Vickers Tank Periscope MK.IV

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Gundlach periscope.

The Gundlach Periscope, usually known under its British designation as Vickers Tank Periscope MK.IV, was a revolutionary invention by Polish engineer Rudolf Gundlach, manufactured for Polish 7TP tanks since end of 1935 and patented in 1936 as Gundlach Peryskop obrotowy. It was the first device to allow the tank commander to have a 360-degree view from his turret with a single periscope. By rotating the periscope and allowing the tank commander to look backwards through the second eyepiece, he no longer had to change position to look behind the turret. Early tanks had small turrets and fixed seating, without an independently rotating cupola, and so the commander wasn't easily able to move himself to another rear-facing periscope.

The design was first used in the Polish 7TP light tank. Shortly before the war it was given to the British and was used in almost all tanks of WWII, including the British Crusader, Churchill, Valentine, and Cromwell and the American Sherman. After the German and Soviet attack and fall of Poland in 1939 it was copied entirely from captured 7TP and TKS Polish tanks and used in all 1940 and later tanks of the Germany (including the Tiger) and later by USSR (including the T-34 and T-70).

As a part of Polish-British pre-war military cooperation, the patent was sold for a penny (actually 1 Polish Zloty) to Vickers-Armstrong. It was produced as the Vickers Tank Periscope MK.IV (pictured), and built into all British tanks (Crusader, Churchill, Valentine, Cromwell). After the fall of Poland, Germany, USSR and Romania captured some equipment, allowing them to copy the invention. In USSR the Gundlach periscope was known as MK-4 (harking to the British designation, as Russian sources openly confirm that it was copied from samples acquired with British-supplied tanks) and implemented in all tanks (including the T-34 and T-70). All Axis tanks and APC (including tanks of Italy, Romania, Hungary, Finland and Japan) were equipped or retro-fitted with this periscope till 1941. Later technology was transferred to USA and as a periscope M6 implemented in all US tanks (M3/M5 Stuart, M4 Sherman and others). At the end of WWII this technology was adopted throughout the world and used basically unchanged for almost 50 years, until it was replaced by electronic devices.

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Bibliography[edit]

  • Grzegorz Łukomski and Rafał E. Stolarski, Nie tylko Enigma... Mjr Rudolf Gundlach (1892-1957) i jego wynalazek (Not Only Enigma... Major Rudolf Gundlach (1892-1957) and His Invention), Warsaw-London, 1999.
  • PDF of 1938 US patent 2130006