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bob lembke

"Scissors Telescope"

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In WW I German artilley and staff used Scherefernrohr or "scissors telescope"s to observe and fire-direct artillery fire and follow actions. Right now I am translating the memoire of a German commander of a 30.5 cm mortar battery (s=K=M Batterie Nr. 1) firing on a fort at Antwerp, observing the strike of his shells through one of these devices. (On two successive days my grand-father visited this battery as it fired at another Belgian fort a few days before this.) We all have seen photos of these devices in use, a tripod, and a large stereo-scopic telescope device that had the exit objectives about two feet over the head of the observer, allowing cover for the useful head from a trench observation post.

Does anyone have specifics on these? Model numbers, manufacturers (Zeiss?), magnification powers? Can the two arms move closer or further apart, altering the stereoscopic effect? Were there several models?

Bob Lembke

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Bob

If you aretalking of a 'donkey ears' stereo periscope I can't see where the scissors comes in.It sounds like confusion with the British periscope that had a scissors type 'body' with a mirror at each end. A useful and pocketable device. There is another thread about the 'donkey ears' 'scopes.

John

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Bob

If you aretalking of a 'donkey ears' stereo periscope I can't see where the scissors comes in.It sounds like confusion with the British periscope that had a scissors type 'body' with a mirror at each end. A useful and pocketable device. There is another thread about the 'donkey ears' 'scopes.

John

Hi, John;

The "scissors telescope" is a literal translation of the German term, used in this case by a foot artillery officer and commander of a 30.5 cm battery. I will do a search for the "donkey ears" term; I might guess that they are the same, but I never heard the term. The Hun used a lot of these.

These were big devices, they might have weighed 30-40 lbs, aside from the large tripod. With the latter they stood 7-8 foot tall. Not pocketable.

Thanks,

Bob

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John;

I see that you have a pair of WW II German ones. The WW I varient I am thinking of were larger, and Hptm. Neumann could watch considerable detail from a range of about 4 miles. What power are yours? I could see a couple of models; the CO of a 77 mm battery getting a different pair than the CO of a 305 mm or 420 mm battery, my current interest.

Bob

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John;

I see that you have a pair of WW II German ones. The WW I varient I am thinking of were larger, and Hptm. Neumann could watch considerable detail from a range of about 4 miles. What power are yours? I could see a couple of models; the CO of a 77 mm battery getting a different pair than the CO of a 305 mm or 420 mm battery, my current interest.

Bob

Bob

The only numeric marking on mine is H/6400. The meaning of which is unclear.

John

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John;

I see that you have a pair of WW II German ones. The WW I varient I am thinking of were larger, and Hptm. Neumann could watch considerable detail from a range of about 4 miles. What power are yours? I could see a couple of models; the CO of a 77 mm battery getting a different pair than the CO of a 305 mm or 420 mm battery, my current interest.

Bob

However good the optical quality, the power that a telescope or binocular can support is really determined by its objective lens diameter. These being in the region of 50mm diameter, an exit pupil of about 5mm or more would be desirable to make them usable in poor light, meaning the magnification is not likely to exceed 10x.

A large depth of field is also desirable in a military instrument, so as to minimise the necessity for fiddling with the focus when observing objects at varying distances, and this also encourages a lower magnification - a typical range would be in the 8 - 10x region.

Since small differences in optical quality have considerable influence on the user's perception of detail in the image, it can be quite difficult to distinguish between magnification powers in this range - a slightly better, or better-maintained, 8x instrument can appear more powerful than a slightly less good 10x.

Regards,

MikB

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If you have a scissor telescope with the H/6400 mark then it is from the period after World War 1. I have german scissor telescopes used by infantry and artillery. What want you see?

Best regards Sven

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Sven;

I am writing a book about the Riesengeschuetzes in the West in 1914, and I have just read the account by the commander of a 30.5 cm Batterie (Hauptmann Neumann) as he observed the strike of his shells on the fort through his "scissors telescope", and a Belgian soldier bravely climbing out of a "manhole" during the shelling to wave a white flag, as a shell detonation close to the command post had knocked all of the officers unconcious or dead. He was only 1000 meters in front of his firing position, so he was observing detail at a distance of about 5 km., suggesting more magnification than 8x.

I have seen many photos of these "scissors telescopes", some seem similar but larger that the examples shown above. I was looking for a good description of them, model numbers, if any, magnifications, manufacturers. A gun with a 13 km range (the 42 cm Gamma-Gerat) might be issued more powerful optics than a 77 mm battery. Any detail welcomed.

Gruss aus Philadelphia,

Bob

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If you have a scissor telescope with the H/6400 mark then it is from the period after World War 1. I have german scissor telescopes used by infantry and artillery. What want you see?

Best regards Sven

Yes mine are definitely WW2 vintage. Made in Prague but with German markings. Thinking about the scissors action, yes I suppose they could fit the bill.

John

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Sven;

I am writing a book about the Riesengeschuetzes in the West in 1914, and I have just read the account by the commander of a 30.5 cm Batterie (Hauptmann Neumann) as he observed the strike of his shells on the fort through his "scissors telescope", and a Belgian soldier bravely climbing out of a "manhole" during the shelling to wave a white flag, as a shell detonation close to the command post had knocked all of the officers unconcious or dead. He was only 1000 meters in front of his firing position, so he was observing detail at a distance of about 5 km., suggesting more magnification than 8x.

I have seen many photos of these "scissors telescopes", some seem similar but larger that the examples shown above. I was looking for a good description of them, model numbers, if any, magnifications, manufacturers. A gun with a 13 km range (the 42 cm Gamma-Gerat) might be issued more powerful optics than a 77 mm battery. Any detail welcomed.

Gruss aus Philadelphia,

Bob

In good light you might make that out at 8 - 10x at 5km. Since the German line of advance was broadly westward, they'd be favoured by morning light, the Allies by afternoon - Hesketh Prichard comments on that.

The British were quite happy to use telescopes of 20x - 30x on a 2"/50mm objective lens, as indeed Scots deerstalkers had been for decades by WW1. These scopes had fewer air/glass surfaces than prismatic binoculars (whether "scissor"/"donkey's ears" or otherwise, the fundamentals are pretty similar)and no total internal reflections, so lost less light internally. Nevertheless, they don't have the low-light capability of a 5mm or larger exit pupil. If the power is going to be significantly greater than 8 -10x, the objective needs to be in the 60 - 80mm range.

Regards,

MikB

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Mike;

I have binoculars of 8x and 10x, but I have not used them in centuries and I have lost my sense of how effective they are. When I started climbing in the Swiss Alps in the early 1980's my Slovene guide carried a Russian 25x telescope much like you described. I went to a camera dealer, intending to buy an inexpensive pair of binoculars (as it was not critical gear, and I might drop it or my pack in a crevasse, or something), but the totally evil dealer insisted on first showing me a minaturized Leitz 10x pair of binoculars, and even stepping out of the shop and looking down the street, the astonishing quality and performance convinced me to pay much too much money for an astonishing instrument far better than I needed.

So I guess that these were generally 8x or perhaps 10x, but with a tripod and the adjustable wide objective seperation they gave very good performance. I have a photo somewhere of three Feuerwerk=Offizieren with a pair of these that seem larger than most ones I have seen. It would make sense that the officers of a battery of guns firing shells that cost 2500 marks each to a range of nine miles would be supplied with superior optical devices. Every shell that was fired was individually spotted and provided fire control and when dark fell nothing was fired till morning.

Bob

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Might be of interest, drawing of German artillery spotters on Russian front.

post-11859-0-40945100-1309722195.jpg

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Sven;

Absolutely fantastic. You answered my questions and many more that I did not ask.

Still surprising that, with a quick scan of all of the images, I did not see one designation of optical specifics. When a child we had a pair of old Zeiss binoculars, and of course they were marked "8 x 30", as have any binoculars that I have ever held. Did they zoom? (I would think not.)

Thanks also to auchonvillersomme. Our present-day occupational safety agency would look quite ascance at those ladders. I have seen a photo of one before, but not so dramatic (and exposed). One of the advantages of fighting the Russians in WW I. Setting up one of those in the open on the West Front would have been an exercise fraught with danger.

Bob

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When a child we had a pair of old Zeiss binoculars, and of course they were marked "8 x 30", as have any binoculars that I have ever held. Did they zoom? (I would think not.)

Bob

I too would think not.

Many English telescopes of the period had a variable-magnification slide (sometimes called 'pancratic') in a small additional drawtube at the eye end. This increased the distance of the magnifying eyepiece cell from the inverter cell as it was drawn out, and was frequently marked with magnifications typically varying between 20x and perhaps 40x.

These are generally of limited usefulness, though I've once succeeded in reading a notice at higher mag that I couldn't read at a lower one. They don't exactly zoom, as you have to refocus after changing power.

Zoom capability in binoculars is relatively recent, and I have never seen one that was any good. Usually there are extra air/glass surfaces involved, reducing brightness, and often a reduced field of view even at the lower end of the zoom. To produce comparable image quality requires better lens and prism quality. There's also the mechanical reliability of the zoom's moving parts to be considered. It's basically a gimmick, and similar amounts of cash spent on a fixed power would almost always get you a better instrument - a fact which would probably not escape most military purchasers.

Regards,

MikB

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