You can contact me at rogercdavies(atsquiggle)  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.


Entries in 1990-2000 (4)


Intriguingly Similar Designs of Improvised Munitions Over Decades

One of the most notable improvised weapons in the last 15 years has perhaps been the “IRAM”.  This “Improvised Rocket Assisted Munition” appeared in 2004 in Iraq, using the rocket motor of a 107mm rocket with a “bolted on” over-calibre warhead. This is a relatively short-range munition with more target effect than a standard 107mm, but quite difficult to range and target.  The IRAM munition came in various designs. Here’s one variant:
IRAMs 2004


Such munitions appear to be being used now by Syrian government forces and others in Syria. See this report from the excellent Brown Moses/Bellingcat website from 2013:  Sometimes the users seem to have not fired these from 107mm tubes (with the overcalibre warhead “left out the front”) but from tubes with a greater diameter. See: .  In this variant the rocket motor is "under-calibre", in effect.
When the IRAM appeared in 2004 it was commonly thought to be a new type of improvised munition. But as readers of this blog might already suspect, it wasn't new at all - the concept was used in the early part of the Vietnam war. Here's the image of Viet Cong overcaliber warhead that was fitted to a 107mm rocket, just as they are today. The image provider suggests that the warhead was cast iron, but the welds in what is probably rolled mild steel are clearly present.  These early Viet Cong "IRAMs" were fitted with what were described as WW2 Japanese impact fuzes. 
Viet Cong over-calibre warhead for 107mm rocketJapanese WW2 impact fuze on Viet Cong warhead
Now here’s another interesting thing - probably coincidental. The design of the Viet Cong over-calibre warhead is remarkably similar to a Provsional IRA mortar bomb warhead. This image is from a de-fuzed Mk 12 mortar bomb taken in 1991.  The IRA warhead was of course not on a rocket but on a mortar, but the design structure of the mild steel welded warhead looks remarkably similar to the Viet Cong warhead, does it not and is of an almost identical construction. The Mk 12 mortar of course is a horzontally fired anti-armour weapon with a copper cone liner, but the outer form of the warhead is remarkably similar.  
PIRA Mk 12 Mortar bomb with identical shaped warhead
Keen readers of this blog will recall too that Irish revolutionaries were firing rockets horizontally at the British Military as early as 1803, using a rocket designed in 1696. 




Oops! Bangkok terrorist plots have been known to fail before.

Today’s incidents in Bangkok have all the hallmarks of a bit of a disaster for the “terrorist” gang concerned. However this is not the first terrorist plot to go horribly wrong in Bangkok,. Back in March 1994 Ramzi Yousef is believed to have been involved in an attempted vehicle bomb attack on the Israeli embassy there.  He and his accomplices rented a truck, (strangling the delivery driver and leaving his dead body in the back of the truck) loaded it with a ton of explosives  and then the designated suicide bomber set off for the target driving the truck with the bomb and the dead body in the back.  On the way to the target, the klutz of a terrorist got involved in a road traffic incident, crashing into a taxi bike and a car at a busy intersection.  The terrorist driving the VBIED panicked … and ran off abandoning the vehicle, bomb and body included.

Police responded to the scene of the traffic accident, and without checking the back, took the vehicle to the police vehicle pound…  A week later the vehicle owner called to try and locate his truck … and was led to a very smelly truck in the vehicle pound where the police discovered the putrefying remains of the delivery boy, and a one ton bomb ready to go off at the flick of a switch.  By then Ramzi Yousef and disappeared but he did leave his fingerprints on the bomb.  Yousef, the man behind the first World Trade Center bomb in New York is often described as a terrorist mastermind and genius, but the facts of some of his exploits don’t bear that out. He nearly blew his hand off in an incident in Pakistan when a device functioned and set fire to his bomb making facility accidentally in Manila while planning Operation Bojinka.


Copycat IED attacks - 100 years apart

One of the reasons I study historical IED attacks is the parallels with current IED attacks. Sometimes the parallels need a bit of analysis to see; sometimes the parallels are frankly startling.  He’s some specific UK examples.  It is often forgotten that the Irish terrorists have been planting IEDs in England since the late 19th century.  There were then subsequent campaigns in 1939 (the “S Plan”) and later in the 20th century. It is interesting that sometimes the exact same targets were attacked. 

The IRA's "S Plan" in particular, although largely unsuccessful, posed an intriguing terrorist threat worthy of study because the IRA in the early months of 1939 attacked the national electrical power supply infrastructure in the UK. Not with much success, I admit, but nonetheless with clear strategic intent.  There are a few other terrorist campaigns where specific aspects of infrastructure have been targeted but this is an interesting one. Details of the quite broad ranging S Plan attacks are here.

Below is a list of attacks that match or replicate IED attacks from earlier campaigns. In particular I would highlight the repeat attacks on Victoria Station (three times), and Hammersmith Bridge


1. 1867 - A “fenian” device used to breach a prison wall at Clerkenwell

2. 1939 IRA device blew up against the wall of Walton Gaol in Liverpool

London Train/ Tube stations

1. 1883/1884/1885 IEDs exploded at Gower St Station (now Euston Square) and Victoria Station left luggage office. Device defused at Charing Cross Station. Other devices exploded in tunnels

2. In 1939/1940 Devices exploded at Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square, Kings Cross and Victoria Station left luggage office then in 1940 Euston station. IRA two devices defused at Baker Street

3. 1991, 1992 IEDs at Paddington station, Hammersmith and Victoria Station, London Bridge station, other devices on trains and near stations

Hammersmith Bridge

1. March 1939 Hammersmith Bridge attacked with two IEDs

2. June 2000 Hammersmith Bridge attacked with one IED

Houses of Parliament

1. 1884 Fenian devices exploded in the Houses of Parliament

2. 1974 IRA device exploded at the Houses of Parliament

Department stores

1. 1939 department stores attacked with incendiaries

2. 1991/1992 department stores and shops attacked with inendiaries

Scotland Yard

1. In 1884 a device exploded next to Scotland Yard, headquarters of the Metropolitan Police

2. In 1973, Police defused a bomb outside New Scotland Yard

Tower of London

1. 1885 An explosion at the Tower of London

2. 1974  An explosion at the Tower of London


1. 1883  A gas works was attacked with an IED in Glasgow

2. In 1939 gasworks were on the intended strategy of the IRA's S Plan

3. In 1993 A gas works was attacked in Warrington


Hezbollah's international capability

The Terror wonk, here, makes some interesting comments about recent Hezbollah threats and current capabilities.  Following the comment on the New York CT post below about Hezbollah threats, it makes the point that Hezbollah's operations internationally seem to have been limited or contained.  It links this in part to careful monitoring of Iranian embassies activity which it cites as being an important cog in Hezbollah's international capability.

As an aside, the blog referenced makes an assumption that Hezbollah's last main international terrorist attack was the 1996 attack on Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Whilst indeed that is what the Saudi authorities assert, I remain unconvinced.  There is little evidence, and in my opinion the attack may just as easily be the responsibility of sunni militants in Saudi , who after all have mounted dozens of attacks in the meantime.