What Happens When They Find a World War II Bomb Down the Street

Winston

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What Happens When They Find a World War II Bomb Down the Street
27 Jan 2020

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/ww2-bombs-berlin

Excerpts:

Between 1940 and 1945, Allied forces dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Nazi-occupied Europe. That’s about 1.25 million explosive objects in total—ranging from small incendiary charges meant to set fire to wooden buildings to multi-ton “blockbusters.” An estimated one in five bombs dropped failed to explode, which translates to about 250,000 duds. Often, the explosive-packed shells penetrated several feet into the ground, and were later covered up by rubble and debris from other, more successful explosions.

This means many German cities are, more or less, built on top of live explosives. Western cities such as Cologne, Duesseldorf, and Bremen, which are closer to air bases in Britain and full of industrial targets, were particularly hard-hit, and bombs regularly turn up there.

Berlin, then and now the German capital, was a major target, too. Since the war’s end, more than 2,000 live bombs have been recovered here. Some experts estimate 15,000 more may remain hidden under the fast-growing city. In the surrounding state of Brandenburg, the scene of bitter fighting in the last months of the war, police deal with 500 tons of munitions each year.

In 2011, an unusually dry summer revealed a 4,000-pound bomb in the middle of the Rhine River where it passes through Koblenz. Authorities hurriedly cleared 45,000 people out.


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The threat is present and persistent enough that new construction projects often require permits from specialists, who sign off only after examining World War II–era aerial photography for signs of unexploded bombs. In 2017, authorities had to move 60,000 people out of central Frankfurt when a British bomb containing a 1.4-ton explosive payload was located based on aerial photos that had been taken from a spotter plane a few days after a raid. The logistics were daunting: The danger zone included two hospitals, 10 old-age homes, the city’s police headquarters, the German Central Bank, and one of the country’s national libraries.

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Reinhard

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4000 Pounds? Holy crap!!!

They were used mostly to blow the roof tiles of, so that incendiary bombs were more effective.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockbuster_bomb

The goal was to create a self reinforcing firestorm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firestorm

I guess with a 4000 lb bomb, the typical bomb protection gear is a bit of a mute point!
The EOD techs remove the detonators, before hauling the bomb away for disposal. The detonators are nasty by itself and the most sensitive part of the bomb, so protective gear still makes sense.

Reinhard
 

Winston

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I forgot to include this interesting bit from the article:

The threat is present and persistent enough that new construction projects often require permits from specialists, who sign off only after examining World War II–era aerial photography for signs of unexploded bombs. In 2017, authorities had to move 60,000 people out of central Frankfurt when a British bomb containing a 1.4-ton explosive payload was located based on aerial photos that had been taken from a spotter plane a few days after a raid.

The EOD techs remove the detonators, before hauling the bomb away for disposal. The detonators are nasty by itself and the most sensitive part of the bomb, so protective gear still makes sense.
Here's a great series about WWII EOD in England based on war memoirs. Reminds me that I'll have to get out the DVD set (bought cheap used on Amazon) and watch it again after many years. Just as you get to know and like a long term character and think he can't possibly die, boom! That's why the series is so intense. Every disarming can be a catastrophe just as it was in real life. Gets into the fuse anti-withdrawal methods used by the Germans. Also, cluster bombs and the problems their unexploded, intentional or otherwise, bomblets caused.:

Danger UXB

https://www.amazon.com/Danger-UXB-Anthony-Andrews/dp/B0054DPLHK/

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Winston

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There's a old, English language (or dubbed) movie I've seen on TV about a group of Germans doing the UXB disarming job there immediately after the war, but I do not recall the title of it.
 
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Johnly

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I remembered watching it on PBS decades ago and grabbed a Danger UXB disc set as well.
 

K'Tesh

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I remember my experience with a "UXB". It was scary even though there was no real danger. Fortunately, for me it was during a Tactical Alert.

I was in my chem suit, and the evaluators were outside (this we knew because the crew chief I was with in the shelter had been handed a "Dead Card" because he didn't seal the side door fast enough*). I'm examining the area following the "Air Raid", and I look up, and notice the bomb about 20' up in the supports of the doors to the hardened shelter (I can't believe I saw it, as we normally are looking at the ground for bomblets or UXBs where you'd expect). I cleared out of there as fast as I could, and when I go to the nearest shelter, was able to phone it in. I'm stunned that they didn't hand me a "Dead Card" too.

*He saw their vehicle and thought that they were under "attack", and looking for shelter too.
 
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Winston

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I remember my experience with a "UXB". It was scary even though there was no real danger. Fortunately, for me it was during a Tactical Alert.

I was in my chem suit, and the evaluators were outside (this we knew because the crew chief I was with in the shelter had been handed a "Dead Card" because he didn't seal the side door fast enough*). I'm examining the area following the "Air Raid", and I look up, and notice the bomb about 20' up in the supports of the doors to the hardened shelter (I'm can't believe I saw it, as we normally are looking at the ground for bomblets or UXBs where you'd expect). I cleared out of there as fast as I could, and when I go to the nearest shelter, was able to phone it in. I'm stunned that they didn't hand me a "Dead Card" too.

*He saw their vehicle and thought that they were under "attack", and looking for shelter too.
I've been though those, too, but never had a UXB in close proximity to worry about although there were no-go zones.

One thing I'd thought about back then was what to do if a nuke in delayed detonation lay-down mode landed on the air base within rifle range, a low altitude method of drop used to avoid radar and SAMs. My thought was that everyone should shoot like mad at the electronics section with shots centered 12 inches or so after the end of the nose cone curvature. It was a gamble assuming the Ruskie nuke wouldn't be a dud, but it was doubtful that disruption of the electronics and firing circuits would result in anything more than an asymmetric implosion at best with very low to no nuclear yield, just HE yield which would only kill us, the riflemen shooting at it. We'd have had little chance of surviving anyway. And the shooting might just prevent any detonation from happening.
 
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