Military Wiki
Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector
Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector 1.jpg
Type Flamethrower
Place of origin United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1916–1917
Used by British Army
Wars First World War
Production history
Designer William Howard Livens
Produced 1915–1916 (?)
Number built at least 5 (?)
Weight 2.5 long tons (2.5 t)
Length 56 feet (17 m)

Livens Large Gallery Flame Projectors were large experimental flamethrowers used by the British Army in World War I. They were named after their inventor, a Royal Engineers officer William Howard Livens. Four were deployed in 1916 the Battle of the Somme and one in 1917 in an offensive near Diksmuide, Belgium. Two of the weapons at the Somme were destroyed by German shelling before they could be used, but the other two were used at the start of the offensive. Their use is a possible explanation for helping the success of the British in those particular sectors of the front. British losses there were comparatively low.[1] The weapons were 56 feet (17 m) long, weighed 2.5 long tons (2.5 t), took a carrying party of 300 men to bring the pieces to the front line and assemble it and it was operated by a crew of eight. The weapon was designed to be used from a shallow tunnel dug under no man's land. The weapon consisted of a long chamber containing the fuel, a 14-inch (360 mm) diameter pipe and a nozzle on the surface. A piston-driven compressed gas was pushed into the long fuel chamber – and fuel was forced out of the surface nozzle, ignited and directed to the target.[1][2] The maximum range of the weapon was 30 to 40 m (100 to 130 ft).[3]

Historians Peter Barton and Jeremy Banning with archaeologists Tony Pollard and Iain Banks from the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University were successful in May 2010 in finding at Mametz the remains of one of the Livens Large Gallery Flame Projectors. This project was undertaken for a Channel 4 Time Team documentary first broadcast on 14 April 2011. A full size, working model of the weapon was constructed to prove its efficacy.[4]

Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector -2-


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jasper Copping (9 May 2010). "Secret terror weapon of the Somme battle 'discovered'". The Sunday Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 11 April 2011. "Unleashed at the start of the Battle of the Somme, it produced a terrifying effect the like of which had never before been seen on a battlefield"  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "tele" defined multiple times with different content
  2. "Breathing Fire – Le dragon de la Somme (videos)" (in French). Historial de le Grande Guerre. Retrieved 11 Nov. 2012. 
  4. Jeremy Banning: freelance military historian and researcher – Channel 4 Time Team Special on archaeological dig for the Livens Flame Projector dig at Mametz, Somme to be aired at 9pm on Thursday 14 April (Accessed 11 April 2011)

External links

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