company produced a number of flamethrowers
during the Second World War
Initial developments were for defence against expected German attacks. It was believed that it would act as a deterrent to Luftwaffe dive-bomber
targeting the lightly defended Merchant Navy
ships and coastal bases of the Fleet Air Arm
. The project was jointly managed by special-weapons departments of the Navy and the British Army
Later on they produced flamethrowers for fitting to armoured vehicles.
After the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk when the invasion of the United Kingdom seemed imminent, the flamethrower was seen as a suitable defensive weapon. The Petroleum Warfare Department
under Donald Banks
was set up. Rather than use petrol, a thickened fuel was developed (by R P Fraser at London University) which could be handled safely by pumps. To test this a Commer lorry was modified by the Lagonda Car Company
to carry a turret with a projector.
A parallel development was the "Heavy Pump Unit" from AEC
which used a six-wheeler heavy lorry. The Heavy Pump Unit had two projectors: the main one mounted in a turret capable of projecting up to 300 ft for anti-aircraft use, the other on a detachable carriage. The same AEC lorry chassis was used by the PWD and Lagonda for the "Heavy Cockatrice" while a smaller version on a Bedford QL
chassis the gave the "Bedford Cockatrice".AEC used their Matador
chassis to produce a prototype of a similar vehicle... Read More