What Is The Periscope And What Is It For?

The periscope is an instrument used to observe objectives on, around or through an obstacle that prevents their vision.It was first developed in 1430 by Johannes Gutenberg, who marketed it to pilgrims so that they could look over the heads of the crowd at a religious festival held in Aachen.

Since then, the periscope has evolved to reach the different weapons and military applications for which it is used today.

The simplest form of the periscope consists of a tube with a set of mirrors at each of its ends, parallel and at 45ยบ angles respectively to each other.

Uses of the periscope

The periscope has different practical uses. These are mostly involved in war situations. However, the periscope also has other simpler uses than those used on battlefields.

Being a tool that allows vision from a hidden position, it is usually useful in many areas.

1- Periscopes in submarines

The most common use for periscopes is inside submarines. They were used for the first time in the models of a submarine in 1902, by the engineer Simon Lake, to make the surface of the sea visible without the need to emerge completely from the water.

Since then they have become an essential object for the navigation of these enormous machines.

For use in submarines, they have undergone as much modification as possible: binoculars have been added to improve their vision, heating to avoid lens fogging, lighting to better visualize the parameters presented by the reticles, tables for estimating the distance. of a target and a rotating cap with a selectable additional prism that allows a 360 degree field of view.

There are two types of periscopes inside submarines: the observation periscope and the attack periscope.

2- Periscopes in tanks and armored vehicles

Periscopes also serve vital functions on some tanks and armored vehicles. They allow their occupants to view the situation on the battlefield from the roof of the vehicle.

Prior to deployment, armored vehicles and tanks featured a line-of-sight slit that cut through the frame and allowed occupants to see them.

The periscope, on the other hand, allows visibility outside the vehicle without the need for these slits, better protecting vehicles and preventing the possible entry of small firearms that affect the occupants.

3- Periscopes in rifles and trenches

Periscopes also played a key role in WWI and WWII within the trenches on the battlefield.

These were used to visualize the targets on the battlefield without the need to leave the trench and expose themselves to enemy fire.

They were also attached to infantry rifles during World War II (1939-1945) to allow firing from safe positions under the parapet of the trench.

These periscopes continue to be used on the battlefield by artillery observers and officers. Some estimate the distance to a target, have night vision and thermal vision.

4- Periscopes at festivals

Periscopes are also used today for the purpose for which they were devised in 1430; watch over the heads of the crowd at festivals.

Advertising companies offer these periscopes for a better view from distant places at festivals with a large influx of public.


  1. Bruce H. Walker (2000). Optical Design for Visual Systems. SPIE Press. p. 117.
  2. The Submarine Periscope. Barr and Stroud Limited. 1928.
  3. The history of the periscope. Retrieved on: October 11, 2017 from Thought.Co: thoughtco.com
  4. Minoru Genda. Periscopes. Retrieved on: October 11, 2017 from U-Historia: u-historia.com
  5. Periscope. Retrieved on: October 11, 2017 from Wikipedia: wikipedia.org

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