Does the "Puff Range" still exist ?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Ron Goldstein, May 2, 2007.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Browsing through my diaries the other day and came across a reference to a "Puff Range"
    This was an extremely ingenious device used to train tank crews in the art of range finding and "bracketing" and I first got to use one at the RACTD (Royal Armoured Training Corps Depot) in Rieti in late 1944.
    Wondering if the device was still in use today I did a bit of internet searching and found the following articles that relate only to it's wartime use.

    From the New Zealanders:

    For training in fire orders and control the turrets were set up on two model landscapes, a ‘pellet range’ and a ‘puff range’, both carefully made to scale, copied from the British armoured school at Abbassia <NAME-002740.HTML>. These ranges did not pretend to reproduce action conditions, but they were a step in that direction, and the regiment was very proud of them. On the ‘pellet range’ shots from a pellet gun proved how correct the tank commanders' fire orders were, and on the ‘puff range’ an assistant hidden under the target, on a floor marked off in hundred-yard ranges, moved round and put up small puffs of chemical smoke where the students' shots would have landed, so that they could see and correct their errors.
    CHAPTER 24 ‘Tanks of our Own’ | NZETC

    Fom the BBC WW2 Archives:

    Another miniture range called the puff range took place in a large nissen hut, this comprised a main gun overlooking a mock up scene of the countryside with miniture tanks and other targets , under the country side scene a light beam moved around in unison with the movements of the gun as it was traversed on to a target, and when ordered to fire nothing was discharged from the gun , another instructor under the target areas created a small puff of smoke using a pump applied to one of the numerous holes in the scenic board nearest to the light beam, this gave quite a good illusion.
    Ted Dann

    BBC - WW2 People's War - My Call-Up -Part Two

    My question is simply this.
    Do the Armed Forces still use the device or has modern technology replaced it with expensive "simulators" ?
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Thanks for that... I bet it cost a few bob to set up :)

    Under the heading of "what a coincidence" My late brother, Sgt.Major Mick Goldstein, was also involved in a similar operation whilst he was a Gunnery Instructor in the R.A, as his own story tells.
    BBC - WW2 People's War - Sgt.Major Mick Goldstein, Royal Fusiliers and Jewish Brigade

    " I took courses on the 2-pounder, 6-pounder and eventually l7-pounder guns. I was selected to work with a Colonel Vaudrey, with whom I devised a miniature range with moving miniature tanks and a specially calibrated .22 rifle fitted on the 2-pounder gun, to simulate battle
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just been reading about Stuart Hill's training in By Tank Into Normandy.
    That part of the story was that bit more interesting thanks to Ron's thread. Cheers.
  6. spotter

    spotter Senior Member

    I used the puff range whilst a TA Gunner in the late 1980s.A bizarre set up but it helped training and was fun as well,Our set up was a model village under which was a space big enough for a man to stand up in and push a trolley around with a bottle of chemicals and a pipe .The floor had map grids painted onto it ,and when the op gave you the grid ref you poked the tube through the roof and emitted a puff of smoke ,i can even remember the name of the model village "natendorf"(spelling may be wrong) even better when the chemicals ran out as they allowed you to smoke and blow it through to the target grid
  7. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Lovely postwar Polish-Soviet T34 tank simulator halfway through this:
    KronikaRP - PKF 51/09 - Na straży pokoju
    Man-powered movement simulation & what looks like a Pen on the end of the barrel to score accuracy.
    Solid state.
  8. mapshooter

    mapshooter Senior Member

    Puff ranges were widespread in artillery, most field branch regiments had one. However, in the mid 1980s they were mostly replaced by a garrison facility for use by all local units. This was the Invetron simulator (Invetron were a Sussex coy, now owned by CAE). This was a dedicated classroom type setup with a big screen and a linked terrain database. It enabled normal artillery procedures and use of a laser rangefinder simulator. The first of these simulators had appeared about 10 years earlier built by Saab.
  9. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    CENTURION TANK GUN TRAINER | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Sorry state! Early 1960s as cadets we visited many camps - Bovington -one, I can remember sitting in something like this - it fired a sub calibre (.22 I think) round at a screen. The fire control order started with Dot 3 or other range. The screen had a film projected onto it and when the target was engaged the film froze and a rear light highlighted the hole in the screen. Later when as weapons instructor used the same type of range with the sub calibre round Carl Gustav anti tank - a snub to hospitality of the Tankies?

    FM 17-12 Armored Force Field Manual Tank Gunnery 1943
  10. spotter

    spotter Senior Member

    I found this photo of a "puff range" on line earlier this year (sorry cant remember where), ours was a bit different as we were an OP Bty and it was enclosed in a room without the guns been present
    I remember the invertron well,we used to go to topcliffe to use one,back then i couldnt believe the technology used,but comparing it with todays technology it was very basic

    Attached Files:

  11. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Object description - Men of the Royal Tank Corps training in dummy turrets at an indoor firing range.
    Object description Men of the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers are shown the dual Vickers Machine Gun armament of a Light Tank Mk.VI on a demonstration turret.
    Pellet Range : 56th Army Training Regiment. © IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 88)IWM Non Commercial Licence
    Object description image: Two rotating turrets fire at a range on the far side of the workshop. The range comprises moving targets on the back wall and stationary targets in the form of a simulated town in front. A group of officers watch on the left.
    Ramiles likes this.
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I remember starting this thread back in 2007 and the kick I got when I read how my brother Mick had been involved in research of the same ingenious training aid.

    Well spotted A !

  13. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Unfortunately :-(

    The associated IWM links no longer seem to work - and no wonder etc. after "so many years" ;-)

    ...but as - some of these show individual 9th Lancers - I was trying to discover what - if any - IWM picture number(s) these, and similar - 9th Lancers with Vickers machine gun(s) - are / were.

    Perhaps though they were a part of an article rather than a series of stills.

    Additional... perhaps a part of the same or a similar IWM article or series, IWM link and/or picture # currently unknown/ trying to look-up...



    Edit - there is a Pinterest ref...

    And curiously many (other) instances of the picture occurring - none of which either reference an IWM address / IWM picture # :-(


    Tpr Thomas Edward Blunt (arrowed) of the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers and others undergoing gunnery instruction ca.1937. He died on 6th December 2013 R.I.P.

    A few references here... to T. (Thomas) E. (Edward) Blunt...

    - 9th/12th Royal Lancers Museum

    Edit - Interestingly, to me at least ;-) , is the reference (immediately) above that these photos relate to pre-war ca.1937 - as they rather unfailingly seem to be posted in reference to the British Army during WW2, not some years prior to that. Some saying, for instance "9th Lancers in 1940" rather than 1937.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2022 at 4:26 PM
    CL1 likes this.

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