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How to deal with an Indenciary Bomb (1940)

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Uploaded on Jan 6, 2008

Although the available high explosives possessed great destructive power, perhaps the most potent of German bombs remained the tiny B1 El, a 1 kg incendiary which, dropped in profusion in 1940/41, caused millions of pounds worth of fire damage and virtually burnt out whole districts of British cities.

BRANDBOMB, 1 KILOGRAMME, ELEKTRON or B1 El, was the designation of the standard 1 kg incendiary bomb. They consisted of a cylinder of Magnesium Alloy (Elektron), with an incendiary filling of Thermite. These weapons, which burnt with a heat sufficient to melt steel, were ignited by a small percussion charge in the nose which fired on impact.

In an attempt to make these weapons even more effective, and to defeat the fire-fighters efforts, the Germans introduced explosive charges into the nose or tail of some incendiary bombs. The charge was initiated either by the heat of combustion, or by a more complicated device that incorporated a delay of about 7 minutes. The various versions of this bomb included the letter Z in their designation, indicating explosive charge. Thus the standard B1 El incendiary bomb fitted with an explosive charge detonated by heat was designated B1 EL ZA, and that detonated by a delay B1 El ZB, while in 1944, a further development was introduced, the 2.2 kg steel nosed B2 E.

The Luftwaffe used various types of containers to carry and drop small incendiary bombs and in the early part of the war these were usually expendable, aimable types, designated AB (Abwurf Behalter) or BSK (BombenSchaltKasten), holding some 36 B1 El's. During early 1942 the AB 500 container, which held 140 B1 El's was more effective than the older BSK 36, the new container held not only more incendiaries but concentrated its entire contents over a small area. The final development was introdced for the Steinbock operation in 1944 during which the bombers were to carry the AB 1000, capable of holding up to 620 B1 El's or 360 B2 E's.

The civilian destruction caused by such weapons quickly earned them a reputation as terror weapons (e.g., German Terrorflieger) with the targeted populations, and more than a few shot-down aircrews were summarily executed by angry civilians upon capture. The Nazi regime began the campaign of incendiary bombings with the bombing of London in 1940-41, and reprisal was exacted by the Allies in the bombing of Dresden in World War II, a major Nazi transport hub, and to a lesser degree the 1943 bombing of Hamburg, a war-material production site.

Since white phosphorus can be used as a multipurpose device to mark targets, provide a smoke screen, or signal to friendly troops, it may not be covered by UN protocols on incendiary weapons when used in this fashion. Protocol III of the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilians (effectively a reaffirmation of the general prohibition on attacks against civilians in Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions), prohibits the use of air-delivered incendiary weapons against military targets located within concentrations of civilians and loosely regulates the use of other types of incendiary weapons in such circumstances.

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