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3

The Northover Projector,

The British Home Guard was a World War II militia unit comprised of men who were typically unfit for regular military service, typically due to age.  However with of a German invasion, the British needed every man it could get, even if they were a little bit older than the ideal soldier.  The British Army were issued the best weapons available, thus the Home Guard was often equipped with old, obsolete, and improvised weaponry, a good reflection of the Home Guard as a whole.  One of the weapons issued to the Home Guard was the Northover Projector.

Invented by Home Guard officer Robert Harry Northover, the Northover Projector was a makeshift anti-tank weapon consisting of a metal tube mounted on a tripod or quadropod.  A breachloading device, the Projector was loaded with a No. 76 incendiary grenade and a charge of black powder, which was detonated by a percussion cap.  The Northover Projector could lob the grenade at an optimum range of 100-150 yards and a maximum range of 300 yards.  The incendiary grenade was essentially a glass jar filled with gasoline and white phosphorus.  When broken, the phosphorus would ignite with exposure to oxygen thus igniting the gasoline.  

While the device was cheap and simple to use, it also had some problems.  First and foremost the grenade sometimes shattered in the bore, igniting the weapon and injuring the crew.  It also could be difficult to move with its large setup.  Regardless around 19,000 were produced and issued by the time the Home Guard was disbanded in late 1944.  A small number were also issued to regular British Army units due to shortages of weapons.  Few saw combat, and lucky the Home Guard never had the opportunity to use their Northover Projectors in anger.