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12,000lb RAF ‘Tallboy’ bomb EXPLODES while being defused underwater

A British World War II Tallboy bomb has exploded while being made safe underwater by Navy sappers in northwestern Poland on Tuesday. 

No one was injured in the incident.

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The 5.4-ton bomb was found September 2019 beneath a waterway leading to the port of Szczecin during work to deepen the passage.

Polish Navy sappers were trying to neutralize it underwater through burning out its explosives, but it went off in the process.

A spokesman for the sappers, Grzegorz Lewandowski, said no one was injured as all the sappers were at a safe distance from the blast, which was felt by local residents in the town of Swinoujscie.

Lewandowski said the bomb is now considered safe.  

Ahead of the operation, officials had noted that it would have a 50-50 chance of success. 

Lieutenant Commander Grzegorz Lewandowski, spokesman for the Polish Navy’s 8th Coastal Defence Flotilla, said: ‘The deflagration process turned into detonation. 

‘The object can be considered neutralised, it will not pose any more threat to the Szczecin-Swinoujscie shipping channel.’

He added that all divers were outside the danger zone when the bomb detonated. 

The blast was reportedly felt in parts of the port city of Swinoujscie. 

Video of the blast shows a large amount of water being thrown into the air due to the underwater impact.  

It comes after hundreds of residents were evacuated on Monday as Polish military divers began the delicate operation to defuse the massive World War II bomb in a channel near the Baltic Sea.

The 19ft, 12,000lb device, designed by British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallace, was nicknamed ‘Tallboy’ and also known as an ‘earthquake bomb’.

It was dropped by the Royal Air Force in an attack on a Nazi warship in 1945. 

It was discovered last year during dredging close to the port city of Swinoujscie – formerly Swinemunde, a part of Germany – in the far northwest of Poland.

A British World War II Tallboy bomb has exploded while being made safe underwater by Navy sappers in northwestern Poland on Tuesday. Hundreds of residents were evacuated yesterday as Polish military divers began the delicate operation to defuse a massive World War II bomb

The five-tonne device, nicknamed 'Tallboy' and also known as an 'earthquake bomb', was dropped by the Royal Air Force in an attack on a Nazi warship in 1945. Pictured is another Tallboy bomb used in a raid in Wizernes, France

The five-tonne device, nicknamed ‘Tallboy’ and also known as an ‘earthquake bomb’, was dropped by the Royal Air Force in an attack on a Nazi warship in 1945. Pictured is another Tallboy bomb used in a raid in Wizernes, France

The Polish Navy team used underwater cameras to locate the Tallboy (pictured on a computer screen) during their operation

The Polish Navy team used underwater cameras to locate the Tallboy (pictured on a computer screen) during their operation

‘It’s a world first. Nobody has ever defused a Tallboy that is so well preserved and underwater,’ Grzegorz Lewandowski, spokesman for the Polish Navy’s 8th Coastal Defence Flotilla based in Swinoujscie, told AFP at the time.

The Navy announced on its Facebook page earlier this week that the operation had begun and that it was planned to take until Friday, depending on the weather.

Michal Jodloski, the head of the diving team, told reporters later on Monday that the operation was ‘going according to plan’ but work was slow as only one diver at a time was being allowed to work on the bomb because of the risks.

Residents have been evacuated from the site, with the red line 1.25 miles away from the bomb showing the potential blast radius, the orange line 1.4 miles away showing the extra protection zone and the green line 1.6 miles away where residents have been evacuated

Residents have been evacuated from the site, with the red line 1.25 miles away from the bomb showing the potential blast radius, the orange line 1.4 miles away showing the extra protection zone and the green line 1.6 miles away where residents have been evacuated

It was discovered last year during dredging close to the port city of Swinoujscie - formerly Swinemunde, a part of Germany - in the far northwest of Poland.

It was discovered last year during dredging close to the port city of Swinoujscie – formerly Swinemunde, a part of Germany – in the far northwest of Poland.

Polish Navy divers navigate on the shipping channel on their way to the bomb which is lying 12 metres underwater

Polish Navy divers navigate on the shipping channel on their way to the bomb which is lying 12 metres underwater 

A total of around 750 local residents were being evacuated from an area of 1.6 miles around the bomb and the operation was expected to last up to five days.

But some residents told AFP they would be staying put.

Halina Paszkowska said the ‘main danger’ for her was the risk of catching Covid-19 in a sports hall where residents are being given shelter during the operation.

Paszkowska said she also had to look after her 88-year-old mother, adding: ‘I’ve lived here 50 years and there have been other bombs, but this is the first time there’s an evacuation! Before, we just had to stay indoors.’ 

A buoy marks the site of the bomb which is six metres long and has 2.4 tonnes of explosives

A buoy marks the site of the bomb which is six metres long and has 2.4 tonnes of explosives

Maritime traffic on the navigation channel and surrounding waterways will be suspended in an area of 10 miles around the bomb disposal operation

Maritime traffic on the navigation channel and surrounding waterways will be suspended in an area of 10 miles around the bomb disposal operation

Polish Navy divers prepare the equipment to be used in the five-day operation to defuse the bomb

Polish Navy divers prepare the equipment to be used in the five-day operation to defuse the bomb

History of the Tallboy 

The Tallboy – also know as an ‘earthquake bomb’ – was designed by British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis and was used by the Royal Air Force to destroy large Nazi-controlled objects though underground shocks.

The five tonne device was so large it could only be carried by a modified model of the Avro Lancaster heavy bomber. 

The RAF used the 19ft, 12,000lb bomb to target large, fortified Nazi structures that could resist conventional bombing.

Wallis had also put forward plans for a 10-tonne bomb in 1941, which showed that a very large device exploding deep underground next to a target would transmit the shock into the foundations of the target.

But the Air Ministry was against creating the single-bomb aircraft needed to carry such an explosive and the idea was abandoned. 

Uses of the Tallboy included the 24 June 1944 Operation Crossbow attack on La Coupole in northern France, which undermined the foundations of the V-2 assembly bunker. 

It was also used to target the Saumur Tunnel in France in June 1944, when bombs passed straight through a hill and exploded inside a tunnel 60 ft below the surface.

The one dropped in Swinoujscie was probably used in April 1945 on the Nazi German battleship Luetzow. 

Experts from the 12 Division of Balers in Wolin have currently no explanation of why it did not explode then.

Maritime traffic on the navigation channel and surrounding waterways will be suspended in an area of 10 miles around the bomb disposal operation.

‘The first two or three days will be preparations. Our bomb disposal divers will scrape around the bomb, which is embedded in the bottom of the channel at a depth of 12 metres. Only its nose is sticking out,’ Lewandowski said.

‘It’s a very delicate job… The tiniest vibration could detonate the bomb,’ he said, pointing out that the option of a controlled explosion has been ruled out for fear of destroying a bridge some 500 metres away.

Before the bomb exploded, the navy divers were instead using a technique known as deflagration to burn the explosive charge without causing a detonation, using a remotely controlled device to pierce through the shell to begin combustion.

The bomb was six metres (19 feet) long and had 2.4 tonnes of explosives – equivalent to around 3.6 tons of TNT.

Tallboys were designed to explode underground next to a target, triggering shock waves that would cause destruction. 

During World War II the area was home to one of the German navy’s most important Baltic bases and the area was subjected to massive bombardments, said historian Piotr Laskowski, the author of a book on the Royal Air Force raid on Germany’s Lutzow cruiser in April 1945.

The ship’s cannons were being used to hold back the advance of the Red Army in the dying days of the war.

On April 16, 1945, the RAF sent 18 Lancaster bombers from the 617th Squadron – known as the ‘Dambusters’.

The bombers released 12 Tallboys on the Lutzow but one failed to explode and one of the planes crashed on the island of Karsibor, killing all seven crew on board.

The ship survived the raid but was eventually seized by the Soviet army and used for target practice after the war. It sank in the Baltic in September 1947.

Polish Navy divers prepare the equipment to be used in the operation to defuse the bomb

The Navy announced on its Facebook page that the operation had begun and that it was planned to take until Friday, depending on the weather

Halina Paszkowska said the 'main danger' for her was the risk of catching Covid-19 in a sports hall where residents are being given shelter during the operation

Halina Paszkowska said the ‘main danger’ for her was the risk of catching Covid-19 in a sports hall where residents are being given shelter during the operation

Polish Navy equipment used by the bomb squad to defuse the Tallboy located at the bottom of the channel

Polish Navy equipment used by the bomb squad to defuse the Tallboy located at the bottom of the channel

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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