Fishponds Local History Society

Publications by FLHS members

The Luftwaffe over the Bristol area

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Aircraft etc.


Download entire article in PDF format

The Luftwaffe over the Bristol area - Luftwaffe weapons

At first the majority of German High Explosive bombs (Sprengbombe) were of small calibre, with those of 50 kg predominant. Also widely used was the 250 kg H.E., but gradually bombs of increasing size and weight came into service. The principle types used against the U.K. mainland were types designated SC, SD and PC. Their type designation was used as a prefix, followed by a number indicating their weight in kilogrammes, eg. SC 50 being the 50 kg version of the Sprengbombe Cylindrich. Names were also applied at the heavier end of the scale. In addition to their type and weight designation, high explosive bombs sometimes carried a suffix to indicate the type of z�nder or fuse fitted i.e. mV = mit Verz�gerung (with short delay action) and LZZ = LangZeitZ�nder (long time delay). Thus, for example, the designation SC 250 LZZ indicated a bomb fitted with a long delay fuse.

SC = SPRENGBOMBE CYLINDRICH (thin cased general purpose). These had for blast effect, a high charge ratio 55 per cent explosive, and were used primarily for general demolition. Approximately 8 out of 10 of German high explosive bombs dropped on the U.K. were of the SC type. Those dropped locally were the 50 kg, 250 kg, 500 kg, 1000 kg "Hermann", and 1800 kg "Satan" versions.

SD = SPRENGBOMBE DICKWANDIG (thick cased semi-armour piercing). These were medium cased steel weapons and, being either anti-personnel or semi-armour piercing, had a load factor of 35 per cent explosive; because of their penetration qualities they were used primarily against ships and fortifications. Those dropped locally were the 50, 250, 500 and 1700 kg versions.

PC = PANZERBOMBE CYLINDRICH (Armour piercing). These had a loading factor of 20 per cent explosive, and were used primarily against shipping and fortifications. The 1400 kg "Fritz" version was dropped locally.

LC = LICHT CYLINDRISCHE (LC 50 parachute flare). These devices which were approximately the same size as a conventional SC 50 bomb, hence its designation "50", were used for target illumination and marking at night.

At times the Luftwaffe also purposely dropped its standard sea mines, fitted with a suitable detonator, on British cities where they became universally known as Land Mines. With their high charge ratio of 60 to 70 per cent explosive and slow parachute retarded descent they created considerable blast damage in built-up areas. The 1000 kg Luft Mine B was normally employed, and as such was designated Bomben B when used against land targets. During 1941 a new weapon, the BM 1000 "Monika" , made its appearance. This consisted of the sea mine LMB, but fitted with a bomb tail unit, being designed to be dropped like a conventional bomb without a parachute.

Although the available H.E.'s possessed great destructive power, perhaps the most potent of German bombs remained the tiny B1 El, a 1 kg incendiary which, dropped in profusion in 1940/41, caused millions of pounds worth of fire damage and virtually burnt out whole districts of British cities.

BRANDBOMB, 1 KILOGRAMME, ELEKTRON or B1 El, was the designation of the standard 1 kg incendiary bomb. They consisted of a cylinder of Magnesium Alloy (Elektron), with an incendiary filling of Thermite. These weapons, which burnt with a heat sufficient to melt steel, were ignited by a small percussion charge in the nose which fired on impact.

In an attempt to make these weapons even more effective, and to defeat the fire-fighters efforts, the Germans introduced explosive charges into the nose or tail of some incendiary bombs. The charge was initiated either by the heat of combustion, or by a more complicated device that incorporated a delay of about 7 minutes. The various versions of this bomb included the letter Z in their designation, indicating explosive charge. Thus the standard B1 El incendiary bomb fitted with an explosive charge detonated by heat was designated B1 EL ZA, and that detonated by a delay B1 El ZB, while in 1944, a further development was introduced, the 2.2 kg steel nosed B2 E.

The Luftwaffe used various types of containers to carry and drop small incendiary bombs and in the early part of the war these were usually expendable, aimable types, designated AB (Abwurf Behalter) or BSK (BombenSchaltKasten), holding some 36 B1 El's. During early 1942 the AB 500 container, which held 140 B1 El's was brought into us; more effective than the older BSK 36, the new container held not only more incendiaries but concentrated its entire contents over a small area. The final development was introdced for the Steinbock operation in 1944 during which the bombers were to carry the AB 1000, capable of holding up to 620 B1 El's or 360 B2 E's.

The original large incendiary device, the so called Oil Bomb which was known to the Germans as the FLAM or FLAMMENBOMBE, contained an oil mixture and a high explosive bursting charge. These weapons, based on the 250 kg and 500 kg high explosive bomb case, and thus designated Flam 250 and Flam 500, were fitted with an impact fuse which often failed to detonate. This resulted in the case splitting open to disgorge its contents without igniting, and as a result of their reliability they were withdrawn from widespread use in January 1941.

Two other types of large incendiary bomb were introduced later in the War and were first deployed against local targets during the Baby Blitz of 1944. The most widely used of these were the two variants of the PHOSPHORBRANDBOMBE or Phosphorus Incendiary Bomb which were the same shape and size as 50 and 250 kg high explosive types, and therefore designated Brand C 50 and Brand C 250. Both contained a liquid filling consisting of Phosphorus, Oil and Rubber Solution, the Phosphorus being carried in glass bottles that were designed to break on impact and mix with the main filling. The bomb then split open scattering the contents, which ignited spontaneously, over an area of some metres.

The second type was the SPRENGBRANDBOMBE or Explosive Incendiary Bomb which was designated Spreng-Brand C 50, being were the same shape and size as a 50 kg H.E. These complex weapons used a Black Powder charge to expel and ignite the 6 large magnesium-elektron Fire Pots and 67 smaller magnesium incendiary elements which they dispersed over a radius of about 100 yards. The nose of the bomb also contained 20 lbs of TNT which exploded after a time delay.

Website produced by Paul Johnson . Last updated 3 March 2014.