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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Flaming Onions


IanA
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I have often read of the anxiety produced in airmen by 'Flaming Onions' but have never seen a detailed description of exactly what the weapon was. Strings of lurid, seemingly connected, lights would float up towards the plane producing panic but not much damage. I recently read of some of these making actual contact with a plane but, apart from leaving a glowing trail, having no effect! Any ideas?

Ian

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Ralph,

Many thanks for this. Being very much the new boy, I wanted to avoid such things and did a search for flaming onions before I posted my query. A few odd things came up but for some reason (my incompetence?) I did not get this posting. Sorry for fouling up.

Ian

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Hello,

You are not the only one who is uncertain as to how to use the various facilities of this forum. I have been interested in the 3.7cm gun for a long time but had not heard that the 'flaming onion' referred to it. In the thread that Ralph pointed to I note a reference to 5 rounds per second, i.e 300 rounds per minute. I assume that the German 3.7 was not unlike the 3.7 used by the French and the BEF (i.e the basic Maxim/Nordenfeld) which was called a 'Pom Pom'. Hence I suggest that the rate of fire was much slower. I thought they did about 60 per minute.

Old Tom

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Ralph,

Just found the quote which implied that the bark of a 'flaming onion' was worse than its bite! It comes from 'The Dover Patrol' by Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon who describes a raid on Mariakerke in May 1916.

"Very heavy anti-aircraft fire was encountered, the enemy using a large number of incendiary shells, or rockets, which burst with a vivid green light and were doubtless intended to set fire to the machines. One pilot reported that he flew right through one of these bursts, and, although the magnesium sparks touched the planes, no damage was caused."

The 'vivid green light' certainly sounds like most of the flaming onion descriptions to come out of the war.

I still think, having read the previous thread, that the definitive article on the flaming onion has yet to be written!

Ian

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