Battlefields at night are dark and confusing places and often some form of artificial illumination is needed. Tonight’s item is a 38mm L5A4 parachute flare from the early 1980s.
The rocket is a one shot device made in the form of a plastic tube with screw on caps at either end. It is fired at an angle of between 45˚ and 90˚ depending on the wind conditions and the flare produces a light equivalent to 80,000 candles that burns for 30 seconds at a height of approximately 300m. Details on how to use the flare are printed on the outside of the tube, with pictures to aid easy use:To operate the flare the user removes the end caps from the top and bottom, revealing a safety pin and trigger at the base:To fire the operator removes the pin and presses the trigger upwards, setting off the flare instantaneously. This example is dated April 1983 and was made by A Schermuly of Salisbury, Wiltshire:Once fired the user would discard the empty tube. This kind of one shot device replaced the traditional flare pistol for signalling and illumination and is still in use today. It is cheap and disposable and once fire the user is not having to carry round a heavy flare gun.