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"Italian 2-kg Smoke Pot" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on Italian 2-kg smoke pots used by German troops was published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 38, November 18, 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.]


It seems probable that the Germans in Italy are using all available Italian equipment. An account of a particular Italian smoke pot candela fumogena 2-Kg (4.4 lb) thus appears to be timely.

a. Physical Characteristics

(1) This candela fumogena is shown in figure 1. It consists of a 30-gauge tin-plate can (2) 3 inches in diameter and 10 inches high, with a 9/16-inch recess at the top which houses the igniter pellet and striker pad during shipment, and is closed by a lid sealed on with adhesive tape. The bottom of the candle has a zinc well, 3/4-inch diameter and 1 3/4 inches deep, into which the igniter pellet is inserted for firing. The candle is painted dark green and has a label with the marking F/ZN and instructions, (for use), translated as follows:

[Italian 2-Kg Smoke Pot]
Italian 2-Kg Smoke Pot

(a) Pull off the tape, take off the cover, and take the striker and igniting cartridge from the receptacle.

(b) Place the igniting cartridge in the zinc tube in the bottom part of the candle.

(c) Ignite by rubbing the striker on the matchhead.

(d) Place the candle lying down on the ground.

(e) Get away, preferably up wind.

(f) When the igniter does not set it off, try another.

NOTICE: The candle should be kept in a dry place.

Figure 1 (the smoke pot) shows the compartment in which the ignition element is shipped; the candle (2) shows the recess for the ignition element (6) - the latter consisting of a scratcher pad (4) with waxed wrapper (5) and cover (3). The match head, of the Bickford type fuze and starter pellet is wrapped in a waxed paper wrapper with a waxed paper sleeve (7).

(2) In a smoke pot which has been examined, the candle weighed 2.27 kilograms (5 lb) and contained 2.03 kg (4.47 lb) of the following Berger-type smoke elements:

Zinc Chloride (water soluble zinc)       0.80%
Zinc Oxide21.07%
Zinc Dust (total zinc minus zinc
     chloride and zinc oxide)
Kieselguhr (hydrochloric acid
Carbon Tetrachloride (by difference)40.27%

(3) The igniter element weighed 10 grams (.35 oz) and consisted of a matchhead of the antimony sulfide-potassium chlorate type, a 1-inch length of Bickford type safety fuze, and a starter pellet 11/16 inches in diameter and 1 inch long, of the following composition:
Potassium Nitrate        55%  
Calcium Silicide      45%  

The calcium silicide consisted of approximately 31% calcium, 64% silicon and 5% iron.

(4) The scratcher pad was made of 1/16-inch cardboard, 5/8 inch by 1 3/8 inch, and sensitized on one side.

(5) Inside the can, on the bottom, were two cardboard disks, 2 and 13/16 inches in diameter, and 1/16 inch thick. The disks were probably used for insulating the bottom of the can in case the starter element was accidentally ignited.

b. Functional Characteristics

One candela fumogena was tested for functioning in comparison with the HC smoke pot, M1 (see figure 2). The Bickford type safety fuze in the candela fumogena gave a delay of 2 to 3 seconds. The burning time was 1 minute, 15 seconds. For the first 15 seconds the smoke from the Italian smoke pot was whiter than the smoke from the M1 smoke pot, after which the color was about the same. The smoke from the candela fumogena pillared much more than that from the M1 smoke pot. The volume of smoke, per unit time, was about equal for each smoke pot.

[American M1 (Left) and Italian 2-Kg Smoke Pot (Right)]
American M1 (Left) and Italian 2-Kg Smoke Pot (Right)

c. Comparison With Similar U.S. Equipment

The Italian smoke pot is comparable to the HC smoke pot M1. The candela fumogena weighs 5 pounds gross and burns for 1 1/4 minutes. The M1 smoke pot has a gross weight of 11 pounds and burns for 6 1/2 minutes (burning time varies between 5 and 8 minutes). Since both smoke pots gave approximately the same volume of smoke per unit time, the Italian smoke pot had only 45% the gross weight efficiency of the comparable M1 smoke pot.

The assembly of the M1 smoke pot is considered superior to the Italian since the ignition element in the base of the Italian pot is an extra part to be misplaced, but gives no added advantage. The need for the delay furnished by the Bickford type safety fuze on the Italian pot is not apparent, except that occasional scattering of burning material might endanger personnel.


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