This Is What The World's Most Dangerous Explosives Look Like When They Ignite

While the world’s most powerful explosives all have a similar deadly effect, the explosions produced by such compounds are vastly different.

French photographer Alain Declercq, who often photographs social dysfunction and oppression, recently decided to test what each explosive would look like if ignited on a small scale.

Declercq shared a selection of photos from his Blast series here, and you can see more at his website. Blast is currently on exhibition at the Loevenbruck Gallery in Paris.

C-4 is a plastic explosive that can be easily moulded into a desired shape. It first became a popular explosive during the Vietnam War. C-4 is typically pressed into cracks or holes in buildings, bridges, or machines, and can only be ignited by a combination of extreme heat and a shockwave.


Alain Declercq/Loevenbruck Gallery

The hydrogen bomb, or thermonuclear weapon, was first developed in 1952. It uses heat generated by a fission reaction to generate the nuclear reaction. Only the United States, Russia, Great Britain, China, India, and France are known to possess thermonuclear weapons. Declercq ignited hydrogen gas to produce a similar effect.

H Bomb

Alain Declercq/Loevenbruck Gallery
BLAST | H Bomb

First created by a German chemist in 1863, TNT, or Trinitrotoluene, is commonly used by the military and various industries since it is insensitive to shock, which makes accidental explosions rare. In its early days, TNT was not even classified as an explosive because it was so hard to detonate.

Attached image

Alain Declercq

Hexolite combines the explosive compound of TNT with hexogen, aluminium powder, and calcium chloride. The explosive is used in warheads and underwater weapons.


Alain Declercq/Loevenbruck Gallery
BLAST | Hexolite

Penthrite was first invented in 1891 and was widely used by the German Army during World War I. The compund has been a part of numerous terror attacks and plots, including a 2001 attempt by Richard Reid, aka the “Shoe Bomber,” to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami.


Alain Declercq/Loevenbruck Gallery
BLAST | Penthrite

Semtex, a plastic explosive, was invented by a Czech chemist in the late 1950s. Similar to C-4, the compound is easy to mould into different shapes. The explosive, which is a red-orange colour, is waterproof and usable over a greater temperature range.


Alain Declercq/Loevenbruck Gallery
BLAST | Semtex

Napalm is a combination of a gelling agent and some incendiary fuel. It was developed in 1942 in a secret laboratory at Harvard University. It was first used during World War II, but became widespread during the Vietnam War.

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