(Joplin, Mo.) — The 1942 Sperry carbon arc lamp ‘searchlight’ or spotlight was used originally to locate enemy bombers so anti-aircraft guns could see their target in the night skies. Specifically taking down German bombers during night air-raids in World War II.
Now 75-ish years later the same spotlight helps today’s generation locate a great deal on fireworks at the Village Plaza on East 7th and Van Winkle.
“I have a full time job, so I just do this part time.” But there is something about spotlights that attract people! “I’ve had 10 people just come up [in the last hour] checking out the spotlight,” local owner David Bycroft tells us.
Bycroft is a part owner of Meyers Inn Spookhouse in Carthage. He said originally he wanted something to attract people to their spookhouse.
Bycroft said he actually bought it from someone local and then worked to restore it. It didn’t cost as much as the original price tag. The US goverment paid $60,000 each for these during World War II.
“The beam is made by 2 carbon rods, one positive and one negative, arching within the focal point of a 60 inch parabolic mirror. As the rods “burn” they are automatically fed into the light. The rods last approximately 2 hours and are then replaced,” according to the Fort MacArthur Museum Association: Sperry Searchlight Project.
“The flame that is visible during the lights operation, is not actually the source of the light, rather, it is a by-product, produced as a result of the electricity arcing between the 2 rods.”
1942 SPERRY SPOTLIGHT STATS
- Lamp Type: Carbon Arc (no light bulb!)
- Candle Power: 800 Million
- Effective Beam width: 5′ plus
- Effective Beam length: 5.6 miles
- Effective Beam visibility: 28~35 miles
Source in part for this story is from a restoration of a similar Sperry Spotlight Project done by the Fort MacArthur Museum in Los Angeles California. Link: http://www.ftmac.org/SperryLight.htm