Bombs and Bombing
Bombs and Bombing
There are many types of bomb, but the most common definition of a bomb is 'a device containing explosive
material that produces a very sudden and violent release of energy'. This reaction causes damage by terrestrial and
or atmospheric stress (shock waves); shrapnel; and heat waves.
As far as we know, bombs were first used in China in the 11th Century and were bamboo canes stuffed with
gunpowder. About two hundred years later, they started using cast-iron bomb cases, the shrapnel from which caused
more damage. The term used for these devices was 'thunder-crash bomb'.
The word bomb is derived from the Latin 'bombus' which means 'buzzing'. The Chinese also invented the 'wind and
dust bomb' which contained poisonous gunpowder - perhaps the earliest form of manmade chemical weapon.
While technically bombs, there are many devices not referred to as such. These include explosives laid for
mining purposes, depth charges - a sort of barrel bomb, grenades, land and sea mines, missiles, rockets and
warheads. The term bomb also covers homemade devices such as booby traps and improvised explosive devices (IED's)
and suicide jackets.
The shock wave caused by the explosion can cause: people to be thrown through the air; dismemberment, internal
bleeding and ruptured eardrums. There are two parts to the aftershock of an explosion: first, the initial outward
blast - the positive wave -; and then the negative wave, as the vacuum created by the first wave is filled by
incoming replacement air as the shock bubble collapses.
The first wave has thermal properties - military tests have recorded temperatures up to 2,480C, which will cause
fatal burns and secondary fires. However, the thermal wave is limited in its range when compared with the
atmospheric shock and fragmentation. Fragmentation can come from the bomb casing itself or items near to it such as
sand, stones and vegetation travelling at supersonic and even hypersonic speeds.
In the case of a ship that exploded in the USA, a two-ton anchor was thrown almost two miles from the blast
There are four types of blast effects:
Overpressure: the initial blast which can cause organ damage resulting in death
Fragmentation: flying objects intended to cause penetration wounds.
Impact: the result of the shock wave throwing a body against an immovable object
Heat: the intense heat produced by the fireball from the blast can cause severe injury or death.
Bombs can be designed to maximise any of the above four blast effects. Protective clothing can be worn, but its
effectiveness depends on the nature of the bomb. The only really effective protection is distance.
Military bombs are mass-produced to high standards using high explosives, but homemade devices are usually
precarious and use low explosives, but certainly not always. IED's are divided into three basic
Type 3 IED's: car bombs and the like, also known as VBIED's (vehicle-borne IED's)
Type 76 IED's: hand-carried parcels or suitcases stuffed with explosives
Type 80 IED's: suicide jackets or vests, as described in the book 'Dead Centre'.
Then there are nuclear or atomic bombs: fission and fusion, which may or may not be dirty bombs, ie ones that
scatter radioactive or chemical material about that has to be cleared up before safe access can be granted to the
by +Owen Jones