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Thursday, December 18 2014 @ 08:25 AM CST

How to Make a Molotov Cocktail

News ArchiveMolotov cocktail, named after Vyacheslav Molotov and also known as the petrol bomb, benzene torch, Molotov grenade or Molotov bomb, is the generic name for a variety of crude incendiary weapons. While they are commonly associated with guerrilla forces and rioters, they are actually more frequently used for basic arson. In slang, they are often referred to as a “homemade frag,” "dragon's wrath," or “the poor man’s hand grenade.” Excerpted from Wikipedia.

Molotov cocktail, named after Vyacheslav Molotov and also known as the petrol bomb, benzene torch, Molotov grenade or Molotov bomb, is the generic name for a variety of crude incendiary weapons. While they are commonly associated with guerrilla forces and rioters, they are actually more frequently used for basic arson. In slang, they are often referred to as a “homemade frag,” "dragon's wrath," or “the poor man’s hand grenade.”

Mechanism

A Molotov cocktail consists of a glass bottle partly filled with flammable liquid, typically gasoline. When gasoline is used as the main ingredient, motor oil or sugar is commonly added to help the gasoline cling to the target. A gasoline soaked rag is placed in the neck of the bottle, extending out of the neck. The bottle is then corked in order to hold the rag in place. The rag is then lit, and the bottle is thrown. On impact, the bottle breaks open, spilling gasoline over the target area, and if the flaming rag then touches the gasoline, which is very likely, the gasoline will ignite and begin to burn whatever the "cocktail" has just hit. If the object it has hit is flammable, it will quickly start a rapidly spreading fire. There are also sophisticated methods for igniting, such as use of pyrophoric substances (Bengal fire) or a chemical igniter based on reaction of sulfuric acid and potassium chlorate, which do not need initial fire to work. Additional substances may be added to the basic Molotov cocktail to enhance its use as a weapon.

History

The name “Molotov cocktail” is derived from Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, a Soviet politician who was the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, or the Foreign Minister, of the Soviet Union. During the buildup to World War II, when Finland refused to surrender some strategic ports to the Soviet Union, the Soviets invaded, after the Shelling of Mainila. The Finnish Army, facing Red Army tanks in what came to be known as the Winter War, borrowed an improvised incendiary device design from the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War. In that conflict, General Francisco Franco ordered Spanish Nationalists to use the weapon against Soviet T-26 tanks supporting the Spanish Republicans in a failed 1936 Soviet assault near Toledo, 30 km from Madrid.

When Molotov claimed in radio broadcasts that the Soviet Union was not dropping bombs but rather delivering food to the starving Finns, the Finns started to call the air bombs Molotov bread baskets. Soon they responded by attacking advancing tanks with “Molotov cocktails.” At first the term was used to describe only the burning mixture itself, but in practical use the term was soon applied to the combination of both the bottle and its contents. This Finnish use of the hand- or sling-thrown explosive against Soviet tanks was repeated in the subsequent Continuation War. Molotov cocktails were eventually mass-produced by the Alko corporation at its Rajamäki distillery, bundled with matches to light them. Production totalled 450,000 during the Winter War. The original design of Molotov cocktail was a mixture of ethanol, tar, and gasoline in a 750 mL bottle. The bottle had a pyrophoric Bengal fire stick attached on its side. Before use the Bengal fire stick was lit; when the bottle broke on impact, the mixture ignited. The Bengal fire was found to be safer to use than a burning rag on the mouth of the bottle.

They also saw use during the Nomonhan Incident, a border conflict ostensibly between Mongolia and Manchukuo that saw heavy fighting between Japanese and Soviet forces. Short of anti-tank equipment, Japanese infantry attacked Soviet tanks with gasoline-filled bottles. Japanese infantrymen claimed that several hundred Soviet tanks had been destroyed through the use of Molotov cocktails.

These type of weapons saw widespread use by all sides in World War II. Despite media images which typically depict a glass bottle, they had now evolved into a sophisticated, mass produced device.

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, it was alleged that members of the Israeli Kibbutz Degania managed to stop a Syrian tank assault by using Molotov cocktails. Later studies revealed that it was a shell fired from a PIAT.

Molotov cocktails are much more effective against gasoline engines than diesel engine tanks. This is because diesel has a high flashpoint of 64°C (147°F), making it more difficult to ignite than petrol. Some Soviet tanks actually had an entry to the gas tank on the side of the vehicle, which could be opened by combatants in close quarters, letting out the highly flammable liquid and making destruction of the tank even easier.

Petrol bombs were widely used throughout the Troubles in Northern Ireland in riots, directed towards the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) or the British Army. They are still occasionally used against the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI, formerly the RUC) and army. They are frequently used in sectarian attacks on homes and businesses by both communities. Fireworks and homemade grenades, known as blast bombs now commonly accompany petrol bomb attacks on the security forces.

In 1980s, South Korean protesters used Molotov cocktail as a tool to fight against the government of Dictator Chun Doo-hwan.

Recent use

* Molotov cocktails were put to use recently during the riotous 2005 civil unrest in France and during the 2007 riots in Copenhagen. They are also frequently used in the Palestinian Intifadas.

* Molotov cocktails are frequently used in riots in Greece by insurrectionist anarchists.

* In Sydney, during the 2005 Cronulla riots, rioters carrying Molotov cocktails were apprehended when they carried open bottles in a bus. The resulting smell of petrol alerted the driver, who in turn alerted the police.

* During the highly violent and intense Oldham Race Riots on May 26 2001 in Oldham, England, petrol bombs were the primary projectile used by youths against riot police. No one was killed.

* During the Columbine High School massacre, the two gunmen built and threw several Molotov cocktails; none of them, however, exploded.
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