British shaped charge

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by dbateson, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. dbateson

    dbateson Junior Member

    Has anyone heard about an explosive device that can be placed against a wall (or the like) and when detonated the blast is directed towards the wall and blows a hole in it. Sounds like a shaped charge. I see that the Germans had a magnetic anti-tank mine called the Hafthohlladung and the British the Anti-Tank No. 74, commonly known as the 'sticky bomb'

    My late father in-law described seeing the devise when he took part in a training session (I think a street fighting course in or near Chelsea, London). The instructor, placed it on the wall (maybe it had a sticky pad?), pulled a cord and walked way (but not too far away) before it when off. Did the British have such a device as I've described, perhaps a modified 'sticky bomb?
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Try Googling 'Beehive Charge'.
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The Sticky Bomb was not a shaped charge It was an early form of poltice charge
    It was left to Britain to produce the most dangerous (to the user) anti tank grenade. This was the No. 74 (ST) Grenade known as the ‘Sticky Bomb’. Introduced in 1940 this looked like a very large metal lollipop, pulling out a pin caused the two halves of a cover round the round head to spring apart revealing a large globe of slightly soft and very sticky high explosive, it also activated the 5 second fuse. The grenade could be thrown or simply smashed down onto its target. The soft sticky warhead would deform to form a thick poultice adhering to the armour and which would have a similar effect as the squash head shell . In theory the sticky bomb should have been a very effective anti tank weapon but in practice its very stickiness was its (and its user’s) downfall, it was far too easy for the activated grenade to affix itself to the thrower. The sticky was caused by a form of bird lime made from mistletoe berries. Britain did produce shaped charges - the PIAT AT warhead for example but in general preferred HESH.
  4. dbateson

    dbateson Junior Member

  5. dbateson

    dbateson Junior Member

    Thanks for the detail about the Sticky Bomb. Based on the tip from von Poop, sounds like a variation on the Beehive Charge might be the tkt. db
  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    No more likely to be the British No. 68 grenade introduced in November 1940 and the world's first hollow charge anti tank grenade. Examples. were supplied to the US and it formed the basis for US shaped charged munitions development. In the UK it was initially developed as a rifle grenade and then developed into the PIAT round.
  7. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    British used often "Hawkins grenades, see: "Hawkins grenade - Wikipedia , to blast holes into walls ("mouse holing") using 4 or 5 of them (depending on the thickness of the wall) fastened to a wooden frame which was then braced against the wall by a slanted plank.
  8. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Again not shaped charge. The Hawkins was a British version of the Laffitte. In the inter war years a grenade was developed that was specifically aimed at the tank. This was the Laffitte bomb (possibly named after the famous French pirate of the same name who used canister shaped hand grenades in the late 17th century). This was a canister filled with explosive that could be thrown (after removing a wire safety device) or tossed under the tracks of an oncoming tank. The tracks would crush and break the safety wire and the grenade explode as the tank passed over it, hopefully resulting in the tracks being damaged and the vehicle immobilised
  9. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Yes, I knew that No. 75 wasn't a shaped charge.

    To explain, in street-fighting, one usually wants to make a mansize holes for quick entry or exit, so normal explosives are prefered. Shaped charges can make deep holes but small diameter ones, so not very usuful in this context.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  10. ploughman

    ploughman Junior Member

    From my RE days back in the 70's - 80s
    Beehive stood off a surface about 9" and when detonated drilled a hole straight down.
    We used it as an initial step in a cratering charge.
    Once a hole had been drilled then a Camoflet charge was inserted packed and detonated.
    This created a chamber below ground with little deformation of the surface.
    The chamber was then filled with explosive and detonated.
    This should produce a NATO Std Crater about 17 metres across and 5 m deep.

    We practised this every year as part of our Airfield Damage Repair training.
    More realistic if you actually blow a couple of craters in an airfield runway.
    If you do a few every year, you can repair any existing cracked concrete pads as a bonus.

    A Hayrick was a steel cutting charge and if rigged as a 3 sided necklace around a girder or column would cut through that beam.

    Improvised charges were also practised of each charge type, with the addition of Bangalore Torpedos.
    von Poop likes this.
  11. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Hello ploughman:salut:
    I served as a sapper and a sapper corporal/squad leader with Finnish Army in mid-70s.

    My comments on mouse holing came from Stephen Bull's World War II Street-Fighting Tactics and Gordon L Rottman's World War II Infantry Assault Tactics double checked from Fighting in Buil-Up Areas Military Training Pamphlet No. 55 The War Office, 1943 which mentions the original Home Guard innovation which used only two No. 75 grenades. First reported use was by 1st Canadian Div in Ortona, Dec 1943.

    canuck likes this.
  12. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    One reference cites the use in Ortona by Canadian troops of an improvised "mouseholing charge" made from No. 75 "Hawkins" Grenades (i.e. pressure detonated anti-tank mines) attached to wooden sticks, secured together with tape, and rigged with primacord and safety fuses. The devices, which could be modified to included four or five charges and detonated simultaneously, were designed to blow holes in walls large enough for a man. An illustration of such a device can be found in a Home Guard instruction dated January 1943, apparent evidence of the possible influence of the Home Guard's tactical training on Canadian urban tactics at Ortona
    Juha likes this.
  13. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Home Guard was innovative when it developed its urban warfare tactics. British Army did not have much interest in urban warfare before the WWII because it saw it very manpower intensive warfare which it was/is. Maybe also in Home Guard there were more people who were able to think “outside the box”.

    In Rottman’s book there is a colour drawing mouse-holing 1944-45 showing the 4-5 grenades mouse-holing charge and in Bull’s book facsimile drawing from Home Guard Instruction No.51, Patrolling, of Jan 43 showing the original 2 grenades charge
    canuck likes this.

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