Skip to comments.Safety chiefs target German craze for 'bazooka' spud guns (HOLD MEIN BIER!)
Posted on 01/28/2003 3:20:37 PM PST by MadIvan
GERMAN youths have taken up a dangerous new pastime: firing potatoes as fast as a rocket from bazookas made from drainage pipes.
One man almost lost an eye, a woman had her leg broken and one teenager was badly burnt when the hairspray used as the propellant exploded in his face as he prepared to fire.
A 16-year-old in the university city of Göttingen lost part of his ear when the firing chamber ripped open as he pulled the trigger.
The so-called Kartoffelkanone are made from piping and masking tape bought at any hardware store. With a range of 200 metres they could split a mans head at 15 metres and penetrate a wooden wall at 90 metres.
The guns are not governed by the usual strict firearms regulations in Germany, but prosecutors in the republics 16 states are passing emergency rulings to try to outlaw them.
Horst Przbyla, a munitions expert for police in Brandenburg near Berlin, said: What started out as an extreme form of paintball has become deadly dangerous. Certainly, anyone caught in the path of the projectiles can expect to sustain very serious injuries indeed. It can only be a matter of time until the first death.
Police are considering asking leading hardware chains to sell piping only to adults.
Local stores that sell hairsprays and pressurised lighter fluid, the favourite propellants for the DIY weapons, may also be asked to sell them only to adults. Failing that, police suggest that youngsters should have to explain why they are buying them.
A website used by the Kartoffelkanone enthusiasts was receiving only 20 hits a day just three months ago: now there are more than 700.
German police fear that the youths will turn to more lethal ammunition than potatoes. Tests have shown that such a bazooka firing an empty film canister filled with sand and the cardboard centres of toilet rolls filled with cement could penetrate brickwork.
An apple fired from one of the guns almost took out the eye of a middle-aged man near the Baltic coast.
In Bavaria a 55-year-old woman suffered severe injuries when a potato smashed into her thigh as she walked near woodland with her dog. A school in Weinstadt in Baden-Württemberg recently came under a potato barrage from children playing truant, while in the Taunus region several windows of a block of flats were smashed.
The hairspray is ignited using a battery which provides a spark. Some youths have made multi-barrelled potato cannons, resembling the Soviet Katyusha rocket launchers of the Second World War and capable of firing at a phenomenal rate.
Thuringia in the east has imposed a ban on the guns and four youngsters in the town of Schlotheim caught by police had their weapons destroyed and were sentenced to 25 hours community service. Police also caught two teenagers with a cannon nearly 6ft long in one Rhineland town. A spokesman for the police in Brandenburg said: Woodland on Sundays echoes to the thump-thump of these guns. It is a growing social problem that needs to be tackled.
Remember, when potatoes are outlawed, only outlaws will have potatoes. ;)
Everything you do in life involves risk. Yes, people have accidents with potato guns. But people also have accidents with cars, kitchen knives, sandblasters, you name it. The question is, where to balance risk with safety? And really, if kids are misbehaving with potato guns, isn't that an issue for their parents?
Wait until the German kids learn about Anvil Firings.
Why is it ALL weapons sound ten times cooler in German?
The German prosecutors would improve the quality of life and save more lives simply by banning gravy!
The proof firing sent the spud through his fence, through the neighbor's sliding glass doors, and through the neighbor's front window...AND caused the tube to blow apart on a second firing attempt.
OK, a little less acetylene...
"A Potato Cannon? You'll shoot your eye out, kid"
Another great one is a three-man slingshot made from surgical tubing, using a pad made of a sewed-together towel. We tried it out on the archery range and hit the target with a filled water balloon the first time from 50'.
Finally there is the home-made UFO. WARNING - DO NOT TRY THIS ON A MILITARY AIRFIELD UNTIL THINGS HAVE CALMED DOWN A BIT.
Components: a large plastic laundry bag, a pair of balsa strips about 12" long and 1/2" wide, scotch tape, a small nail or large tack, a small candle, a roll of aluminum foil and scissors. Make a cross of the balsa strips, stick the tack/nail where the strips intersect, and scotch the balsa cross to the open end of the laundry bag with the sharp point of the nail/tack pointed up.
Cut some 6-10" really thin strips from the aluminum foil and scotch tape those to the balsa strips. Don't overdo the tape or maybe try some glue - as little as possible because you want this sucker to fly.
Some friends and I went to a military airfield at night during our mis-spent youths, got to about 30-40 yards from the fence near the end of a runway, fluffed the laundry bag out, stuck the candle on the tack, lit it, waited for the hot air to fill the bag and launched it into the night air. Then we retreated to a nearby road about a mile away.
One F-4 launched about 15 minutes later and another after another 15 minutes. The aluminum strips acted as radar reflectors so our UFO made a nice blip on the tower's radar screen, but they couldn't pinpoint its location and thought it was a much bigger UFO some distance away. The gentle swaying of the laundry bag balloon in the night breeze appeared to be the most amazing inertialess dartings to and from given the controllers' opinion it was a big UFO much farther away.
I would think that those German kids might like to dress it up in tiger-stripe camoflage paint. ;-) Pneumatic is *definitely* the way to go... much more powerful than the ignited aerosol guns. If the simpler gun is preferred, a nice squirt of cinnamon Glade (air freshener) works better than hair spray, and smells better when it burns.
It's a good idea to wrap a bit of course screen wire around these things. Plastic pipe fatigues and will eventually burst, so some sort of barrier layer will help preserve the shooter's good health.
I've always wanted to try one of these things with paintball "cannister shot".