Lot number 435

US Navy Searchlight / Signal lamp

This is a rare General Electric 24 inch U.S.N Navy carbon arc searchlight from 1944 (WW II). These lights were used for signaling, visual search, navigation and even fire control.

This model, 93113 / spec. 17S21, was used on USS Destroyer Escort's during WW II and were mounted on the signaling bridge on both port and starboard.

The recently restored museum ship USS Slater had still fitted these massive lights. See the history section for the full story.

Movie: US Navy Searchlight / Signal lamp

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Zijtaart, The Netherlands
Year of construction
Country of origin
United States of America
General Electric
Model 93113, Spec 17S21
Estimated price
€ 12.000 - € 18.000
Neat unrestored condition



The searchlight is in a neat unrestored condition. As far as we know, it is complete including the manual. All manually operated mechanical parts work, as can also be seen in the videos. It has some rust spots here and there and a dent in the tailgate (also visible in the photos, the mirror is intact), but no major damage. Furthermore, a few small things such as missing bakelite handles and a locking latch that is stuck and needs to be made operable. Considering its age, it is in good condition. Any restoration would mainly involve cleaning and electrical connection. No major repairs needed.

Technical details

General Electric
93113, 24-inch carbon arc
Manufacturing date
6 ft (1,82 m)
4 ft (1,22 m)
3 ft (0,91 m)
800 lb (363 kg)
Diameter (beam)
24 in (0,61 m)
Range (beam)
Up to 80 mi (128 km)
110° to 120°
30° to 40°
105 to 125 volts



This type of signaling and searchlight was used on WW II warships, for example the ‘Destroyer Escort’ (DE). The Destroyer Escort was the United States Navy mid-20th-century classification for a 20-knot (37 km/h; 23 mph) warship designed with the endurance necessary to escort mid-ocean convoys of merchant marine ships.


Ships used a day or night system of sending Morse Code signals via flashing light, using 12" and 24" signal lamps. This was a rapid way of communicating but was rarely used at night for fear that the light would reveal one's position to the enemy. Infrared hooded lenses were used to mask the bright lights of the signal lamps; to limit their visibility.


These lights were designed for signaling, visual search, navigation and even fire control. This light was equipped with a handle on each side of the barrel for left or right handed operators to send visual (light) Morse code. The 24-inch carbon arc was very brilliant and the signals (at night) could be bounced off the cloud cover and around the curvature of the earth. It has been told in visual communicators circles that a Morse signal sent by light has been confirmed (by radar) to have been sent up to a distance of two ships 80 miles apart!


The 24-inch searchlight is a general purpose light and although it may be used for fire control purposes, generally it is used for long range signaling. These searchlights are not equipped with remote control for train and elevation. The light sometimes is equipped with the remote control signal key. This lamp has both the iris and vane type shutter.


Check for a complete story of the General Electric signaling light on the USS Slater: https://ussslater.org/signal-bridge



A Navy searchlight must have a narrow, pencil-like light beam. The light must be non-flickering and of a’bluish white color. It must operate properly from any position, under all weather conditions, and give trouble-free operation over a long period of time. The train and elevation characteristics of most lights are: train through 360°, elevation of 110° to 120°, and depression of 30° to 40°.



When an electric current at a moderate voltage is passed through two carbon rods, considerable heat is developed at the point of contact. Now if the carbon rods are separated a short distance a flaming arc will be drawn out. The act of making contact between the two carbons is necessary to start the arc and is called 'striking the arc'. When contact first occurs, a high current flows through the carbons. The high current produces heat which vaporizes the soft center of the positive carbon. This vapor acts as a conductor for the current as the carbons are drawn apart and will keep the current flowing until the distance between the carbons becomes too great. As the distance between the carbons increases the resistance of the arc circuit increases. The carbon vapor concentrates as a small ball in a depression in the positive carbon. This depression is called the 'crater'. This ball of flaming gas in the crater is intensely luminous and is located at the focus of the reflector. The reflector thus projects the light from the arc crater into a beam of light, just as the reflector in your automobile projects the light from the lamp filament into a light beam. High intensity arcs work on the same principle as low intensity types except that the current is increased and the diameter of the carbon decreased, to obtain a more brilliant and concentrated source of light.


The carbon lamp was designed for operation in series with rheostat (which was mounted below deck) from a d-c source of 105 to 125 volts.

The arc current had to be adjusted for 75 to 80 amperes with 65 to 70 volts across the arc. One set of carbons would burn approximately 1 ž hours.

Note to buyer


  • The location of any Lot is indicated with the specific lot number. Specific address details will be provided upon request and to the successful bidder / Buyer.


  • Viewing days are available for this lot. Check the viewing days page for specific information about time, dates, location and conditions.

  • Given the fact that these are often very special items whose condition, no matter how hard we try, cannot always be described 100% completely, we really recommend that you make use of this.


  • Bidding Open: Friday April 19 2024 00:00 CET (Dutch American Friendship Day),

  • Bidding Ends:

    • Saturday April 20 2024 (Part 1 vehicles)


  • Amsterdam NL (CET): 06:00 PM (18:00)

  • London: 05:00 PM (17:00)

  • New York USA: 12:00 AM (12:00)

  • Sydney AUS: 04:00 AM (04:00),next day


  • On all lots a buyer’s premium of 16,5% of the hammer price is charged. Over this buyer’s premium a 21% sales tax (VAT) will be applicable.


  • The batches of spare parts, various accessories and militaria are sold in as-is condition and delivered without any guarantee of functioning.


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  • If required and applicable (fire)arms can be made inoperable or permanently disabled by BAIV in The Netherlands as being a licensed Arms & Weapons Dealer Registration Nr. NL20191618779. In this case all relevant cost will be charged to the Buyer in addition and have to be paid in advance in full. Collection by appointment only!


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  • Due to our participation in the commemorations of D-DAY in Normandy France collection of all lots is scheduled for the period June 17 till 28 2024. However, for buyers who want to participate with their purchased lot at the 80th Anniversary Commemorations in Normandy this can of course be deviated from. In such a case please let us know soonest.
    import and export

  • Depending on the destination and content of the Lot the Buyer shall obtain an International Import Certificate / End User Certificate. Some of the items listed in the auction may require special licenses or permits or existing documents must be prepared for export. If this is relevant, Tracks & Trade will take care of this. The applicable costs will be charged to the successful bidder. Please email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns. No item will be allowed to be collected without 100% of all legal requirements being fulfilled.


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  • Shipping and packing costs and special costs that arise for loading special items, such as crane costs or costs for hiring special equipment etc., will be charged to the Buyer on the basis of actual costs + a surcharge of 10%. Naturally, you can count on us when it comes to the shipment of your purchases. We are happy to take care of that!


  • Lots not picked up by Buyers before June 28 2024 will be returned to secure storage at Buyer’s expense. In this case storage fees will be applied as follows:

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    • Armored vehicles, tanks, cannons etc. € 75,- / lot / week.

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    So, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!


  • All information and transactions are subject to the general terms and conditions (Version 2.0 dated 29-04-2022). For more detailed information visit our website.

Shipping Information

After buying a classic military vehicle or other items such as cannons, planes, howitzers and tanks, there are several steps you would typically need to take:


  • Legalities

    In principle, no special permit is required for unarmored wheeled and tracked vehicles. In many cases, an export procedure that is comparable to that for exporting classic cars and motorcycles is sufficient. Military collectables older than 75 years and with a value over Euro 50k are often considered National Heritage. In such cases an export permit must be requested from the National Ministry of Culture of the exporting country. Tanks, howitzers and self-propelled or towed cannons often require specific permits that are highly dependent on the country of shipment and the country of destination. In such a case first ensure that you apply for the necessary permits, licenses, and other paperwork required to own and operate such an item in your jurisdiction. This may involve registering the item with the appropriate authorities and complying with any regulations regarding its ownership and use. In such a case it is advisable to contact us in advance because we have many decades of experience in the import and export of Classic Military Heritage. Based on this experience, we can generally quickly provide feedback on what applies to you. This is especially relevant because regulations in this regard change every now and then and sometimes, we also have to deal with export-restrictions. In short: if you want to be sure, contact us in time to avoid difficulties in a later stage.

  • Storage

    Find a suitable storage location for your collectable, preferably a secure and legal place where you can keep it when not in use. This could be a garage, warehouse, or even a specially designed storage facility or museum.

  • Transportation

    After you have all paperwork in place next step will be the (oversees) transport to your desired location. This may involve hiring specialized transport and broker services due to permits, size and weight. Als in this case we can support you with organizing the transport or make sure you get in contact with some experts.

  • Maintenance and Restoration

    Depending on the condition of your military collectable our partner BAIV can help you with maintenance and restoration work to ensure that it is safe and operational. This could involve relatively easy maintenance and repair,  service till a Class-A restoration. In such a case please contact BAIV (link to BAIV website).

  • Training

    If you intend to operate a vehicle then make sure you have manuals that describe how the operate vehicle. Nowadays there are numerous reprints available on the Internet that explain you in a playful way how to drive and operate your vehicle. This is often a team effort, which makes owning such a vehicle extra attractive. If required, you can also involve hiring a professional instructor or attending specialized training courses to learn how to drive and maintain it safely. In such a case, our partner BAIV can also support you.

  • Insurance

    Consider obtaining insurance coverage for your vehicle to protect yourself against any potential accidents or liabilities that may arise from owning and operating it. Often there are specialized insurance companies offering these kinds of services. Local military vehicle clubs often also know their way around the specific options offered by insurance companies.

  • Enjoyment

    Finally, once everything is in place, you can enjoy owning and, if permitted, operating your classic military vehicle, cannon or howitzer. Whether it's for display purposes or for participating in historical reenactments, owning such a great unit can be a unique and rewarding experience.

Feel free to get in touch

Ivo Rigter Sr.