Blackout (wartime)


Blackout (wartime)

A blackout in time of war, or apprehended war, refers to the practice of collectively minimizing external light, including upward-directed (or reflected) light. This was done in the 20th century to keep the crews of enemy aircraft from being able to navigate to their targets simply by sight. In coastal regions a "shore-side blackout" of city lights would also help protect ships from being seen in silhouette against the shore and attacked by enemy submarines farther out at sea.

Lights can simply be turned off or light can sometimes be minimized by tarring the windows of large public structures.

These benefits against air attack are now largely nullified in the face of a technologically sophisticated enemy. As early as World War II, aircraft were using radio-beam navigation (see battle of the beams) and targets were detected by air to ground radar, (e.g. H2X). Today not only are night vision goggles readily available to air crews, but sophisticated satellite-based and inertial navigation systems enable a static target to be found easily by either an aircraft or a guided missile.

During the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II the German U-boats were greatly aided in the "second happy time" with the sinking of unescorted ships in American coastal waters, because the ships were back lit by coastal lights. In any naval war this would still be an advantage which a blackout would help to nullify.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Blackout — may refer to:Loss of light, power, or communications * Power outage, a large scale disruption in electric power supply * Rolling blackout, an intentionally engineered power outage caused by insufficient resources to meet electricity demands *… …   Wikipedia

  • blackout — n. extinguishing or concealment of all lights during wartime 1) to impose, order a blackout 2) to observe a blackout suppression of news 3) to impose, order a blackout 4) to lift a blackout 5) to violate a blackout 6) a news blackout * * * [… …   Combinatory dictionary

  • blackout — /ˈblækaʊt / (say blakowt) noun 1. the extinguishing of all visible lights in a city, etc., as a wartime protection. 2. the extinguishing or failure of light as in a power failure. 3. Theatre the extinguishing of all stage lights. 4. temporary… …   Australian English dictionary

  • The Blackout Ripper — was the pseudonym given to 28 year old Gordon Frederick Cummins, a serial killer who murdered four women in London in 1942.cite news last = Choate first = Trish coauthors = title = Recalling the Blackout Ripper of World War II London work = pages …   Wikipedia

  • Willie Gillis — Infobox Awards title = halign = center award1 = double image|center|Willie Gillis Food Package.jpg|150|Willie Gillis in College.jpg|156|The Willie Gillis debut: Willie Gillis Food Package (1941 10 04)|The Willie Gillis finale: Willie Gillis in… …   Wikipedia

  • Major League Baseball — MLB redirects here. For other uses, see MLB (disambiguation). Major League Baseball Current season or competition: 2011 Major League Baseball season …   Wikipedia

  • Gordon Cummins — Gordon Frederick Cummins (1913/1914 – 25 June 1942), known as the Blackout Killer and the Blackout Ripper, was an English spree killer who murdered four women in London in 1942.[1] The Ripper tag came from similarities with the Jack the Ripper… …   Wikipedia

  • History of nuclear weapons — The history of nuclear weapons chronicles the development of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are devices that possess enormous destructive potential derived from nuclear fission or nuclear fusion reactions. Starting with the scientific… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Civil Air Patrol — Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF). It was created on 1 December 1941 by , with Maj. Gen. John F. Curry as the first CAP national commander. The organization was originally formed to provide… …   Wikipedia

  • Ultra — (sometimes capitalised ULTRA) was the name used by the British for intelligence resulting from decryption of encrypted German radio communications in World War II. The term eventually became the standard designation in both Britain and the United …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.