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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.

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

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!


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