A massive bomb known as Tallboy that was dropped by British air forces has dramatically exploded after it was discovered to be lying at the bottom of a canal in Poland.
Known as an “earthquake” bomb, the 5.4-ton Tallboy packed a massive 2.4 tons of explosives – equivalent to roughly 3.6 tons of TNT – and was dropped by Royal Air Force pilots (RAF) in an attack on the Nazi German heavy cruiser Lützow during the final weeks of the war in April 1945.
The RAF deployed several Lancaster bombers from its “Dambusters” squadron to drop a dozen Tallboys on the Lützow, but one of the bombs failed to detonate.
The ship sank but managed to survive the attack in the final days of the war as a stationary gun battery versus advancing Soviet forces before it was finally captured and scrapped a few years after the war.
The bomb was discovered last year at a depth of 39 feet (12 meters) with its nose popping out when the area surrounding the port city of Swinoujscie, near the Baltic Sea, was being dredged.
#Tallboy, the largest unexploded #WWII bomb detonated💣
Lt Cmdr G.Lewandowski, 8th Coastal Defence Flotilla: The deflagration process turned into detonation. The object can be considered neutralised, it will not pose any more threat to the Szczecin-Swinoujscie shipping channel. pic.twitter.com/xHkRzAaONn
— Poland MOD 🇵🇱 (@Poland_MOD) October 14, 2020
Demolition experts with the Polish Navy had tried to defuse the massive bomb on Tuesday through the method of deflagration, which involves heating the explosive device until it safely burns.
However, the bomb ended up exploding in the canal, sending a towering plume of water into the air.
Fortunately, navy divers were a safe distance away from the bomb and nobody was hurt by the huge blast.
Over 750 residents were evacuated from the area surrounding the Piast Canal as authorities imposed a 1.5-mile (2.4-km) exclusion zone around the bomb to prevent any injuries.
The Polish Ministry of Defense began the bomb removal operation on Monday, with navy personnel moving residents as divers assessed how best to handle the dormant Tallboy.
Like much of Europe, Poland faced severe bombing from Allied pilots while it was under Nazi occupation during World War II.
Between 1940 and 1945, U.S. and British air forces are believed to have dropped some 2.7 million tons of bombs on Europe, with half of that amount being dropped on Germany alone.
The extensive bombing campaign was a part of the effort to paralyze the industrial and war-fighting capacity of Hitler’s Germany by striking major blows at the Third Reich’s infrastructure, crippling countless railheads, arms manufacturing facilities, oil refineries, and logistics centers.
As many as 10 percent of the bombs dropped by Allied aircraft failed to explode, leaving thousands of tons of unexploded ordnance strewn across the former battlefields of Europe.
Over 75 years after World War II and a century after World War I, unexploded munitions are still frequently discovered in countries like Germany and Austria, typically during consruction work.
In 2017, about 11 tons of unexploded ordnance was recovered from the lakes and rivers in Austria while 659 kilos were uncovered in the mountains from the furious battles between Austrian and Italian troops in World War I.
The Tallboy discovered in the Polish canal is believed to be among the largest individual pieces of unexploded ordnance since another Tallboy was recovered in 1958 during the renovation of the Sorpe Dam in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
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