British Blacker Bombard (spigot mortar)
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Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Blacker was a retired Indian Army officer who dabbled in weapon research, especially in attempts to create an anti-tank weapon based around the spigot mortar concept: a barrel-less device that uses a steel rod – the spigot – to ignite a charge propelling a bomb into the air.
The War Office was unresponsive to Blacker’s approaches until a demonstration of the weapon ignited Winston Churchill’s ‘boy’s own’ love of the dramatic. The mortar was mounted on a concrete pedestal or substantial cruciform platform so was immobile.
An unpopular device as an artillery weapon for obvious reasons, the Blacker Bombard nevertheless served as the template for the Royal Navy’s hugely successful forward-firing ‘hedgehog’ submarine killer, which had a success rate ten times greater than depth charge attacks.