Roadside bombs, Part 2

When I wrote part one on the 28th of July, I made it clear that this was just a theory, and I had not the experience of the war conditions to be certain that it would work. In consequence, I sent a copy of the post to a friend, a now retired senior army officer, who had served in those Middle East war zones. His reply was very cogent, interesting, and pointed up aspects that one who has not been to the area, will be unaware of.

I thought it would be interesting to put down information concerning the use of explosives, which I encountered in the 50s, and is not as straightforward as films like Sharp, and some of Clint Eastwood’s, would make one believe. Explosives, to be truly effective have to be under pressure, and so are placed with a tight packing to maximise the effect, and fired either by a burning fuse, but more recently in general by an electric charge. The electric charge, coupled with packing which can give a directional effect, enable large tall buildings in built up-areas to be demolished in short order and with minimum effect on the surrounding district. This is achieved by having charges placed to weaken the structure seconds, or milliseconds, prior to the main blasts going off, and these would be angled and synchronised, in such a way that the building imploded instead of exploding. I add this note because the way in which Roadside bombs are packed would really influence the effect of the charge and the direction of it.

My friend made a number of points, he pointed out that a lot of the ground was rocky, which I take to mean that the holes were being drilled for the charge, and thus would not be as easily brought to light as one dug in sand. While I have seen the use of water cannon repeatedly in the north of Ireland, on local television, where large quantities of water were sprayed some considerable distance, he pointed out than in the Middle East water was a valuable commodity and waste would only play into the hands of the politicians who were against our presence. He also pointed out that the distances travelled by our soldiers at any one time were considerable and would thus aggravate the water situation, and progress of the units would be unnecessarily slowed down, inducing obvious additional dangers. I admit that I had been considering men walking, not fleets of vehicles. I am indebted to him because it demonstrates that armchair design badly needs on- site knowledge. Nonetheless, if my comments on the first post induced even a little lateral thinking, it wasn’t all wasted.

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