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March 26, 2013

Tuesday's Stack Is Off the Track


Posted by gerardvanderleun at March 26, 2013 2:08 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

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Back in the 1980s, I was a staff officer of XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, NC. The state found itself with a building that needed to be demolished, a pretty big one - IIRC, it was a large obsolete school building.

Somehow, the Corps' 20th Engineer Brigade managed to get the job. So they flew an exercise air assault out a demolition platoon out there and they blew the place down.

They used flour bombs throughout.

Flour bombs are actually simple to make. Ordinary flour is of course the main ingredient. When I learned to make them they key thing was using an igniter; we used powdered magnesium, which flashes very quickly. Mix it with the flour.

Flour ignites as an "aerosol," when it is suspended in the air. You can't stick blasting caps into a bag of flour and get an explosion. When the flour-magnesium mix is suspended in the air, you ignite a flame source and whoom. (A Special Forces NCO told me that he always just left a lit candle on the other side of the room. When the "aerosol" got there, the magnesium powder lit and it chain reacted just.like.that.)

One thing that makes flour bombs so good for demolition is that they are low explosives. If calculated correctly, the building simply crumples rather than blows apart. This is what the engineers did. And they have enormous "pushing" power.

All in all, a very effective device.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at March 26, 2013 7:26 AM

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