Napalm is a name given to a group of flammable liquids used during warfare. It was invented by a group of Harvard chemists, during the Second World War, and came as a solution for the lack of gasoline gel which was needed for United States’ flamethrowers. The name of the napalm was derived out of its coprecipitated aluminium salts of NAphthenic and PALMitic acids, today manufactured in the mixture of benzene and polystyrene, which form what is known as napalm-B.
The napalm was used in bombs and flamethrowers in order to increase the effectiveness of flammable liquids, and was mixed with gasoline in different proportions, in order to make sticky gel substances that adhere to objects and burn them at different rates. Another useful (and yet, sometimes unwanted) effect is its rapid deoxygenizing of available air, while creating large amounts of carbon monoxide, which cause suffocation.
The most famous method of napalm usage is in the form of incediary bombs. Most of the pilots who used those reported (in several wars) that in contrast to most other weapons, the napalm could be used as a great psychological weapon, which made many enemies surrender and abandon their holds, after fighting to death against other weapons. This phenomenon does not have much to do with the effectiveness of the napalm (although it worked excellently), but with the way it kills- unlike most other weapons, the napalm caused great suffering to its victims. Seeing their friends burn to death in up to 1,200 Degrees Celsius brought an incomparable factor of fear to enemy soldiers, which often forced them to yield. For comparison, in order to understand how hot napalm is, remember that clear water boils at only 100 Degrees Celsius.
Although it made a great influence, the 20th century napalm invention is only a small part in the thermal weapon industry, which began thousands of years ago, mostly in the form of boiling liquids and burning objects.
More to come…