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The Livens Projector was a type of mortar that was used by the Allies in World War I for chemical warfare.
Additional recommended knowledge
It was created by the British army officer Captain William H. Livens of the Royal Engineers. Later, in World War II he worked on petroleum warfare weapons such as the flame fougasse and various other flame throwing weapons.
Prior to the invention of the Livens Projector, chemical weapons had been delivered either by "cloud attacks" or chemical-filled shells fired from howitzers. Cloud attacks were made by burying gas filled cylinder tanks just beyond the parapet of the attacker's trenches, and then opening valves on the tanks when the wind was right. This allowed a significant amount of gas to be released, but there was a significant danger that the wind would change and the gas would drift back over the attacker's own troops. Chemical shells were much easier to direct at the enemy, but could not deliver nearly as much gas as could be contained in a cylinder tank.
It was first employed at the Battle of the Somme.
The Livens Projector was designed to combine the advantages of both gas cylinders and shells by firing an actual cylinder tank at the enemy.
The Livens Projector was a simple 8 inch metal pipe that was set in a ground at a 45 degree angle. A drum containing 30 lbs of gas was shot out with an electrically initiated charge, with a range of about 1500 meters. On impact with the target, a burster charge would disperse the chemical filling over the area. 
It was also used to project flammable oil, as with 1,500 drums before the Battle of Messines in June 1917. Oil was also tried on 20th September 1917 during the Battle of Menin Road with 290 projectors in an attempt to capture Eagle Trench east of Langemarck, which included concrete bunkers and machine-gun nests, but the drums did not land in the trenches and hence failed to suppress the German defenders there.
It was a cheap, simple and extremely effective method of delivering chemical weapons. Typically, hundreds (or even thousands) of Livens projectors would be fired in unison during an attack in order to saturate the enemy lines with poison gas.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Livens_Projector". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|