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Tailliez Speargun 1938 in Dumas Museum, Sanary, France

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popgun pete

Well-Known Member
Jul 30, 2008
I knew that the Philippe Tailliez band speargun must be in a museum somewhere, but unless you knew what you were looking at it could pass unnoticed. The following diagram explains everything. Note that the gun uses flat section rubber bands scrounged for the job, the spear is inserted after the bands are cocked and has no tail notch, being gripped by the figure eight metal plate with its leather straps that fold around the spear tail, the reason for two rubber bands. The arrangement is not unlike a slingshot.
Tailliez 1938 speargun.jpg

This gun and others of a similar layout are seen in the film "Par dix-huit mètres de fond", a pioneering 1943 film about spearfishing made by Jacques Cousteau and showing the very beginning of mechanical weapons spearfishing.

The gun's fore-grip is pushed with the extended foot to aid gun cocking as the bands are drawn back. When pressing the trigger downwards metal fingers either side of the stock drag the figure eight metal plate off the trigger hook allowing the bands and spear to be released.
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A larger version of the patent diagram. In a sense the figure eight metal plate is the gun’s wishbone, the trigger hooks this wishbone and the leather straps securing the bands top and bottom then squeeze onto the shaft tail in a sort of leather pocket. Evidently the grip of this arrangement is sufficient to prevent the spear falling out of the gun when pointed downwards. As seen in the film the guns have a long draw on their slim rubber bands, but have sufficient power to secure some fish of eye-popping sizes. Possibly never seeing a diver before these creatures unwisely allowed an approach which was the cause of their demise. In wartime France such fresh fish protein would be very welcome under conditions of food rationing.
Phillippe Tailliez speargun.jpg
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Looks like slightly later versions of the gun used a conventional single piece trigger and replaced the figure eight plate with a throw plate that had lateral arms to pull on incorporated on either side. We only have this photo to go by, but it would seem to be the logical next step to getting rid of the removable downward hook trigger.
timber Tailliez band system R.jpg
throw plate.jpg
Not the easiest drafting job, but here is the gun shown with bands cocked, after which the spear will be inserted. At this stage the gun is not shown with a shooting line, but given its bare tail spear the line will be secured behind the spear tip as was done with the early compression coil spring guns.
Phillippe Tailliez cocked awaiting spear.jpg
Note that a lyre shaped clip at the muzzle holds the spear in the open topped muzzle opening, a similar clip on a cord at the rear of the gun fastens onto the removable trigger hook to prevent its loss, provided you attach it at the right moments. This second lyre shaped clip is not shown on the diagrams.
Phillippe Tailliez muzzle.jpg
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