Livens Projector

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Template:Infobox Weapon The Livens Projector was a type of mortar that was used by the Allies in World War I for chemical warfare.


It was created by the British army officer Captain William H. Livens, Royal Engineers.[1] Later, in World War II he worked on petroleum warfare weapons such as the flame fougasse and various other flame throwing weapons.[2][3]

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.

Combat Use

The Livens Projector was designed to combine the advantages of both gas cylinders and shells by firing an actual cylinder tank at the enemy.[4]

The Livens Projector was a simple 8 inch metal pipe that was set in a ground at a 45 degree angle. A 14 kilogram drum of gas was shot out with an electrically initiated charge, with a range of about 1500 meters. The drum would then blast open thanks to a second charge, and would cover the area with gas.[5] It was a cheap and extremely effective chemical weapon.

The Livens Projector was first employed at the Battle of the Somme.[6]


  1. Palazzo, 2002, p103.
  2. LeFebure, 1926, p60
  3. Banks, 1946, p33
  4. LeFebure, 1926, p48-63
  5. United State Dept. of War, 1942
  6. LeFebure, 1926, p60


Surviving Examples

External links