Coleman 200A Airfield Infrared Lantern

Lanterns, stoves, etc... anything old!

Coleman 200A Airfield Infrared Lantern

Postby PresTx82 » Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:05 pm

I finally received my Coleman 200A Airfield Infrared Lantern.

What I have found interesting and disappointing is that the Coleman Museum in Wichita, Kansas has limited information on the history of many Coleman products. Taking into account that the primary purpose of Coleman products is camping, maybe this isn’t so unusual. The only time you find good historical stories is when one of their products were used during war time except this one. The museum website is minimal with only one picture.

The only historical data that I have been able to find on Coleman is on the Coleman website itself, but nothing on the Infrared Lantern. I did send them an email regarding the lantern with negative response. The Coleman Company may not have any information on this lantern as they did not produce the modified version. The US Army purchased the 200A lanterns from Coleman in their normal condition and then applied a modification kit to them. Coleman at the time most likely wasn’t aware of the modification as they shouldn’t, because of the classified nature of the lantern’s modified intended use. Army personnel would attached the after market modification apparatus and spray paint the lantern black from its original red. The Army frowns on bright red objects in war time! I’ve made a request to the US Army via the Freedom of Information Act to see if I can obtain more historical information. I hope to discover what the lantern was actually referred to as (e.g., infrared lantern, airfield lantern, etc.). The army modification kit should have a nomenclature on it.

I conducted numerous web searches to discover anything tangible on the lantern without much success. I did however make contact with Terrence Marsh who has been said to have done some research, and has documented the number of lanterns known to exist. He was only able to briefly describe to me the intent for the lantern’s use by the US Army. Currently, there are 16 known lanterns in private collections with myself being the 16th.

I was also able to contact a current lantern owner and was given an interesting article that was written by none other than Terrence Marsh. In it he describes in detail the military uses and how the lantern’s modification was conceived and prototyped.

From what I have been able to discover several of these lanterns had been held in military surplus warehouses for some years, then released and sold at auction. My particular lantern was initially purchased at such an auction by an agriculture teacher who utilized these lanterns to heat chicken brooding houses. The man I purchased mine from had in turn purchased it from him. He used it more or less as a heat-lantern. With the army modification removed, it’s a plain 200A lantern.

I have attached some pictures below of this lantern. I am missing a lower metal circular disk that is supposed to be attached to the two prongs you see jet out to the side of the lantern. All in all this is in good shape. Plunger good, tank in very clean condition. A few dents, dings and scrapes which are normal for it’s age. It’s dated June 1959.

Interesting enough. One sold on ebay “todayâ€
Mark
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Postby doug hodder » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:25 pm

Really an interesting lantern Mark....I hope you get the info from the Military on them. It would be nice to have a better understanding on just how they were used. T Marsh says that the infrared portion prevented light from coming out the sides. I'm clueless on infrared stuff....so how did it illuminate anything, or did it take some sort of special viewing device to see the light and know where the airfield was? Doug
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Postby PresTx82 » Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:26 pm

Doug,

All that "infrared" means is that it gives off a heat signature. No light. The lanterns were lit and placed where they needed to be placed and the aircraft were equipment with heat sourcing (infrared) equipment to see them on the ground.

The military uses the same technology today with their googles. They can look out over a field and see the heat coming from a person; so they can shoot them if they have to. Aircraft do the same thing with the drones. All of us have seen them where they follow people and send down a missile. This is actually very "primitive" infrared technology.

I'm going to post more information later. I did discover that the army called this "Project Diogenes". Interested again. Google it and you won't discover Jack ****, but hopefully the army will release some papers on it as I stated earlier.

Again, it's a shame that there isn't more history to Coleman's products. I'm very disappointed in that.

I gotta go soak some more bolts on this lantern and apply some Naval Jelly to get rid of some rust............!
Mark
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Postby Rock » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:28 am

I think it must have been intended to give off light if it has a fresnel lens in there. Just not visible light. If all they wanted was heat they could have used a heat drum on a single burner stove.

The fresnel is a very directional lens - so I think it was probably intended to throw infrared light a long distance. For example to indicate a remote landing strip at night while throwing no visible light.

In that time frame I think that maybe only large militaries had infrared seeing goggles so they could light an airstrip that most people in say southeast Asia could not see.

It's not clear to me how they filtered out the visible light produced by the mantel.

Eric
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Postby doug hodder » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:42 pm

From the looks of the one glass cylinder, it could be reversed to provide light maybe....I'd agree...what's up with the fresnel globe in it if it wasn't going to produce any light? Rock...do you think that the coating on the glass is something that converted it to an IR wave? It's all way beyond me. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for one though....now where are those IR goggles? Doug
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Postby PresTx82 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:39 pm

I have the story I'm going to post later on regarding how they used this. It was not for light at all. It was supposed to subdue the light and only produce heat (infrared) that would be picked up by aircraft in the early 1950s wearing infrared googles, or an infrared detector from an aircraft. The lanterns would be laid out to mark a runway for them to land. No light just a heat signature for the pilots.

I am having difficulty getting the middle glass globe to come off the metal rim. It's rusted in. I don't want to man-handle it. I have some liquid wrench soaking it hoping that it will release the globe for right now.
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Postby doug hodder » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:04 pm

Cool....FLIR technology back to the mid 50's! Who would'a thunk it?

Diogenes 413BC was reported to walk around with a lit lantern in full daylight and when asked what he was doing, would respond with "looking for an honest man" wonder if that's where they came up with the project name? Among other items of interest...he supposedly urinated in public and used his middle finger on others....I'm kinda relatin'!

I'm wondering if some citric acid would release the globe from the steel frame? Doug
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Postby PresTx82 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:35 pm

Yes Doug that was part of it. I'm going to paste in an article that will shed some more light (pun intended) on this. Also the lanterns known are now 27. This is an article written by Terrence Marsh and Bob Toran
============================================

Project Diogenes – a Coleman 200 A modified for military use

- By Terry Marsh & Bob Toran

The 1950’s was the time of the “Cold Warâ€
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Postby doug hodder » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:03 pm

Wow...some impressive info on that lantern, thanks for the post on all of that...got me an education!....makes me think of the James Bond movie Dr. No...when he got snatched up from the dinghy in the end by a low flying aircraft using a balloon/retrieval system in the same type operation as they described, and that was only like 7+ or - years after this project. Of course he had Ursula Andres in his arms. Nice piece of history you got there and that's the kind of thinking that made us who we are! Doug
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Postby Wolffarmer » Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:22 pm

The story about rescuing a downed airman has just about pegged my B-S-O-Meter. Here is why. Downed airman = a rough landing, at the minimum. An injured airman is very likely. Why use a device with a fragile Mantel that while it could be tied on in advance, would still need to be burned in. Then one would have to pump the device up. Imagine doing that in a place where there are people with guns that do not like you very well. And I would not want a pressurized device with highly flammable liquid. There are plenty of such things already on a ship of war but this would be very close to the personal.

Also if you only want a "heat source" why use a lantern with the fragile mantel? Heck a nice little stove with a metal can over it does that. I say they needed the light source but only light outside of normal human vision and used with IF detecting devices. They have been around since Korean war. And probably WWII. And as these are not a "Directed" beam device. They would probably have been used to light up an area very near to places of those said people with guns that do not like you. Forward Air bases, forward command centers, Night vehicle/personal movement, lighting up the path.

Just my 2 cents. But what do I know? Ole draft dodger that I was.

An interesting light no matter what.

Randy
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Postby PresTx82 » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:56 pm

I'm sorry to hear you were a draft dodger. :oops:

I'm just reporting what others have researched on this lantern. I'm doing my own research as well. I've contacted the US Army and US Air Force via the Freedom of Information Act and currently researching the US Patent Office for patents on this!

I do know similiar systmes have been used in recent years and what strikes me as most likely is after all the brain stormming and scenarios as how to use this, the most logical is to light em up and lay them out to show a safe landing strip for special operations where light could not be used.

One of these lanterns was gotten from a military special operations person that said he used them in Vietnam to do just that.

Only further research will tell.
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Postby teardrop_focus » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:39 am

Good work, sir! Thank you!

:thumbsup:
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Postby Wolffarmer » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:57 pm

"these guys must be afraid of the dark"
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Postby PresTx82 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:32 pm

This was the seller who I got mine from. I was arranging to purchase the second one when the moderator on another forum called this guy and f*cked up the deal. :thumbdown:

Lesson learned. If you want something, buy it first before you mention it; especailly on these forums!

Let's see how high this one goes.
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Postby Wolffarmer » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:42 pm

I noticed it was in Texas and wondered if it had some connection. Also it looked like it had been in a chicken coop or something.

:lol:

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