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  1. #1
    bayern's Avatar
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    Bomb Disposal Hazards

    Got this from a German Magazine, Der Spiegel. An interesting article for those on the Bomb Squad. The last sentance shows the scope of this problem.

    Following the deaths of three bomb-disposal workers in an explosion in Göttingen last week, Andreas Heil, head of explosives ordnance disposal firm Tauber, explains what went wrong and why it's so difficult to defuse the more than 100,000 unexploded World War II bombs still littering Germany.

    SPIEGEL: Last week on Tuesday three of your colleagues were killed preparing to defuse a World War II bomb in Göttingen. What went wrong?



    Andreas Heil: We still don't know exactly. But bombs with long-delay fuses, like the one in Göttingen, are the most dangerous. The problem is that you cannot tell the condition of the fuse just by looking at it.


    SPIEGEL: What makes these kinds of long-delay fuses especially dangerous?

    Heil: They have high tension detonator pins on springs, which are held back by a piece of plastic. Looking at the bomb from the outside, we are unable to tell whether the plastic disk is still functional or whether it has crumbled and the detonator pin is now just being held back by some, small mechanical effect. Under certain circumstances, the slightest movement or a change in temperature can cause the pin to move and trigger a catastrophe. Presumably in Göttingen there was a chain of tragic circumstances. What is clear is that the bomb itself was at fault. I knew two of the three on the bomb team that were killed. They were highly experienced specialists.

    SPIEGEL: What could be done to avoid this in the future?

    Heil: State and private explosive ordnance firms are very well equipped -- that is not the problem. The tragic thing about such accidents is that those who can tell us what went wrong generally do not survive the explosion. The last fatal incident was in 1990 in Wetzlar (in the German state of Hesse) with the same sort of detonator. Two colleagues died there.

    SPIEGEL: Does it become more difficult to deactivate unexploded bombs from World War II over time? Because basically they are more than 65 years old and rotting from the inside out.



    Heil: That is correct. It gets even more dangerous if the groundwater levels fluctuate and the detonator gets wet a few times, then dry a few times. Even so, the fuses were made from the best materials: The British fuses were made out of brass and the American ones out of high-alloyed aluminum compounds. They don't corrode. It was the very best of high-precision engineering. These things still work.


    SPIEGEL: Which of the old munitions are especially dangerous?

    Heil: Large mines like those that were used to booby trap bridges, or torpedo warheads. Both are just as dangerous as bombs with long-delay fuses, but they are rarer. It's estimated that the number of unexploded bombs in Germany totals more than 100,000, and each year several hundred are defused.
    World War II Bomb Disposal: Slightest Movement Can 'Trigger A Catastrophe' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

  2. #2
    Tango Zulu 22's Avatar
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    About 15 years ago when I was an Acting Sgt, a 500kg WW2 bomb intended for Sheffield was dug up on my area.
    A whole housing estate was evacuated and the Bomb Squad was brought in.
    In a lull between the device being opened and the explosive being steamed out, the youthful Captain deactivating the device was asked,
    " So how many of this type of bomb have you done then?"
    "Including this one?" came the reply.
    "Yes, including this one."
    "One!"
    A common mistake made when trying to come up with a totally foolproof design is to completely underestimate the innate ingenuity of fools.


    The last thing I want to do is hurt you but it's still there on my list of options, so are you coming quietly.........?

  3. #3
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    It mentions american and british bombs. Are we assuming hidden caches of stored german munitions have all been found or are so rare they are not worth mentioning? Or should i interpret it differently as in german bombs werent made as well as ours?
    Here Speeder, Speeder, Speeder


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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    It mentions american and british bombs. Are we assuming hidden caches of stored german munitions have all been found or are so rare they are not worth mentioning? Or should i interpret it differently as in german bombs werent made as well as ours?
    More likely they don't just stumble across unexploded German made bombs as often as they do those of other countries as they didn't bomb themselves.
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  5. #5
    Radar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducky View Post
    More likely they don't just stumble across unexploded German made bombs as often as they do those of other countries as they didn't bomb themselves.
    I was just thinking of the massive underground bunker that they just accidently un earthed and didnt know was even there. Makes me wonder if the germans hid bombs for later use that were also forgotten because they were too well hidden.
    Here Speeder, Speeder, Speeder


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  6. #6
    bayern's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    I was just thinking of the massive underground bunker that they just accidently un earthed and didnt know was even there. Makes me wonder if the germans hid bombs for later use that were also forgotten because they were too well hidden.
    The Germans kept such good records that virtually all stock-piled munitions were found and destroyed after the war. About the only thing that remained unaccounted for is the stolen art ( which shows up at times in private holdings or museums); and the famous Amber Room looted from St Petersburg. Think about it, except for the large citis and industrial areas, the smaller german towns were virtually untouched; authorities moved anything of value to underground caves and bunkers when the bombings started. They kept precise records on anything and everything pertaining to the article, location, etc. When the allies came in and took control, local authorities and locals came forward and gave information where these caves and bunkers were. Today, you can go to archives, churches, etc., and find records going back to the "dark ages." I guess record keepings were their downfall (KZ lager records).

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    You should see all the stuff they are still digging up from the first world war areas.
    Frightening.
    the sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.
    ( Baltasar Gracian )

 

 

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