The whole story of explosives

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Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,306
Brassicaland
#1
Uses of explosives may have changed warfare, and the widespread application of black gunpowder
Gunpowder allegedly emerged during the Western Jin Dynasty by Ge Hong, a chemist and medical practitioner.
Sun Si Miao, a famous Chinese medical practitioner of the Tang Dynasty, provided the relatively reliable formula of black gunpowder.
Charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrite (saltpeter) are the components for gunpowder, and some claim that higher concentration of potassium nitrite increases the explosive power of gunpowder.
In a few Three Kingdoms novels that involve time-traveling (most of the time, the mind of a modern person takes over the body, abilities and memory of an ancient), trebuchets are used to throw explosive packages (with gunpowder).
In the late 19th century, Trinitrotoluene (TNT) and dynamite came into place, and started replacing black gunpowder.
For small arms, smokeless powder replaced black powder long ago.
Molotov cocktail can be considered an explosive device as well.
How did explosives change wars?
Are there any constructive uses of explosives? What are they?
Why did it take so long for Trinitrotoluene and dynamite to emerge?
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,090
Sydney
#2
" For small arms, smokeless powder replaced black powder long ago. "

- "poudre B" was perfected in 1884 , within one year a new rifle was produced using it
it was a revolution , no fouling of the barrel meant continuous firing was now possible
until then ALL machine guns were impractical as they generated a cloud of smoke and would foul at regular interval


"Molotov cocktail can be considered an explosive device as well. "

- Molotov cocktail is not an explosive , it's an incendiary device

"How did explosives change wars? "

- basically it democratized them

"Are there any constructive uses of explosives? What are they?"

construction , earthwork such as building dams and canals , mining .shaping metal forms .....

Why did it take so long for Trinitrotoluene and dynamite to emerge?

Dynamite basically is Trinitrotoluene , absorbed in diatomic compound ,
it was developed by Mr Nobel of the Nobel prizes fame

the big problem was manufacturing it without the bloody stuff exploding , it took a while
at one stage Nobel had the reacting vessels on a raft in the middle of a lake
once made , the user has to be REALLY careful , the stuff is unstable and must be kept under rigorous condition ,
including turning the boxes on end to prevent seeping

nowadays ammonium nitrate is used for bulk explosive , you could hit it with a hammer without problem
Gelinite is used as an instigator explosive , you can cut a piece and put it in the fire without problem
the most dangerous item is the detonators , they are to be handled with respect
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,090
Sydney
#4
There is some distinction to be made between deflagrant compound , like black powder and true explosive
the simplest thing is that true explosives have a shock wave faster than the speed of sound ( 910 m/s )

I saw it when invited to watch a wall blasting , a whole cliff face hundred of meters long and four story high just shuddered
a wave rushed forward on the ground , covering a kilometer in a second , shaking all
then the sound came while the whole cliff collapsed , Cooollll !!!
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,090
Sydney
#7
Gambrinus is correct , smokeless powder is acting as a deflagration ..ie subsonic
TNT and other true explosives act as a detonation ie supersonic

Smokeless powder was still much more brutal than black powder and the rifles Breeches had to be reinforced
this also led to using much smaller caliber , going from , typically , 0.43 inches to 0.303 for a greater velocity and range

the German Panzerfaust used black powder as a propellant to have a smoother , slower burn to propel the charge
 
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VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,306
Brassicaland
#8
Do they add aluminum, steel balls, debris or white phosphorus to bombs? I read that white phosphorus munitions are considered inhumane at least.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,090
Sydney
#9
phosphorus is added to the bullet for making tracers rounds , various elements are added for whatever effect is desired

depleted Uranium is used because of its great weight and incendiary characteristic , it make excellent anti tank rounds
impact is mass by the square of the velocity , there are limits to the velocity so increasing the mass increase the impact

phosphorus is also used as illumination munition , smoke generation and as incendiary ......very nasty , the wounds are horrific
in 2009 , the Israeli army had been using phosphorus on Gaza city including a UN compound , it was full of civilians
the IDF spokesman said it was to hide with smoke fighters in the area

phosphorus incendiaries were used extensively by British and American bombers raids during WW2
the usual operation was a first wave of big high explosive busters to block the streets and create rubble and damage to infrastructure
then a second wave dropped plenty of bomblets which would start fires
if done properly in good dry condition , all the fires would merge and create a firestorm , one big fiery tornado
survivors of the Hamburg bombing said the winds at ground level reached 100km/h and it sounded like the devil was laughing
Japanese cities burned easily
the Tokyo firestorm killed more people than Hiroshima
 
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