StandingWellBack

You can contact me at rogercdavies(atsquiggle)me.com  If you have a comment and the system won't let you post it, ping me using the @ for (atsquiggle)

This blog has evolved into a review of historical and modern explosive devices, and responses to them. Links are drawn between historical activity and similar activity in the world today. Mostly I focus on what are now called IEDs but I have a loose personal definition of that and wilingly stray into discussions of more traditional munitions, the science and technology behind them, tactical employment and EOD responses. Sometimes it's just about interesting people in one form or another. Comment is welcome and encouraged but I do monitor it and reserve the right to delete inappropriate stuff. Guest posts are always welcome. Avoid any stuff that makes the enemy's job easier for them.

A note on moral perspectives. Throughout this blog there are descriptions of all sorts of people using IEDs, explosives, or suffering the consequences. Some of the people using IEDs are thought of as heroes by some and terrorists by others. One person's good guy fighting for a cause is another person's evil demon.  It's complicated, and history adds another series of filters too. All of us too live in a narrative made up around however we were brought up, what we were taught and what we learned along the way, rightly or wrongly. So if you sense moral ambivalence, one way or the other, well, I'm guilty and I'm not perfect.  By and large though, I have unapologetic sympathy for those dealing with the devices, whether they be soldiers, cops, or whatever, even those who are part of Nazi or other nasty regimes. That's the cool thing about EOD techs - we don't really care who the enemy is.

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Monday
May132019

Command initiated explosive device from 1582

I'm steadily working my way through more military handbooks from the late 1500s when there appears to have been a lot of revolutionary thought going into military technology and explosive device development in particular. My previous post on a grenade was dated 1578, you may recall that Giambelli's ship explosive device was 1584, and I've written before about a postal device in the city of Pskov in 1581.  I've also written before how "gun-locks" were used as initiating devices for explosives over a 250 year period

On that latter point I've just found a gun lock (in this case a wheel-lock) drawn in a manuscript from Germany, dated 1582. The drawing is here and as you can see the design is very clear.

The wheel-lock was a progenitor of the flintlock which came in a few years later, in about 1600. In a wheel-lock a spring-loaded wheel spins against some pyrites held in the cock.  Here you can see how the gun lock has been removed from a firearm and fastened to a frame. A string is attached to the trigger, led around a pulley and away to the person initiating the device. When the target presents itself, the person pulls the string, which pulls the trigger. On pulling the trigger a spring mechanism spins the steel wheel against the pyrites held in the cock. This causes sparks which ignites the fuse. The fuse leads to a barrel of gunpowder hidden nearby.  In a post a few years ago I have an image showing a multiple IED attacks against a military convoy employing these exact devices, so it's good to corroborate the attack with a contempory IED design.

So, this is another example of how explosive device design appears to have developed rapidly at this peculiar point in history, across Europe. I think it is the publication of these handbooks and manuals of military science that seems to be helping - bu I'm afraid I'm not a good enough historian to identify other causes of this bubble of ideas. Comments from proper historians welcome!

 

Saturday
May042019

The 55th device - 1578 - The force is mighty and commeth with such a terror

I have been hinting that I had found an early printed book containing interesting matters with regards to ordnance, military engineering and explosives. Having worked initially from second-hand reports of the publication and an original manuscript version (a digital copy) which I couldn't read at all, I finally tracked a printed copy down and literally got my hands on it, in the British Libary, last week and so it's time to start discussions of it.

The book is "Inventions or Devices" by William Bourne, or to give it it's full title as it appears in the British Library catalogue " Inuentions or Deuices, Very necessary for all Generalles and Captaines, or Leaders of men as wel by Sea as by Land", written and printed (I think)  in 1578.  Here's the cover page:

Bourne appears to have been a well-travelled Naval gunner and mathematician with experience in of wars in Europe. The book is an odd list and description of military ideas and  "inventions", mostly practical or pragmatic. Some are startlingly obvious but others are quite fascinating and a little bit obscure.  On one level he offers advice that a modern munitions specialist or ordnance officer would recognise in terms of "proofing" and inspection of ordnance. These ideas include safely unloading a fully loaded breech-fast projectile stuck in a cannon, methods of checking the barrel of cannons and a device for consistently assessing the power of a sample of gunpowder with a mechanical testing device. Other matters include various naval maters and the sapping and mining of castle walls, countermining and the design of assault ladders. 

I'll go through a number of these in future posts because the ideas are worth exploring and this is a very early publication, I think, for some of the technical ideas discussed. For now though, to start us off, here's his description of a large grenade-like device. I'm going to post a couple of images of the actual pages then attempt to translate some of the archaic language. This is the earliest decription I can find in a primary source about the design, manufacture and use of a metal cased grenade. The method describes using a mould for a 5" cannonball to make a hollow grenade by using a clay insert in the casting.  The case of the "grenade" is bell metal or brass, with iron nails providing the spacing to the void (and adding to fragmentation) which is filled with good quality gunpowder and a fuse.  

 Here's my attempt at a translation:

The 55th Device.

As diverse Gunners and other men devised sundry sorts of fireworks for the annoyance of their enemies, yet as far as ever I have seen or heard, I never knew nor heard of any good service done by it, neither by sea nor by land, but only by powder, and that hath done great service, for that the force of it is mighty and commeth with such a terror. But for their other fireworks, it is rather meetest to be used in the time of pleasure in the night then for any service. And for to make this kind of ball, do this: Prepare the mould of a double culvering shot (a sort of cannonball) that is five inches high, and then take clay, and make it round in a ball, as much as a minion shot (another smaller size of cannon ball) that is three inches, and let it be dried as the Founders (Those who work in a foundry) do use to dry their moulds, and then stick that clay round about with iron nails, leaving the nails an inch without the clay, and then put that mould of clay into the moulde of the culvering shot, and look that the nails do bear that the ball of clay do stand right in the middle of the mould of the culvering shot, and also make the mould of clay so that it may have a touchhole to come into the clay, and then take bell metal or other coarse pot brass, and then fill the mould of the culvering shot with that metal, and that being done, then it is finished and so make as many as them as you list, and then that being done pick out the clay again that is in the ball, that was cast in the culvering shot mould and then fill that with good corne powder (good quality gunpowder), and then that being filled near full, then take some receite (? fuze?) of soft firework that will not burne too hasyily and fill up the rest of the ball, and then it is perfectly finished.  And then in the time of service, either by sea or by land, it is very good to throw in amongst your enemies, where they do stand thick, as they be very good to defend a breach or such other like causes, as this, to take it in his hand and to fire it, and then throw it amongst your enemies, and as soon as the firework is burned into the powder, the ball will break in a thousand pieces and every piece in a manner will do as much as an Arquebus shot (a bullet) so that there is no kind of firework comparable to this kind of ball, for service in the time of need. 

This publication predates the adoption of such things (grenades) by armies several decades later in the 17th Century. 

More of Bournes "Devices and Inventions" will follow in later blog posts.

Monday
Apr292019

Earlier Russian stay-behind explosive devices

In my previous post I discussed Russian stay-behind explosive devices . Now, it is usually my habit to dig back in history to find earlier instances of certain attack styles, and indeed this does apply in this case. I've written a little before about Russian mines in the Crimea during the war with the French and British in the 1850s. When the Russians lost Sebastopol to the British and French in 1855, they "left behind" numerous booby-trapped explosive devices hidden in the buildings and connected, in some cases, to powder magazines within the fortresses of Sebastopol. So these were massive IEDs, left behind within potential military facilities, by the Russians. so in some ways exactly the same concept of operations as the WW2 F-10 devices, except the latter were command detonated rather than victim-operated.

Here's a report from a "war artist" who was on the scene of one of the explosions:

Yesterday, as I was sketching in the west of Sebastopol, an explosion shook the buildings around and reverberated through the roofless and untenanted edifices of the place. The Arsenal Creek was filled with a heavy black smoke, and showers of large stones fell into the water, lashing it for a moment into sheets of foam. The centre of the fire was a battery on the left flank of the Creek Battery. This was one of the works erected by the Russians to sweep the approaches of the Woronzoff road; it was built of stones taken from the houses around it, faced with earth externally, and without a ditch. The magazine was in the foundations of a house which had once stood there […]. The Russians had placed a fougasse over it, and an accidental tread upon a wooden peg driven into the earth broke a glass tube of inflammable matter which communicated with the powder below […].

Three of the men in the work were blown to atoms; and a large number were buried in the ruins; whilst sad havoc was at the same time committed on parties of workmen leading mules along the road close by. Two soldiers of the guard in the Creek Battery were killed by stones projected with great violence into the air, and launched with fatal force upon them. Several mules and horses were killed in this same manner, and every point within 200 yards of the spot was visited by the terrible shower. The crater left by the explosion was about twenty feet deep and twenty wide; and in its crumbled sides were found some of the wounded, who were speedily conveyed to hospital.

 

So for the victors in urban environments, the challenge of stay behond devices goes back a long way. I contend that there are direct simlarities in the concept of operations between the Russian stay-behind devices in the Crimea in 1855 and those of 1941 and the Eastern Front. I wonder too about those towns in Iraq and Syria, liberated from ISIS/Daesh and the identical challenge faced by EOD teams this very day and for years to come. Nothing in EOD is new

From the description above it's clear that these were versions of the Jacobi-Fused landmines used elsewhere in defensive positions by the Russians. 

The fact we know a fair amount about these mines is in part due to a US military mission to the Crimea.  In 1855 Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, created a team called “The Military Commission to the Theater of War in Europe”.  The team consisted of three officers – Major Richard Delafield, (engineering), Major Alfred Mordecai (ordnance) and Captain George B McClellan of later US Civil War fame.  McClellan resigned in 1857 and the report was published in 1860. It is wonderfully detailed and I’d recommend it to any students of military history – it covers just about all aspects of European military developments, from defensive positions, artillery to mobile automated bakeries aboard ship, ambulance design, hospital design and French military cooking techniques.

With regard to innovative munitions, Immanuel Nobel (father of Alfred Nobel) had been engaged by a Russian military engineer,  Professor Jacobi,  to develop submarine charges and a contact fuzing system. These “Jacobi” fuzes consisted of a pencil sized glass tube filled with sulphuric acid fastened over a chemical mix.  Some reference history books say the chemical mix was potassium and sugar but I think that’s probably a misunderstanding – I would suspect the mix was actually potassium chlorate and sugar, as in Delafield’s report below.  When the glass vial contianing the acid is broken, (such as when stood upon) it mixes with the chemicals below and explodes initiating a gunpowder charge sealed in a zinc box.  One might have expected Mordecai to take an interest in the IEDs but it was Delafield who took particular interest and heartily recommended the use of such things by the US military. Here is an extract from Delafield’s technical report from the device recovered by the British:

They consisted of a box of powder eight inches cube (a), contained within another box, leaving a space of two inches between the, filled with pitch, rendering the inner box secure from wet and moisture, when buried under ground. The top of the exterior box was placed about eight inches below the surface, and upon it rested a piece of board of six inches wide, twelve inches long and one inch thick, resting on four legs of thin sheet iron (o), apparently pieces of old hoops, about four inches long. The top of this piece of board was near the surface of the earth covered slightly, so as not to be perceived. On any slight pressure upon the board, such as a man treading upon it, the thin iron supports yielded. When the board came into contact with a glass tube (n) containing sulphuric acid, breaking it and liberating the acid, which diffused within the box, coming into contact with chloride of potassa (sic) , causing instant combustion and as a consequence explosion of the powder.

Delafield goes on to note that the British and French exploiting these devices did not have a chemistry lab available to properly identify the explosives.  I think a mention of a lack of resources for what today might be called "Tech Int" is instructive! The deployment of Technical Intelligence laboratories and associated "CEXC" capabilities to theatres remains an issue today.

A second device is then described:

Another arrangement, found at Sebastopol, was by placing the acid within a glass tube of the succeeding dimensions and form. This glass was placed within a tin tube, as in the following figure, which rested upon the powder box, on its two supports, a, b, at the ends. The tin tube opens downwards into the powder box, with a branch (e) somewhat longer than the supports, (a, b)   This , as in the case of the preceding arrangement, was buried in the ground, leaving the tin tube so near the surface that a man’s foot, or other disturbing cause, bending it, would break the glass within, liberating the acid, which, escaping through the opening of the tin into the box, came into contact with the potassa, or whatever may have been the priming, and by its combustion instantly exploded the powder in the box.  What I call a tin tube, I incline to believe, was some more ductile metal, that would bend without breaking. For this information I am indebted to the kindness of an English artillery officer who loaned me one in his possession and from which measurements were made.

The famous Colonel Majendie, who later became the British Chief Inspector of Explosives, the UK first official bomb disposal officer, and who conducted remarkable IED and technical investigations some 30 years later, in the 1880s, fought as a young artillery officer at Sebastopol. Could it be the same man?  I’d like to think so.

The Jacobi fuse , or at least a variant of it, was used in Russian sea mines at the time - see this earlier post.

But of course one can go back further in time to look at previous Russian efforts, earlier still. When Napoleon's Grande Armee entered Moscow in 1812, it was with great triumph and the summit of a remarkable campaign - but within a day Russian saboteurs had started to burn the city to make it uninhabitable for the occupants. Napoleon himself had to be rescued from fires encroaching the Kremlin and soon the retreat from Moscow started.  I don't doubt that the Russians of 1855 and 1941 knew their history. and whether it is a knowledge of history, or something else, the ruins of Syria and Iraq today pose an identical challenge.  Moscow 1812, Sebastopol, 1855, Kiev and Kharkov 194, and Syria 2019.

Here's a pic of Moscow burning, set fire by Russian saboteurs, with Napoleon looking glumly on.

 

Friday
Apr262019

Russian WW2 Radio Controlled Explosive Device

I'm afraid this is going to be a long and detailed post, but it is one of the most interesting historical explosive devices I have ever written about.  Despite the length, I must urge a little caution. I'm working from a very small number of poorly translated documents, about a technology that is at the edge of my understanding, and about which there are conflicting assessments and denials. I have some Russian references but my Russian is very poor and worse now through lack of use. Very happy for input from anyone who has a better handle on this or who sees errors in my analysis. 

In the 1920's and 1930's the Russians developed a number of radio-controlled systems. As an aside, this included radio-controlled tanks.  Another system, and the subject of this blog piece, was the F-10 radio-controlled mine. This mine was first developed in 1929 (90 years ago!) and deployed operationally in 1941 in the "Great Patriotic War" (WW2) against the Germans, most notably in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa, and against the Finns in what is called the "Continuation War". Their use came to a real crescendo in September/October 1941.  There are several very interesting aspects to the device, - its design, its employment/and the MO of its use, the highly ambitious planning and significant operations it enabled, and the reprisals that resulted.  Furthermore, the electronic countermeasures employed by both the Finns and the Germans at great speed following technical exploitation of captured systems provide useful historical vignettes about rapid fielding of EW against radio controlled explosive devices.  

By necessity, I have to get a little technical, and to repeat, some of my technical assessments and understanding might be wrong, but I'd like to get this out there rather than spend a year refining peculiar technological aspects. 

So firstly, the design of the system.  Here's an image of the main receiver (Rx) of the system. I think this image is actually German, following a render-safe procedure:

The receiver is a briefcase sized radio and decoder, and I'll come on to the detail of that shortly. It is accompanied by, and wired to, a large battery. More pictures of the components (I think)

The radio component is the Left hand box, the right hand box is the power source or battery. The "decoder" is the small object to the front left. 

Below there is a battery, a radio box, and the rubber bag in which the device is placed when concealed (usually buried) and what appears to be detonation cord or cables, perhaps leading to a large explosive charge.

Here's an image of the batteries and radio enclosed in the rubber protective bag , ready for burial and concealment. 

The system is designed to recieve a coded signal , and detonate up to three explosive circuits. The complete device, less explosives, weighs 35kg. There is a 30m antenna, which according to the references can receive a signal if the antenna, placed horizontally, is buried in the ground up to 120cm (some assessments say less),  in water of a depth up to 50cm or hidden by brickwork up to 6cm - Grateful for comments on this aspect from any EW experts or RF engineers.

The system has a complex timing system. Using the batteries alone would give an operational life cycle to the radio receiver and enable power to the explosive circuit of 4 days. But a mechanical timing system is integrated to give a complex range of operations, including a long time delay before activation or providing a number of time "windows", from as short as 2.5 minutes "on" to 2.5 minutes "off", and other longer on-off windows, giving a  maximum receiver power life of 40 days.  There is a complex relationship between the length of time windows and the length of the command signal required that I don't fully understand.  Suffice to say, that several frequency signals in a sequential row need to be transmitted for the decoder to accept a command, and the length of those individual sequential signals isn't quite clear to me, but is at least a minute and sometimes longer. 

Additionaly, there are some clever extras... It is possible to set a mechanical time delay to explosive initiation (avoiding the Rx) of up to 120 days. If I understand it correctly, this was usually set as a last-resort back-up self-destruct. It is a mechanical clock and some EOD successes were made by detecting the ticking clock. The explosive contents used with F-10 varied from a few tens of Kg to several thousand Kg.

The device also was fitted or could be fitted (I'm not sure) with anti-handling swicthes. The anti handling switches quoted in the spec are "EHV, CJ-10,CJ-35, CMW-16 and CMW-60" I haven't investigated these yet but at least one is a pull switch attached to the opening of the rubber bag the system is deployed in.

The range of the command system of course depends on the power of the transmitter. From German exploitation of a captured F-10 device, the frequencies employed reportedly range from "1094.1 khZ to 130khz". Again I welcome comment from EW specialists.  This implication is that the "setting" of each F-10 mine to specific frequencies was quite flexible and easy but I'm not sure quite how it was done.  Perhaps by replacing individual tuning forks?  I have found one reference, a Finnish technical exploitation report, saying the tuning forks were colour coded, which would be logical. Another report suggests that the radio receivers were marked with a numerical code in roman numerals, which defined the initiation frequencies.  A slightly contradicatory early Finnish exploitation report, very interestingly, suggests that two of the frequencies allocated to the F-10 were set to pre-war popular music radio stations from Kharkhov and Minsk, with a specific "calling tune".  I can't quite make sense of that, but never mind. 

The decoding system predates DTMF of course. A system such as the F-10 needs to be able to discriminate random signals from an actual command signal, so this system uses (I think) a triple tuning fork mechanism, with specific successive frequencies transmitted over a time window. Only when three succesive signals of different specific frequencies, each of a sufficient duration, are received will the "AND" logic of the system allow initiation. 

Such a capable system allows for a wide range of operational designs, or employment plans.  It is clear that the Russians used these in areas where they ceded territory, so they are "stay-behind" sabotage devices. They are expensive too, compared to other mines and challnenging and resource-heavy to deploy effectively. So to justify that, the targets have to be significant. Initiation could be by a separate line-of-sight concealed engineer team using a transmitter quite close, or indeed could be several hundred km away (I think). So the device could be under observation and initiated at the optimum time, or more remotely, without line of sight, perhaps based on intelligence.

In the Finnish campaign, the Finnish military encountered quite a few of these devices as they re-took the city of Viipuri in September 1941 and rendered at least one safe. One such item is on display in a Finnish military museum. As a result, it is alleged, they developed an electronic counter-measure, which was to set up a pemanent high power frequency transmission on one of the first two frequencies. This overwhelms the timer element of the decoder and perhaps jams incoming other frequencies from the system with its power. That, sort of, makes logical sense to me but I'd appreciate comment from any ECM experts. I have seperate reports, hard to confirm, that the "jamming signal" was a piece of music transmitted at high power over and over again at a fequency of 715KHz.  In response the Soviets changed the frequency of the F-10 systems. and the Finns responded by putting the same song out, constantly, on every frequency they could, apparently

Here's an image of a Finnish EOD team and the F-10 recovered safely from a water tower in Vyborg. I'm pretty sure the "wall" they are leaning against is TNT blocks.

On a more practical level, Finnish engineers worked out that the long 30m antenna gave them an opportunity to locate the mine. In any places where they suspected a buried F-10, they dug a small trench 2 ft deep, around it, and if there was a mine hidden there, they invariably encountered the antenna. 

As an aside, I understand that the young Finnsh Officer (Lauri Sutela) who rendered safe one of these devices in September 1941 in Vyborg rose to be Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces in the 1980s.  There's always hope then for yoong EOD officers to make their way in the world... 

German EW responses to radio control initiation appear also to have been developed and deployed quickly. They captured an F-10 mine in mid September 1941 and it appears there were countermasures deployed, apparently by 25 October at the latest. That's pretty fast for a capture, technical exploitation to deployed countermeasure cycle.   

German countermeasures included:

  1. Digging an exploratory trench looking for the antenna as the Finnish engineers did. Quite often Russian prisoners of war were used for this task.
  2. Use of an electrical listening microphone to listen for the mechanical clock component
  3. A responsive jamming capability to transmit, quickly, a powerful "blocking"  signal if any known F-10 frequencies were detected. I don't think this was automated.
  4. There was another RF method developed, apparently of limited use, which involved transmitting a "disabling" signal, somewhere "between 150 - 700Hz" but I cant quite make out the sense of that. Again advice accepted, gladly.

When the Germans took territory from the Russians, in 1941, eventually the cities of Kharkov, Kiev and Odessa were ceded.

In the run up to Russian withdrawal from these cities, engineer teams in significant number laid a wide range of mines and booby-traps for the advancing Germans. The Russians worked out that quite often Germans would take over large buildings that had been used for Russian military headquarters, and use them for their own headquarters. It appears that although equipped with a wide range and number of relatively cheap mines and boobytraps, the expensive radio controlled mines were used in a very focused manner to target senior officers and their staff in headquarter buildings. The Germans moved into large office buildings (as previously used by the withdrawing Russians), presumably because they had the scale, number of rooms and perhaps even telephone lines. So a vacated Russian Army HQ would become a HQ for the advancing Germans. This provided a predictability that the Russian engineers could exploit. Russian engineers became expert at laying "slightly obvious" booby traps which German EOD would render safe and then assume the ground underneath was clear - but actually often there was an F-10 radio controlled mine buried deep and everything including the antenna was much more carefully concealed. 

In the captured cities of Kharkov, Kiev, and Odessa, German generals and their Headquarter staff were killed by concealed F-10 devices over a 7 week period in 1941, as follows:

Between 24 and 28 September, numerous F-10 devices were exploded in central Kiev in buildings occupied the prior week by German Army headquarters.  The F-10 devices were allegedly initiated by command from stay-behind hidden engineer units observing the area from an island on the Dneiper river. In particular an explosion on 24 September hit the Rear Headquarters of the Wehrmacht arny Group south killing a large number of officers, including the artillery commander of the 29th Wehrmacht Corps. In immediate reprsails the massacre of Babi Yar took place, with a death toll of 100,000.

On 22 October, the Romanian Military Headquarters in Odessa, established 3 days earlier and manned jointly by Nazi and Romanian military staff was exploded up by an F-10 device (I believe) killing 67 people including the Romanian General. 40,000 Jews were killed in reprisals.

On 14 November, multiple buildings just occupied by German forces in Kharkov were destroyed I think with F-10 devices. There were hundreds of casualties, including the German commander, Generalleutnant Georg Braun. In immediate reprisals 200 civilians, mostly Jews, were hung from balcomnies of surrounding buildings. The following month there were further reprisals and 20,000 Jews were gathered at the Kharkov Tractor Factory. All were shot or gassed in a gas van over the next two months.

It is hard to get to the bottom of how many F-10s were used in these cities but I think they were used in significant numbers, alongside extensive conventional mining and booby trap techniques. I think historians in regarding these cities seperately in the Eastern front campaign miss the point that this was a clear strategic effort to deploy these weapons to "cut offf the head" of the advancing German armies. The fact that these attacks came at the same time as their use in the Vyborg penninusla against the Finns, cannot be a coincidence and I sense a strategic decision to employ these weapons as the Soviets were being pushed on all fronts.  In the main, use of the F-10 was part of operations under the command of a remarkable explosives engineer, Col Ilya Starinov.  I will be returning to discuss Starinov in future blog posts, suffice, for now, to say he was ultimately responsible for more explosive attacks on trains and railways than any other man that has ever lived (by a long way) and fought in at least 4 wars as a Russian explosives expert. He really was the instigator of Soviet Spetznatz tactics.

This F-10 radio controlled device then poses a fascinating case study of an early radio controlled explosive device threat, and how a technical capability (in this case of a pretty flexible system) when coupled with intelligence and innovative employment can pose significant threats not only to whatever troops are in its path, but also targeted specifically on high value enemy leadership as part of a strategic plan.  The appalling reprisals to these F-10 attacks suggests the concern felt by the Wehrmacht.

This story also demonstrates the rapidity that is possible with suitable technical intelligence resources and processes to develop both technical and procedural countermeasures. The RC threat and response game is nothing new. 

 

Thursday
Apr252019

EOD Vehicles for moving IEDs

I have written before about French EOD capabilities developed in Paris in the latter part of the 19th century. One of their techniques was to recover IEDs to one of 4 laboratories scattered around Paris. It was a practice copied by Col Majendie in the UK for a while but fell out of fashion here for a number of technical reasons.

Here's a reminder of Majendie's hand cart used to transport IEDs to Duck Island in St James's Park in about 1880. At other times Col Majendie (the UK's first official bomb disposal expert), simply hailed a cab and told the driver to drive carefully. 

I've just found this picture dated 1906 of the French EOD vehicle in Paris used to transport the IEDs (called "engines" in this picture)

A few years later this vehicle here was used by the Paris bomb squad. Note the container on the floor, which was loaded onto the back

The concept remained in use in a number of places, not least the USA. In 1941, following a bomb incident that killed two detectives at the World's Fair, Mayor LaGuardia funded development of a bomb containment unit made from woven steel cables. Vehicles like this remained in service for a number of decades, and indeed a vehicle delivered to the NYPD Bomb squad in 1965 was identical in terms of the containment structure, albeit mounted on a modern truck.

Modern vehicles look somewhat different.