV-57, that's Geometric distortion caused by the accelerated electrons in the Gen 1 tube. and the lights cause bad "blooming" and streaking on the phosphor screen making it difficult to see whats under or near the bright light sources, on the other hand, you can see how much easier it is to see with the American PVS-5 since they don't have the distortion, and have automatic brightness and bright source protection systems to improve contrast.

Delft Sensor systems and other night vision manufacturers in Europe made systems that compare favorably and in some ways exceed some U.S. systems in performance. The European countries used cascaded gen 1 systems in the early to mid 80's with some more advanced Microchannel plate Gen 2 systems, imagine three of those 1st generation tubes from the PNV-57 being put in a line, the output from the first stage amplified by the second tube, and it's output further amplified by a final third stage, as well as compensating optics that helped remove most of the distortion you see in the video above. This makes a far more useful night vision tool compared to the single stage PNV-57, and is far more effective though more expensive as well.

I have a working set of PVS-5C model goggles with Gen2+ tubes which are dated 1987 so there were some improvements to the goggles by the late 1980's apparently it's a 30% increase in range and low light performance than the PVS-5A system from the late seventies according to my info.

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View though the Russian PNV-57E for comparison. (Skip to 2:00 in to see through the device.)

That's the one I had, too. Unfortunately I was surprised by the headlights of a car, which destroyed the CRT (overload).

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Ah, you used the PNV-57's thanks for that info Ssnake, I didn't think they'd be so sensitive, but they don't have the BSP circuit to cut power to the photocathode when exposed to bright lights like Western systems do.

I have a partial working PNV-57 with the padded helmet, only one tube works though, and no headphones or electronics in the headpiece.

Would you like another try with another set? :) I'd be glad to ship them to you, it would be my thanks for helping to make the dream of a fully functional M1A2 a reality.

And since they are Gen 0, they can be exported out of the U.S.

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...only if you live in rural areas and like to take a walk at night. I live in a city, and at night I work in my office until I'm too tired to go on. Obstacle avoidance on my way from the office to the sleeping room would the the only practical application. ;)

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...only if you live in rural areas and like to take a walk at night.

This certainly explains why I enjoy them, but your correct they aren't very practical if your in the city.

My interest in these things comes from years of making some of the sights, and using the systems over the years, definitely a very, very small community of enthusiasts.

modern-warfare-2-humor1.jpg

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yes but they need "some" light to work with, certainly they don't work in my cellar with the lights out and the door shut, lucky I have an IR illuminator that works with mine to light the way to the Thomas Crapper. :D

Apart from that I can't remember the last time I put batteries in it.

Here even Lidl sells them

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Your right about them needing some light to work, later generation tubes can create a image with less available light, but they all have IR illuminators for just such occasions and they tend to all run about quite a few hours continuously without needing a battery change.

I've always been fascinated with them. Great for star gazing too!

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Well, as tank commanders, we weren't issued any, and as I could demonstrate, having them gave you much better situational awareness (d'oh). So I simply brought it along on exercises, and avoided all the collision damages that were the norm in those days, at night.

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Yes nothing worse than the driver and gunner having night vision aids but the Commander didn’t. :)

Drivers going flat strap because they could see the ground and you having to duck at the last safe moment as branches, etc. loomed out of the darkness at a rapid rate.

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Yes nothing worse than the driver and gunner having night vision aids but the Commander didn’t. :)

Drivers going flat strap because they could see the ground and you having to duck at the last safe moment as branches, etc. loomed out of the darkness at a rapid rate.

Seem to remember this was modelled in SB 1 yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeears ago.

SB 1. Hmm, that's a blast from the past. :biggrin:

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Wow Ssnake, I don't know how you guys did it back then. As an American growing up in the 90's, I can't imagine doing anything technical or complex at night without night vision aides, let alone maneuvering an MBT over uneven terrain.

Did you guys go on maneuvers on really bad nights with overcast skies and no moon? Did you have practiced routes to follow?

Sorry for the questions, it's fascinating when I get a chance to hear what it was like to be one of the Cold Warriors at the height of the Cold War.

Also wanted to say thanks to all who served, it certainly wasn't easy for all sides involved, and thankful that things didn't go hot.

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Wow Ssnake, I don't know how you guys did it back then. As an American growing up in the 90's, I can't imagine doing anything technical or complex at night without night vision aides, let alone maneuvering an MBT over uneven terrain.

I wasn't in the military but I still used NVGs and thermal imaging in the early 90s, as the 2000s rolled around the CCTV cameras we had then were better than some of those early NVGs and SIT cameras we had to use back in the day.

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Wow Ssnake, I don't know how you guys did it back then. As an American growing up in the 90's, I can't imagine doing anything technical or complex at night without night vision aides, let alone maneuvering an MBT over uneven terrain.

In the days before night vision aids people worked on maximising their night vision by using minimum lights, deliberately not looking at naked lights, letting their eyes become accustomed to the dark, etc, etc. It's surprising what you can see in the 'pitch black' if you use such techniques and have patience. But we now have a generation who have been brought up on NVAs and never done this - and so are mystified as to how anyone can 'see in the dark' at all. IMHO, of course.

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