Feeds

Great Panjandrum menaces North Devon

Experts to unleash unpredictable Nazi-busting wheel of destruction

Security for virtualized datacentres

Fireworks experts will this morning perhaps unwisely unleash a replica Great Panjandrum on the beach at Westward Ho! in North Devon - recreating the original tests of the rocket-powered wheel which sadly did not contribute to the 1944 allied landings at Normandy.

The Great Panjandrum

The Great Panjandrum was intended to thunder up the invasion beaches, cutting a swathe through German defences before detonating a ton of high explosive. It was, the Times notes, devised by naval lieutenant Nevil Shute Norway, later known as novelist Nevil Shute.

Shute Norway had worked with Barnes Wallis, but his top-secret Panjandrum failed to make the impact of the bouncing bomb. He'd calculated the beast would charge at "60mph on its two 10ft diameter steel wheels, smashing its way through any obstacles, before blasting a hole in the 7ft concrete of the Atlantic Wall large enough to drive a tank through".

Unfortunately, during not-so-secret tests at Westward Ho! in 1944, enjoyed by large crowds of locals and holidaymakers, the Great Panjandrum resolutely refused to follow a straight line.

Every time the cordite rockets were fired up, it simply veered off to one side. Shute and his team spent weeks tackling this problem, before assembling military top brass for a final demonstration. The Great Panjandrum failed to secure a place on the D-Day invasion fleet by once again careering wildly off course before exploding.

The 7ft diameter replica which will today menace Westward Ho! was constructed by Bristol fireworks company Skyburst, which reckons it'll trundle up to 550 yards at a modest 15mph.

Skyburst’s display director, Leigh Pittaway, insisted the Great Panjandrum would not be used to blow a big hole in the Westward Ho! seafront, and would be unarmed. He said: “We thought about it, as we have the whole beach to ourselves, but decided it would create too many complications. We don’t want to kill any dogs or onlookers.”

There's some footage of the original Great Panjandrum, along with other ill-conceived British military gadgets here. ®

Bootnote

The Great Panjandrum was named after the Samuel Foote poem of the same name.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
Now: The REAL APPLE NEWS you need to know
OMG! Gravity's totes amazeballs. Calm down, George Clooney, not your film
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Let's make an app that POSTS your POO to APPLE HQ
Plus: It's OPEN WARFARE in the Linux greybeard world
Adorkable overshare of words like photobomb in this year's dictionaries
And hipsters are finally defined as self-loathing. Sort of
Not a loyal follower of @BritishMonarchy? You missed The QUEEN*'s first Tweet
Her Maj opens 'Information Age' at the Science Museum
Apple CEO Tim Cook: My well-known gayness 'is a gift from GOD'
'I have benefited from the sacrifice of others'
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.