Searchlight Station Z-15-4B,The USSR

  • In total, 15529 units were produced.
  • Station weight – 6100 kg
  • Searchlight weight – about 950 kg
  • Axial luminous intensity – 650 million W
  • Duration of burning of a pair of coals – 75 minutes
  • Beam range – up to 12 km
  • Deployment time is about 8 minutes.
  • Removal of the control post from the searchlight – 60 m
  • Travel speed – 60 km / h
  • Combat crew – 5 people

Automotive searchlight station Z-15-4B is one of the most famous Soviet systems of mobile anti-aircraft searchlight stations during the Great Patriotic War. It was intended for search, detection, illumination and tracking of enemy aircraft at night in order to destroy them by fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft artillery fire and anti-aircraft machine guns, as well as to illuminate distant ground targets, incl. – for anti-tank defense.

The Z-15-4B automotive searchlight station was a powerful searchlight with guidance and position control systems, transported in a low-sided body of a ZIS-12 long-wheelbase truck (with a wheelbase increased from 3810 to 4420 mm).

The ZIS-12 car was equipped with the most common removable closed-type lighting spotlight Z-15-4B (3 – zenith, 15 – lens size 150 cm, 4 – power in kilowatts) with an instant ignition electric arc lamp with two carbon electrodes, and a paraboloid glass reflector with a diameter of 1.5 m. The light source was a high-intensity burning arc, which provided a luminous intensity of up to 650 million candles (W) at a range or illumination height of up to 10 km. The burning time of the electrodes was 75 minutes, after which they had to be replaced.Depending on the modification of the station, the luminous flux could forcefully snatch enemy aircraft in the night sky at an altitude of 9 to 12 kilometers. Power to the searchlight could be carried out both from a mobile source of electricity (generator with a capacity of 20 kW), and from stationary sources of electricity.

The searchlight was mounted on a low-frame cart with four rubberized wheels, which was rolled onto a low cargo platform of a car and transported to combat positions. A reel with an electric cable and a hand winch was placed between the searchlight trolley and the car cabin, the power shield was located on the rear outer wall of the cabin. The searchlight was supplied with a control panel. There were single seats for the three crew members of the searchlight station in the rear corners of the cargo platform. An automobile searchlight station with a gross weight of 6.1 tons developed a speed of 60 km / h on the highway.

Searchlights Z-15-4 were reduced to separate anti-aircraft searchlight battalions, which consisted of three companies (three platoons). The platoon consisted of four searchlight stations. Combat use of searchlight stations consisted of searching for enemy aircraft with a beam of light and accompanying the target until it was destroyed by fire weapons. The first task of searching for enemy aircraft was performed by a searchlight-seeker – a searchlight equipped with synchronous communication and included in the Prozhzvuk system (Prozhzvuk-2, Prozhzvuk-4); the second is an accompanying searchlight, not equipped with synchronous communication and not included in the Prozhzvuk system.

Two search stations were supposed to use searchlights and a sound detector to find the enemy aircraft with a beam. The crews of these two stations Z-15-4 were supposed to capture and then continuously illuminate the enemy aircraft until it was destroyed by fighter aircraft or anti-aircraft artillery by fire. The beam could fall off the plane, so two other stations – “escorts” picked up the plane at the intersection of the beams, flashed it, then anti-aircraft artillery came into play. If the anti-aircraft gunners opened barrage fire without waiting for the target to hit the crosshairs of the beams, then the aircraft could no longer track the sound detector. With the help of several searchlights, searchlight fields (SPF) were created in the sky, which ensured the operation of anti-aircraft artillery and night operations of Soviet fighter aircraft.

In places where a large number of searchlights were concentrated, for example, on the approaches to Moscow, it was envisaged to create whole light searchlight fields, about thirty kilometers wide and up to fifteen deep. In the center of these fields, night fighters were on duty. They were also used to illuminate ground targets. So, in the interests of anti-tank defense, anti-aircraft searchlights operated near Moscow and Tula in the fall of 1941 and near Stalingrad in the summer of 1942. The importance of searchlights in the night air defense system began to gradually decline when effective radars appeared in the troops.But, nevertheless, the searchlights successfully fought the entire war and played an important role in the battle for Berlin. The most spectacular use of these searchlights took place in the troops of the 1st Belorussian Front on the eve of the battle for Berlin, on the night of April 16, 1945: three minutes before the end of the artillery preparation, 142 anti-aircraft searchlights with a force of 14 million candles were turned on, which allowed Soviet tanks and infantry to break through almost without hindrance. enemy defense at the Seelow Heights. In a stream of fantastic bluish light, Soviet infantry and immediate support tanks rushed into the attack. Marshal of the USSR G.K.Zhukov later recalled: “It was a picture of enormous impressive power, in my entire life I do not remember such a sight! The enemy was blinded and stunned, and in the first hours of the attack the Nazis were unable to provide organized resistance, their forward lines were crushed. “

Station Z-15-4B was produced in 1938 – 1942 at the Moscow plant “Prozhektor”, founded in 1932, and since 1934 specialized in the production of civilian searchlights and stations, large floodlights, anti-aircraft searchlight stations and ship searchlights. The discontinuation of the production of searchlights in 1942 was due to the fact that effective radar stations went to the troops. In total, 15 529 Z-15-4 car searchlight stations were manufactured during this time.

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