Light as ammo


I’ve been watching a little known but, in my opinion, useful multipart WWII series called “The Unknown War” In “The Battle for Berlin” part it was said that the Russian side used 143 sky searching lights to blind the enemy before crossing Oder. Are there other known examples of military blinding by light?


Lasers that cause permanent blindness are actually banned by the UN from use in warfare.


[quote=“Falcon”]Lasers that cause permanent blindness are actually banned by the UN from use in warfare.[/quote]

But have been used by the British at least in the Falkland War. I would not be surprised if these lasers are still in use at strategic objects or kept in storage for the day to come.


When I served in the Gulf War, I heard that some M-1 Abrahams crews used the laser rangefinder on the main gun to blind individual enemy soldiers. I can’t say if it is true or not or if it is even possible, but I’m sure someone at least tried to do it.

I am also under the impression that the use of searchlights at night during WWII sometimes had the effect of blinding bomber crews. I read somewhere that if a plane got caught in a searchlight, other lights were then also trained on it for mass effect.



AKMS, the lights were used to illuminate the targets for the AA guns.


During the Cold War, there were a number of reports floating around of Soviet ships using lasers to target the cockpits of US aircraft. I heard mention of casualities but cannot confirm if there were any or how bad. This was significant concern once upon a time but it has been a long time since I have heard it mentioned. I think US aircraft now have protection. Most combat aircraft probably have this protection.

The use of lasers has been a recurring theme that has generated lots of questions.

When you use a laser to designate a target for a 2000lb laser guided bomb, do you have to worry about the laser designator causing blindness?

If you are going to fire a high power laser to kill somebody, do you have to worry about smoke and haze that would degrade the beam so it would only burn and blind?

There have been interesting applications of lasers floating around for years. I have even heard rumor/speculation of one shot laser cartridges that could be fired out of weapons. I have no idea where the idea went if anywhere.



Laser pens are used as a stupid and very dangerous weapon to blind oncoming motorists by gangs of young hoodlums from motorway (freeway) bridges.If you should be unfortunate enough to be a victim keep your eyes focussed on the road and never look up into the light source. If they can cause a crash they will ransack the car and be gone before the cops arrive.

They are also used against police helicopters by much the same sort of lowlife.

Conspiracy theorists in the Death of Diana Princess of Wales believe that her driver was blinded by a blast from a hand held laser torch prior to the crash in the underpass which killed her, the driver, and Dodi Fayed. True? We will never know.
Even going back as far as the Korean War bright lights and flashes were used to destroy the vision of attacking forces.

Motorists are advised to keep a camera in their car not least because in the event of a confrontation situation a few photos are very useful as evidence but the flashes from the camera direct into their eyes takes away their vision and their resolve to escalate the situation further.


I would like a temporary blindness causing laser disguised as a flashlight. As we are forbidden from defending ourselves with force in the UK. In case of an attempted street robbery it could be used to temporarily blind and disorientate an attacker. As it causes no lasting damage, they would also have a hard time proving that you used it.

Lew, as for the smoke weakening the beam for using lasers as weapons, this is one of the problems that no one has yet solved. Another one is carrying a power source big enough to power today’s lasers that are capable of being used like a firearm.


Of course there is the old police trick of shining a flashlight directly into the eyes of anyone they want to stop or question. Very effective, it disables the subject for several minutes. Non lethal force. Of course if you are going to use it properly you do it with the flashlight held sideways at arms length in your left hand and then snap it off and step to the right distancing yourself from the light source. Then if they do shoot back you are not where the light was a second before.


I am also under the impression that the use of searchlights at night during WWII sometimes had the effect of blinding bomber crews. I read somewhere that if a plane got caught in a searchlight, other lights were then also trained on it for mass effect.

Thats true, once a bomber got caught in a light other lights would follow and all the guns would try to pick it off.


Flashlights definitely stop dogs from approaching you at night. I stopped an Akita that had ulterior motives with a 5-cell Streamlight (no, I didn’t club the dog). He kept ducking his head trying to look under the beam of light, but didn’t move an inch. Coyotes will keep moving, but they won’t approach. They probably expect a bullet to follow shortly.


My Father was a Gunner on 90mm Anti-Aircraft in WW-II. He said that Each Battery of 4 90mm guns had two search lights. The lights were tied into the Fire Control Radar. When one searchlight picked up a plane, the FCR automatically directed the second light to the same spot. Once the two lights made an “X” on the plane, the FCR could then compute the altitude and distance. It then sent a signal to the 4 guns which automatically set the fuze setter to the proper time of flight to the altitude and kept the guns panning with the planes. He said that once the search light beams crossed on a target, they would hit it at least 80% of the time. That all worked fine until the first night they got hit with the new Me-262 jets. He said they were so fast that the guns could not pan fast enough to keep up with them. He was glad they did not enter German service until late 1944. It was his belief that no ever shot one down using AAA.


Thanks EOD. I understand that the searchlights were to illuminate the aircraft for AAA gunners, but I was led to beleive that there was a secondary blinding effect on the crew.

As for light as a weapon or ammunition, what about “flash-bang” grenades. Blinding light and concussive effect.

The “Surefire” weapon lights and their imitators are advertised for their blinding, high lumen output. These are widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan…

I once used a 3 cell Maglight to dissuade a home intruder from coming in any further. I sincerely beleive that the light had a dazzling effect on him and he never saw the .40 caliber Glock in my other hand. It’s a good thing for both of us that he turned around and left in a big hurry.

After this incident I went out and bought a very nice “surefire” with an even higher lumen output than the 3-cell. I used to take this on my travels when carrying a firearm was not an option. Unfortuantely some nice TSA agent has it now after he (or she) went shopping in my suitcase…




Don’t forget the Light Sabers of Star Wars.



There was the supposed Archimedes death-ray which was used around 213 B.C. to sink ships by burning them with concentrated sunlight reflected off many bronze shields. The Mythbusters tried this out and found that it was not possible however, even with perfect mirrors.


And Buck Rogers’ Disintegrator Pistol.

Now don’t anybody try to tell me they were not real. I saw them in action.


Maybe you can find your father in this photo? If too small to read, I’ll send you the original scan, it’s huge.


Vlad–Nice picture, but my Father would not be in it. He was in Battery B, 419th AAA. Took his training at Corpus Cristie, Texas.


I saw the Mythbuster movies on this experience.
If i remember well they did the test in california;
Nothing to see with Sicilia where it is a lot hoter (and sunnier).



About pure light used as a weapon there is something in a Tom Clancy book.
He talks about a flash light so powerfull it can knock down a guy.

It is just a book, you can argue.
Right, but all other informations he gives in his books about different subjects as submarines, torpedoes, SONAR, electronic warfare and even suppressed weapons are very accurate and this guy is very well documented.
(Too well if I remember and he got some problems some years ago)

If this weapon doesn’t still exist perhaps researchs have been made on such a light and gave good promises.