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"Axis Aerial Gas Weapons" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military intelligence report on Axis chemical weapons was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 36, October 21, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The air weapon is new as far as gas warfare is concerned. In the event chemical warfare breaks out we can expect large scale low-altitude spray attacks with vesicants as well as concentrated bombing with vesicant and non-persistent gases.



a. Spray Apparatus

(1) Nebelgerät V.200. -- This spray apparatus, suitable for use with either smoke or gas, is reported to approximate a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb in size and weight. Its capacity is stated to be 25 gallons of smoke liquid or vesicant gas. At 200 mph a strip about 660 yards in length may be contaminated during the emission period of six to seven seconds. (Note: This apparatus has previously been reported as having a capacity of 44 gallons).

(2) Nebelgerät S.300. -- A larger apparatus than the V.200, the S.300, while intended primarily for the laying of smoke screens, presumably may be used for spraying vesicant gases. It is pressure operated and consists of a cylindrical 60-gallon tank, magnetic control valves and an emission pipe. The emission is operated electrically from a switch-box near the observer's seat and can be interrupted at will. In the Dornier 217-E-1, it is carried in the bomb stowage compartment where it may be jettisoned at any time.

A German document states that a minimum altitude of 30 meters (100 feet) is necessary for cloud emission.

A number of reports mention experiments conducted at Weiner Neustadt, 30 miles south of Vienna, with gas spray apparatus installed in the Dornier 217 airplane. Other reports state that a squadron of Dorniers is equipped for gas spray and that such equipment might be installed on other types of airplanes, especially the Heinkel 111.

(3) Chema Fuma L.90 and L.190. -- Two types of gravity-operated spray apparatus, developed by the Czech firm of Chema, are available to the enemy. These may be used either for gas or smoke by a simple change of nozzles and the size chosen probably depends upon the speed of the airplane. Their general characteristics are as follows:

        Fuma L.90       Fuma L.190
Capacity  90 liters (23.8 gallons) 190 liters (50.2 gallons)
Weight empty  97 pounds 132 pounds
Weight charged (smoke liquid) 440 pounds 880 pounds

It is reported that about 1,000 of these spray apparatus had been produced at the time the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia, in addition, that these apparatus have previously been reported as having capacities of 20 and 42 gallons, respectively.

b. Miscellaneous

During 1941, a report from a source usually considered reliable, mentions a Messerschmitt with motors cut off, capable of gliding some 200 kilometers (124 miles) from a height of 20,000 feet. It is stated that the plane is equipped with reservoirs definitely designed to hold mustard gas. The reservoirs are equipped with spraying devices and the plane's motors are utilized to keep the mustard gas in the reservoirs under pressure.

One type of German apparatus for spraying toxic gases from aircraft is reported to hold 200 kg (440 lbs) of mustard gas. When functioned at a height of 75 to 80 feet, it contaminates a strip 2,500 feet long by 65 feet wide to an average density of 100 grams per square meter.

c. Gas Loads for Aircraft and Gliders

The following table represents an estimate of the gas loads that may be carried by German aircraft and gliders:

       Max. disposable
load (lbs)
      Approx. net liquid
gas load (lbs)
      Max. still air
range (miles)
Ju. 88 6,400 4,800 850
He. 111 6,200 4,600 1,400
Do. 217 6,600 4,900 1,000
Fw. 200 8,800 6,600 1,250
He. 177 15,800 11,800 1,350
Ju. 87D 4,000 3,600 estd.   375
Ju. 288 6,600 4,900 estd. 1,200
Me. 109E 550 400 550
Me. 109F 1,100 800 500
Me. 109G 1,100 800 475
Me. 110 3,300 2,500 750
Me. 210 4,400 3,300 1,350
Ju. 52 4,000 3,000 800
Ju. 90 12,000 9,000 800
Ju. 290 estd. 22,000 16,500 1,700
Me. 323 estd. 20,000 to 26,000 15,000 to 19,500 ?
DFS 230 2,800 2,100 ) Dependent upon
Go. 242 5,300 4,000 ) type of tug.
Gigant estd. 26,000 19,500 )  

The above figures are unlikely to be attained in practice and indicate the maximum possible effort.

d. Description of Gliders

In view of the possible use of gliders for aerial spraying, brief descriptions of the three main types so far identified are as follows:

(1) DFS 230. -- A high-wing monoplane of conventional design, carrying a useful load of about one ton, or 10 fully equipped troops, including two pilots. A recent modification has been the installation of dual control.

(2) Go. 242. -- A high-wing monoplane with the tail unit carried on two booms, the crew and freight being accommodated in a central compartment under the center section of the wing. The tail of the compartment hinges upward to facilitate loading. This glider carries a useful load of two and one half tons or 23 fully equipped troops, including two pilots.

(3) Gigant. -- This 178-foot-span glider, (see Tactical and Technical Trends No. 21, p. 1) previously known as the Merseburg, has now been identified as the "Gigant". It is a single-fuselage, high-wing monoplane with a gross wing area of about 3,200 square feet. A reliable report indicates that the fuselage has at least two decks, the upper deck floor being detachable in sections, making possible the stowage of bulky freight. The maximum useful load is about 12 tons or approximately 130 fully equipped troops. Motor vehicles or small tanks can be accommodated. The report also states that this glider has been seen towed by the twin-fuselage Heinkel.

e. Estimated Towing Ranges

By way of example, the following estimated towing ranges are given:

      No. of
Speed mph
DFS 230 1 Ju. 52  1 110 800
DFS 230 1 Hs. 126 1 120 630
Go. 242 1 Ju. 52  1 108 495
Gigant 1 Ju. 52  2 110 500


Marked attention has been given by the Germans to aerial gas bombs. The figures given below probably indicate the size rather than the weight of the bomb. Gas bombs may be lighter than HE bombs of the same size.

(1) 10-kg (22 lb) K.C.* 10, chemical shrapnel bomb. -- This is primarily an antipersonnel bomb, in which a small amount of toxic smoke agent may be incorporated. It is similar in appearance to the S.C.** 10-kg antipersonnel bomb and probably has the same type of mechanical nose impact fuse. In addition to the chemical effect within a radius of about 22 yards from point of impact, the splinters are effective up to 45 yards.

(2) 50-kg (110 lb) K.C. 50, mustard gas bomb. -- This bomb is about the same size as the S.C. 50-kg HE bomb. Equipped with a highly sensitive electrical impact fuse, and an area of about 22 yards radius from point of burst is contaminated. It is provided with a small burster for ground contamination and with a larger burster for personnel effect.

(3) 250-kg (552 lb) K.C. 250, mustard gas bomb. -- With a time fuse to operate when within several hundred feet of the ground, this bomb will contaminate an area of 5,000 to 6,000 square yards. It is about the same size as the S.C. 250-kg HE bomb. The C250 (Flam.) incendiary bomb case may be used as the gas container.

(4) 1000-kg (2,204 lb) K.C. 1000, gas bomb. -- Phosgene or other lung gases are likely to be used in this bomb. There may be an impact fuse and small bursting charge, or the bomb may be designed to break upon impact.



a. General

Reports regarding the use of vesicant gases by means of aerial sprays in the Abyssinian campaign are conflicting. There is no direct evidence that Italian land planes are equipped With spray apparatus, but captured documents describe a spray apparatus, Irroratore B, two of which are carried outside the fuselage of the seaplane Cant.Z. 501. Each tank has a capacity of 180 liters (47.5 gallons) of either mustard gas or smoke liquid, with a total emission time of 20 seconds.

b. Gas Loads for Aircraft

The following table represents an estimate of the liquid gas loads that be carried by Italian aircraft:

Aircraft       Maximum
      Net liquid*
gas load
      Maximum still
air range
Cant Z. 1007 bis  2,700 2,000 1,150
Fiat B.R. 20 M.  3,500 2,600 1,500
Piaggio P. 108 10,000 7,500   990
Savoia Marchetti S.M. 79  2,900 2,200 1,760
                 S.M. 84  3,500 2,600   830
                 S.M. 82  8,200 6,100 1,250
                 S.M. 75  3,400 2,500 1,490
C.R. 42    250   200   530
Fiat G. 50    250   200   320
Macchi 200    250   200   400
       202    250   200   400
Re 2001  1,100   800     ?

*Column 3 shows quantities carried with low-pressure systems, or low-pressure systems plus bombs.

The above figures represent the maximum loads of liquid gas which it would be possible to carry.


It has been clearly established that aircraft bombs filled with mustard gas were used by the Fascists against the Abyssinians. Such bombs fitted with time fuzes to explode several hundred feet in the air, led to reports that aerial sprays were extensively employed. It is reported that in addition to the use of many 105-mm artillery shells, the Fascists dropped close to 5,000 mustard gas bombs from aircraft upon the defenseless Ethiopians.

(1) Gas-filled aircraft bombs, as shown in the following table, have been identified from captured Italian documents and other reliable sources:

 New Des- 
 Old Des- 
 Nature & Wt. 
 of filling 
 Wt. of Com- 
 plete Bomb 
 Dia. of 
 Bomb body 
  Bomba     Bomba     Bomb     Pounds     Pounds     Inches     Inches  
 500 C.   C.500 T.    C.W. with 
  Air Burst 
  HE ?
  (or 656.8)
  18.0   96.6
 100 C.   C.100 P.   C. W.   HE 62.2
  DA* 31.4
  224.6   10.7   50.2
  40 C.   C. 40 P.   C. W.   DA 14.3
  HE 28.6
  103.4    9.0   32.3
  15 C.   C. 15 P.   C. W.   HE 7.4
  DA 3.7
  35.2    4.7   31.0
   4 C.   Doppio
  C. W.   HE 1.5
  DA .7
  6.2 ?    2.7   12.2
   2 C.   Spezzone
  C. W.   HE .6
  DA .3
  3.4    2.7    6.1
    Furetto   C. W.
  55    6.3   32.7


According to a recent report these bombs are painted yellow, with a Geneva Cross indicating the filling. With the exception of the type 500 C. and the Bomba Furetto, these bombs are filled with DA.*** They have a bursting charge approximately double the weight of the gas fillings and are fitted with percussion fuzes.

The 500 C. has a time fuze and a relatively small bursting charge, indicating that it is filled with blister gas and is described as a vaporizing percussion bomb.

Other than the 500 C., the weights of these bombs roughly correspond with their nomenclature. No doubt the 500 C. is so named because it has the same external dimensions as the 500-kg (110 lb) HE bomb and would fit the same bomb racks. Naturally, a gas-filled bomb of the same dimensions, having a thinner metal case, would be considerably lighter in weight.

(2) Aerial Gas (or Incendiary) Container. -- Among Italian chemical warfare material captured near Tripoli a number of sheet metal cylindrical containers 5 feet in length and 10 1/2 inches in diameter were found. They are painted a battleship gray, with a 1 3/4 inch yellow band circling the center of the body, and weigh approximately 60 pounds, empty.

The body of the container has eight chambers, each 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 28 inches long. The tail end of each chamber is sealed and fitted with a spring platform. The nose-end is fitted with a detachable steel plate covering the end of all eight chambers, and is held in position by a release pin connected with a wire cable running through the center of the container. The nose proper consists of an aluminum dome, which is a push-fit onto the body, held by means of four spring clips.

An ingenious retarding device, attached to the tail, is operated by a clockwork mechanism calibrated from 0 to 20 seconds. On release of the container from the aircraft, the retarding device functions at the time set. Simultaneously, the release pin holding the guard plate is removed by means of the attached wire cable connected to the clockwork mechanism. Due to the sudden decrease in the rate of fall, the contents of the inner tubes (gas or incendiary bombs) are forced down, with the assistance of the spring platforms in the tubes, and overcome the four spring clips by which the nose is attached. The nose and guard plate thereby fall away allowing the bombs to scatter.

No bombs to fit the container were found, but since it is similar in design to the Italian incendiary container used in Caproni aircraft, it is logical to assume that the container was designed for gas or incendiary bombs.



Other than an aircraft spray spread from leak-proof tanks behind the engine cowl, there has been no definite information regarding the design, capacity, or chargings of spray apparatus in use. It is probable that here the Japanese, as in other chemical warfare matters, duplicate German apparatus.

Gas Loads and Ranges

The following table represents an estimate of the maximum gas loads that may be carried on the most likely types of aircraft at present in use by the Japanese Air Force:

AIRCRAFT      Max.
load (lbs)
      Net liquid
gas load
      Max. still
air range
Army Twin-engine Bombers
97 T.E. Bomber (Mitsubishi) 4,400 3,300   670
99 T.E. Bomber (Kawasaki ?) 2,200 1,650   630
00 T.E. Recco-Fighter ( ? ) 1,100   830 1,275
Army Single-engine Bombers and Recco's
98 Light Bomber-Recco (Kawasaki)
97   "      "     "   (Mitsubishi)   660   500 600 to 700
98   "      "     "   (Mitsubishi)
99 Ground Attack Recco ( ? )
Navy Twin-engine Bombers
96 T.E. Shore-Based Bomber (Mitsubishi) 2,200 1,650 1,710
01 T.E. Shore-Based Bomber (Mitsubishi) 3,300 2,500 1,660
Navy Single-engine Deck-landing Bombers
97 Torpedo-Bomber (Mitsubishi & Nakajima) 1,760 1,300   645
99 Dive-Bomber (Aichi) 1,000   750   830

Army and Navy single-seater fighters and single-engined seaplanes are not included, as in these cases the gas load is unlikely to exceed 200 pounds.


(1) 50-kg Gas Bomb Type 92. -- During early operations in China the Japanese used a 50-kg (110 lb) gas bomb, filled with a mixture of equal parts by weight of mustard gas and Lewisite. The chemical filling weighs 23 kilos (50.6 lbs). This is reported to be their chief chemical bomb.

The bomb is grayish green in color with a red and blue band at the nose. There are two yellow bands at opposite ends of the body with a white band in the center.

The bomb consists of a steel nose, cylindrical casing and tail assembly, with an overall length of 45 inches. The steel body has a wall thickness of 3/16 inch and is 26.4 inches long by 7.5 inches in diameter. A cast steel nose is attached to the body by three 1/4 inch grub screws and the sheet iron tail assembly, consisting of four vanes welded to the tail cone, with two sets of box-type struts, is welded to the body.

On impact, the nose-fuse functions and the flash from the detonator cap ignites the first detonator to initiate the picric acid pellet. The main filling in the bomb nose then detonates to shear the grub screws and eject the body of the bomb from the shaft of entry. At the same time, the second striker is forced upwards to overcome the creep spring and to pierce and ignite the second detonator, which in turn ignites the booster charge. The detonation of the picric acid is then initiated in the exploder pocket, fracturing the bomb and spreading the blister gas.

(2) Miscellaneous Gas Bombs. -- Details of a 15-kg (33 lb) combination HE/toxic smoke bomb, possibly of the nose-gas variety, are also reported. The construction and operation of this bomb is similar to that of the 50-kg (110 lb) gas bomb.

A French report (July 1939) mentions 25, 50, 100 and 200-kg gas bombs filled with mustard gas, Lewisite, phosgene and diphosgene.

*Kampfstoff Cylindrisch -- thin-walled gas bomb
**Spreng Cylindrisch -- thin-walled general purpose bomb


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