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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.


Entries in Crimea (3)


Report of IEDs in the Crimea, 1855

I have written before about Russian use of IEDs in the Crimea, here and here, but recently I came across another report referring to IEDs in Sebastopol, left behind after it was taken by the British in September 1855. Before evacuating the city, Russian forces had prepared and set thirty to forty victim operated IEDs (“booby traps”).   Lt Col Frederic Dallas wrote “ the Russians, outside all their works, have Machines, our men call them “Man traps”, which explode when you touch, or rather tread upon them, and they are a frightful source of accidents”.
The Illustrated London News war artist wrote an account of one such incident on 28 September 1855 describing an explosion that had taken place.  He also describes the initiation mechanism of these IEDs which is clearly the so called “Jacobi Fuse”, actually designed by Alfred Nobel’s father, Immanuel Nobel for Jacobi who was head of the Russian munition design bureau.  Here’s the report:

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.
After this incident , troops searched carefully for others and found one in a nearby battery . The devices left behind in Sebastopol prevented the British and French form occupying the city properly. It did not prevent them from undertaking appalling looting however. 

Cross Post on IMSL Insights


The Russian Jacobi Fuze - 1854

I've written before about the "Jacobi" fuze, used in Russian sea mines and early land mines in the Crimean War in the 1854s. Although called a "Jacobi" fuze, they were I think actually designed by Immanuel Nobel (father of Alfred Nobel).   I've found some clearer diagrams of the sea mine and the fusing mechanism.