At first the majority
of German High Explosive bombs (Sprengbombe) were of small
calibre, with those of 50 kg predominant. Also widely used
was the 250 kg H.E., but gradually bombs of increasing size
and weight came into service. The principle types used against
the U.K. mainland were types designated SC, SD and PC. Their
type designation was used as a prefix, followed by a number
indicating their weight in kilogrammes, eg. SC 50 being the
50 kg version of the Sprengbombe Cylindrich. Names were also
applied at the heavier end of the scale. In addition to their
type and weight designation, high explosive bombs sometimes
carried a suffix to indicate the type of zünder or fuse fitted i.e. mV = mit Verzögerung
(with short delay action) and LZZ = LangZeitZünder (long time
delay). Thus, for example, the designation SC 250 LZZ indicated
a bomb fitted with a long delay fuse.
SC = SPRENGBOMBE CYLINDRICH (thin cased general
purpose). These had for blast effect, a high charge ratio 55 per
cent explosive, and were used primarily for general demolition.
Approximately 8 out of 10 of German high explosive bombs dropped
on the U.K. were of the SC type. Those dropped locally were the
50 kg, 250 kg, 500 kg, 1000 kg "Hermann", and 1800 kg
SD = SPRENGBOMBE DICKWANDIG (thick cased semi-armour
piercing). These were medium cased steel weapons and, being either
anti-personnel or semi-armour piercing, had a load factor of 35
per cent explosive; because of their penetration qualities they
were used primarily against ships and fortifications. Those dropped
locally were the 50, 250, 500 and 1700 kg versions.
PC = PANZERBOMBE CYLINDRICH (Armour piercing).
These had a loading factor of 20 per cent explosive, and were
used primarily against shipping and fortifications. The 1400 kg
"Fritz" version was dropped locally.
LC = LICHT CYLINDRISCHE (LC 50 parachute flare).
These devices which were approximately the same size as a conventional
SC 50 bomb, hence its designation "50", were used for
target illumination and marking at night.
At times the Luftwaffe also purposely dropped
its standard sea mines, fitted with a suitable detonator, on British
cities where they became universally known as Land Mines. With
their high charge ratio of 60 to 70 per cent explosive and slow
parachute retarded descent they created considerable blast damage
in built-up areas. The 1000 kg Luft Mine B was normally employed,
and as such was designated Bomben B when used against land targets.
During 1941 a new weapon, the BM 1000 "Monika" , made
its appearance. This consisted of the sea mine LMB, but fitted
with a bomb tail unit, being designed to be dropped like a conventional
bomb without a parachute.
Although the available H.E.'s possessed great
destructive power, perhaps the most potent of German bombs remained
the tiny B1 El, a 1 kg incendiary which, dropped in profusion
in 1940/41, caused millions of pounds worth of fire damage and
virtually burnt out whole districts of British cities.
BRANDBOMB, 1 KILOGRAMME, ELEKTRON or B1 El,
was the designation of the standard 1 kg incendiary bomb. They
consisted of a cylinder of Magnesium Alloy (Elektron), with an
incendiary filling of Thermite. These weapons, which burnt with
a heat sufficient to melt steel, were ignited by a small percussion
charge in the nose which fired on impact.
In an attempt to make these weapons even more
effective, and to defeat the fire-fighters efforts, the Germans
introduced explosive charges into the nose or tail of some incendiary
bombs. The charge was initiated either by the heat of combustion,
or by a more complicated device that incorporated a delay of about
7 minutes. The various versions of this bomb included the letter
Z in their designation, indicating explosive charge. Thus the
standard B1 El incendiary bomb fitted with an explosive charge
detonated by heat was designated B1 EL ZA, and that detonated
by a delay B1 El ZB, while in 1944, a further development was
introduced, the 2.2 kg steel nosed B2 E.
The Luftwaffe used various types of containers
to carry and drop small incendiary bombs and in the early part
of the war these were usually expendable, aimable types, designated
AB (Abwurf Behalter) or BSK (BombenSchaltKasten), holding some
36 B1 El's. During early 1942 the AB 500 container, which held
140 B1 El's was brought into us; more effective than the older
BSK 36, the new container held not only more incendiaries but
concentrated its entire contents over a small area. The final
development was introdced for the Steinbock operation in 1944
during which the bombers were to carry the AB 1000, capable of
holding up to 620 B1 El's or 360 B2 E's.
The original large incendiary device, the
so called Oil Bomb which was known to the Germans as the FLAM
or FLAMMENBOMBE, contained an oil mixture and a high explosive
bursting charge. These weapons, based on the 250 kg and 500 kg
high explosive bomb case, and thus designated Flam 250 and Flam
500, were fitted with an impact fuse which often failed to detonate.
This resulted in the case splitting open to disgorge its contents
without igniting, and as a result of their reliability they were
withdrawn from widespread use in January 1941.
Two other types of large incendiary bomb were
introduced later in the War and were first deployed against local
targets during the Baby Blitz of 1944. The most widely used of
these were the two variants of the PHOSPHORBRANDBOMBE or Phosphorus
Incendiary Bomb which were the same shape and size as 50 and 250
kg high explosive types, and therefore designated Brand C 50 and
Brand C 250. Both contained a liquid filling consisting of Phosphorus,
Oil and Rubber Solution, the Phosphorus being carried in glass
bottles that were designed to break on impact and mix with the
main filling. The bomb then split open scattering the contents,
which ignited spontaneously, over an area of some metres.
The second type was the SPRENGBRANDBOMBE or
Explosive Incendiary Bomb which was designated Spreng-Brand C
50, being were the same shape and size as a 50 kg H.E. These complex
weapons used a Black Powder charge to expel and ignite the 6 large
magnesium-elektron Fire Pots and 67 smaller magnesium incendiary
elements which they dispersed over a radius of about 100 yards.
The nose of the bomb also contained 20 lbs of TNT which exploded
after a time delay.