Russian ПП-1 type Optical Sight for MG (part 1)

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mlespaul

FNG / Fresh Meat
Jeff, I apologize for the length of this...but it's interesting stuff...sooooo..
Well, yes, the first one does look like the TSR-1 for the Beobachtstungpanzer Panther, but the Beo.pzr Panther with all the optical gizmos never really went into production but this might have been some sort of field exercise with a modified standard Panther. The Beo.Pzr Panther had a short dummy gun. The observation panzers (there was a Panther, Pzr III, and Pz IV version) were designed to be sent out with artillery units and batteries to forward observe and direct the points to be located, coordinated and forwarded to the batteries for laying fire. It was designed to be a "moving Observation Point". The 'artillery units' were mostly made up of the self-propelled types, like the Hummels and Wespes. Pretty cool idea for RO instead of having to run around in a clown car or Skdfz 251 and click on a place on the map with binos, then run back...just do it from inside one of these in a Pzr III/IV Beo.Pzr..
About your picture...While the PzrIII and IV versions DID see service with these artillery units, the Panther version never did, but ONE prototype from FAO was actually built for sure according to 1943-sealed drawings. According to Trojca (more below), the prototype turret was built in Aug/Sep 1943 and installed in a standard Panther Ausf. D chassis. The commander's cupola was eventually taken from the late Ausf. A turret-case with side-swinging hatch cover instead of the drum type, and as far as anyone knows, never combat proven. But your photo may be of the actual prototype :).

According to Waldemar Trojca's Panther Vol. 6:
"Turret roof held an observation periscope Turm-Beobachtsfernrohr (TBF) 2 in a hatch close to the commander's cupola. The cupola held seven episcopal vision ports instead of the standard glass blocks. Another observation periscope, the Turm-Sehrohr (TSR 1), was fitted in the right side of the turret, at the observer's position who took the place of the loader in a regular Panther. The front part of the the turret also held an optical rangefinder, with lenses protruding from sides of the turret protected by armored sponsons...on both sides of the fake gun mantlet, armored hatch covers [identical to the letter-box covers used for the bow MG position in the Panth. Ausf D and early A] protected the lenses of the optical rangefinder with a 1320mm base (5x magnification, with electrically lighted reticles for night operation). The optical rangefinder was made by Zeiss and some sources state 1250mm as the base." Trojca goes on to say he chose to go with 1320mm base for his drawings, or where he even got such a number in the first place but he doesn't say why. I disagree with him, as I've not yet read of any RFs with a 1,32 m designation, but this may have been a one-off. I tend to lean towards Jentz, anyway, as below.

The periscope in your photo is likely a TBF2, not the TSR1, according to this drawing. The TSR would have been forward and to the right (at the loader position). I say this tentatively, because even Trojca and Jentz seem a tiny bit confused over which was which.

33461341wq7.jpg


Trojca goes on to say:
"other observation and optical instruments of the FAO Panther turret included:
- two Turm-Beobachtungsfernrohr 2 (TBF 2) periscopes (one reserve)
- two Turm-Sehrohr 1 (TSR 1) periscopes (one reserve)
- one Scherenfernrohr 14Z field binocular

The TSR 1 or the field binocular were mounted in a special bracket inside the commander's cupola, to enable safe surveillance of the battlefield from within the tank, with only the optical parts sticking out of the commander's cupola. The TBF2 had a special hatch cut in the turret roof, with an armored cover, placed over the observers's position on the left of the turret."

This sort of conflicts, with what hes says at the top, so maybe Waldemar has his periscopes confused with each other (shrug).

So let's move on to Jentz. His "Panzer Tracts" #11-1 "Panzerbeobachtungswagen" for the Pzr. Beo Panther gives the following on page 39: "The design already incorporated a built-in rangefinder, the T.B.F. 2 observation periscope mounted in the turret roof to the right of the commander's cupola, and a T.S.R.1 spotting periscope mounted in the turret roof by the gunner.....other components specifically designed for this turret included....a hatch in the middle of the turret roof and mount the T.B.F.2 observation periscope."

Jentz's drawings show a top down view of the turret, but it's not clear where the openings are, and they don't lend as much detail as I would like regarding our optical questions. Jentz goes on:

"The instruments in the Panzerbeobachtungswagen were designed to measure the initial range as well as switches and corrections based on fall of shot for transmission to the artillery. It was equipped with an E.M. 1.25 m (1.25 meter base) range finder, a T.B.F.2 observation periscope (with spare), a T.S.R.1 spotting periscope (with spare), an SF14Z scissors periscope, and a K.Z.F.2 telescopic gunsight (with spare). <-std kugel MG hull gunner scope ;)

"The E.M. 1.25 range finder mfg'd by Zeiss was mounted inside across the front of the turret with vision slots cut into the front plate for the instrument. These slots could be closed by hinged cover plates from inside the turret. There was armor protection behind the vision slots in the turret front plate which could be dismantled when the RF was removed and installed. The graticules on the RF could be illuminated for use in dim light.

The T.B.F.2 observation periscope was mounted in the center of the turret in a ball mounting in the roof plate. Counterbalanced by a an elaborate rig of pulleys and counterweight, the T.B.F.2 could be raised and lowered through 37 centimeters. When it was in the lowered position, the opening in the roof above the periscope could be colsed by a hinged cover plate. The T.B.F.2 could be traversed through 360 deg and tilted through 10 degrees. The T.S.R.1 spotting periscope or the SF14Z scissors periscope was mounted on an adjustable bracket inside at the base of the commander's cupola."

He then describes the special azimuth device also installed in the turret.

Observation equipment:
Em 1.25m range finder
TBF2 10x (5.7 deg FOV)
TSR1
SF14 Z

If you're interested I have fotos of an 1.25 that I think went into this vehicle and was sold on ebay a few years back.... I also have photos of the the Bunker-based TBF2 (and some assorted Sehrors) I'm guessing it was the same exact thing.

The Panzer III and Panzer IV Beobachtungspanzers that were working in the field had the following equipment (also in Jentz's Panzer tracts 11-1)

Panzer III/Beobachtungswagen III (Sdkfz 143):

SF 14Z
TBF2 (10x 5.7 FOV)
Sehror/Sehstab (6x) or TSR1

Panzer IV/Beobachtungswagen IV (Ausf.J)

SF14Z
TSR1

No mention of rangefinders, but it's likely that since these III/IVs were used for forward observation and laying points, that they would have needed some kind of onboard equipment, to do some estimation, even though I don't think this one in your second picture is of a Beo. The first Beo IVs didn't get out till around April 44.

I believe that is an Em34 resting on the top of the turret. It's an infantry-based 'soft-luggage' carrier that was issued to panzergrenadier and were hand carried. The other type was a much larger box/crate for the ones stored inside another vehicle or ship. Looks like the TC has figured out a way to lay it across the hatch opening lugs so it lays steadily. Looks like some sort of MG34 or 42 bipod is acting as a sort of stay or clamp, too. One false surge by the driver and....roll....crash....oops goodbye Em.

If that's not a case directly behind the cupola, it might even be a second 34 or a larger 36 style, maybe binocular. Or maybe...just maybe....it's just a gas mask cannister.....

Carrying case for 34 (I've only seen these on the 34 assemblies)

153013719qjpbsgphav9.jpg


9521xn6.jpg


The leatherized endpieces of the 34 itself actually form each end of the leather case when closed, so the case is really just a leather 'wrap', so that might be the case rolled up and laying on it's side (or a gasmask can, or another handheld Em)... Also note, it looks like the adjusting lathe board and bag (see at bottom of above photo) is also sitting behind the cupola right next to it? ;)
 
Last edited:

jeffduquette

FNG / Fresh Meat
Feb 19, 2008
339
1
0
Excellent post Mlespaul. Thanks for your efforts.

I know I have some additional post war data on the TSR-1 collected by the British. However, I am not certain where I have placed it. I'll dig around a bit and post it when I find it. I know you will find it of interest.

Jeff