Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Inevitable Mistake

 A few weeks ago I held the presentation on the Bombard in support of my new book. During the Q&A afterwards I got talking to Chris Gibson about a weapon he'd found in the National Archives, tucked away in a batch of documents from the Explosive Research and Development Establishment under the name of 'L U S Blacker'. Mr Gibson has given me permission to share it with you. 

It's also important I mention it now, as I had speculated about this weapon in my book, as I had seen the plans for it from another archive. But I lacked context of any supporting documents. Thus my speculation was rather badly wrong. Luckily I do say the thoughts were entirely speculative comments.

The weapon in question was Blacker updating the idea of the PIAT to make the mother of all PIATs.

The Novel Platoon Projector, read to fire. The plans interestingly show a bi-pod which seems to be missing here.

The weapon itself is known by two names depending on the document involved. The plans are listed as the 'Stewblac platoon Projector', while the Kew document is known as the 'Novel Platoon Projector'. It was a quite advanced design, with the case being made from glass fibre to keep the weight down. The projectile seems to have used a rocket booster after launch made in accordance with Blackers Patent, which can be found here (If you want a complicated legalese description on how to improve rockets). Interestingly the Patent for the projectile was dated to 1953, while the Kew document was dated to 1960. Blacker lists possible warheads such as HESH (for anti-structure work), HEAT (for anti tank) and a HE anti-personnel round, which has a feature of a time fuse that can be adjusted up until the last moment, and thus can be used to create an airburst. This weapon would provide the infantry platoon the ability to kill targets out to 400 yards.

However, Blacker went one step further. He suggested that in a prepared position, the platoon might need accurate anti-tank fire out to 1,400 yards (which I'll bet is the maximum range of his weapon). To achieve this the Platoon Projector could be fitted with a tripod, and a wire guided missile.

The tripod and wire guided missile fitted.

The missile is launched much the same way as the dumb projectile, which is exactly the same a PIAT, through a retaining clip and a spigot. However, weapon guidance is done a bit differently to what you might expect. In most systems some form of sight is used, which somehow translates movements to the missile. In Blackers weapon you had a battery box with a switch. The switch was how the weapon was guided. If you flicked the switch to the left, the missile would turn left, and the same applies travelling the other direction. There was no pitch up/down control, so the missile could only be moved in one plane.

I'd just like to thank Mr Gibson for letting me share this with you, and for giving me an excellent piece of info about the final form of the PIAT, which as you know was the best Platoon level Infantry anti-tank weapon of the war.