Incendiary Compositions

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Incendiary Compositions


pyrotechnical compositions or combustible substances and mixtures of them; used in military affairs to load incendiary ammunition (bombs, shells, mines, bullets, and so on). Flamethrower mixtures are also incendiary compositions. Such compositions were widely used during World War II (1939–45).

Incendiary compositions may be classified in two groups: (1) compositions containing oxidizers—metal oxides (such as thermite), nitrates, or perchlorates (KNO3, KCIO4, and others); and (2) compositions that do not contain oxidizers and that burn using atmospheric oxygen (condensed petroleum products, such as napalm; elektron alloy, which contains 90 percent Mg; and white phosphorus). The properties of the most important incendiary compositions are given in Table 1. The rate of combustion of incendiary compositions depends on the formulation of the mixture and the design of the ammunition.

Table 1. Main characteristics of incendiary compositions
Substance or mixtureDensity
Heat of combustion
Combustion temperature
* Note: 1 kcal = 4.184 kJ
Phosphorus (white).................1.85.8~1300
Elektron alloy.................1.86.0~2000
Thermite (Iron-aluminum).................3.20.8~2500


Shidlovskii, A. A. Osnovy pirotekhniki, 3rd ed. [Moscow] 1964.
Ellern, H. Military and Civilian Pyrotechnics. New York, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?