Biggles, Flaming onions.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Chef, Oct 13, 2007.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. In one of my old Biggles books in the glossary there is mention of ''Flaming onions'' which are described as a string of near vertical balls of fire the actual launcher was not discovered until after the end of the great war.
    Does anyone have any idea as to what they might have been, or are they like the scarecrow shells of WW II which British bomber crews thought were special shells designed to look like n exploding bomber, in the eponymous book Len Deighton points out
    ''There were no scarecrow shells , just exploding bombers''
  2. Remembering back to the contents of my Biggles books (I have 82 of them!), flaming onions were described as a series of magnesium flares joined by a length of wire.

    The plan was that an aircraft flying into the wire would pull the flares onto its fabric-covered wing, setting fire to it.

    I believe the launcher was a bit like an oversized mortar.
  3. Of course, Wiki gives a different answer:

    It could be that WE Johns was wrong, then again, he was there at the time.
  4. IIRC they were incendiary rounds/flares but fired at a very high speed so that from above they did look like they were on a 'string'. Some sort of revolving action smoothbored launcher jobbie, superceded by 'normal' light AA.

    Must have been a buttock-clencher to see those heading in your direction as you flew your fabric-covered, flammably doped aircraft with it's wooden structure and lots of petrol on board... with no parachute. Spherical objects of steel.

    Edit to say Wiki is your friend! I was sure they were mentioned in 'Sagittarius Rising' by Cecil Lewis as well, plus the fictional series about WW1 flyers featuring a horsefaced canadian bod whose title I can't remember...

    Edit again. The Bandy Papers (various volumes) by Donald Jack. The Flashman of the RFC.
  5. Many thanks for the info!!!
    I knew putting Biggles at the front of the title would catch the eye.