Overlord'S Blog: Foiled Again
Bit of a short one this week, so apologies. My originally planned article proved to be much harder to research than I thought. An article normally takes me about four hours. After that period of time I'd only completed half the research. Who'd have guessed that Palestine would be difficult... Anyway that'll later. Today you'll have to settle for a short look at something I found in an archive, namely Project Foil.
The project was to design a multiple rocket launch system for the British Army. This had become possible with recent advancements in rockets that had made them more accurate than the area weapons of the Second World War. So with this in mind the British started looking at large calibre unguided rockets. Phase one of the project was finished in 1969, with talks about a joint German and Italian collaboration the following year. It seems that the rocket chosen was the same one as used in Project JAWL, which ran from 1963 until 1968. Foil in turn lead to the RS-80 project of 1974, which got killed off by the United States MLRS system, which had a massively faster reload due to the rockets being loaded in pods.
Each of the Foil rockets was 7" diameter, 9.5 feet long and weighed about 350 lbs. 8", 9" and 10" rockets were also considered for the system. The rockets were fired from a 12 ft beam that weighed another 350 lbs. There were two main warheads looked at, an anti-light armour warhead which blasted 1120 dense metal spheres across an area, and a anti-personnel warhead which scattered 22,250 spheres. Finally a cluster warhead with 220 bomblets was also built.
Consideration was also given to warheads with fuel-air explosive, explosively formed penetrators, minelets and flechettes.
Phase one of the project looked at mounting on vehicles, and studied the logistics requirements. All these systems were designed and plans made. The first question was what vehicle to mount the rockets on? Well the consideration of shoot and scoot made a tracked vehicle ideal, although some wheeled vehicles were considered. So plans were drawn up for mounting a very similar turret on each type of tracked chassis the Army was using. The turrets mounted between 1-10 rockets (depending on type) in lightly armoured boxes. The exact arrangements and weights meant that the traverse to either side ranged from 66 degrees down to 30 degrees. Elevation arc for all mounts was 0-55 degree's.
The soft skin launchers were planned for 4 ton Bedford MK and a 10 ton AEC Militant MK3. They also looked at towed versions, portee versions and strapping them to Land Rovers. Tracked chassis considered were Abbott, Chieftain, MICV, CVRT, M107.
The MICV, if you're wondering is the embryonic stage of the Warrior, and was planned as a family of vehicles weighing about 20-28 tons and came in two versions, one with five road wheels, the other with six.
Of all vehicles the Abbott was judged to be the best chassis, carrying six rounds of 7" rockets. That was the most common amount of rounds carried, although some of the M107 builds could carry ten rockets. The CVRT could however only carry one, but was the only vehicle to carry a re-load, which interestingly enough was just strapped to the top of the turret and not protected.
Re-loading was carried out by having a truck parked next to the launcher and a second truck equipped with a crane near by. The rounds would then be pulled tail first from racks on the ammo truck by the crane and then swung out and slid into the launcher box from the rear. This slow labour intensive process was ultimately why the project failed.