It has always been and always will be that need is both the best "teacher" and a stimulator of technical creativity, including military. For example, during the First World War, troops "buried" in trenches were not far from each other, often at a grenade throw distance. But nevertheless, and not always so close that it was possible to throw it from the trench into the trench.
Aazen's bomb launcher in the trenches.
What to do? The artillery is too strong, the fighter's hands are definitely weak. It means that something in between is needed - stronger than hands, but weaker than artillery. So the bomb launcher was born, which got its name according to tradition: everything that was fired at a small angle was called a grenade, everything that was under a large one was fired by a mortar, and it was her shell that was called a bomb. In Russia, the term "bomb" was sometimes used in relation to mortars (in the 17th-19th centuries, explosive shells of small-caliber field guns - that is, less than one pound, or 196 mm - were called a grenade, and heavier shells were called bombs). In this case, the "bomb" flew from trench to trench along a hinged trajectory (sometimes it was very heavy), this is how this name appeared. One of the first was the Aazen bomb launcher (or "Aazen mortar") - a 3.5-inch caliber (88, 9-mm) mortar (or a bomb launcher according to the army classification of the WWI era), created in France in 1915. Its designer - Nils Aazen, was a French inventor and entrepreneur of Norwegian origin. Moreover, 1915 - 1916. its bomb was produced even in Russia and was used in the Russian army.
Aazen's bomb launcher device.
Its barrel was steel, smooth. They loaded it with feathered bombs from the treasury. The propellant charge was in the sleeve of an outdated Gra rifle, a large number of which were transferred by France to Russia. The shutter was hinged, frame-type carriage with four sliding "legs". The weight of the bomb in the firing position was about 1.5 pounds (25 kg). It was also possible to shoot from it with direct fire, so it even had shrapnel in its ammunition, which contained 60 bullets with a diameter of 15, 24 mm. True, it was not entirely safe to shoot from it, since when the cartridge case was rammed with the bolt at large elevation angles of the barrel, the drummer could accidentally prick the primer, which could cause the shot to occur prematurely with the bolt unlocked.
Aazen's Bomb Launcher …
The weight of the projectile, however, although it was called a bomb, was small to the Aazen bomb launcher - 1, 2 kg, of which 400 g were explosives. The maximum firing range was 400 meters, that is, it was a good weapon for trench warfare.
… And mine to him. Mine "Excelsior" with a special detonation tube. Length with stabilizer 358 mm.
In the positional battles of 1915, in all the belligerent armies, they were engaged in the manufacture of homemade guns from pieces of iron and steel pipes with a screwed bottom and a firing mechanism based on outdated rifles and hunting rifles. Their machines were very simple, if not primitive, but they also fought, and with their help it was also possible to kill people. Known, for example, was the heavier bomber G. R., which hit 500 m, and the projectile weighed 3, 3 kg.
In total, during the period from 1915 to 1917, 14,047 bomb and mortars of various systems were delivered to the Russian front, and 6,500 units "departed" for various reasons. As already noted, bombers differed from mortars in that the latter were muzzle loaded, bombers from the treasury, and had a projectile mainly of fragmentation action and a small explosive charge, so they were unsuitable for destroying artificial obstacles and even weak fortifications. That is why, by 1918, devices were invented that fired powerful over-caliber mines. Interestingly, since the First World War in the Russian language, such systems began to be called precisely mortars. But during the famous conflict on the Chinese Eastern Railway, that is, at the end of the 1920s, the term "bomb" was still used.
Diagram of the Livens gas gun.
At the same time, the so-called "gas cannon" or "Leavens mortar" (English "Leaven's defender") was born - a type of mortar specially designed in England during the First World War for firing projectiles with toxic substances. For the first time, gas cannons were used in the Battle of the Somme.
William Howard Leavens and his "protector".
Lievens' invention looked like an ordinary metal pipe with a caliber of eight inches (203 mm), which had to be buried in the ground at an angle of 45 degrees in the direction of the enemy. The tube contained an electric detonator, a powder charge, and a metal cylinder with poison gas or liquid incendiary substance. The firing range of such a gas cannon was approximately 1,500 meters. When hitting the ground, the cylinder collapsed, and the gas spread in all directions.
This is how the “defender” was charged.
The Leavens mortar was not only cheap and easy to manufacture and use. Thanks to electric ignition, it became possible to collect large batteries of such gas cannons and use them to conduct extremely intense fire.
Storage of gas cylinders for the Livens gas cannon.
An interesting type of land bomb was the Blaker Bombard, a British 29-mm anti-tank and anti-personnel mortar mortar, which was invented by British Army Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Blaker during World War II.
Gas cannons still preserved at the positions of the Yorkshire Riflemen in Flanders. Ypres, Belgium.
The gun had a significant weight - 150 kg, and the crew consisted of six people. Accuracy was decent only at a distance of 40-50 meters, but the maximum could shoot at more than 800 m. All this led to the fact that the main part of these mortars, the main advantage of which was their cheapness, were installed in stationary positions that looked like a round concrete "Pits" with a concrete base of the carriage towering in the center.
Here it is, Blaker's bombard. July 30, 1941.
Blaker's over-caliber bomb launcher was notable for its small dimensions, since it did not require a long barrel. In a stationary position, he was completely invisible. In addition, the calculation for her included only three people. The over-caliber projectile weighing 10 kg contained 5 kg of explosives. And although he did not penetrate the armor of German tanks, the explosion power was enough to disable him.
The first "bombards" were delivered to the troops by July 1942, but the love of the British "Tommy" was not used. It got to the point that the soldiers tried to change them for Thompson submachine guns, just to get rid of them. Apparently, that is why about 250 such "bombards" were sent to the USSR in 1941-1942 under Lend-Lease. But whether they were used is unknown. Well, and on the coast of England you can still see 351 concreted pedestals for the "Blaker bombard", preserved in memory of the war.
It should be noted that the spread of Stokes mortars led to the fact that in various kinds of paramilitary formations their homemade counterparts, made from water pipes of a suitable diameter, appeared. This was, for example, the Davidka mortar - a handicraft Israeli mortar of the Arab-Israeli War period (1947–1949), designed by David Leibovich. It was arranged, like a conventional mortar, had a caliber of 3 inches (76, 2 mm), but was loaded with an over-caliber mine weighing up to 40 kilograms. The shooting accuracy was low, but the loud howl of flying mines and powerful explosions had a very strong demoralizing effect on the Arabs.
The experience seemed attractive, and the IRA, an Irish terrorist organization, took up the creation of such mortars-bombers. Most often they used 320 mm barrels made from household gas cylinders! This was, for example, the Mark 15 bomb launcher, which was a meter-long cylinder with a diameter of 360 mm from a household propane cylinder. It included a smaller diameter cylinder filled with about 70 kg of homemade, but very strong explosives. The firing range of such a projectile was from 75 to 275 meters.
For the first time, such weapons were used on December 7, 1992 during an attack on a military base at Ballygowley in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Then the shell exploded, hitting a tree, but one policeman was injured. Mortars were also made Mark 1 (1972) caliber 50 mm, Mark 2 (1972-1973): caliber 57 mm, Mark 3 (1973-1974) caliber 60 mm, firing at 237 m. The substance was a mixture of sodium chlorate and ammonium nitrate, and nuts and bolts were added to it. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder was also used.
On February 7, 1991, even Downing Street was fired upon by a battery of three homemade mortars using a mixture of ammonium nitrate and nitrobenzene called Annie. The Irovtsy are trying to destroy the Prime Minister John Major in this way. In March 1994, IRA fighters fired at Heathrow Airport from about the same homemade mortar.
In general, the weight of the charges in mines for the IRA mortars was different - from 20 to 100 kg. Some of them were installed in minibuses and fired on the move, or quickly left the firing point.
Still, the most famous type was the Mark 15, a bomb launcher that received the characteristic nickname "Barracks Destroyer". According to the militants of the IRA, it was their standard weapon, and the effect of the explosion of its bombs resembled the explosion of a "car that took off into the air." It could be used as a group weapon, like the Leavens bomb launcher, and used in the same way as the MLRS. For example, of 12 such mortars, on October 9, 1993, the IRA fired at the British base in Kilkile. With their help, two helicopters were destroyed: Westland Lynx and Aerospatiale Puma during the shelling of a military airfield in 1994 in South Armagh. The mortar barrel was usually attached to a hydraulic lift, which was transported by a tractor to the firing position, where it was guided to the target. Well, it is clear that with a system weight of more than 150 kg, hydraulics were indispensable.
Irish militants also learned how to make anti-tank hand grenade launchers with cumulative ammunition. This was, for example, the Mark 16, which was involved in 11 attacks in late 1993 and early 1994. Interestingly, his cumulative projectile was made from a can of up to one pound, which was filled with 600 grams of Semtex explosives.
And this is the terrifying "barracks destroyer". The Irovites cannot be denied imagination!
Similar technologies are used to create the simplest mortars in the Colombian FARK group, and the Basques from the ETA group.
Well, now one can imagine that such systems today, already at a new stage of the armed struggle, may well be used by armed formations in the same DPR and LPR. The main thing is to have strong trunks, pipes of the appropriate diameter and a little ingenuity and precision instruments. For example, at a constant angle of 45 degrees, 20 such trunks can be installed in the body of a Kamaz heavy-duty dump truck: four rows of five in each row. Aiming to the target in azimuth is carried out by the entire body of the machine, but the change in angle is by lifting the body. In this case, the raised body must be firmly fixed with a special stopper in order to relieve the hydraulic part.
But terrorists in Syria are "indulging" in such homemade products today. Everything is as the Strugatsky brothers predicted in their story "Predatory Things of the Century" back in 1964 …
Modern "gas shells".
The shells … these are ordinary gas cylinders for oxygen, acetylene and carbon dioxide, well known to all. A rocket engine (a metal cylinder with a nozzle wrapped in asbestos) is inserted inside, the fuel in which is a mixture of berthollet salt and sugar, ignited at the time of the shot, through a hole in the wad-ejector. Stabilization - due to the impeller with blades. Before the shot, it is located in the bow of the projectile sticking out of the barrel, and then moves to the stern. Ignition is electric, as in the Leavens bomb.
This is the simplest scheme that allows you to create a weapon of enormous power (you can imagine how much explosive can be poured into such a cylinder!), Even if it will act at a relatively short distance. By the way, in urban conditions, for example, in Aleppo, the concept of "small" is very relative. The main thing here is how much explosives we can deliver to the enemy who has taken refuge behind a neighboring house or … through a house!
And that's how they charge them.
But it is also possible to improve this setting by placing a video camera and a duck-type rudder control unit in the head of the cylinder. Then it will be enough for the "balloon" to rise two hundred meters into the air and then turn its nose to the ground. The video camera will transmit it to the operator "top view", after which he will only have to point it (that is, the projectile) at the selected target. A house, a checkpoint, a tank - any of these targets by a direct (and even not entirely direct!) Hit of such a projectile will certainly be destroyed!
They even managed to make a four-barreled installation, and the emphasis was a dozer blade!
By the way, if you place a small charge in the head control unit, then you won't even need explosives for an oxygen cylinder. The gas there is under high pressure, and it is pure oxygen - i.e. very powerful oxidizing agent. The instructions, for example, are strictly forbidden to lubricate the threads on the valves of such cylinders with oil. Why? Because oil + oxygen can lead to an explosion! And then all this mass of oxygen bursts out at once, in the course of an explosion that takes place, destroying the cylinder … Everything will flare up so that … it will not seem a little to anyone! Even iron burns in pure oxygen!
But this is generally something monstrous!
So the experience of the past is not only history. In new conditions, sometimes even old equipment can work perfectly!