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The NOTEK Abstandsrücklicht
(Black-out tail-light)

Every Kettenkrad (and every other German MV from WW2, too) had a NOTEK black-out tail-light in the rear.

Notek tail light standard mode

This special tail-light made it possible to check the distance to the vehicle in front of you in a convoy even in total darkness under black-out conditions.

The picture above shows the NOTEK tail-light with the flap in the top position. This is the standard position under normal (non black-out) conditions. The left red window is a normal red tail-light, the right window is an orange brake light. On the bottom of the housing is the window for the license-plate illumination.

The next picture shows the NOTEK lamp with the flap in "black-out" position:

Notek tail leight black out mode

The red and orange windows on the lower half of the housing are now covered and you can see four green windows on the top half. On the bottom of the housing is a shutter to close the window for the license-plate illumination.

Note that the distance between the light windows in the middle is bigger than the distance between the outer windows. And this is the trick:

When you drive in total darkness in a convoy behind a vehicle with a NOTEK Abstandsrücklicht, you'll see from the distance of 300 metres only one green light. When you come closer, you'll see from a distance of 35 metres two lights (the left and the right group). Now you are in the correct distance for convoy driving.

When you come too close (less than 25 metres) you'll see that there are four lights. Now you are too close.

The driver of the following vehicle has always to keep such a distance, that he sees two green light from the vehicle in front of him.

A fine piece of German engineering!

The last picture shows the internal parts of the NOTEK Abstandsrücklicht:

NOTEK tail light insdie view

It shows an early NOTEK Abstandsrücklicht with a housing made from cast aluminium alloy. The later versions were made from sheet metal. (Aluminium was only for aircraft use). The 10 Watts bulb in the middle is to illuminate the four green windows. The left 5 Watts bulb is for the red tail-light and the license-plate illumination. Note that this bulb has a blue coating to dimm the light.

In the right chamber behind the orange brake light is no bulb and no bulb socket. Most Kettenkrads had no brake light!
Early Kettenkrads had a brake-light bulb there. The thread in the housing to fix the bulb socket is still there but there is no bulb socket fitted.

There is a problem with the 5 W bulb. Before WW2 the 5 W bulbs and the 10 W bulbs had the same length, 43 mm over all. So in the NOTEK the bulb sockets for the 5 W bulb and the 10 W bulb are the same. Later the 5 W bulbs were shorter, only 38 mm over all. So a modern 5 W bulb doesn't fit the old socket, it is too short and the socket doesn't keep the short bulb. So you have to modify the bulb socket or try to get an original 6V 5W bulb from WW2...


© Andreas Mehlhorn 2001-2009