It seems incredible – not to mention barbaric – but this weapon really did exist during the First World War. The huge 100m tongue of flame released by the Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector – named for its inventor – must have produced shock and horror whenever it was used. Imagine being trapped in a trench with a ball of fire heading towards you. It was fuelled by a mixture of kerosene and diesel, and burned everything it touched. It was only used a few times and was later banned.
In 2010 a team of archaeologists conducted a dig in France, and found pieces of one of the World War 1 flame projectors. The dig was documented by UK Channel 4’s Time Team, and a working replica of the weapon was built by British Royal Engineers.
The Time Team episode is available here if you’re in the UK. For everyone else, the episode is available on Youtube in four parts:
Part 1 (12 mins 37 secs)
Part 2 (13:45)
Part 3 (10:11)
Part 4 (10:19)
The replica flame projector can be seen in action from 3:00 in part 4. It’s a truly awesome sight. I’m glad sanity prevailed after the war and weapons like this were banned.