German B1E incendiary

This was the standard German incendiary device of the early war period, a magnesium-alloy body with steel fins. 347 by 50mm and weighs 655 grammes without internal mechanism. They were loaded into cartridges of 700 which in turn were loaded in multiple into their host bombers, and then unloaded upon their target...


The nose-cap is affixed by a thread but after 70 years is so seized that I haven't been able to remove it. However if I could do so you would see that the forward part of the body is hollow to accept a quantity of thermite igniter and a simple percussion-cap detonator. The dark ring aroung the forward body, just behind the nose-cap join line, contains flame-holes to assist the initial ignition.

Once the thermite had ignited the magnesium body it was very difficult to extinguish; ARPs had a shovel on a long handle and a lidded square steel bucket filled with wet sand into which they were to place incendiaries in order to contain them until they had burned themselves out.

With an oblique light an inscription is visible on the nose, though I haven't yet decoded its meaning.


I don't know why this one hadn't ignited, perhaps the detonator failed. It was retrieved by by great-uncle John who during WW2 was an air-raid warden at the Shorts factory on Queen's Island; he cycled there from Newtownards each day. Thankfully he or one of his colleagues removed the detonator and thermite and this has remained a family heirloom ever since, though always stored in an out-house just in case...