Potato Gun History

The History of the World – as it pertains to Potato Guns!

Potato guns have been around for a long, long time, in some form or another. Besides the black powder cannons on which they’re based on, potato guns have existed for at least 50+ years.

The Ball Launcher Granddaddy of them all

Information on this bad boy is sparse, but the first tube launched, combustion potato gun is reputed to be the infamous “Colorado Goose Gun”, manufactured in central California in the sixties. This dinosaur was constructed of soda cans with the ends cut off and taped together for a barrel, and ran on lighter fluid. It was a Neanderthal for sure, but it worked, and spawned a generation of much more refined spud guns. Of course, the introduction of ABS and PVC pipe brought potato gunning to the masses…

Where’s Waldo?

Although there’s no historical proof that he ever played with spud guns, we owe our current ease and availability of PVC materials to one man: Waldo Lonsbury Semon. Who? This is the guy who invented poly vinyl chloride in 1926 while working for BF Goodrich! Next time you fire off your spud gun, say a little thank you to ‘ol Waldo, because without him you’d still be taping soda cans together or welding spud guns out of steel pipe!

The First Time a Potato was Launched

The first time a potato was actually launched out of a spud gun is the stuff of legend, since the thing that fired the potato wasn’t actually a dedicated spud gun – it was called a Holman Projector, and it was mounted on World War II British ships. This gadget was a pneumatic cannon – ever ship had several of them – and it was intended to fire grenades at enemy ships. Well bored sailors on long crossings found it could fire all sorts of other things too – just about anything they could stuff into it – and so when two friendly ships got close enough to each other, they’d whip out their Holman Projectors – and fire all sorts of garbage at each other, including potatoes! These steam powered pneumatic cannons were loads of fun for those aboard, even though they weren’t originally designed to be. Eventually technology took over and the Holman Projectors were quietly removed from warships and relegated to the scrap heap.

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