This unknown explosive has been helping troops for over 100 years

Bangalore TorpedoCpl. Alexander Mitchell/US Marine CorpsUS Marines run to a wire-trap in order to set up a bangalore charge during a demolitions exercise.

Over the last decade or so, the US military has grown extremely proficient in various types of warfare. From aerial dogfights to close-quarters combat, servicemembers have grown accustomed to the warfare that’s more or less depicted in contemporary movies and video games.

Sometimes, however, it’s a good idea to go back to one’s roots and train in weapons that aren’t typically found on the modern-day battlefield. One of these had been invented over a century ago, and is still in service today.

Bangalore torpedoStaff Sgt. Steven Colvin/US ArmyA US soldier carries a bangalore torpedo (M1A2) during a demolition exercise at Adazi Training Area in Latvia.

Initially developed by the British Army in Bangalore, India shortly before World War I, the bangalore torpedo is an explosive charge packed into one or several connected metal tubes.

As a solution for clearing paths through wire obstacles and heavy undergrowth, this unique explosive saw use during both World Wars as a way for infantrymen to clear barbed wire and other metal obstructions.

Bangalore torpedoCpl. Alexander Mitchell/US Marine CorpsUS Marines set up a bangalore charge to destroy the barbed wire.

The 5-feet of tubing provides combat engineers not only a safer distance from its time-fuzed detonation, but also a longer blast radius. Upon detonation, the tube itself fragments and is able to shred bits of wire or booby traps for servicemembers to cross through. This 20-meter blast radius also strikes the perfect balance for those who were short on detonation cord and those who needed to get behind cover in a hurry. 

Although this method of basic breaching hasn’t seen much action in combat these days, the US military has been making efforts to implement a more robust action-plan that includes the usage of bangalores for their combat engineers.

Footage from the BBC shows what it looks like in action:

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