Biggest non-nuclear explosion of WW2?


April 27, 2006, 01:48 PM
A friend sent me this Web site ( concerning the explosion of almost 4,000 tons of bombs and artillery shells at an underground chalk mine in England in 1944. Impressive!

Preparation of shells before Normandy invasion:

The explosion left a crater half-a-mile across and 100 feet deep:

The cause of the explosion:

In 1974 it was officially revealed that the explosion was caused by bombs being taken out of store - primed for use and replaced unused, with the detonators still installed.

:what: :eek: :uhoh: :scrutiny:

78 people died, of whom 18 were never found.

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April 27, 2006, 02:25 PM
Holy Crap :what: I wonder what the explosion was like. :uhoh:

April 27, 2006, 02:30 PM
I can picture the last thought of the guy that caused that mess...


Maybe, just maybe, sometimes ya don't need a Nuke... :evil:

Next biggest non-nuclear I can recall was sometime in the mid-70's ...Some guy on a farm out in the boonies managed to light off the 450-Gallon nearly full propane tank. Never found him either, but did find most of his tractor about 300 yards away....with part of the fill hose still attached to the tractor LP tank.

Car Knocker
April 27, 2006, 03:51 PM
I remember this one:

I was taking a Business Law class about 7 miles away and the windows were really rattling. The story says that the explosions were heard 100 miles away. I believe it. Those 20,000 gallon propane tanks really shook things up!

April 27, 2006, 03:58 PM
I thought it was the USS Mount Hood (AE-11). Destroyed on 11Nov1944 when it's cargo of 3900 tons of ammo detonated.

It was reported that ships were severley damaged up to a 2000 yd radius by flying debris. Men were stunned by the concussion at 4000 yds.

The force of the explosion blasted a trough in the ocean floor more than 100 yards long, 50 feet wide, and from 30 to 40 feet deep directly below the ship.

45 dead, and 327 missing (presumed dead)

Link to a larger image

April 27, 2006, 04:12 PM
1947 Texas City ship explosion was certainly a big one.

~568 dead of which 100 were never found.

Web site shows great photos of the devastation.

April 27, 2006, 04:46 PM
In 1988 the Pepcon marshmallow factory in Las Vegas blew up.....:rolleyes: "...the air was filled with shrapnel and marshmallow..."

April 27, 2006, 04:48 PM
List of the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Since the invention of high explosives, there have been a number of extremely large explosions, many accidental. This list contains the largest known examples, sorted by date. The weight of the explosive does not directly correlate with the size of the explosion, so an accurate ranking of these explosions is impossible.

2005 Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal fire. On 11 December 2005 there were a series of major explosions at the 60 million gallon (273 million litre) capacity Buncefield oil depot near Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, UK. The explosions were heard over 100 miles away, as far as the Netherlands and France, and the resulting flames were visible for many miles around the depot. A smoke cloud covered Hemel Hempstead and other nearby towns in southern Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. There were no fatalities, but there were around 43 injuries (two serious).

2001 AZF chemical factory explosion in Toulouse, France. On 21 December 2001, the disaster caused 30 deaths, 2,500 seriously wounded and 8,000 light casualties.

PEPCON disaster. On May 4, 1988 about 8.5 million pounds (3,855 tons) of ammonium perchlorate either burned or exploded in a fire and several massive explosions near Henderson, Nevada. Two people were killed, and hundreds were injured.

Minor Scale. Several, if not many, very large deliberate detonations have been carried out in order to simulate the effects of nuclear weapons on vehicles and military material in general. The largest publicly-known was conducted by the United States Defense Nuclear Agency (now part of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency) on 27 June 1985 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The Minor Scale test involved between 4,400 and 4,800 tons of ANFO.

Ripple Rock, Canada. On April 5, 1958 an underwater mountain was decapitated by the explosion of 1,375 tons of Nitramex 2H (an ammonium nitrate based explosive).

Heligoland. On April 18, 1947 British engineers attempted to destroy the entire island in what became known as the "British Bang" (or "Big Bang"). 4,061 (another source claims 6,800) tons of surplus WWII ammunition were placed in various locations around the island and set off. The island survived, although the extensive fortifications were destroyed.

The Texas City Disaster. On April 16, 1947, the SS Grandcamp, loaded with 8,500 tons of ammonium nitrate, exploded in port at Texas City, Texas; this is generally considered the worst industrial accident in United States history.
The Fauld Explosion. On November 27, 1944 3,670 tons of bombs exploded in a Royal Air Force underground storage facility, killing 78 (officially) and leaving a crater 400 feet deep by three-quarters of a mile wide.

Port Chicago disaster. On July 17, 1944 the SS E. A. Bryan exploded while loading ammunition bound for Europe, with an estimated 4,606 tons of high explosive, incendiary bombs, depth charges, and other ammunition. Another 429 tons were waiting on nearby rail cars, which also exploded. 320 were killed instantly, another 390 wounded.

Bombay Docks Explosion. On April 14, 1944 the SS Fort Stikine carrying around 1,400 tons of explosives (among other goods) caught fire and exploded killing around 800 people.

The Oppau explosion. On September 21, 1921 a silo filled with 4,500 tonnes of fertilizer exploded, killing around 560, largely destroying Oppau, Germany and causing damage more than 30km away.

Halifax Explosion. On December 6, 1917 two ships collided in the harbour of Halifax, Nova Scotia, one carrying about 2,600 tons of various explosives, mostly picric acid. After the collision the ship caught on fire, drifted into town and eventually exploded. Over 1,600 people were killed, and much of downtown Halifax was destroyed (1,951 names in Halifax Book of Rembrance).

Battle of Messines. On June 7, 1917 nineteen (of a planned twenty-one) huge mines - containing over 600 tons of explosives - were set off beneath German lines on the Messines-Wytschaete ridge. 10,000 Germans were killed, and the explosion was heard as far away as Dublin.

Silvertown explosion. On 19 January 1917 at 18:52 parts of Silvertown in East London were devastated by a massive TNT explosion at the Brunner-Mond munitions factory. 73 people died and hundreds were injured. The blast was felt across London and Essex, and was heard over 100 miles away, with the resulting fires visible for 30 miles.

Black Tom explosion. On July 30, 1916 1,000 tons of explosives bound for Europe, along with another 50 tons on the Johnson Barge No.17, exploded in Jersey City, New Jersey, a major dock serving New York. There were few deaths, but about 100 injuries; also, the buildings on Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty were damaged, along with much of Jersey City.

The Nanaimo mine explosion. On May 3, 1887, in Nanaimo, British Columbia killed 150 miners and was the largest man-made explosion in the world until the Halifax Explosion.

Delft Explosion. About 40 tons of gunpowder exploded on October 12, 1654, destroying much of the city of Delft in the Netherlands. Over a hundred people were killed and thousands wounded.

April 27, 2006, 04:49 PM
I believe the biggest man-made explosion (on the surface) before Hiroshima was actually in WWI.

A ship called the Mont Blanc, carrying gunpowder, wet and dry picric acid, AND benzene :eek: ...collided with another ship in Halifax Harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and caught fire.

When the ship then exploded, it literally vaporized, literally knocked the water out of the harbor down to the harbor bottom for a moment, destroyed over half the city, and send a mushroom cloud up to the stratosphere.

Pork Fat
April 27, 2006, 06:34 PM
July 17,1977- I popped a WHOLE roll of caps with a big rock on the sidewalk. The explosion was heard as far away as the end of the driveway. The soot on the concrete was visible for months.

April 27, 2006, 09:22 PM
Battle of Messines. On June 7, 1917 nineteen (of a planned twenty-one) huge mines - containing over 600 tons of explosives - were set off beneath German lines on the Messines-Wytschaete ridge. 10,000 Germans were killed, and the explosion was heard as far away as Dublin.

The scary thing about this is that two of the mines failed to detonate - and are still there! The wartime maps were lost, and no-one knows exactly where the two surviving mine galleries are. :eek:

There are hundreds of tons of WW1-era explosives in those mines, underground in the Messines Ridge area. There's ongoing speculation as to what will happen if someone tries to drill a well, and drills into the explosive, or someone excavates something and delivers a shock to the explosives. It'd be a big bang, that's for sure!

April 27, 2006, 09:36 PM
Not exactly an explosion, but the Tunguska Event in Siberia always fascinated me. Likely a comet fragment, that leveled forest like matchsticks for miles.

April 27, 2006, 09:39 PM

April 28, 2006, 03:30 AM
I was watching one of those "real TV" or wolds best video blah blah shows that had footage of a factory out west in the middle of the desert that manufactured rocket fuel for the military and NASA... it caught fire, and after a few minutes BOOOOM... the explosion and the several that followed blew out windows in the city that was 15 miles away. the camera footage was from a nearby (probably 10 miles away) mountain top. When it blew you could watch the shockwave going across the ground and up the mountain untill it hit the camera.. way cool...

any one know where it was... it looked like it was within the past couple years...

April 28, 2006, 04:29 AM
from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Tunguska event was a natural explosion that occurred at 60°55′N 101°57′E, near the Podkamennaya (Stony) Tunguska River in what is now Evenkia, Siberia, at 7:17 AM on June 30, 1908.

The explosion was caused most probably by the airburst of a meteorite 6 to 10 kilometers above the Earth's surface. The energy of the blast was later estimated to be between 10 and 15 megaton TNT. It felled an estimated 60 million trees over 2,150 square kilometers.
The explosion registered on seismic stations across Eurasia, and produced fluctuations in atmospheric pressure strong enough to be detected by the recently invented barographs in Britain. Over the next few weeks, night skies were aglow such that one could read in their light. In the United States, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Mount Wilson Observatory observed a decrease in atmospheric transparency that lasted for several months.
Kulik's party reached the site in 1927. To their surprise, no crater was to be found. There was instead a region of scorched trees about 50 kilometres across.
A stony meteoroid of about 10 meters in diameter can produce an explosion of around 20 kilotons, similar to that of the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima and data released by the U.S. Air Force's Defense Support Program indicate that such explosions occur high in the upper atmosphere more than once a year.

April 28, 2006, 04:43 AM
I remember the Pepcon explosion in Henderson, NV in 1988. I watched a window flex in and out with the shockwave.

oh, tmackay, Pepcon wasn't the marshmallow plant. The explosion destroyed a good portion of the Kidd marshmallow factory though.

April 28, 2006, 07:11 AM
Two I've heard of ...

During WW-II, a propane tank farm near in Ohio? blew up early on a Sunday morning. Nobody was hurt but I've read that the results were something like a small nuke going off. Worried about sabotage, the government kept it quiet.

After WW-II, we and the Canadians set off tons of left-over WW-II munitions somewhere out in the boonies of Canada. This was a classified event as we used it to simulate a nuke explosion, all kinds of measuring devices, etc.

I don't know the real story on either of these events - more info would be appreciated.

April 28, 2006, 04:04 PM
In WWII did not the eldest of the Kennedy sons die when his bomber exploded while loaded with very high yield explosives?

I know you were asking about WWII so this next one is off subject.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but I have heard that the most powerful single bomb to be used in combat was the truck delivered suicide bomb that destroyed the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon. I understand it was a complex fuel air bomb of very high power.

April 28, 2006, 04:17 PM
Halifax was a huge one, biggest pre-WW2 explosion. Not sure about after though.

April 28, 2006, 04:32 PM

The Black Tom explosion was sabotage by German agents. Thats some big sabotage.

April 28, 2006, 04:50 PM
The reduction of Fort Drum in Manila Bay in 1945 was pretty impressive.

Fort Drum was a concrete fort, shaped like a battleship and equipped with gun turrets.

It was heavily shelled and bombed by US forces, but could not be reduced by those methods.

While defensive fire from the fort was suppressed, an LST(?) pulled up alongside. The ship was equipped with fuel tanks, a powerful pump, and a medieval style siege tower equipped with a boom and hose mechanism. A boarding part landed and inserted the hose into an aperture or air duct. The pump was then fired up, and the fort pumped full of [I believe] aviation gasoline. When the tanks ran dry, the hose was retracted, an explosive charge set, and the landing party reembarked. By this time, the Japanese defenders were waist deep in avgas. When the charge went off, it ignited the vaporized fuel which had permeated the fort. This, and stockpiled ammunition literally pulverized Fort Drum, causing house sized chunks of concrete and armor to fly high into the air, landing in and around Manila Bay.

There were no survivors... :D

Malone LaVeigh
April 28, 2006, 04:59 PM
The Bismark's one-shot kill of the HMS Hood must have been one of the biggest.

April 28, 2006, 09:55 PM
Coming in June

"The Pentagon is preparing to set off a record-breaking bang, detonating 635 tonnes of high explosives and sending a mushroom cloud into the sky over the Nevada desert. The blast, on June 2, codenamed Divine Strake, is likely to be the biggest controlled conventional explosion in military history, experts said, and is designed to test the impact of bunker-busting bombs aimed at underground targets. "

April 28, 2006, 10:33 PM
The explosion was caused most probably by the airburst of a meteorite 6 to 10 kilometers above the Earth's surface. The energy of the blast was later estimated to be between 10 and 15 megaton TNT. It felled an estimated 60 million trees over 2,150 square kilometers. Problem was, as Carl Sagan pointed out, there was no physical evidence of a meteorite. Hence the comet theory. The ice of a comet would have simply melted.

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