Sunday, 7 December 2014

Napalm, ago, go

Put some ointment on that
Napalm is an incendiary weapon composed of a mixture of petrol and a gelling agent. Often soap or one of its derivatives is used. There is no exact formula for napalm and there are many recipes. Napalm was first formulated in 1942 due to a joint collaboration between Harvard university and the US government.

Petrol is a relatively cheap and effective weapon. It packs a lot of energy in a small package. When you combine it with a thickening agent you have the perfect weapon. When dispersed, napalm sticks to surfaces and denies attempts to be extinguished. As an anti-personal weapon it excels when compared to high explosive whether they be delivered by bomb or shell. The problem with high explosive as a weapon against man, is that it is wasteful in terms of energy usage. Thus much of the energy is expended and consequently wasted into the air or into the ground. Also the energy delivered at point of impact is extreme and overkill. A 75mm shell exploding immediately next to a man will undoubtedly kill him. In fact his body will be rent asunder. From a purely militaristic stand point this represents waste. The perfect weapon should deliver its energy in a more diffuse way. Only enough energy should be expended to kill. Ideally the weapon should not kill, but maim. Its is better to beget a cripple. In this way you remove the man as an effective combatant and render him as a burden to enemy society.

You may ask why I have an unhealthy/healthy preoccupation with napalm? My father was a British infantryman during the Korean conflict. On a hill, far away, in 1950, the Americans drenched the wrong hill with napalm. They call it collateral damage or friendly fire- tis a matter of perspective, I suppose. Some of my father's mates got stuck to trees. My father suffered severe burns to his hands and arms and spent the next 6 months in a Japanese hospital being reconstructed. That was the end of my dad's military career. I digress.   

There has much been said about the atomic bomb during the second World War. Is the plutonium bomb the most sublime of weapons? Probably. On the 9th March 1945 American bombers dropped napalm bombs on Tokyo. Six hundred and ninety thousand pounds of ordinance was delivered within the hour. The fire storm that followed killed 100,000 of Tokyo's inhabitants. Tokyo's  paper and wooden houses burnt well, as did their people. 60,000 people died at Hiroshima and 40,000 at Nagasaki. So the respective weapons are equal on that score. Why use nuclear weapons, which are 'radioactively dirty' when you could use napalm which is environmentally friendly- the greenies should take note. The kill for buck is cheaper and prudent governments are well advised to invest in soap.      

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