TechUkrainian sappers utilize century-old Bangalore torpedoes in battle

Ukrainian sappers utilize century-old Bangalore torpedoes in battle

Ukrainian sapper with an M1A3 Bangalore pipe/torpedo.
Ukrainian sapper with an M1A3 Bangalore pipe/torpedo.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Weapons Illustrated

7:13 PM EST, November 29, 2023, updated: 1:23 AM EST, November 30, 2023

Images circulating online reveal that Ukrainian sappers are using the century-old Bangalore M1A3 tubes to clear obstacles. This article provides an explanation on the age-old relic's history and operation.

The Ukrainian sappers have found a use for the M1A3 Bangalore tubes in safely dismantling Russian fortifications. This tool, which has a history dating back to 1912, was invented by the British sapper R. L. McClintock based in Bengaluru. He sought a method to remove barricades and unexploded ordnance from previous involvements like the Second Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War.

The devised contraption involving an explosive-filled tube can be linked to another, forming a several meter-long charge capable of creating sizeable craters in barriers. The Bangalore tube overcomes hurdles such as barricades or wire by producing a shock wave accompanied by cutting fragments commonly emanating from a pre-fragmented steel tube.

This innovative concept was universally adopted and swiftly became a conventional method for creating passages in wire obstacles during World War I and World War II. Soldiers, generally defenseless under machine-gun fire against dense barriers of barbed wire, found assistance in Bangalore tubes. This tool notably facilitated overcoming German fortifications during the Normandy landings.

The Bangalore torpedoes, as they're also known, saw usage during the Vietnam War by Americans and the Yom Kippur War, where Israel used them to carve out passageways through minefields set by Syria.

At its core, the Bangalore tube is a simple tool made up of a steel tube segment filled with several kilograms of explosives. These can be linked to form a length of approximately eight yards. In the instance of the M1A3 version, the set comprises 10 segments, each 30 inches long and with a diameter of 2.13 inches, loaded with roughly 5 lbs of explosive charge. The detonation process involves pulling a detonating cord through all segments.

Related content