British ingenuity shines through with the newest form of infantry artillery, the Smith gun, Northover Projector and the Blacker Bombard spigot mortar!
Home Guard Smith Gun
The Smith Gun actually looked like a real field artillery engine. It was developed by the chief engineer of the Trianco heating appliance company under his own initiative: the cynical called it the ‘Triang gun’ after the toy company.
It was a 3-inch, smooth bore howitzer with solid metal wheels that – with its limber – was light enough to be towed behind a civilian car. The gun was simply upended on one of the wheels for firing.
It had an effective range of about 500 yards and could discharge HE and AT rounds. It was strangely popular, despite an appalling safety record. The exact number manufactured is uncertain but seems to have been 3,000–4,000.
The last black powder weapon ever issued to the British Army, the Northover Projector was a 1940 improvised antitank weapon specifically designed for the Home Guard. It was the brainchild of Major RH Northover, a Home Guard officer.
Another smooth bore weapon, the projector fired the No. 76 Special Incendiary Grenade (as well as fragmentation grenades) with an effective range of about 150 yards. The Projector cost about £10 to make and was usually fixed to a tripod but examples were mounted on vehicles including motorcycle side cars.
The No. 76 grenade was designed as a hand-thrown incendiary white phosphorous grenade. Tests demonstrated an exceedingly limited effectiveness against armoured vehicles. Caches of the grenades hidden by the Home Guard and Auxiliary Units still turn up from time to time to the consternation of all concerned. Around 19,000 Northover Projectors were issued.
Blacker Bombard – Spigot Mortar
Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Blacker was a retired Indian Army officer who dabbled in weapon research, especially in attempts to create an anti-tank weapon based around the spigot mortar concept: a barrel-less device that uses a steel rod – the spigot – to ignite a charge propelling a bomb into the air.
The War Office was unresponsive to Blacker’s approaches until a demonstration of the weapon ignited Winston Churchill’s ‘boy’s own’ love of the dramatic. The mortar was mounted on a concrete pedestal or substantial cruciform platform so was immobile.
An unpopular device as an artillery weapon for obvious reasons, the Blacker Bombard nevertheless served as the template for the Royal Navy’s hugely successful forward-firing ‘hedgehog’ submarine killer, which had a success rate ten times greater than depth charge attacks.
Operation Sea Lion now Shipping!
Prepare for this summers invasion…
More British needed!