Searchlight History

Here you will find some vintage images of the carbon arc searchlights and also how they were used. We’ll update this page as time permits.  Besides being used for Anti-Aircraft duty these were also used to illuminate battlefields.  After World War 2 saw different uses.  One significant use was by NASA to light up the massive Saturn V rockets.  Many of the remaining searchlights were sold off as surplus to advertising companies.  Those ended up being heavily altered and anything that wasn’t required to make it light up and spin around was stripped off and discarded.  That is why is is difficult to find them in their unaltered condition with the servo positioning system intact.

A very early searchlight unit




The links below show some images of a Saturn V rocket being illuminated by a group of the 60″ carbon arc searchlights:



Here is another external website that has a lot of information about vintage searchlights that is worth reading:


If you know if any other good sites for searchlight history please send an e-mail to: rdoerr@bizserve.com or use the contact information on our home page.