Mechanical-horse Outfits for National Defence
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NO mean part in the measures that are being taken to preserve peace in this country by rearmament is being played by commercial-vehicle makers, and, of these precautions, those against air raids are of high importance in connection with home defence. They embrace means for combating attacks from aircraft by gas and incendiary bombs. A realistic demonstration of the latest Scarnmell equipment for both these purposes was held last week at Kensington Royal Borough's Warwick Road depot, before an audience of some 40 persons. A brief notice of this demonstration appeared in our issue dated January 21.
Among the spectators were members of the Kensington Borough Council and of Scammell Lorries, Ltd., the joint organizers of the event, also officials from the War Office, Home Office and Royal Air Force, and other municipal authorities and air-raid precautions officers.
Tender and Street Washer.
Two mechanical-horse outfits took part. One of these was a new air-raidprecautions tender and the other a street washer, carrying a 1,250-gallon tank and equipped with a separate fourcylindered engine and pump—mounted on the trailing unit—capable of delivering 350 g.p.m. and generating a pressure of 120 lb. per sq. in.
The tender carries a squad of 12 men and equipment, which includes stores of sand and lime, 100 gallons of wateti, a bleach spreader, brooms, hose, nozzles, buckets, hand tools, picket posts, rope, warning notice boards, a farst-aid outfit and a stretcher. It has a canvas tilt which is easily removable and is provided with spot lights for illuminating at night the work in progress.
Proceedings were opened by the firing of a bomb, supposed to have been dropped by aircraft, and to contain mustard gas. Its contents, we under
stand, would be a volatile liquid, the harmful effect of which can be combated by applying a mixture of chloride of lime and sand, which is a powerful bleaching agent. Speed is obviously of first importance in spreading this preparation over the harmful matter. Notification having been received by the decontamination squad, the next event was the arrival of the tender with its crew, clad in fully protective clothing. While the tractive unit was returning to pick up the street washer, the men distributed the bleaching compound and roped off the contaminated area, treating the ground, crater and near-by walls, with the aid of the apparatus carried in the tender.
From the bursting of the bomb to the completioh of this work, including a reasonable time for the vehicle to reach the scene of action, only eight minutes elapsed. By the end of a further seven minutes, the street washer had arrived and with its powerful spraying equipment bad thoroughly washed away all traces of the bomb contents and decontaminating substances.
During this display comments of approval were evoked from those witnessing it, particularly in respect of the speed and facility with which the tractive and trailing units were coupled and uncoupled and the skilful control of the sprayers by the operative mounted on the box of the street washer. This machine has an effective width of spray of 90 ft., and, accordingly, can rapidly cleanse road surface and walls, on one or both sides, as it traverses the street.
Effective Fire Fighting.
Finally, demonstrations of its firefighting powers were given, first, three jets being directed upwards to show the height of water column that can be projected, and, then, a vigorously burning oil fire being extinguished with a fire-foam attachment.
The variety of washing, spraying, and fire-fighting operations for which this machine is adaptable is considerable. Besides the side sprays, which deluge the road and walls with a high-pressure fan-shaped discharge, there are flushing equipment, side hose fittings, closed by plugs when_ not in use, and a highmounted universally swivelling jet. The hoses can be equipped with fish tails for washing walls and streets, or With nozzles for throwing long jets. '
When fire-foam is needed, a mixing attachment is fixed to the discharge end of the hose, from which a connection leads to a receptacle, on the operative's back, in which the special foam-making preparation is carried. Considered from the point of view of the suitability of the Scammell outfits for air-raid work of this nature, it is no exaggeration to say that this type of quickly detachable articulated unit is the superior of the rigid machine.
In the confined space of the depot, which is no more than representative of countless places in towns where bombs might fall, the mauceuvrability of the Scamtnell gave it an immense advantage, and when the two machines were performing evolutions simultaneously the spectacle was most impressive.
When time is a vital factor, seconds lost in reversing and shunting may make all the difference in quelling the danger. Furthermore, the freedom of the motive unit vastly increases the scope of the equipment possessed by the authority. .
Practice and Drill Essential.
From the aspect of the need for organization in such air-raid-precautionary measures, those of the party who were present at the rehearsal before the actual demonstration could not fail to have realized how important is practice in training men to perform the routine operations involved without delay, hesitation or confusion, and in becoming accustomed to working in gas masks and helmets.