Saturday, April 28, 2018

Three Barrel Cigarette Ignition guns Captured by Australian Forces

These highly unusual firearms were captured by Australian forces after the occupation of East Timor by Indonesia. In 1999 and later, Australian forces were part of the UN forces used to keep order after Indonesia pulled their military forces out after 24 years of occupation.

Some of the unusual design features include the welded together three stacked barrels with the non-functional trigger guard and trigger. The ignition system is said to be designed for cigarettes, but any source of flame or a heated wire could work.  Using flash holes for open match ignition is usually a bad idea in multi-barreled guns, inviting multiple ignition or chain fire.

 From the Australilan Infantry Museum:

Captured by 3RAR Battle Group soldiers, these crudely made pipe guns were made and used by the Pro-Indonesia Militia in East Timor. The gun could be loaded with anything from gravel, nuts and bolts, to nails and cut wire. The load was then tamped with coconut fible and, using match heads as the propellant, it was then ignited by a cigarette at the breech end of the barrel.
Upon as close examination as the glass barrier would allow, it appeared the barrels were cut with a tubing cutter. It can work with soft steel, but leaves a uniform burr on the inside of the tube. The barrels looked to be water pipe of about .60 inch inside bore. On the pistol, the burr was not removed. The three barrel pistol may be mint, never fired. The three barrel long gun looked relatively unused as well, but the muzzle was not available for inspection.

Captured East Timor Three Barrel Cigarette Gun with Australian type F88 (AUG) for comparison.

It seems likely that anyone who used the long arm more than once would quickly do something to round the edges on the stock.

Speculation about the stepped barrel lengths failed to produce an obvious reason. Ease of loading? An attempt to prevent chain fire? That seemed unlikely when the close spaced touch-holes were considered.

I had read of cigarette ignition being used in the Philippines.  From
Paltik is a Filipino term for a homemade revolver. It originated late in the Philippine-American War when guns and ammunition had become scarce. The most common form of the weapon was a gas pipe attached to a rifle stock. Wire was usually wrapped around the barrel to keep the pipe from expanding when the gun is fired. It was muzzle-loaded and fired a medium sized bullet or musket ball. A small hole at the breech end of the barrel accommodated a cigarette or match that was used to ignite the primer, making aiming difficult. This also gave rise to the nickname, "Cigarette Gun".
With East Timor in the general vicinity of the Philippines, this method could have been culturally transmitted or developed independently.

You would think a person who had access to a modern welder could devise a more sophisticated method of ignition.

Perhaps these unusual firearms were made as "trade" guns, with little expectation of reputation for efficacy reflecting on the maker.  They would have been strictly black market items in East Timor.

The straits between East Timor and Australia contain large reserves of oil and natural gas. Most of East Timor's income comes from the oil and gas industry.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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