I spent many hours as a child playing with something similar. Made out of a cotton reel, elastic band, match, drawing pin, and a slice of a candle.
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 …
I've seen archive footage of this. It was awesome. Two giant cartwheels propelled by rockets attached in Catherine wheel configuration. The whole thing roared along the beach, completely out of control, careering from one wheel onto the other, steering an erratic course. The best bit was the military personnel running for their lives! As far as I know, no one was hurt. This might have taken place at Reculver, Kent where they also tested the bouncing bombs. I doubt if there will be a faithful re-creation. The H&S people would have kittens!
Yea! It's on youtube along with some other follies.
Flames because of the rocket propulsion.
To be honest, it is completely underwhelming. Plenty of sparks and flames as it crawls along the beach at speeds of up to perhaps 10mph. Although even at this speed, the camera operator can hardly keep up.
I don't think the Talaban or the local terrorist branch will be too concerned.
There are persistent rumours that the Panjandrum wasn't really designed to work since on the actual D-Day beaches there was nothing for it to do. Instead it was a deception since its intended function was clearly to breach solid walls, and there *were* appropriate walls in the Pas de Calais area - the cover target for the invasion. Hence the "testing" fiasco on a publicly-accessible beach, to reassure the Boche that the verdammter Englander boffins hadn't got their wall-breacher fully debugged yet so they had nothing to fear.
[4 Anon John] If only this thing had followed the same design it might have worked. The whole design is bloody stupid and I for one will unabashedly "dis" Shute for not noticing it's stupidly high Center of Gravity. When run along a bumpy beach OF COURSE it would fall over eventually. The rockets only made things happen that much faster.
Not only that, if the rockets don't ignite properly, they will and did tip the bugger over before it even rolls an inch. Stupid design. Fixed axle meant that it would turn any time one wheel left the ground (archival footage will show how often tis happened).
If it had had a wider axle, maybe four times what it actually did have, and used the cottonreel tank AKA moonrover pole idea, but had the pole mounted in the middle of the axle, it could still have had a rocket assist. I'd have mounted it on the centerline of the wider device and used a single inline engine like a V1 pulse jet. The pole would serve to keep the thing in a straight line rather than supply motive power (each wheel would be free to turn so no fixed axle problems). Of course, then it wouldn't have fitted between the tank traps on the beaches, but the explosives were supposed to ding those up anyway.
We actually needed more of these things. The German defenders might then have laughed themselves to death.
[4 Paul Townsend] Exactly what I'd say if my department had spent money on it, once the newsreel footage got to the P.M.
I would not dis Nevil if I were you. Apart from his somewhat premature fondness for rocket power he is unique and don't forget the Panjandrum was conceived by Barnes Wallis (which just shows that even the best of us has bad moments).
There was a whole series of books and some made it into film, A Town like Alice and No Highway, and it is not easy to forget his post apocalypse On the Beach.
We are now trying to get a blue plaque for the house he lived in during WWII up to his emigration to Australia and where he wrote A Town like Alice and No Highway.
It is true that no one else can claim to be a pioneering engineer and a novelist of note, he was also a pretty good prophet; in No Highway he forecast fatigue failure in aircraft years before the Comet 1 crash, when he emigrated to Australia he declared that the reason for his leaving was that the UK was “going to the dogs”. As we all know we have now arrived.
You can find out more from www.nevilshute.org/.