Nachtjager (German Night Hunters) Gruppe
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Nachtjager (German Night Hunters) Gruppe

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Though it was too late to change the course of the war, experimental weapons such as the Vampir Sperber and Falke were the first examples of such gear as night-vision goggles and targeting systems that many modern soldiers use in the field today.

By late 1944 experiments were taking place with night vision equipment - was this the weapon to turn the tide of war in Germany's favour?

The ZG 1229 Vampir, was an active infrared device developed for the Wehrmacht and fitted to the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle. 310 units were reported as being delivered to the Wermacht from early 1944 but actual combat use is believed to have been from February 1945 where reports from the Eastern front consist of snipers shooting at night with the aid of 'peculiar non-shining torches coupled with enormous optical sights' mounted on their rifles.

The Nachtjäger (night-hunter) would have to carry the Vampir (weighing approx. 2.25 kilograms 5 lbs.) as well as a 13.5 kilogram (about 30 lbs.) wooden cased battery for the light, and a second battery fitted inside a gas mask container to power the image converter, all strapped to a Tragegestell 39 (pack frame 1939).

Similar infrared gear was 'possibly' fitted both to MG34 and MG42 machine guns.

During this same period test were being carried out where infrared equipment was fitted to tanks with at least some images seeming to corroborate this.

One system seems to have been used, the FG 1250 Sperber (Sparrow Hawk),It consisted of a 30cm FG 1250 infrared searchlight (with a useful range of 600m), coupled with an image converter operated by the tank commander. Tanks equipped with IR were intended to operated with a SdKfz.251/20 Uhu (Owl) half-track with 60cm infra-red searchlight and Falke (Falcon) mounted on any type of armoured fighting vehicle.

Ultimately the use of infra red equipment was short-lived, minor tactical success from IR assaults would yield no operational gains at this late stage of the war, equipment failure, lack of supply/training, operational faults (such as snow blindness and the inability to tell friend from foe) all contributed to the little actual use of these new weapons.


  • 1 x German Heer with infra-red assault rifles
  • 1 x Panther Ausf.G with infra-red sights
  • 1 x Sd.Kfz.251/1D Hanomag half-track
  • 1 x Sd.Kfz.251/20 'Uhu' with infra-red searchlight

Models supplied unassembled and unpainted

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