posted on Nov, 16 2005 @ 04:42 AM
White phosphorus is both a smoke producer and a particularly nasty incendiary agent, known as WP. Its white smoke has the highest total obscuring
power (TOP) of any smoke. It was widely used in World War I in grenades and trench mortar rounds to screen troop movements. Most military smokes are
now of other types, often colored with dyes. The 4.2-in. "Chemical" mortar of World War II was developed to throw white phosphorus shells, as well
as whatever other chemical or biological agents might be required, but was later also found valuable as a general heavy mortar. This was a simple,
light, portable weapon of great power, equivalent to a 105 mm howitzer, but of lesser range. It consisted of a tube about 5 ft long, a steel
baseplate, and a bipod support with screws for elevation and traverse. The cylindrical round was simply dropped down the tube, and it sailed away on a
high trajectory. The phosphorus sticks to whatever it hits, burns, and if what it has hit is combustible, sets it on fire. White phosphorus burns
quickly and cooly and so is not a very effective incendiary agent. It is generally mixed with rubber or polystyrene to slow down the burning. Water
will put out white phosphorus temporarily, but as soon as the phosphorus has access to air, it will start burning again. White phosphorus wounds are
very unpleasant, since the phosphorus must be thoroughly washed out with a nonpolar solvent that is also noninflammable, for obvious reasons, before
the burn can be treated. Carbon tetrachloride would be suitable, but it is dangerous because of the cancer hazard.
WP is not employed in an anti-personnel roll. It works great in disabling equipment because of the extreme heat properties of the chemicals. It can
burn through thinner steel and iron very quickly rendering equipment unusable. Of course it will quickly ignite fuel and ammunition, hence its use
against POL [petroleum/oil/lubricants] and Ammo storage areas. It does not work well against heavily armored equipment like tanks because the there
just isn't a large enough mass of burning phosphorus to burn through tank armor.
The kind of projectile they are speaking about here creates smoke. It is widely, commonly, and legally used by every army to conceal their men.
Usually, if an obstacle needs to be breeched, the smoke is delivered by artillery in between the obstacle and the enemy observer. It can also be
placed on the enemy to confuse and scare them. The smoke itself is uncomfortable, but not dangerous, unless you want to sit on top of the projectile
and breathe it. I know because I have experienced it.
. . . Notice he said psychological weapon and not chemical weapon. This is because the smoke would confuse the enemy and conceal our movements and
would indeed, scare them. . . . Imagine you are in a fighting position and the enemy is dropping smoke near your position. You ask yourself "why are
they dropping smoke here?" the answer "because they are coming right through here." So, you haul butt out of your defensive position and expose
yourself to HE.