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Everybody Fine After Giant British WWII 'Tallboy' Bomb Finally Blew Up In Poland

BoatlopnikBecause boats are cars too

Going by what I know from Hollywood, the bomb-disposal community has a firm definition for the strategic technique of blowing up a bomb you can’t defuse: a controlled explosion. A Polish bomb squad just demonstrated what an uncontrolled explosion looks like, but thanks to them, nobody was hurt.


Once upon a time, the world was at war. Again. The British developed a big bomb, dubbed the Tallboy, to help settle this, which ended up being one of the largest conventional explosive weapons developed and deployed in World War II. Not all of these Tallboy bombs blew up when intended, including one that sank to the bottom of the busy Szczecin-Swinoujscie commercial shipping channel and was soon forgotten.

Fast forward to September 2019, when the bomb is discovered, to some due alarm, during work on the channel. Demolition experts were brought in to neutralize it. A “controlled” explosion was deemed too risky, considering the proximity of the community and the potential percussive power of such a large scale underwater explosion. Instead, the demolition team was using a process called deflagration, as pointed out by Polish authorities and reported by The Drive.


Deflagration attempts to target the explosive material component of the bomb for destruction with heat, aiming for more of a sluggish burn than a big boom. Sounds risky, and as demonstrated by this Tallboy in Poland, clearly blowing heat at a bomb will indeed sometimes result in an explosion. A large, uncontrolled explosion. Or what the experts call detonation.

Let’s break even and label it a semi-controlled explosion? The area had been properly evacuated, and it’s undeniable the demolition team’s efforts directly resulted in the pretty safe disposal of a big bomb that fortunately didn’t cause any reported injuries or damage.

The Drive reported the bomb’s believed intended target:

This particular “Tallboy,” a weapon that was carried operationally only by the Avro Lancaster four-engine heavy bomber, had originally been directed against the German Kriegsmarine cruiser Lützow, anchored in the Piast Canal that connects the Bay of Szczecin with the Baltic Sea, in what was then Germany. Although fitted with three detonators, for some reason, the bomb had failed to explode.


In my opinion, the Polish should have called in a British bomb squad to deal with it. Their country left a goddamn bomb down there, and let’s be honest, this could’ve been one of the easier messes on the docket for the former empire to clean up. Take the easy wins and earn that web trend for “biggest unexploded World War II bomb detonation.”

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik

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A guy on The War Zone pointed out that in the sequence starting at 0:52 in this video, you can see a explosion-free splash during the attack on Lutzow, which is probably actually this bomb.

So you can see it go into the water in a video from 1945, and then see it blow up in 2020.