Overlord'S Blog: Defence Capabilities Centre Shrivenham
About a year ago myself, Jingles and another EU Community Contributor were invited along to the Defence Capabilities Centre at Shrivenham. This is a teaching environment for the UK military, and other nations. It has a huge selection of tanks, guns and defence related items. Last week myself and a few others, including Quickybaby were invited back.
Obviously I had my camera along with me, and while the others spent their time hugging the tanks, I had a root around and found some of the interesting smaller stuff.
The first piece is almost art like, its the shrapnel generated by a shell. I have no idea how they created it though.
Next we have something that looks like a missile, next to some normal 81mm mortar rounds. Well the "missile" is actually a Merlin round for 81mm mortars. You can see the size difference between it and a normal round. It was an attempt in the 80's to give the standard British infantry mortar a guided anti-tank (AT) weapon. It uses radar in the nose to guide itself into a hit the top armour of a tank. Now imagine the rate of fire of an infantry battalions support mortars with each one firing a guided AT missile. Its range was 4 km. The trouble was the unit cost was very high, so it was dropped. A project that came slightly afterwards, but made it to service was the Swedish Strix 120mm round that used a IR sensor.
Many, many years ago I saw this picture:
Now at first glance you'll think its a British soldier with an L85, but then those of you up to speed on uniforms and weapons will start spotting the mistakes. Well the Armoury at Shrivenham has these:
They're EM-1 and EM-2 rifles, from the mid to late 1940's. The British conducted several studies into small arms and produced a .280 calibre, with excellent ballistics. However for NATO standard ammunition the US would accept nothing other than 7.62mm, and the rifle and the round were consigned to history. Recent trends in small arms have been heading back towards the intermediate rounds, however.
Next we have this large green collection of tubes, I was quite surprised when I found out what it is, its a Bangalore torpedo. I blame Hollywood. The traditional image I've got from films like The Longest Day or Saving Private Ryan is this giant drainpipe being lugged about, but no its actually quite compact.
A mysterious bag of white powder, but I wouldn't go near it if I was you, its 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, more commonly know as "CS" or tear gas.
Now we come to the meat of the article. You're all aware of the Tier 2 French tank destroyer the Renault UE 57. Well it did exist, here's a picture of it alongside its larger cousin a Lorraine 37L fitted with a 17 pounder gun. The thing you instantly spot is the muzzle brake.
Well they have one of those muzzle brakes at Shrivenham. Last year they had only snippets of information on the subject. Myself and Ed Francis were plugging away at it trying to find more information, unbeknown to us two Shrivenham were also working on the problem, and they got a lot further than we did!
So here is the story of the Galliot muzzle brake. Now I would say there's still a lot of confusion about the exact details, so please keep this in mind.After the First World War a pair of French men, one of whom was called Galliot, the other's name is given as "Borg" or "Bory" were working on a new muzzle brake. In 1919 experiments were held in the US, and in 1924 the results of the experiments were submitted to the US authorities. The muzzle brake worked by directing the blast backwards through a series of fluted spiral channels. It was an incredibly complex piece of equipment that several UK manufacturers point blank refused to build.
After the fall of France Commandant Galliot ended up in the UK. The first attempts made were fitting a Galliot muzzle brake to rifles. In 1941 it was fitted to a 6 pounder. During 1942 there were several trials with the weapon but while the recoil was reduced by 81% the back blast was tremendous. All in all it would require a redesign of the gun mounts. In late 1942 the Free French forces produced a 17 pounder fitted with the brake which was subsequently trialled. However the British considered the brake utterly impossible to mass produce and halted work on it.I assume that this is where the two AFV's pictured above came from. One would obviously ask: Where did the French vehicles come from? There are suggestions that about seventeen Renault UE's made their way to Britain after the fall of France, but I've no idea on the Lorraine 37L.
However from 1943 the idea of fitting it to a Mosquito FB Mk XVIII (Tsetse) came about. Trials may have been considered as well. However one final oddity, there is a persistent rumour that a 32 pounder gun was fitted to a Mosquito Tsetse, although very little is known of this. Some sources suggest that the Galliot muzzle brake was used. There is a document in the archive about a 32 pounder fitted with a Galliot style muzzle brake, but I've yet to view that document and so can't say what information it contains.
In 1948 the muzzle brake design was patented, we think it was by the Commandants son, Jules Andre Norbert Galliot.