napalm attack in the Viet Nam war

napalm is a fire weapon . It essentially consists of gasoline, which was gelled by additives. It is reached that napalm sticks as viscous, sticky mass to the goal and a strong fire effect developed. Already small splashes cause very strong, badly welfare-endBurns on the skin. Because of its hydrophoben characteristics napalm can be deleted only badly with water or washed off by the skin.

The maximum effective range of napalm bombs can amount to to 40 x 180 meters. The cans used as bombs have fuzes at both ends, withImpact small explosive charges release. Thus the napalm and white phosphorus are distributed as igniting mixture over large surface. Also with a not direct hit napalm can be very destructive against persons and heat-sensitive equipment. Depending upon prescription napalm reaches a burn temperature of 800 °C to1200 °C. Also in flame throwers napalm is used.

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composition napalm to the fire materials on oil basis. There are two sorts:

  • Oil-based incendiary compound on basis ofAluminumseifen (oil based incendiary agents OF the aluminium-soap type): Conventional napalm
  • of oil-based incendiary compounds on basis of plastics (oil based incendiary agents OF the polymere type): Napalm b

conventional napalm consists to the majority of gasoline. By admixture of a thickener, usually soap aluminum (aluminium (OH) (OOCR) (OOCR')) the well phthensäure and Palm itinsäure, develops a transparent, viscous and sticky substance, the so-called napalm - for gel. The concentration of the powder in the gasoline affects the viscosity and fuel characteristics. Napalm in flame throwers or bombs contains therefore thickeners in different quantity.

The aluminum soaps can by common separation of aluminium hydroxide, Naphthensäure and palmitic acid to be manufactured. They are frequently contaminated by free acid, water and inorganic materials. Naphthensäuren are a technical mixture from alkylated Cyclopentan and cyclohexane acids, which are won by alkaline extraction of the solution received from oil and acidifying. Palmitic acid can by soaping offor example Kokosöl to be produced and is as sodium salt a component of soaps in the detergent range.

The thickeners carry M1, M2 and M4 for US-American armed forces into the code name and are characterized by the following standards:

  • M1 Thickener, Incendiary oil, MIL-T-589A, 26 August. 53

M1 Thickener is a mixture from aluminum soaps, in which about 50% of the organic acids of the fatty acids of coconut oil, 25% of Naphthensäuren and 25% of oleic acid consist. M1 Thickener became in barrels with 45,4 kg (100 Pound) or cans with 2,4 kg (5 1/4 Pound)packaged and is a white to light brown powder.

  • M2 Thickener, Incendiary oil, MIL-T-0903025B, 13 April. 54

M2 Thickener is a white powder of similar composition as M1, however it contains silicagel as parting agent (anti agglomerant), in order to prevent a bonding together of the powder.

M4 Thickener
M4 Thickener
  • M4 Thickener, Incendiary oil, MIL-T-50009A, 22 May 59

M4 Thickener is a fine powder from Aluminiumoktoat (Octal; Hydroxylaluminium-bis (2-ethylhexanoat)) and parting agents. Aluminiumoktoat is the aluminum salt of the isooctane acid, which was manufactured by oxidation of petroleum over Isooctylalkohol and Isooctylaldehyd. As parting agent servedAdditive of 2% Santocel C or Attzorb clay.

Napalm b, late developed variant napalm, consists of polystyrene, benzene and niederoktanigem gasoline (petrol). With napalm b polystyrene works as thickener. Napalm b offers longer fuel times of up to 10 minutes (conventional napalm only 15 to), Destruction effect improved and is less easily inflammatory 30 seconds, which reduces the danger of accident by smoking soldiers. Napalm B is more viscous than other materials of edge of yellow, whereby the detention effect at goal surfaces is improved and the fire ball effect is reduced. It burns hotter than conventional napalm and develops a characteristic smellwith the burn.

After a newer U.S. - Patent became gasoline (kerosene) also with Hydroxylaluminium-bis (2-ethylhexanoat) [30745-55-2] and a nichtionischen Tensid or water gelled.

Special additives, like white phosphorus or fine metallic powder from magnesium or aluminum, have the consequence that napalm stops only to burn if thatsurrounding oxygen is used up.


the principle of an adhering, slow-burning fire mass was carried out the first time in the early Middle Ages in form of the Greek fire.

The prescription for napalm was developed 1942 at Harvard University. The mixture became during 2. World war by the allied ones against cities in Japan, Germany (S. Fire tower) and later by the USA substantial in the Korea war as well as used in the Viet Nam war.

Fire thrower on a US combat vessel

proscription by the UN

the use of napalm and other fire weapons against the civilian populationby a UN-convention 1980 one forbade. The USA did not join the contract, however according to own data their arsenal in the year 2001 destroyed.

This was doubted, as the USA during the 3. The Gulf War 2003 its weapon system MK77 used, the one the napalm similar mixturecontains. The Pentagon defended the employment of these incendiary bombs with the fact that MK77 contains a mixture with kerosene and not when napalm is to be classified. The used substances are “remarkably similar”, however cause the substance of fewer environmental damage which is based on kerosene. Similar incendiary bombs are based also on phosphorus incendiary compounds,in the Iraq were likewise tested.

In the napalm assigned thickeners were openly offered still in May 2005 on an Internet side in thousand tons the yardstick for the civilian recycling, which speaks for the retirement from service of the conventional napalm.


  • L.F. Fieser et al.: Ind. Closely.Chem. one.38, 768 (1946)
  • Leo Finkelstein: J. Physical one. & Colloid chem. one. 52, 1460-70 (1948) (Rheological of properties OF incendiary gel)
  • K.J.Mysels: Ind. Closely. Chem. one. 41, 1435 (1949)
  • anonyms: Chem. one. Closely 58, No. 11, 162-3 (1951) (Description OF the Cleveland plansOF ferrous chem. one. CO for production OF napalm)
  • A.P. 2,763,621 (12/7/1951; 9/18/1956) ton of Pfister Chemical Works Inc.

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