Bangalore torpedo
A Bangalore torpedo is an explosive charge placed on the end of a long, extendible tube. 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, bangers or simply Bangalore.

It has been estimated that the modern Bangalore torpedo is effective for clearing a path through wire and mines up to 15 meters long and 1 meter wide.


The Bangalore torpedo was first devised by Captain McClintock, of the British Indian Army
British Indian Army
The British Indian Army, officially simply the Indian Army, was the principal army of the British Raj in India before the partition of India in 1947...

 unit the Madras
Madras Engineer Group
Madras Engineer Group are a regiment of the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. The Madras Sappers draw their origin from the erstwhile Madras Presidency army of the British Raj. This regiment has its HQ in Bangalore...

 Sappers and Miners at Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, in 1912. He invented it as a means of exploding booby trap
Booby trap
A booby trap is a device designed to harm or surprise a person, unknowingly triggered by the presence or actions of the victim. As the word trap implies, they often have some form of bait designed to lure the victim towards it. However, in other cases the device is placed on busy roads or is...

s and barricades left over from the Boer
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 and Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

s. The Bangalore torpedo would be exploded over a mine
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

 without the sapper
A sapper, pioneer or combat engineer is a combatant soldier who performs a wide variety of combat engineering duties, typically including, but not limited to, bridge-building, laying or clearing minefields, demolitions, field defences, general construction and building, as well as road and airfield...

 having to approach closer than about three meters (ten feet).

Bangalore Torpedoes are currently manufactured by Mondial Defence Systems of Poole
Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council...

, UK, for the UK and US armed forces. They have been used recently on operations in Afghanistan for such actions as clearing enemy supply dumps within deep cave systems.

In World War I

By the time of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 the Bangalore torpedo was primarily used for clearing barbed wire
Barbed wire
Barbed wire, also known as barb wire , is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand. It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property...

 before an attack. It could be used while under fire, from a protected position in a trench
Trench warfare
Trench warfare is a form of occupied fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops are largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery...

. The torpedo was standardized to consist of a number of externally identical 1.5 m (5 ft) 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, somewhat like a chimney brush or drain clearing rod.

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 1.5 m (5 ft) wide hole through barbed wire. An example of this technique can be seen in the silent film Wings
Wings (film)
Wings is a silent film about World War I fighter pilots, produced by Lucien Hubbard, directed by William A. Wellman and released by Paramount Pictures. Wings was the first film, and the only silent film, to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Wings stars Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, and...

, the 1927 film
1927 in film
-Events:*January 10 - Fritz Lang's science-fiction fantasy Metropolis premieres in Germany.*April 7 - Abel Gance's Napoleon often considered his best known and greatest masterpiece, premiers at the Paris Opéra and would demonstrate techniques and equipment that would not be used for years to...

 that received the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture. During the 1917 Battle of Cambrai, British Royal Engineers used them as diversions to distract the enemy from where the real battle was to be fought.

In World War II

The Bangalore torpedo was later adopted by the U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 as well during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, as the M1A1 Bangalore Torpedo. It was widely used by both the U.S. and Commonwealth forces, notably during D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...


Post WWII development

The Bangalore continues to be used today in the little-changed M1A2 version, primarily to breach wire obstacles. British Royal Engineers and American combat engineers have also been known to construct similar field versions of the Bangalore by assembling segments of metal picket posts and filling the concave portion with Plastic Explosive. The PE is then primed with detonating cord and a detonator, and pickets are taped or wired together each to make a long torpedo producing shrapnel that cuts the wire when detonated. This method produces results similar to the standard-issue Bangalore, and can be assembled to the desired length by adding picket segments.

The newest evolution of the Bangalore is the Bangalore blade, an updated version made from lightweight aluminum and using explosively formed penetrator
Explosively Formed Penetrator
An explosively formed penetrator , also known as an explosively formed projectile, a self-forging warhead, or a self-forging fragment, is a special type of shaped charge designed to penetrate armour effectively at standoff distances...

 technology to breach obstacles which the original Bangalore would have been unable to defeat. In a test detonation conducted on the television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 show Future Weapons
Future Weapons
Future Weapons, sometimes also written as FutureWeapons and Futureweapons, is a documentary television series that premiered on April 19, 2006 on the Discovery Channel. Host Richard "Mack" Machowicz, a former Navy SEAL, reviews and demonstrates the latest modern weaponry and military technology...

, the Bangalore Blade blasted a gap roughly 5 meters wide in concertina wire
Concertina wire
Concertina wire or Dannert Wire is a type of barbed wire or razor wire that is formed in large coils which can be expanded like a concertina. In conjunction with plain barbed wire and steel pickets, it is used to form military wire obstacles....

, and created a trench deep enough to detonate most nearby anti-personnel mines. The Bangalore Blade was developed in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 by Alford Technologies and is intended for use with both standard army and Special Forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 units that require a lightweight, portable obstacle-clearing device.

Other recent path-clearing devices

The U.S. Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System (APOBS) and the British RAMBS II
Rapid anti-personnel minefield breaching system
The rapid anti-personnel minefield breaching system or RAMBS II is a British rifle grenade used to breach obstacles and clear minefields. It is designed to replace the Bangalore torpedo, offering a more effective and flexible alternative. When deployed, the RAMBS II will clear a path 60 metres long...

 rifle grenade
Rifle grenade
A rifle grenade is a grenade that uses a rifle-based launcher to permit a longer effective range than would be possible if the grenade was thrown by hand...

 breaching system are starting to replace the Bangalore for path-clearing due to their ease of use, effectiveness, and flexibility—they can clear a path several times longer than the Bangalore torpedo.

Fictional depictions

The use of a Bangalore Torpedo to clear a barbed wire barrier is depicted in the D-Day beach invasion scene in the films Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American war film set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. It was directed by Steven Spielberg, with a screenplay by Robert Rodat. The film is notable for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which depicts the Omaha Beach assault of June 6, 1944....

, The Longest Day
The Longest Day (film)
The Longest Day is a 1962 war film based on the 1959 history book The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan, about "D-Day", the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II....

, Storming Juno, and The Big Red One
The Big Red One
The Big Red One is a World War II war film starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill. Written and directed by Samuel Fuller, it was produced by Lorimar and released by United Artists in the US on July 18, 1980...

as well as the games Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is a first-person shooter computer game developed by 2015, Inc. and created by Steven Spielberg. It is the 3rd installment of the Medal of Honor series...

, Medal of Honor: Frontline
Medal of Honor: Frontline
-External links:*...

, and Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One is a World War II video game for the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox and acts as a spin-off of Call of Duty 2. It was released on November 1, 2005, in North America...

. In The Big Red One, screenwriter and director Samuel Fuller
Samuel Fuller
Samuel Michael Fuller was an American screenwriter, novelist, and film director known for low-budget genre movies with controversial themes.-Personal life:...

, a veteran of D-Day, expressed through the narrator his disdain for the inherent hazards of assembling and employing the weapon: "The Bangalore Torpedo was 50 feet long and packed with 85 pounds of TNT, and you assembled it along the way - by hand. I'd love to meet the asshole who invented it!"

External links

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