- The P.P.A. W.A.S.P. jeep -

The P.P.A.'s Flametrower.

Vehicle mounted flame throwing device were developed by the British from 1940 onwards, for mounting in Bren Gun Carriers and tanks. The carrier mounted equipment was known as "Wasps" and existed in various marks. One thousand Mark I Wasps were built up to November 1943, with a range of 80 to 100 yards and a large projector mounted above the carrier. An improved Mark II Wasp was introduced late in 1943, with a totally re-designed projector being mounted in the Bren gun housing, a flame fuel capacity of 100 gallons and a crew of two. Later, the Canadians developed the Mark IIC Wasp, with a reduced flame fuel of 75 gallons, allowing a third crew member to be carried.

Wasp were used in Italy to clear strong points, machine gun nests and so forth, but there ware occasions when even a carrier could not get access and a smaller vehicle was required. Colonel Vladimir Peniakoff 'Popski' had the idea of fitting a Wasp to one of his jeeps, but the RAOC informed Popski that this was not feasible as the vehicle was too small. Undaunted, Popski had a go and came up with a one-off Wasp Jeep that actually worked. It is not clear if it was ever used in action - the heat from the projector was apparently very significant for the gunner - but it would certainly have been an impressive sight.

A standard Mark II Wasp projector unit was used - there is an identical one in the Imerial War Museum at Duxford which served as the master for this recreation. A special steel plate frame was fitted on the passenger cowl, to allow some traverse and elevation. To cope with the extra weight, the jeep front panels were strenthened using angle iron, with the frame being bolted to the jeep chassis. Two flame jelly fuel tanks were fitted in the rear of the jeep by specially fabricated brackets, under which were mounted the battery, fuse box, spill box and blow down valve. These tanks appear to be smaller than the carrier tanks, through two large bore flexible hoses to the projector - a cut out had to be made in the dashboard to accommodate these hoses.

The pressure is provided from one gas bottle (there were originally two bottles in the carrier system). The gas is supplied through a master valve and filter to an evaporator, mounted in the front of the driver. Hot water is piped through the evaporator from the jeep cooling system, the bonnet of the jeep having been cut into two pieces to allow these pipes to exit.

The P.P.A. WASP 'flame thrower' Jeep and it's
driver Hubbard 'Nick' W. of 'B' Patrol.

 

'Nick' Hubbard checked everything while
Popski looked before they tested
the WASP-jeep.

 

'Nick' tuned the WASP-jeep a little more
before firing.

 

'Nick' brings the WASP-jeep ready
for firing.

 

'Nick' ready to firing with the WASP-jeep.

 

 

Firing with the WASP-jeep. With high
pressure the long stream of napalm
comes out the muzzle of the WASP-jeep.

 

Yes it works, just after the long
stream of napalm burned out.

 

Cannon of the WASP jeep.

 

Back of the WASP jeep.

 

Dashboard of the WASP jeep.

 

Side of the jeep.

 

   

Messages from P.P.A. veterans.

Thu June 27th 2002.
Michel Cahill.

Dear Kurt,
The flamethower was removed from a Mark Carrier and was fitted on a standard P.P.A. jeep. A pressure tank and pump took uo the entire rear of the jeep. We were halfway up Italy at that time and the Germans had had time to improve their concrete bunkers - usually on the banks of rivers or canals.

After 'nick' Hubbard offered to demonstrate it there were no volunteers to use it!! The heat blow back from the rather long stream of napalm just cooked the driver. I heard that it finished up in the Imperial War Museum. Personally I didn't see any Patrol action of the flamthrower.
Regards Michele,

 



Fri June 28th 2002.
Cpl. Ben Owen.

Dear Kurt,
I don't know to any other photographs of the 'flamethrower'. People said it was not possible to fit a flamethrower on a jeep.
So Popski put one on a jeep. But he was a practical engineer and was fitted on the jeep in R.E.M.E. workshops under Popski's instructions.
Best Wishes
Ben Owen.

 

Source: P.P.A. veterans / P.P.A. Preservation Society / Research and Archive Section of P.P.A..
Photos: P.P.A. Preservation Society / Research and Archive Section of P.P.A. / Desert Raiders Association.


 
   

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