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'''Incendiary weapons''', '''incendiary devices''' or '''incendiary bombs''' are weapons designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment using fire (and sometimes used as Anti-personnel weapon+ry), that use materials such as napalm+, thermite+, chlorine trifluoride+, or white phosphorus+. Though colloquially often known as bomb+s, they are not explosives+ but in fact are designed to slow the process of chemical reactions and use ignition+ rather than detonation+ to start and or maintain the reaction. Napalm+ for example, is petroleum especially thickened with certain chemicals into a 'gel' to slow, but not stop, combustion, releasing energy over a longer time frame than an explosive device. In the case of napalm, the gel adheres to surfaces and resists suppression.

Incendiary bombs have been used since ancient times. Greek fire+, which was used by the Byzantine Empire+, is a prime example; it was the cause of many naval victories.

The first incendiary devices to be dropped during World War I+ fell on coastal towns in the south west of England on the night of 18–19 January 1915. The small number of German+ bombs, also known as firebombs, were finned containers filled with kerosene+ and oil and wrapped with tar-covered rope. They were dropped from Zeppelin+ airships+. On 8 September 1915, Zeppelin L-13 dropped a large number of firebombs, but even then the results were poor and they were generally ineffective in terms of the damage inflicted. They did, however, have a considerable effect on the morale of the civilian population of the United Kingdom.

After further experiments with 5-litre barrels of benzol+, in 1918, the B-1E Elektron+ fire bomb (German: ''Elektronbrandbombe'') was developed by scientists and engineers at the Griesheim+-Elektron chemical works. The bomb was ignited by a thermite+ charge, but the main incendiary effect was from the magnesium+ and aluminium alloy casing, which ignited at 650° Celsius, burned at 1,100 °C and emitted vapour that burned at 1,800 °C. A further advantage of the alloy casing was its lightness, being a quarter of the density of steel, which meant that each bomber could carry a considerable number. The German High Command+ devised an operation called "The Fire Plan" (German: ''Der Feuerplan''), which involved the use of the whole German heavy bomber fleet, flying in waves over London and Paris and dropping all the incendiary bombs that they could carry, until they were either all shot down or the crews were too exhausted to fly. The hope was that the two capitals would be engulfed in an inextinguishable blaze, causing the Allies to sue for peace. Thousands of Elektron bombs were stockpiled at forward bomber bases and the operation was scheduled for August and again in early September 1918, but on both occasions, the order to take off was countermanded at the last moment, perhaps because of the fear of Allied reprisals against German cities. The Royal Air Force+ had already used their own "Baby" Incendiary Bomb (BIB) which also contained a thermite charge. A plan to fire bomb New York with new long range Zeppelins of the L70 class was proposed by the naval airship fleet commander Peter Strasser+ in July 1918, but it was vetoed by Admiral Reinhard Scheer+.

Incendiary bombs were used extensively in World War II+ as an effective bombing weapon, often in a conjunction with high-explosive bombs. Probably the most famous incendiary attacks are the bombing of Dresden+ and the bombing of Tokyo+. Many different configurations of incendiary bombs and a wide range of filling materials such as isobutyl methacrylate (IM) polymer, napalm+, and similar jellied-petroleum formulae were used, many of them developed by the US Chemical Warfare Service+. Different methods of delivery, e.g. small bombs, bomblet clusters and large bombs, were tested and implemented. For example, a large bomb casing was filled with small sticks of incendiary (bomblet+s); the casing was designed to open at altitude, scattering the bomblets in order to cover a wide area. An explosive charge would then ignite the incendiary material, often starting a raging fire. The fire would burn at extreme temperatures that could destroy most buildings made of wood or other combustible materials (buildings constructed of stone tend to resist incendiary destruction unless they are first blown open by high explosives).

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The German ''Luftwaffe+'' started the war using the 1918 designed one kilogram magnesium alloy B-1E ''Elektronbrandbombe''; later modifications included the addition of a small explosive charge intended to penetrate the roof of any building which it landed on. Racks holding 36 of these bombs were developed, four of which could in turn could be fitted to an electrically triggered dispenser so that a single He-111+ bomber could carry 1,152 incendiary bombs, or more usually a mixed load. Less successful was the ''flammenbombe'', a 250 kg or 500 kg high explosive bomb case filled with an inflammable oil mixture, which often failed to detonate and was withdrawn in January 1941.

In World War II, incendiaries were principally developed in order to destroy the many small, decentralized war industries located (often intentionally) throughout vast tracts of city land in an effort to escape destruction by conventionally aimed high-explosive bombs. Nevertheless, the civilian destruction caused by such weapons quickly earned them a reputation as terror weapons with the targeted populations, and a number of shot-down aircrews (e.g., in German, ''Terrorflieger'') were summarily executed+ by angry civilians upon capture. The Nazi regime+ began the campaign of incendiary bombings+ at the start of World War II with the bombing of Warsaw+, and continued with the London Blitz+ and the bombing of Moscow, among other cities. Later, an extensive reprisal+ was exacted by the Allies+ in the strategic bombing campaign+ that lead to the annihilation of many German cities. In the Pacific War+, during the last seven months of strategic bombing by B-29 Superfortress+es in the air war against Japan+, a change to firebombing tactics resulted in some 500,000 Japanese deaths and 5 million more made homeless. Sixty-seven Japanese cities lost significant areas to incendiary attacks. The most deadly single bombing raid in all history was Operation Meetinghouse+, an incendiary attack that killed some 100,000 Tokyo residents in one night.


The incendiary bomb, developed by ICI+, was the standard light incendiary bomb used by RAF Bomber Command+ in very large numbers, declining slightly in 1944 to 35.8 million bombs produced (the decline being due to more bombs arriving from the USA). It was the weapon of choice for the British "dehousing" plan+. The bomb consisted of a hollow body made from aluminium-magnesium+ alloy+ with a cast iron/steel nose, and filled with thermite+ incendiary pellets. It was capable of burning for up to ten minutes. There was also a high explosive version and delayed high explosive versions (2–4 minutes) which were specifically designed to kill rescuers and firefighters. Other tactics consisted of using explosive bombs in the attack to fill the streets with craters and rubble, hindering rescue services.

Towards the end of World War Two, the British introduced a much improved incendiary bomb, whose fall was retarded by a small parachute and on impact sent out an extremely hot flame for ; This, the ''Incendiary Bomb, 30-lb., Type J, Mk I'', burned for approximately two minutes. Articles in late 1944 claimed that the flame was so hot it could crumble a brick wall. And for propaganda purposes the RAF dubbed the new incendiary bomb the '''Superflamer'''.
Around fifty-five million incendiary bombs were dropped on Germany by Avro Lancaster+s alone.

Many incendiary weapons developed and deployed during World War II were in the form of bombs and shells whose main incendiary component is white phosphorus+ (WP), and can be used in an offensive anti-personnel role against enemy troop concentrations, but WP is also used for signaling, smoke screen+s, and target-marking purposes. The U.S. Army and Marines used WP extensively in World War II and Korea+ for all three purposes, frequently using WP shells in large 4.2-inch chemical mortars. WP was widely credited by many Allied soldiers for breaking up numerous German infantry attacks and creating havoc among enemy troop concentrations during the latter part of World War II. The psychological impact of WP on the enemy was noted by many troop commanders in World War II, and captured 4.2-inch mortar men were sometimes summarily executed by German forces in reprisal+. In both World War II and Korea, WP was found particularly useful in overcoming enemy human wave attack+s.

Modern incendiary bombs usually contain thermite+, made from aluminum and ferric oxide+. The most effective formula is 25% aluminum and 75% iron oxide. It takes very high temperatures to ignite, but when alight, it can burn through solid steel. In World War II, such devices were employed in incendiary grenades to burn through heavy armor+ plate, or as a quick welding+ mechanism to destroy artillery+ and other complex machined weapons.

A variety of pyrophoric+ materials can also be used: Selected organometallic+ compounds, most often triethylaluminum+, trimethylaluminum+, and some other alkyl+ and aryl+ derivates of aluminum, magnesium+, boron+, zinc+, sodium+, and lithium+, can be used. Thickened triethylaluminium, a napalm-like substance that ignites in contact with air, is known as thickened pyrophoric agent+, or TPA.

During the Vietnam War+, the U.S. Army+ developed the CBU-55+, a cluster bomb+ incendiary fueled by propane+, a weapon that was used only once in warfare. Napalm proper is no longer used by the United States, although the kerosene+-fueled Mark 77 MOD 5 Firebomb+ is currently in use. The United States has confirmed the use of Mark 77s in Operation Iraqi Freedom+ in 2003. Most other countries no longer use them, since they are banned by Section III of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons+. This treaty+ was ratified in 1980.

According to the Protocol III of the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons+ governing the use of incendiary 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.

Protocol III states though that incendiary weapons do not include:

* Munitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminates, tracers+, smoke or signaling systems;
* Munitions designed to combine penetration, blast or fragmentation effects with an additional incendiary effect, such as armour-piercing projectiles, fragmentation shells, explosive bombs and similar combined-effects munitions in which the incendiary effect is not specifically designed to cause burn injury to persons, but to be used against military objectives, such as armoured vehicles, aircraft and installations or facilities.


Incendiary devices have been used by criminal, terrorist and direct action+ groups to commit arson attacks on their targets. The Molotov cocktail+ is a classic incendiary device that has been used by insurrectionary anarchists+ and rioters+.


*Arson
*Bat bomb+
*Driptorch+
*Early thermal weapons+
*Fire accelerant+
*Firestorm+
*Flame fougasse+
*Flamethrower+
*Greek fire+ (Historic Byzantine incendiary weapon)
*High explosive incendiary+ (HEI)
*Incendiary ammunition+
*Meng Huo You+ (Historic Chinese incendiary weapon)
*Molotov cocktail+
*Napalm+
*Pen Huo Qi+ (Historic Chinese flamethrower)
*Stinkpot+ (Historic Chinese incendiary weapon)
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* 1944 article on the production of incendiary bombs
* AN-M50-series incendiary bombs

Incendiary device+ Incendiary weapons, incendiary devices or incendiary bombs are weapons designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment using fire (and sometimes used as Anti-personnel weaponry), that use materials such as napalm, thermite, chlorine trifluoride, or white phosphorus.