Friday, 8 February 2013

The torpedo that was invented in Bangalore

Bangalore is known by many names such as Pensioners’ Paradise,  Garden City and Silicon City. Known as one of the most happening cities in India, it has taken giant strides in information technology and its progress in biotechnology is mind boggling. Decades earlier, Bangalore was known as the city of public sector units. It had many public sector units and it was also known for its research in science and technology. Several world class institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics came up much before India gained Independence.
Thus, Bangalore was already on the scientific map of the world. Its researchers and scientists had published several papers at the national and international level and scientists like C.V.Raman gave Bangalore a scientific reputation that other scientists found it hard to match.
Though Bangalore’s strides in satellite and rocket technology is well known today thanks to the host of space institutions abounding here, it was also known for military research.
I am not talking about the DRDO or the many scientific and defence research institutions that are working on Light combat aircraft (LCA) or other defence-related projects. These institutions, with the exception of HAL, are of recent origin.
I am talking of a special type of explosive that was conceived, planned, made or manufactured in Bangalore. This explosive device became so famous that it came to be known by the name of Bangalore-the city which started it.
This is the Bangalore torpedo. It was invented by the British during the first world war.
The Bangalore torpedo is an explosive charge placed within one or several connected tubes. It is used to clear obstacles and paths that have been mined with barber wires. It is also called as Bangalore mine, Bangalore bangers or even Bangalore.
This device has been found very effective for clearing a path through wire and mines up to 15 metres (49 ft) long and one metre (3 ft 3 in) wide.
The credit for coming up with this device goes to Captain McClintock, a British soldier in the Madras Sappers and Miners group of British Indian Army.
The unit was in Bangalore and Capt. McClintock invented the device in 1912. They were found t be highly effective and were first used by the British during the Boer wars in South Africa.
They exploded  bobby traps and barricades in the Boer war first and then came t be extensively used during the course of the Russo-Japanese war.
The advantage of this device was that it would be exploded over a mine without a solider having to go near it. Thus, Bangalore not only saved lives of soldiers but also cleared the path for the easy and quick movement of troops.
It was  adopted by the US Army during the second world war and used as the M1A1 Bangalore Torpedo.
These devices are now manufactured by Mondial Defence Systems of  Poole in United Kingdom and they are used by the armed forces of  United States and United Kingdom.
The last use of these devices were in Afganisthan which had been heavily mined by the Taliban. The US troops have used them in clearing arms and ammunition in deep crevices and caves.
However, when they were invented, the initial use of Bangalore torpedo was to clear barbed wires before launching an offensive. The device could be used even when the enemy was firing.
These torpedoes consisted of  several  externally identical 1.5 m (5 ft) lengths of threaded pipe, one of which contained the explosive charge. The pipes would then be bundled together using connecting sleeves to make a longer pipe. A cone would be fitted at one end.
The cone would be screwed to prevent the device from 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.
The best demonstration of using this device to punch holes in barbed fences is in the 1927 silent film Wings. This film went on receive the Academy Award for the Best Motion Picture.
Another film to show the Bangalore torpedo is the 1950 reel classic Breakthrough.
Tobruk (1967), Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day, Storming Juno, The Big Red One and Call of Duty also depict these devices.     
Today, the Bangalore torpedo exists with a lot of variations. They are used with a lot of innovations by US, UK and Canadian


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    1. Thank you for your encouragement. We try to bring to light little known facts of history, geography and personalities. Thanks again.