Overlord'S Blog: Don't Panic!
Due to real life workload and time issues, the articles for the next few weeks will be a bit shorter than normal. On the plus side it means I can use some of the funnier or more interesting pieces I've had that I've not been able to make a full article out of.
In July 1942 a note was received by the Prime Ministers office. It stated that the British military mission to the US was sending home samples of a new "anti-tank rifle which shoots a rocket propelled projectile". We of course know this weapon as the famous Bazooka. Prime Minister Churchill of course wanted to see it in action. The demonstration was held at Shoeburyness on the 15th of August on a US T1 rocket grenade launcher. The results were less than impressive. It should be noted that these weren't full trials, but just a demonstration. However the back-blast was judged to be too dangerous for prone firing, and "there is a constant danger of prematures." The weapon was also judged to be too flimsy for field use.
Equally they were unable to view the armour penetration as the weapon missed the target all day.
The Bazooka's one selling point, its recoilless nature wasn't new to the British. A recoilless weapon had been created by two Home Guard officers, one of whom was called Jones, the other was named Wise. They created the Jones-Wise Projector. Its once again proof that smart people are often only smart in one way. Between them they designed a weapon that used a very clever system of achieving recoilessness, a system that is used in part in a lot of modern weapons.
These two officers were serving in the Hampshire Home Guard, seeing as I can only find one mention of the Jones-Wise projector, and its from 32nd Hants Battalion, Home Guard, one would presume that is the unit the two officers served in. It was first brought to the Prime Minister's attention in October 1940.
The Royal Navy trialled the weapon, as did the Army. However they both turned it down. The Royal Navy because they deferred in the matters of anti-tank weapons to the Army. The Army turned it down because the Home Guard had Northover projectors, the devastating Blacker Bombards and the Smith Gun was just coming into service. It was felt another AT weapon was surplus to requirements. Plus its rather unique design possibly raised some eyebrows.
The weapon was described by one officer that saw it as a "Heath Robinson contraption", and although I've yet to find a picture of the device there is an ample description.
|No, a different Jones!
It was a semi-circular trough with a parallel sighting bar, shaped a bit like a rifle, with sights on top. One would also presume it had some form of tripod mount. Into the trough a steel tube was loaded which contained a complete round. Upon firing the round was fired outwards, and the barrel backwards, which made the weapon ready to take another shot instantly with no recoil. This system is very similar to one used by many anti-tank guided missiles today, such as the Milan.
The issue of course is that the steel tube weighed 34 Lbs, and was flying backwards at a high rate of speed, would be incredibly dangerous to friendly soldiers. Plus the entire weight is the guns barrel, and each round would need a corresponding barrel. So while the actual gun was cheap to produce the ammunition would be expensive.
Finally one needs to make mention of the firing system. The firing hammer strikes a cartridge sticking out of a touch hole on the steel tube. Why is that odd I hear you ask, well because its a hammer. Yes, one of the crew members had to whack the cartridge with a normal hand held hammer to fire the projectile, presumably this would make fine aiming and shots against a moving target interesting to say the least.