Science: Science of Fire Bombing

When Nazi planes dropped fire bombs on London last summer, they restored an age-old weapon to use after centuries of neglect. Last week a leading expert on this ancient weapon revealed that the Nazis were clumsy and amateurish incendiarists at best. Tall, dressy Colonel Joaquin Enrique Zanetti, Professor of Chemistry at Columbia University, is the No. 1 U. S. pyrotechnician. Last week he published a concise handbook of arson: Fire from the Air—the ABC of Incendiaries (Columbia University Press; 50¢).

The Byzantine Empire held off the Saracens for generations with Greek fire —a mixture of pitch, sulfur, quicklime and naphtha squirted...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!