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Thursday, 17 May 2018


It's weird what you find when you look eh ..

Back in 1962(ish) when I was a 18 y.o. testosterone packed lad - three or four of us London Boys would pack into an old car and set-off into the night after the pub closed - heading for a wee seaside cove of Porthtowan about 12 hours drive away in Cornwall. We did this, camping there and on Bodmin Moor, three or four years running. (Motorways have reduced this journey now, 56 years later, to around a five hour drive).

.. That first trip the clapped-out old motor couldn't pull our weight up several hills .. so the running was everybody other than the driver out to run beside the car - something like the old stagecoach days eh 😁)  Anyway - Here's an image taken at Porthtowan .. a few years earlier during the second world war.
A Prototype Holman Projector On Test At Porthtowan 1941
- Around 4,500 were issued.

Holmans - a Cornish air compressor manufacturer, developed this cheap'n'nasty pneumatic mortar tube to throw MILLS BOMBS at Heinkel He 111 aircraft from ships ! You pulled the grenades pin - stuffed it into an open topped can - dropped it down the tube where it popped the air-valve at the bottom and was "projected" up and out towards attacking planes. Where hopefully it frightened the enemy pilots three and a half seconds later. I read that two aircraft were actually successfully shot-down.

The Holman Projectors were a low cost option and were fitted to many ships as a defensive measure. Later models were developed to run on steam pressure instead of compressed air - but the pneumatics worked OK until they ran out of pressure. This could be disastrous as per this linked tale:

Navy Holman Projector or Potato Launcher.

While chucking Mills bombs at flying aircraft sounds a bit doubtful - try this next perhaps even more dubious effort ..

  The Northover Projector:
1941 Homeguard Training With the NORTHOVER PROJECTOR.

This simple metal tube gun was designed as an ANTI-TANK weapon that used black powder to propel glass bottles filled with a form of napalm (- rubber dissolved in gasoline) and phosphorus to ignite it.

No. 76 Special Phosphous Incendiary Grenade

Despite being prone to breaking or exploding on the ground & in the weapons - nearly 19,000 of these were brought into service by 1943. - Use too much black powder and you've got an explosion in your face ... too little gun powder and the phosphorus napalm grenade will fall short and then explode!
Read all about the British Northover Anti-Tank Projector here:

No.76 Phosphorus / Napalm Grenade.
Handle With Care.
"Dads Army" Ready For Invasion By Enemy Tanks.

Both of these WWII 'Projectors' were pretty much emergency expedient tools that seem fairly risky & suicidal to their users - so much so that they bring to mind the 1960s 'cold war era'  US 'Davy Crocket Nuclear Recoilless Rifles'  - short range nukes that when fired from their smooth-bore launch tubes by a three man team to 1 or 2 miles would tend to seriously shorten their own life expectancies.
Davy Crockett .. Same Basic Idea eh.
Mind you, the USA made 2,100 of these "rifles" and only 400 Mk 54 20 ton nuclear warheads for deployment on the Korean Peninsular and in Germany.

Marty K.
Tywarnhayle Mine, Porthtowan 
Where We Camped & Looked For 
Rabbits With Webley Under-Lever Air Rifles!