|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2007)|
|Place of origin||Bangalore, India|
|Used by||Indian Army, Pakistani Army, British Army, Royal Canadian Army, United States Army, Peoples Liberation Army (China)|
|Wars||World War I, World War II, Korean War|
|Length||up to 15 m (49 ft) in 1.5 m (4.9 ft) sections|
A Bangalore torpedo is an explosive charge placed within one or several connected tubes. It is used by combat engineers to clear obstacles that would otherwise require them to approach directly, possibly under fire. It is sometimes colloquially referred to as a Bangalore mine, bangers or simply Bangalore.
It has been estimated that the modern Bangalore torpedo is effective for clearing a path through wire and mines up to 15 m (49 ft) long and 1 m (3 ft 3 in) wide.
Per US Army FM 5-250 section 1-14, page 1-12 "b. Use. The primary use of the torpedo is clearing paths through wire obstacles and heavy undergrowth. It will clear a 3- to 4-metre wide path through wire obstacles."
The Bangalore torpedo was first devised by Captain McClintock, of the British Indian Army unit the Madras Sappers and Miners at Bangalore, India, in 1912. He invented it as a means of exploding booby traps and barricades left over from the Boer and Russo-Japanese Wars. The Bangalore torpedo would be exploded over a mine without the sapper having to approach closer than about 3 m (10 ft).
Bangalore torpedoes are currently manufactured by Mondial Defence Systems of Poole, UK, for the UK and US armed forces. They have been used recently on operations in Afghanistan for actions such as clearing enemy supply dumps within deep cave systems.
In World War I
By the time of World War I the Bangalore torpedo was primarily used for clearing barbed wire before an attack. It could be used while under fire, from a protected position in a trench. The torpedo was standardized to consist of a number of externally identical 1.5 m (5 ft) lengths of threaded pipe, one of which contained the explosive charge. The pipes would be screwed together using connecting sleeves to make a longer pipe of the required length, somewhat like a chimney brush or drain clearing rod.
A smooth nose cone would be screwed on the end to prevent snagging on the ground. It would then be pushed forward from a protected position and detonated, to clear a 1.5 m (5 ft) wide hole through barbed wire. During the 1917 Battle of Cambrai, British Royal Engineers used them as diversions to distract the enemy from where the real battle was to be fought.
In World War II
The Bangalore torpedo was obsolete in British use at the time of D-Day having been replaced by rocket launched 'Conger' and Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) vehicles equipped with a 40 lb explosive charge for bunker clearing.
Post World War II development
The Bangalore continues to be used today in the little-changed M1A2 version, primarily to breach wire obstacles. British Royal Engineers, Canadian Combat Engineers and Infantry Assault Pioneers along with American combat engineers have also been known to construct similar field versions of the Bangalore by assembling segments of metal picket posts and filling the concave portion with plastic explosive. The PE is then primed with detonating cord and a detonator, and pickets are taped or wired together each to make a long torpedo producing shrapnel that cuts the wire when detonated. This method produces results similar to the standard-issue Bangalore, and can be assembled to the desired length by adding picket segments.
The newest evolution of the Bangalore is the Bangalore blade, an updated version made from lightweight aluminum and using explosively formed penetrator technology to breach obstacles which the original Bangalore would have been unable to defeat. In a test detonation conducted on the television show Future Weapons, the Bangalore Blade blasted a gap roughly 5 meters wide in concertina wire, and created a trench deep enough to detonate most nearby anti-personnel mines. The Bangalore Blade was developed in the United Kingdom by Alford Technologies and is intended for use with both standard army and Special Forces units that require a lightweight, portable obstacle-clearing device.
Other recent path-clearing devices
The U.S. Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System (APOBS) and the British RAMBS II rifle grenade breaching system are starting to replace the Bangalore for path-clearing due to their ease of use, effectiveness, and flexibility—they can clear a path several times longer than the Bangalore torpedo.
Depiction in film
An example of Bangalore Torpedo technique can be seen in the 1927 silent film Wings. Breakthrough, a 1950 movie set in World War II, depicts a Bangalore Torpedo clearing a mine field. Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day, Storming Juno and The Big Red One, all films set in the Second World War, show the device used to clear barbed wire obstacles during D-Day invasion scenes. Screenwriter and director of The Big Red One Samuel Fuller, a veteran of D-Day, expressed through the film's narrator his own feelings about the inherent hazards of assembling and employing the demolition device: "The Bangalore torpedo was 50 feet long and packed with 85 pounds of TNT, and you assembled it along the way - by hand. I'd love to meet the asshole who invented it!"
- Duffy, Michael. "Bangalore Torpedo". www.firstworldwar.com. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- "Bangalore Torpedo - 8x1m Tube Set". Mondial Defence Systems, Poole, UK. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
- Wilfrid Miles, Official History of the Great War, Military operations, France and Belgium 1917, Volume III, The Imperial War Museum Department of Printed Books (1948), pp.96
- History of the Second World War, the Mediterranean and Middle East vol 1 Publisher HSMO 1954