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Napalm as an Ordnance

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WillowRun
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2008/12/03 19:33:07 (permalink)
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Napalm as an Ordnance

While reading TARGET PLOESTI: View From A Bombsight, I noticed several passages dealing with the use of napalm, that "gasoline-impregnated gelatinlike substance" so heavily used during the Vietnam era.  From the accounts in the book, which tracks the 50 missions of the 460 BG  Hangar Queen, during 1944, it would appear that napalm was frequently used, depending of course, upon the nature of the mission.  Question: when did napalm become "standard ordnance? My impression is that it was not until well into 1944.  Another one of those "tangent" questions.  Thanks!

 
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    SHAEF1944
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/03 23:28:56 (permalink)
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    Air delivered napalm was first used in July 1944.  During that month, Corsairs in the Pacific started using it during the pre-invasion of Tinian, and P-38's used some against targets around St. Lo.      Not absolutely sure which theater grabs the absolute FIRST use.    Napalm is just a thickening agent for gasoline, and my understanding is that as such was used on the ground in flamethrowers long before this date.
     
    I have not heard of its extensive use by US heavy bombers in the ETO,  mostly by fighter-bombers against specific tactical targets.  Of course, the most remembered images are of the Corsairs in the PTO dropping napalm cannisters on island stronghold positions.
     
    On the B-29 fire raids, thats a good question maybe some vets can answer ......  what was the ratio of pure incendiary to naplam bombs used on fire raids ?

    SHAEF1944
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    Darin Scorza
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/04 07:10:33 (permalink)
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    The first time the 458th used Napalm was on April 15, 1945 on targets in the Royan area in France.  This was the only time Napalm was used by this group.

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    Darin Scorza
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    Fabry
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/04 07:35:53 (permalink)
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    On footnote.com web site there is another beautiful photo of a lead B-24 dropping Napalm bombs and smoke marker on Royan.
     
    Go to: http://www.footnote.com/image/39009785 
     
    CIAO!

    Fabry
    Ernie Pyle wrote: "They died and others lived and nobody knows why it is so. There's nothing we can do for the ones beneath the wooden crosses, except perhaps to pause and murmur, 'Thanks, pal.'"
    Evan
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/04 07:38:06 (permalink)
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    I interviewed a 448th crewman who said they carried gasoline jelly bombs at least once in the ETO. He said they had their guns stripped out to avoid accidents.
    reiny
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/04 09:57:33 (permalink)
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    If my memory is correct, fire raids over Japan were incendiary only.
    WillowRun
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/04 10:34:10 (permalink)
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    According to my original post, it would appear that the 460 BG used napalm as early as May, 1944, in missions directed at targets in Italy.  I understand that it was not extensively used in the ETO/MTO as incendiaries were common ordnance if required.  One of the incidents in the book (p. 89) refers  to the removal of a napalm bomb which was hung up on its rack and did not release and the extreme care taken to dislodge it. Also it was interesting to understand the "morale" of  the crew when they knew that they were carrying this particular ordnance into an area protected by heavy flak.       Darin, nice pic!  Thanks!

     
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    Steven P. Puhl
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    Bob Gilbert
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/04 13:00:27 (permalink)
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    Steven,
    To add to the historical record, we in the 381st did not use napalm at all during my time of combat (Oct. of '44 to Feb. of '45) to my knowledge.  In the winter of '44 we did receive some crated up napalm bombs that, it was rumored, were intended for some special mission, but never used. 

    Bob Gilbert
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    WillowRun
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/05 15:44:01 (permalink)
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    Bob,  That concurs pretty much with the info I'm collecting. War is ugly as we know, and, throughout history, techniques, armament, etc. become more advanced, sophisticated and cruel all for the single purpose of victory over the enemy/aggressor.  In the case of napalm, it was in its "infancy," and not used in all BG's.  I had truly not given it a passsing thought until reading the book I've referenced in the initial post.  I suppose what struck me was the "thickness of the casing/casting" of the bomb itself which posed more of a concern for the A/C's crew in the event of being hit by flak.   Thanks for your input!

     
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    Steven P. Puhl
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    Darin Scorza
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/05 16:39:38 (permalink)
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    Steven,
     
    Your last comment about leaking napalm is absolutely correct.  See attached diary entry from Sgt Lee Watson.  That would certainly add to the crew's concerns!

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    Darin Scorza
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    ramc181
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/05 20:30:49 (permalink)
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    From R Freeman's "Mighty Eighth War Manual", referring to the use of napalm by the 8AF in the ETO:

    "A refined petroleum jelly known as napalm became available in the second half of 1944. Handled in bulk it was intended for filling as required.
    Tested in various containers, the preferred type was the paper composition fighter fuel tank of 108 US gallon capacity. Known as Class C Fire Bombs, napalm tanks were used on a few special missions where blanket fire cover was required, notably against German strongpoints on the French coast in April 1945.
    Usually six napalm tanks were carried in a B-24 and four in a B-17; small incendiary igniter units were fixed to each tank."

    There are also references to the M69 6lb (14 M69s making up the 100lb M12 Incendiary Cluster bomb, and 38 M69s making up the 500lb M19 Incendiary Cluster bomb)and M76 500lb (M43 500lb GP bomb casing with the HE filling replaced by petroleum gel) incendiary bombs with "petroleum gel" filling, I'll dig out the relevant TM for details as soon as I find it.

    All the best,
    PB

    Paul Bellamy 

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    GREMLIN2
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2008/12/06 08:44:45 (permalink)
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    The 100th Bomb Group's only mission using Napalm tanks was the 15 April,1945 to ROYAN/four enemy strong points and flak batteries.
     
    The Bombardiers were briefed on 6 new experimental incendiary bombs that were to be dropped at 15,000 feet and not brought back to base.
     
    A number of crews reported leaking,oozing jellied gas leaking from the tanks,also strong gas fumes in the radio room and areas of the ships. Most of the ships carried the 108 lb fighter tank paper composition drop tanks with others possibly carrying the larger 500lb load,unclear from some of the reports. One thing is clear the aircrews were happy not to have to fly another mission with the ordinance!
     
     
    Jack    

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    Evan
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2010/07/28 12:57:17 (permalink)
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    Just came across this clip on archive.org. About 1 min 10 secs in there is a piece on gasoline jelly bombs. 
     
    Would these be the same type that the Liberators carried?
     
    http://www.archive.org/details/1945-03-29_Reds_Roll_On_In_Germany


    Herb Harper
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2010/07/28 14:34:43 (permalink)
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    ALL:
     
    I have reviewed hundreds of sortie reports of the 98th Bomb Group in the MTO and have NOT seen any reference to the 98th using NAPALM. 
     
    Herb Harper
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    Re:Napalm as an Ordnance 2010/07/30 20:27:19 (permalink)
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    The photo referenced by 'Fabry' ( http://www.footnote.com/image/39009785 ) shows a 491BG lead B-24H-5-FO (serial 42-51493) dropping on the Royan area on 15 April 1945. The 491st did two napalm missions, one on the 14th to Royan Area #11 and one on the 15th to Royan Area #7. The two missions dropped a total of 92 tons of the stuff. These were the only napalm missions flown by the 491st.
     
    Al Blue 
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