The Science of Incendiary Devices


Firebombs inflict their devastating effects by combining the effects of powerful explosives and highly flammable materials.  Designs of incendiary munitions vary widely (as do their applications), so this technical overview will focus on the fundamental elements of their operations. Specifically, details about the explosives and flammable materials in common use will be presented. Additionally, the historical use of fire in warfare will be briefly considered.



Detonation v. Combustion

A brief explanation of low and high explosives, and how they relate to firebombing.



Incendiary Materials


Flammable Metals (Aluminum, Magnesium, Thermite, Uranium, etc.)

-         Phosphorous



Historical Incendiary Devices in Warfare

Greek Fire

Flaming Arrows

Molotov Cocktail