Tabby Type E IR Binoculars

The Tabby Type E binoculars, known as RG Binoculars Type 6 until December 1942, were a very early infrared optic used by the British Army during the Second World War. As the very first generation of this technology, they were very limited in what they could do and required large amounts of battery power to run so they found a role on board vehicles for night driving in convoy. Being much heavier (over 8lbs) than a pair of optical binoculars, they were mounted on a special frame for the driver, as seen here in a jeep: 

3,000 sets were ordered in 1943 with 2,000 designated for tanks. Today we are taking a closer look at a surviving example of these early infrared binoculars: 

This pair are damaged and missing their lens shields but are hard to find in any condition. The binoculars had a rubber eyeshield to ensure a close fit between the user and the device, with a head cradle to allow it to be mounted to a driver’s head: 

A pair of lens shields were originally fitted, but only one now survives: 

In this period diagram, the face mask and head harness can be seen to the left: 

The lens shields can be seen on the righthand diagram, but are missing here: 

Officially these binoculars were coded with radio equipment (presumably due to their battery consumption) and so have a ZA stores code, mounted on a small plate on the front of the eye piece: 

Below the front plate are mounting bolts and adjustment screws for the optical part of the binoculars: 

The Tabby type E was designed to be hooked up to batteries, so there is a power cable coming off of the device with a socket on one end to allow it to be connected to a power source: 

With this electrical element, a test point is provided to allow diagnostics to be undertaken on the set: 

There is a label attached to the binocular indicating they were returned for repair in 1945: 

For a more detailed account of the Tabby E and Britain’s experiments with infrared equipment, please look here

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