Black Bloc Tactic One: Molotov Cocktails

Seattle, Washington (TFC– The Molotov Cocktail, also known as a Petrol bomb, poor man’s grenade, and fire bomb has been a great equalizer for the less equipped since the late 1930s. It was first used, or at least named and popularized, in Finland back in 1939 to halt the Red Army tanks. The Finnish dubbed the incendiary device “Molotov Cocktail” in response to the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov’s propaganda claiming the bombs were “airborne humanitarian food deliveries”. The Finnish called the Soviet Cluster Bombs “Molotov Bread Baskets”. They considered the Molotov Cocktail “a drink to go with the food”. It has been reported that Finland produced 450,000 Molotov Cocktails during the Winter War. The weapon was so effective it was seen during the Spanish Civil War, the border conflict between Mongolia and Manchukuo and Britain. The ingenuity of the Finnish has been used all over the world ever since it was invented.

The Finnish held the original recipe of the Molotov cocktail which was a mixture of ethanol, tar, and gasoline with a rag plugging the opening and also serving as the wick. They went on to advance the design by attaching two storm matches to the bottle, recapping the bottle and mixing gasoline, kerosene, tar, and potassium chlorate which made the liquid more combustible and sticky. They found that attaching the matches to the bottle then lighting them was much safer than lighting a rag. They also started to leave the bottle about one-third empty to ensure it broke upon impact.

In early 1940, Britain was facing invasion and needed a tool that the everyday citizen could arm themselves with and handle with ease. In August, the War Office provided training instructing people how to create and use Molotov cocktails. The instructions suggested scoring the bottles vertically with a diamond to ensure it broke upon impact. In an attempt to revolutionize the Molotov Cocktail Albright & Wilson of Oldbury showed that white phosphorus could be used to ignite incendiary bombs. They demonstrated this claim by throwing Molotovs that had a mixture of petrol and phosphorus. The genius behind their claims were these weapons contained phosphorus that ignited when exposed to air, which would burn the benzene therefore removing a burning rag or match from the equation. Due to safety concerns Albright & Wilson’s design did not take flight replacing the standard Molotov. Instead the RAF renamed the design and called it a No. 76 Grenade. The perfected recipe for such a design was white phosphorus, benzene, water and a two-inch hose of raw rubber; capped in a bottle. The rubber would eventually dissolve, making the contents slightly sticky. The contents would then separate into two layers, like oil and water. The two layers were crucial in the overall design. People were warned to not shake the grenade because mixing the two layers would result in a slower ignition. This grenade operated just as a standard Molotov Cocktail but was self-igniting and released fumes that made it difficult to breathe as well as burning like hell’s fire. This device was so dangerous Albright & Wilson recommended them being stored in a stable environment underwater. By August 1941, well over 6,000,000 had been manufactured and distributed.

Molotov demonstration. Image source: DOD

Molotov demonstration.
Image source: DOD

The regions listed above only show the roots of the Molotov Cocktail. There have been many variations made around the world. The Irish Republican Army is known for soaking patches of sod in paraffin oil with added wire acting as throwing handles to attack British army barracks. The Polish Home Army created a version that ignited on impact without a wick. They created a mixture containing concentrated sulfuric acid mixed with the gasoline. The U.S. Marine Corps created their own version during World War II that consisted of a tube filled with nitric acid and some metallic sodium to ignite a mixture of petrol and diesel fuel. The point being, there are many ways to devise this extremely effective tool. It’s been evening up the playing field for decades. From military occupied battlefields to the streets where the people stand against an oppressive government.

The Molotov Cocktail has been used in street protests all around the world as recently as this month. They have flown on all continents at one time or another. Street warfare is becoming a more and more common occurrence for the modern activists thanks to increased brutality of police and the oppression that is imposed upon the people by their governments. To even the field in a police state of any kind is a risky game to play considering the powers that be have no problem utilizing lethal force and airborne chemicals, but there might come a time when the people will need a tool to fight and defend themselves. To create distance between them and the brutal turtle suit wearing thugs who carry sticks, mace, shields and rubber bullets. When the tear gas is flying and your eyes are burning it’s clear to see who the enemy is. The Molotov will allow activists the ability to create distance and regroup to strategize their next efforts to get their streets back or disperse.

Some of the options to mix are wood alcohol and turpentine instead of petrol. Then mixing in a thickening agent such as tar, sugar, blood, Styrofoam, motor oil, rubber cement or dish soap. These additives will not only make the flames stick to the intended target but will create thick clouds of smoke that will gag anyone who inhales it. Preplanning the build of Molotov Cocktails will allow the time to acquire the necessary chemicals to create the best mixture for the battle. There are additive options like the poor-man style napalm by filling the long neck bottle about halfway and stuffing Styrofoam into it watching it dissolve and turn into a gooey substance. This will burn for quite a while and stick to anything. It is urged to stay away from using an oily rag. This method is used everywhere but can lead to serious injuries of the person throwing the device or the the people around them. Not to mention if the rag isn’t taped, corked or stuffed in tight enough the mixture could be lost before it hits the intended target. Instead some people mix the cocktail and cap the bottle to utilize an external flame or ignition source by mixing a small batch of motor oil and gasoline in a bowl and soaking tampons. Once the tampons are full they tape the tampon to the neck of the capped Molotov Cocktail allowing the contents to stay sealed during transport or flight. Once on sight, they light the tampon when ready and throw as hard as they can. The common practice is to fill the bottle only two thirds so there’s less resistance upon impact to give a better chance of breaking.

The use of the Molotov Cocktail is highly illegal everywhere in the world so those who use these tools must be sure to understand the theater and how to evade the opposition. Large groups of people known for direct action during demonstrations are known to form a Black Bloc. Molotovs along with other tools have been listed as parts of the Black Bloc tactic’s toolbox. These tactics may seem a little too high profile for some people, but if used the way they are intended those who do will stay safe. This is the first of ten Black Bloc Tactics being covered so there is much more to go over. Remember when those who are engaging in street warfare, or direct action, they keep their head on a swivel and protect the person next to them as if they are the same. The Bloc has been around since the 1980s but it has been said to be the greatest tactic in the streets today. The People are up against standing armies all over the world. They are facing opposition that has a complete arsenals of weapons, vehicles, man power and training at their disposal. Many around the world believe it’s time to learn a better way of defending themselves. A common mindset is, “Free people do not deserve unlawful arrests, to be physically beaten or worse.” These Black Blocs have learned from the success and failures of others who are fighting corrupt brutal governments and protecting the march at the same time.