10.9.2017

Northover Projector

The Projector, 2.5 inch—more commonly known as the Northover Projector—was an ad hoc anti-tank weapon used by the British Army and Home Guard during the Second World War. With a German invasion of Great Britain seeming likely after the defeat in the Battle of France, most available weaponry was diverted to the regular British Army, leaving the Home Guard short on supplies, particularly anti-tank weaponry. 

The Northover Projector was designed by a Home Guard officer named Robert Harry Northover to act as a makeshift anti-tank weapon, and was put into production in 1940 following a demonstration to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill

                   H 11843-Members of Home Guard using a Northover Projector-July 1941.jpg

The weapon consisted of a hollow metal tube attached to a tripod, with a rudimentary breech at one end. Rounds were fired with the use of black powder ignited by a standard musket percussion cap, and it had an effective range of between 100 and 150 yards. Although it was cheap and easy to manufacture, it did have several problems; it was difficult to move and the No. 76 Special Incendiary Grenades it used as one type of ammunition had a tendency to break inside the breech, damaging the weapon and injuring the crew. Production began in late 1940, and by the beginning of 1943 nearly 19,000 were in service. Like many obsolete Home Guard weapons, it was eventually replaced by other weapons, such as the 2-pounder anti-tank gun.
     

With the end of the Battle of France and the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the port of Dunkirk between 26 May and 4 June 1940, a German invasion of Great Britain seemed likely. However, the British Army was not well-equipped to defend the country in such an event; in the weeks after the Dunkirk evacuation it could only field twenty-seven divisions. The Army was particularly short of anti-tank guns, 840 of which had been left behind in France, leaving only 167 available in Britain; ammunition was so scarce for the remaining guns that regulations forbade even a single round being used for training purposes.

Given these shortcomings, any modern weapons that were available were allocated to the British Army, and the Home Guard was forced to supplement the meagre amount of outdated weapons and ammunition they had with ad hoc weapons. One such weapon was the Northover Projector, the invention of Major Robert Harry Northover. Northover, an officer in the Home Guard, designed it to be an easily manufactured and cheap anti-tank weapon, costing just under £10 to produce, excluding the required tripod. The Major wrote directly to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, with his design and arranged for Churchill to attend a demonstration of the Northover Projector. The Prime Minister approved of the weapon and gave it his personal endorsement, ordering in October 1940 that the weapon be mass-produced on a scale of one for every Home Guard platoon.
                      Kuvahaun tulos haulle Northover Projector
The Northover Projector—which was officially labelled the "Projector, 2.5 inch" by the War Office - was formed of a hollow metal tube, resembling a drain pipe, mounted on top of a cast-iron tripod. It weighed approximately 27.2 kilograms. A simple breech was attached to one end of the tube, and rounds were fired from the Projector with a small quantity of black powder ignited by a "top hat" copper cap as used in muzzle loading rifles <Curtis (HBSA)2014>; any recoil from the weapon was absorbed by the legs of the tripod, which were also hollow. It had a maximum range of approximately 300 yards but was accurate only to between 100 and 150 yards Home Guard units often added their own modifications to the weapon, which included mounting it on carriages or even the sidecars of motorcycles. It was served by a crew of three. Ammunition for the weapon consisted of the No. 76 Special Incendiary Grenade, a glass bottle "containing a phosphorus mixture which burst into livid flames, giving off quantities of suffocating smoke upon exposure to the air", as well as normal hand and rifle grenades.
                      Kuvahaun tulos haulle Northover Projector

The Projector had a number of defects. It was difficult to move, the tripod had the tendency to damage itself if it was dropped, and its discharge pressure has been described as "feeble." The phosphorus grenades exhibited a number of faults when used in the Projector; they could often explode inside the weapon if too much black powder were added, or fall short if too little were used, or even fail to explode. They could also break inside the barrel when fired which often led to the weapon being damaged and its crew injured. Even when fired properly, the Projector gave off a large cloud of smoke which could take up to a minute to clear and revealed the weapon's position. Bishop argues that its anti-tank abilities would have been 'doubtful' when it fired hand and rifle grenades, although he considers that the phosphorus grenades might have been more successful. To make handling easier, a lighter version of the weapon, the Northover Projector Mk 2 was developed in 1941, but few were produced.

                      Kuvahaun tulos haulle Northover Projector
The Northover Projector was issued to both Home Guard and regular British Army units, and by August, 1941 over 8,000 Northover Projectors were in service. This number had increased to 18,919 by the beginning of 1943. Initial reactions to the Northover Projector were varied, with a number of Home Guard volunteers uncertain about the weapon's unusual design, and some officers never accepted that it could be useful. However, most Home Guard units came to accept the weapon and have confidence in it, aided by large amounts of what Mackenzie terms "War Office propaganda" which cited the positive qualities of the weapon, such as its simplicity of use, ease of manufacture and low maintenance requirements. 

It was, as one Home Guard volunteer put it, "something to be accepted gratefully until something better arrived." Like many of the obsolete weapons designed for the Home Guard, the Northover Projector was only taken out of service when it could be replaced with "marginally less ineffective" weapons provided by the Army, such as the 2-pounder anti-tank gun.

7.9.2017

Blacker Bombard

The Blacker Bombard, also known as the 29mm Spigot Mortar, was an infantry anti-tank weapon devised by Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart Blacker in the early years of the Second World War.

Intended as a means to equip Home Guard units with an anti-tank weapon in case of German invasion, at a time of grave shortage of weapons, it was accepted only after the intervention of Churchill. Although there were doubts about the effectiveness of the Bombard, many were issued. Few, if any, saw combat.
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With the end of the Battle of France and the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the port of Dunkirk between 26 May and 4 June 1940, a German invasion of Great Britain seemed likely. However, the British Army was not well-equipped to defend the country in such an event; in the weeks after the Dunkirk evacuation it could field only twenty-seven divisions. (The German Army had more than 100 divisions at that time.) 

The Army was particularly short of anti-tank guns, 840 of which had been left behind in France, and only 167 were available in Britain, ammunition (artillery) was so scarce for the remaining guns that regulations forbade even a single round being used for training purposes.

                      Cutaway of Bombard
Men of the Saxmundham Home Guard prepare to fire a Blacker Bombard during training with War Office instructors, 30 July 1941.


                     
                 
The Bombard was a 29mm spigot mortar, weighing between and 360 lb, placed on top of a swivel or pivot. It was able to fire a 20 lb high-explosive bomb to a range of approximately 100 yards; when the bomb detonated, it was able to inflict significant damage on a tank, although it was unlikely to actually pierce the vehicle's armour as the projectile was not able to gain sufficient velocity. It was served by a crew of between three and five men The Bombard was considered to be most effective at short range, with targets being engaged with 'considerable success' at a range of between 75–100 yards. 

It was a muzzle-loaded weapon and therefore had a slow rate of fire, averaging between six and twelve rounds per minute; as such it was considered vital that the weapon be well-camouflaged and that it hit the target with the first shot. Two types of ammunition were provided for the weapon – a 20 lb anti-tank bomb and a lighter 14 lb anti-personnel bomb, with each weapon being issued with 150 rounds of the former and 100 of the latter. The anti-tank rounds were found to possess several problems. They had insensitive fuzes, which meant that they would often pass through an unarmoured target without detonating, and when they did explode fragments were often thrown back at the crew. 

                     

The Bombard was either affixed to a large cruciform platform, or an immobile concrete pedestal, in either case would usually be placed in range of defensive positions, such as road-blocks. It seems that there was a preference for the Bombard to be used primarily in a static role, with extra mountings being built by the Royal Engineers to provide alternative positions from which the weapon could be fired. In a static position, the weapon was usually emplaced in a pit with ammunition lockers nearby.
-------------------------------------------
Given these shortcomings, those modern weapons that were available were allocated to the British Army, and the Home Guard was forced to supplement the meagre amount of outdated weapons and ammunition they had with ad hoc weapons. One of these was the Blacker Bombard, designed by Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Blacker, the origins of which went back to the 1930s. During the early part of the 1930s, Blacker became interested in the concept of the spigot mortar. Unlike conventional mortars the spigot mortar did not possess a barrel, and instead there was a steel rod known as a 'spigot' fixed to a baseplate; the bomb itself had a propellant charge inside its tail. When the mortar was to be fired, the bomb was pushed down onto the spigot, which exploded the propellant charge and blew the bomb into the air.

Blacker began to experiment with the concept in the hopes of creating a platoon mortar that was lighter in weight than the one used by the British Army at the time. This evolved into the Arbalest, which he submitted to the Army but was rejected for a Spanish design. Undeterred by this rejection, Blacker went back to the design and came up with the idea of an anti-tank weapon, although he was initially stymied in his attempts to design one because the spigot design failed to generate the required velocity to penetrate armour. However he was eventually successful in creating an anti-tank mortar, which he named the Blacker Bombard.

When the Second World War began, Blacker was a lieutenant-colonel in the Territorial Army. He had offered his Bombard to the War Office for two years without success but was introduced to the government department of Military Intelligence Research (MIRc) later known as MD1, which had been given the task of developing and delivering weapons for use by guerilla and resistance groups in Occupied Europe. Blacker showed his list of ideas to the head of MD1, Major Millis Jefferis, who was taken with the design for the Bombard. 

He argued that it could serve in an anti-tank and artillery capability, and claimed that it would have similar anti-tank properties to the 2 pounder anti-tank gun coupled with approximately the same range as the 3 inch mortar. Objections were raised by the Director of Artillery and other government officials, but on 18 August 1940 the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, attended a demonstration of the weapon. Churchill took a liking to the weapon and ordered it into full production. It would act as a temporary anti-tank weapon for the Home Guard until more 2 pounders could be supplied to them.


It was decided by General Headquarters Home Forces that Bombards would be useful as an anti-tank weapon for use by regular forces, as well as the Home Guard. General Alan Brooke entertained doubts about the weapon's effectiveness, but believed that its simplicity would allow it to be used by younger soldiers. In Southern Command, 14,000 were ordered for use by forces in that area; twenty-four were to be issued to anti-tank regiments, twelve to troops assigned to guard aerodromes, eight per brigade and two for each Home Guard company. However, RAF personnel were forbidden from using the weapons, a restriction which was extended to the RAF Regiment when it was formed in 1942.

6.9.2017

Early Finnish saga 10. - first eastern border 1323

Throughout the Middle Ages, the city thrived culturally. A large number of birch bark letters have been unearthed in excavations, perhaps suggesting widespread literacy, although this is uncertain (some scholars suggest that a clerical or scribal elite wrote them on behalf of a largely illiterate populace). It was in Novgorod that the Novgorod Codex, the oldest Slavic book written north of Bulgaria, and the oldest inscription in a Finnic language (Birch bark letter no. 292) were unearthed. 

Some of the most ancient Russian chronicles (Novgorod First Chronicle) were written in the scriptorium of the archbishops who also promoted iconography and patronized church construction. The Novgorod merchant Sadko became a popular hero of Russian folklore.

Novgorod was never conquered by the Mongols during the Mongol invasion of Rus. The Mongol army turned back about 200 kilometers from the city, not because of the city's strength, but probably because the Mongol commanders did not want to get bogged down in the marshlands surrounding the city. 

Kuvahaun tulos haulle golden horde
                                                              Moscow area.                                     

        Kuvahaun tulos haulle golden horde

However, the grand princes of Moscow, who acted as tax collectors for the khans of the Golden Horde, did collect tribute in Novgorod, most notably Yury Danilovich and his brother, Ivan Kalita.

In 1259, Hordes tax-collectors and census-takers arrived in the city, leading to political disturbances and forcing Alexander Nevsky to punish a number of town officials (he cut off their noses) for defying him as Grand Prince of Vladimir (soon to be the khan's tax-collector in Russia) and his Mongol overlords. In the 14th century, raids by Novgorod pirates, or ushkuiniki, sowed fear as far as Kazan and Astrakhan, assisting Novgorod in wars with the Grand Duchy of Moscow.

During the era of Old Rus' State, Novgorod was a trade hub at the northern end of both the Volga trade route and the "route from the Varangians to the Greeks" along the Dnieper river system. A vast array of goods were transported along these routes and exchanged with local Novgorod merchants and other traders. 

The farmers of Gotland retained the Saint Olof trading house well into the 12th century. Later German merchantmen also established tradinghouses in Novgorod. Scandinavian royalty would intermarry with Russian princes and princesses.


After the great schism, Novgorod struggled from the beginning of the 13th century against Swedish, Danish, and German crusaders. 


During the Swedis Novgorodian Wars, the Swedes invaded lands where some of the population had earlier paid tribute to Novgorod. 


The Germans had been trying to conquer the Baltic region since the late 12th century. Novgorod went to war 26 times with Sweden and 11 times with the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. 
The German knights, along with Danish and Swedish feudal lords, launched a series of uncoordinated attacks in 1240–1242. Novgorodian sources mention that a Swedish army was defeated in the Battle of the Neva in 1240. 



The Baltic German campaigns ended in failure after the Battle on the Ice in 1242. 
After the foundation of the castle of Viborg in 1293 the Swedes gained a foothold in Karelia.

On August 12, 1323, Sweden and Novgorod signed the Treaty of Nöteborg, regulating their border for the first time. Finnish areas first eastern border is made.

Treaty of Nöteborg   Nöteborg = Walnut-Island / castle = Pähkinä-saari / Linna

                                    Finnish areas first eastern border is made.
--------------------------------------------------------------                            Aiheeseen liittyvä kuva
                                   Hansa Kogge ship, or cog-built vessels
Hanseatic League
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From 1249 onwards, sources generally regard Finland proper and Tavastia as a part of Sweden. Diocese of Finland proper is first time listed among the Swedish dioceses in 1253. In the Novgorod First Chronicle Tavastians (yem) and Finns proper (sum) are mentioned on an expedition with Swedes (svei) in 1256. However, very little is known about the situation in Finland during the following decades.

As an unexpected side effect, the expedition seems to have cost Birger the Swedish crown. As King Eric died in 1250 and Birger was still absent from Sweden, the rebellious Swedish lords selected Birger's under-aged son Valdemar as the new king instead of the powerful jarl himself.

                      Åbo slott 1900..jpg
                               Turku Castle (Finnish: Turun linna, Swedish: Åbo slott)
Turku Castle

                                               Kastelholm Castle 1944
Kastelholm Castle

Reason for this is partly the fact that Western Finland was now ruled from Turku and most of the documentation remained there. As the Novgorod forces burned the city in 1318 during the Swedish-Novgorodian Wars, very little remained about what had happened in the previous century.

The last Swedish Crusade to Finland took place in 1293 against Karelians.