A time bomb (or timebomb, time-bomb) is a bomb whose detonation is triggered by a timer. The use (or attempted use) of time bombs has been for various purposes including insurance fraud, terrorism, assassination and warfare.
The explosive charge is the main component of any bomb, and makes up most of the size and weight of it. It is the damaging element of the bomb (along with any fragments or shrapnel the deflagration might produce with its container or neighboring objects). The explosive charge is detonated by a detonator.
A time bomb's timing mechanism may be professionally manufactured, either separately or as part of the device, or it may be improvised from an ordinary household timer such as a wind-up alarm clock, wrist watch, digital kitchen timer, or notebook computer.
Types of time bombs include:
- Delay-action bomb (bombs dropped by aircraft with a delay to increase damage/disruption)
- Improvised explosive device ("home-made" bombs with a delay to allow the person placing the bomb to escape)
- Limpet mine (attached to enemy ships by naval divers)
List of some notable incidents involving time bombs
|1871||Attack on the Mosel (ship)||Bremerhaven||Alexander Keith, Jr.||80||unkn.||bomb set for insurance fraud purposes; detonated prematurely|
|1910||Los Angeles Times bombing||Los Angeles||John J. McNamara and James B. McNamara||21||100||Union-related action|
|1916||Preparedness Day Bombing||San Francisco||Labor leaders||10||40||Isolationist political action|
|1920||Wall Street bombing||New York City||Anarchists (suspected)||38||400||Followed other bombings in 1919|
|1939||Bürgerbräukeller||Munich||Georg Elser||7||63||Assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler|
|1942||St Nazaire Raid||St Nazaire, France (wartime)||Royal Navy, British Commandos||590||unkn.||To damage port facilities being used by enemy forces|
|1944||July Plot||Wolf's Lair, Poland (wartime)||German Resistance||4||?||Failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler|
|1955||United Airlines Flight 629||over Longmont, Colorado, USA||Jack Gilbert Graham||44||0||Murder; insurance fraud|
|1972||Aldershot Bombing||Aldershot, UK||IRA||7||18||A 280 lb time bomb in a car|
|1974||M62 Coach Bombing||West Yorkshire||IRA||12||38||Continuing anti-British campaign|
|1974||Birmingham pub bombings||Birmingham, UK||IRA (suspected)||21||182||Continuing anti-British campaign|
|1974||Guildford pub bombings||Guildford, UK||IRA||5||65||Targeted against Army personnel|
|1977||Lucona sinking||Indian Ocean||Udo Proksch||6||0||Attempted insurance fraud|
|1984||Brighton hotel bombing||Brighton, UK||IRA||5||31||Attempt to assassinate PM Margaret Thatcher|
|1987||Korean Air Flight 858||Andaman Sea||North Korea||115 (all)||0||State terrorism against South Korea|
|1987||Remembrance Day bombing||Enniskillen, Northern Ireland||IRA||12||63||Continuing anti-British campaign|
|1988||Pan Am flight 103||Above Lockerbie, Scotland||Libya||270||0||Reprisal against UK & US|
|1989||Deal barracks bombing||Deal, Kent, UK||IRA||11||21||Targeted against military personnel|
|1994||Philippine Airlines Flight 434||Between Cebu and Tokyo||Ramzi Yousef||1||10||Foiled attempt.|
|1996||Centennial Olympic Park bombing||Atlanta, Georgia, USA||Eric Rudolph||1||111||Politically-motivated anti-abortionist; occurred during 1996 Summer Olympics.|
|1998||Omagh bombing||Omagh, Northern Ireland||IRA||29||220||Worst single incident loss of life during the anti-British campaign.|
|1999||Russian apartment bombings||Buynaksk
|unkn.||293||651||4 bombs over 4 days; purpose unknown.|
|2006||Moscow market bombing||Moscow||Racialist organization||13||46||Racially motivated attack|
Time bombs in fiction
Time bombs are common plot devices used in action/thriller TV series, cartoons, films and video games, where the hero often escape the blast area or defuses the bomb at the last second. Many fictional time bombs are improvised, and usually involve a beeping sound with a large prominent countdown timer (on rare occasions, the timer will count up).
Such fictional appearances include:
- Kojak, Knight Rider, MacGyver, Get Smart, Men in Black: The Series, 24, Sonic X, Hogan's Heroes, VR Troopers, and Walker, Texas Ranger on television;
- James Bond: Goldfinger, Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Hindenburg, The Mask, The Peacemaker, Battle Royale, Battle Royale 2: Requiem and New Police Story in film;
- Counter-Strike, Sonic Adventure 2, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Halo, F-Zero GX, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Trauma Center: Under The Knife and Trauma Center Second Opinion in video games; and
- Songs by The Old 97's, Dave Matthews Band, Chumbawamba, Godsmack, The Format, Rancid, Buckcherry, The Dismemberment Plan, Faber Drive and Beck titled "Time bomb" or "Timebomb".
- The popular Super NES video game Chrono Trigger takes its name from the timer-detonator assembly of a time bomb, although the game itself has nothing to do with time bombs but with time travel instead.
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