Examination of incendiary bombs dropped by the Japanese over Rangoon
showed that the most common type contained, as incendiary filling, a large
number of rubber pellets impregnated with phosphorus.
The bomb is 3 feet 4 inches long, 7 1/4 inches wide at the nose, and 9 inches wide at the
fin; the latter is 1 foot 3 inches long by 9 inches wide; the cylinder containing the pellets
is 7 inches wide and the casing 1/2 inch thick; the pellets are gray in color, 1 1/16 inches
long and 1 inch in diameter.
The bomb has a high explosive charge in the nose cap. There is also a
steel exploder tube running down the inside of the bomb body. The fuze is
instantaneous, and, on explosion, a high fragmentation effect is obtained, the
splinters from the nose cap having a very flat trajectory. Pellets are widely
scattered, some having been located as far as 50 yards from the point of impact. On
explosion of the bomb, these incendiary pellets ignite immediately or within a
minute or two of falling. Each pellet produced a flame 4 to 6 inches high burning
at a comparatively low temperature. They burn from 5 to 7 minutes, giving off a
gray smoke, smelling slightly of burning rubber.
The pellets can be temporarily extinguished by throwing water over them or
by covering with sand or earth. Since the pellets ignite after the water has
evaporated or the sand has been removed, they should be picked up as soon as
possible and placed in a bucket of water or other container and emptied on
some open ground; they should be thinly spread out to allow them to burn out
harmlessly. Any instrument except the bare hands or highly inflammable
material may be used for picking up the pellets; very effective and cheap
instruments can be made from old kerosene cans shaped into scoops, pincers, or
tongs. In case of necessity the pellets can be picked up by means of two pieces
of wood used as "chopsticks."
Sometimes a number of pellets remain in the bomb crater. They should be allowed to
burn themselves out if the crater is in the open; the crater should then be
widened, using a shovel or other tool in order to expose any further pellets, and
these should be dealt with as explained above. If near inflammable material, the
crater should be doused with water; the pellets can then be dug out and removed
while the earth is still wet.
The pellets should not be allowed to come in contact with any part of the
body; they should not be stepped upon as they may burn even through boots or
shoes. Fragments of the bomb should not be touched since they will probably be
covered with phosphorus, and tools used in dealing with the bomb should be
thoroughly washed after use.
The introduction of this phosphorus bomb does not render the stirrup pump
any less effective; where fires have been started, the stirrup pump can be
brought into operation to control them, and the water will also temporarily
extinguish the pellets until they can be picked up. Extreme caution however
must be exercised by the No. 1 of the stirrup-pump party in approaching
fires caused by phosphorus bombs, in order to avoid injury to himself through
crawling over the pellets lying on the floor. It must be realized that the
pellets are dangerous to handle or touch even when temporarily extinguished
and apparently inactive.