Night Fight, the new age of warfare

Night Fight, the new age of warfare

Night Fight, the new age of warfare
With Scott McCorley

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this brief. It seems Jerry has a new bit of kit that enables him to see in the dark. As you can tell this can cause quite a bit of trouble for our chaps as we don’t have this kind of technology. The boffins at OSS are calling it night vision and from what they have told me it’s got us all here in HQ a bit worried especially considering that they infantry and what could possibly be up to 50 Panther tanks with what the boffins call night optics

So here are some tech specs and data on the new gizmos these German chaps have. According to the Boffins, it works by relying on ambient light instead of what they call an active infrared light source. They are also saying that these devices have image intensifiers that produce a light amplification of around 1000x, however, are quite bulky and somewhat impractical. Now that we have a base understanding of these so-called Gen 0 night vision devices that the Boffins have labelled. Let’s look at what they are.

First up is what they are calling the ZG 1229 code name Vampir, it’s been developed for use with the Wehrmacht for their Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle. It's intended primarily for night use. The chap who designed it is C.G. Haenel (OSS is looking into whether he can be persuaded into joining our side to develop these devices for us). Those chaps at OSS have managed to get their hands on one and from the report it is quite heavy, with the device itself and a bulky battery backpack weighing 15 kilograms (33 lb for our Yankee friends) in total. The Germans also have a name for the specialist grenadier carrying this device and is known as a Nachtjäger (night-hunter)

Night Fight, the new age of warfare

The ZG 1229 Vampir itself weighs 2.25 kilograms (5.0 lb) and is fitted with lugs on the StG 44 at the weapons production facility in Suhl.

According to our Intelligence lads, the Vampir night device was first used in combat in February 1945 against our Russian friends according to reports. Russian veterans reported that the German forces consisted of snipers shooting at night with the aid of 'peculiar non-shining flashlights coupled with enormous optical sights' mounted on their rifles. They have also started to equip similar infrared gear to both the MG 34 and MG 42 machine gun according to our INT lads.

They also have vehicle-mounted versions of these Night vision devices called FG 1250 or Fahr-und Zielgerät which is an active infrared night-vision device mounted on their tanks and other armoured vehicles such as Sd Kfz 251s. It consists of a specialized mounted, active infrared spotlight and accompanying image converter.

Night Fight, the new age of warfare

This is what worries us the most at HQ, their Panther tanks equipped with FG 1250 Sperber (Sparrow Hawk) infrared Nachtjager (Night fighting) vision scopes which are installed on the commander's cupola in place of the MG42 machine gun. This advanced device consists of a 300mm (11.8 inch again for our Yankee friends) Infrarot-Scheinwerfer (Infrared Searchlight) connected to a Bildwandler or "Biwa" (image converter) and a device that sensed the elevation of the main gun. Good fortune thought the INT chaps have summarised that only the crew commander of the tank can see the infrared spectrum and that he has to give directions to his crew for target indication.

The INT lads have summarised that this is their modus operandi for units equipped with these devices. It has Six Panthers equipped with Sperber devices that would work with one SdKfz.251/20 Uhu (Owl) half-track with a 600mm (23.6 inch) infrared searchlight, which extended their range out to 700 meters (765.5 yards). Additional infrared gear for machine guns and the MP-44 assault rifle were also developed to give escorting infantry infrared capability as well.

The big wigs in INT think that further development to give infrared searchlights and imagers to the driver and gunner as well may be in the works.

Night Fight, the new age of warfare

So that concludes the background of these devices. But I do hear your questions on how we can expect to wargame these. So the assessment is as followers.

The Germans can expect to choose the attack stance to take full advantage of the night fight/dawn rules as our army will find it difficult to spot in those conditions, as they have the option to use;


If a Force with Night Fighters is the Attacker in a mission without the Meeting Engagement rule, the player may attack at night. If they do so, Night Fighting Dawn rules (page 109) are in effect at the start of the game. Units from Formations with Night Fighters can move freely from the start of the game. German Units from other Formations or Support, unless equipped with Infra-red, may not move out of their Deployment Area while the game is played in Darkness, but can move when Dawn breaks. This can be challenging as it may force you to rethink your game style. It may mean choosing a stance that you may not normally choose to avoid night fight, or as the German player to take advantage of it due to the new equipment such as;


A Unit with Infra-Red rolls two dice on the Night Visibility Table and chooses the highest score (see page 108).


A Unit with an Infra-Red Searchlight may, instead of Shooting, Illuminate a target in Line of Sight within 32”/80cm. To do this a Unit with an Infra-Red Searchlight does not need to roll for Night Visibility and can automatically see out to 32"/80cm. All Units with Infra-Red (IR) may Shoot at that target without rolling for Night Visibility. Hits may be allocated to Teams from the same Unit within 6"/15cm of the target Team.


An Sd Kfz 251 Uhu tank team is sent to the rear at the beginning of their first Movement Step in which the game is fought in Daylight. An Sd Kfz 251 Uhu removed in this fashion does not count as Destroyed, and if Bailed Out, automatically Remounts. A Sd Kfz 251 Uhu tank team is brought forward at the beginning of their first Movement Step in which the game is fought at Night. Before moving an Infra-Red equipped Unit, you may place its Sd Kfz 251 Uhu on the table. The Sd Kfz 251 Uhu must be placed within 4"/10cm of a Team from the Unit, and may not be:

• within 16"/40cm of any enemy Team within Line of Sight, unless Concealed by Terrain from it, or

• within 4"/10cm of any enemy Team. Once Brought Forward in this way, the Sd Kfz 251 Uhu must move at Dash Speed (and therefore cannot shoot or assault this turn), but may Illuminate a target.

As the German player, you can tailor-make a list using the Clausewitz Panther or Panzersturm formations (more on the list-making in another part) and take advantage of the unique equipment available, however, be mindful that it can be a double edge sword especially when it comes to shooting. It does give you the advantage to set up and move freely without penalty for those units equipped with night fighting equipment especially if you wanted to lay an ambush or hide some big cats like Jagdpanthers. It also comes in handy for quickly moving your Panzersturm infantry up the field to assault onto objectives or hold areas for your tanks to advance into. These are just some of the ideas, however, you are not limited to these and the best way is to play some night fight missions or scenarios to get a feel for the rules and to test and adapt your playstyle to be prepared for those types of games.

So to all those out there, good hunting.

~ Scott
(Forewarned Forearmed)