Signalling telescopes

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Signalling telescopes
Telescope signalling mk3 2.jpg
The Mk.IV was introduced in Feb 1915 although there was no obvious visible difference between the Mk.III and Mk.IV [exact differences are unknown, telescopes from Mk II to VI look superficially indistinguishable]. There was later an alternative body design introduced as the Mk.IV* [the asterisk identifying a change in design that did not warrant a new Mk designation] in Oct 1916. It's also apparent that introduction of a new mark didn't immediately supersede earlier ones still in production, as Mk.IIIs have been found dated 1917.[1]

The Mk.V was introduced in Nov 1916. Reading between the lines of an exchange of memos between WD Inspection at Woolwich and the prime contractors Taylor, Taylor & Hobson of Leicester, it's clear that this was a significant design change from other marks and a complete lemon from the service point of view. There appear to have been 4 individual slot-in lenses issued with it instead of the 2 eyepiece assemblies, giving 16 possible configurations only 2 of which were correct! Certainly a nightmare and, if this information is correct, little wonder that I've not heard of an existing Mk. V.

The Mk.IV was reinstated for future mfg. in April 1923, and in Jan 1926, the Mk.VI was introduced. This seems to have been identical to IV except that 'moderating glasses' (neutral density filters) replaced the plain metal swivel shutters in the eyepieces, and existing Mk.IVs were upgraded to Mk.IV** by retrofitting the same modification to them.

In January 1939, further mods to IVs and VIs swapped a vulcanized rubber covering and webbing straps for the earlier leather when they passed through Woolwich for repair. I haven't seen any like this, nor have I seen or heard report of a Mk VII. All models were obsolescent in Aug 1939.

Unknown Mark

Telescope signalling dollond.jpg
Telescope signalling dollond covered.jpg

This is a three draw signalling telescope of unknown Mk. Although it doesn't have any war department stamp indicating it was official issue, it certainly is made to the same specifications and was likely a private purchase item for someone who was not entitled to an issue one. This example is inscribed "Dollond London Signalling Telescope No. 7688" These telescopes came with two eye pieces, a High Power at 30 diameters and a Low Power at 15 diameters. Size: Closed: 10.25" Open: 30.5"

Signalling Telescope Mk III

Telescope signalling mk3.jpg
Telescope signalling mk3 closed.jpg
Telescope signalling mk3 markings.jpg

This is a three draw telescope, signalling, Mk III. Missing from this example is the leather cover and case. Although made by a variety of makers, this one is inscribed "Negretti & Zambra, London, 1914" These telescopes came with two eye pieces, a High Power at 30 diameters and a Low Power at 15 diameters.

Signalling Telescope Mk III

Telescope signalling mk3 2.jpg
Telescope signalling mk3 2 closed.jpg
Telescope signalling mk3 2 markings.jpg

This example is complete and features both lenses, the leather case for the second lense as well as the leather straps and covers.

Related Items


  1. Thanks to Mick Burmeister for his research material. Information partially from "Notes on Repairs to Fire Control Instruments - Part 42 - Service Telescopes & Periscopes" from the Military College of Science, 1941 for Mks. IV to VII