After the evacuation at Dunkirk
the British army
was left with virtually no anti-tank
weapons available in any quantity other than grenade
s and a few 2-pdr anti-tank guns. With and invasion of the British Isles seemingly imminent, there was a need for an easily produced weapon that could be used to arm not only the army but the newly formed Local Defense Volunteers
(later to become the Home Guard
). One of the weapons rushed into production was the Northover mortar, also known as the bottle mortar but finally designated as the Northover Projector. This weapon was typical of British “pipe guns” of the time and was produced quickly and cheaply.
The Northover Projector is little more than a steel pipe with a rudimentary breech mechanism at one end. The ammunition consisted of unorthodox hand and rifle grenades that were propelled by a small black powder charge. Later the glass bottle No. 76 phosphorus was fired, giving rise to the name “bottle mortar.” There was no recoil mechanism; since all recoil was absorbed by the quadra-pod mount, the legs were produced cheaply for easy replacement.
The sighting was very basic but was accurate enough up to 91 meters (100 yd.). The maximum range was about 274 meters (300 yd.).
The Northover Projector was a crude and rudimentary weapon that never saw service. During 1940 and some time following it was a standard issue Home Guard weapon and also issued to some regular Army units to provide them with some form of anti-tank capability. In practice the Northover was only as good as the projectiles it fired, since these were usually hand or rifle grenades, their effectiveness against armored vehicles is doubtful. The use of the white phosphorus bottle grenades (essentially an advanced Molotov cocktail) would probably have been more successful. This ammunition had problems too, the projector crews hated this combination because the glass bottles frequently broke upon firing, with obvious and disastrous results.
The crew of the Northover Projector was usually two men, sometimes with a third spotting targets. Most crews found ways to modify their projectors for easier transportation. Some of the modifications included bolting the legs to a hand cart, mounting the weapon on a light anti-tank gun frame or on a motorcycle sidecar.
- Calibre - 63.5 mm (2.5 in.)
- Weight – Projector, 27.2 kg. (60 lb.) Mounting, 33.6 kg. (74 lb.)
- Range – Effective, 91 m (100 yd) Maximum, 274 m. (300 yd)
Souce: The Encyclodedia of Weapons of World War II
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