What is a Bangalore Torpedo and How is it Used?
A Bangalore torpedo is an explosive charge placed within one or several connected tubes. It is used by combat engineers to clear obstacles that would otherwise require them to approach directly, possibly under fire. It is sometimes colloquially referred to as a Bangalore mine, banger or simply Bangalore as well as a pole charge.
The Bangalore torpedo was devised by Captain R. L. McClintock of the Royal Engineers while attached to the Madras Sappers and Miners unit of the Indian Army at Bangalore, India, in 1912. He invented it as a means of blowing up booby traps and barricades left over from the Second Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War. The Bangalore torpedo could be exploded over a mine without a sapper having to approach closer than about 3 m (10 ft).
By the time of World War I, the Bangalore torpedo was primarily used for clearing barbed wire before an attack. It could be used while under fire, from a protected position in a trench. The torpedo consisted of a number of externally identical lengths of threaded pipe, one of which contained the explosive charge. The pipes would be screwed together using connecting sleeves to make a longer pipe of the required length, and a smooth nose cone would be screwed on the end to prevent snagging on the ground. It would then be pushed forward from a protected position and detonated, to clear a path through barbed wire.
Similar devices are still in service today with various militaries around the world. They have been used during the Afghanistan War for actions such as clearing mines or razor wire. An improved version called the Advanced Performance Bangalore Torpedo (APBT) was developed by Chemring Energetics UK, part of the Chemring Group, in response to a British Ministry of Defence (MOD) requirement issued in 2008; the APBT was chosen by the MOD following competitive performance trials and is also in use with the militaries of Australia, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
A Bangalore torpedo is an example of how a simple but effective device can be used to overcome complex and dangerous obstacles on the battlefield.
How to Use a Bangalore Torpedo
To use a Bangalore torpedo, the following steps are usually followed:
- Assemble the required number of torpedo sections by screwing them together using connecting sleeves. The length of the assembled torpedo depends on the width of the obstacle to be cleared.
- Attach a nose sleeve to the front end of the torpedo and a detonator to the rear end. The nose sleeve helps to push the torpedo through the ground and prevents dirt from entering the tube. The detonator can be either electric or non-electric, depending on the situation.
- Push the torpedo forward from a protected position, such as a trench or a vehicle, until it reaches the obstacle. If the obstacle is barbed wire, try to insert the torpedo under or between the strands of wire. If the obstacle is a minefield, try to avoid any visible signs of mines or trip wires.
- Retreat to a safe distance and detonate the torpedo. The explosion should create a gap in the obstacle that allows friendly forces to pass through.
A Bangalore torpedo can also be used as an improvised explosive device (IED) against enemy vehicles or personnel. In this case, the torpedo is buried under the ground or concealed under debris and triggered by command or pressure. However, this method requires careful planning and execution to avoid friendly casualties or detection by enemy forces.