Time bomb

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Aftermath of the Grand Hotel bombing in Brighton (1984) which was targeted at British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the result of a time bomb which had been placed in the hotel nearly a month before it detonated. Thatcher escaped harm, though 5 others perished and 31 were injured. Grand-Hotel-Following-Bomb-Attack-1984-10-12.jpg
Aftermath of the Grand Hotel bombing in Brighton (1984) which was targeted at British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the result of a time bomb which had been placed in the hotel nearly a month before it detonated. Thatcher escaped harm, though 5 others perished and 31 were injured.

A time bomb (or a timebomb, time-bomb) is a bomb whose detonation is triggered by a timer. The use (or attempted use) of time bombs has been for various purposes including insurance fraud, terrorism, assassination, sabotage and warfare. They are a popular feature in fictional thriller and action films as they offer a way of imparting a dramatic sense of urgency.

Bomb explosive weapon

A bomb is an explosive weapon that uses the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy. Detonations inflict damage principally through ground- and atmosphere-transmitted mechanical stress, the impact and penetration of pressure-driven projectiles, pressure damage, and explosion-generated effects. Bombs have been utilized since the 11th century starting in East Asia.

Timer device that automatically times a process or event or activates an operation or another device at a preset time or times

A timer is a specialized type of clock used for measuring specific time intervals. Timers can be categorized into two main types. A timer which counts upwards from zero for measuring elapsed time is often called a stopwatch, while a device which counts down from a specified time interval is more usually called a timer. A simple example of this type is an hourglass. Working method timers have two main groups: Hardware and Software timers.

Insurance fraud is any act committed to defraud an insurance process. This occurs when a claimant attempts to obtain some benefit or advantage they are not entitled to, or when an insurer knowingly denies some benefit that is due. According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the most common schemes include: premium diversion, fee churning, asset diversion, and workers compensation fraud. Perpetrators in these schemes can be insurance company employees or claimants. False insurance claims are insurance claims filed with the fraudulent intention towards an insurance provider.



Diagram of a simple time bomb in the form of a pipe bomb Pipe bomb 01.svg
Diagram of a simple time bomb in the form of a pipe bomb

The explosive charge is the main component of any bomb, and makes up most of the size and weight of it. It is the damaging element of the bomb (along with any fragments or shrapnel the explosion might produce with its container or neighboring objects). The explosive charge is detonated by a detonator.

Fragmentation (weaponry) A type of explosive weapon which aims to inflict injury and damage through fragments.

Fragmentation is the process by which the casing of a projectile from a bomb, barrel bomb, land mine, IED, artillery, mortar, tank gun, or autocannon shell, rocket, missile, grenade, etc. is shattered by the detonation of the explosive filler.

Detonator system used to trigger explosion of a main charge

A detonator, frequently a blasting cap, is a device used to trigger an explosive device. Detonators can be chemically, mechanically, or electrically initiated, the latter two being the most common.

A time bomb's timing mechanism may be professionally manufactured, either separately or as part of the device, or it may be improvised from an ordinary household timer such as a wind-up alarm clock, wrist watch, digital kitchen timer, or notebook computer. The timer can be programmed to count up or count down (usually the latter; as the bomb detonates when the time runs out).

Alarm clock type of clock

An alarm clock is a clock that is designed to alert an individual or group of individuals at a specified time. The primary function of these clocks is to awaken people from their night's sleep or short naps; they are sometimes used for other reminders as well. Most use sound; some use light or vibration. Some have sensors to identify when a person is in a light stage of sleep, in order to avoid waking someone who is deeply asleep, which causes tiredness, even if the person has had adequate sleep. To turn off the sound or light, a button or handle on the clock is pressed; most clocks automatically turn off the alarm if left unattended long enough. A classic analog alarm clock has an extra hand or inset dial that is used to specify the time at which the alarm will ring. Alarm clocks are also used in mobile phones, watches, and computers.

Laptop Personal computer for mobile use

A laptop computer is a small, portable personal computer (PC) with a "clamshell" form factor, typically having a thin LCD or LED computer screen mounted on the inside of the upper lid of the clamshell and an alphanumeric keyboard on the inside of the lower lid. The clamshell is opened up to use the computer. Laptops are folded shut for transportation, and thus are suitable for mobile use. Its name comes from lap, as it was deemed to be placed on a person's lap when being used. Although originally there was a distinction between laptops and notebooks, as of 2014, there is often no longer any difference. Laptops are commonly used in a variety of settings, such as at work, in education, for playing games, Internet surfing, for personal multimedia, and general home computer use.


Types of time bombs include:

A delay-action bomb is an aerial bomb designed to explode some time after impact, with the bomb's fuzes set to delay the explosion for times ranging from very brief to several weeks. Short delays were used to allow the bomb to penetrate before exploding: "a delay action bomb striking the roof of a tall building will penetrate through several floors before bursting". A short delay would also prevent a fighter-bomber or ground-attack aircraft getting caught in the blast of its own bomb after a low-altitude attack. Longer delays were intended to disrupt salvage and other activities, to spread terror in areas where there could still be live bombs and to attack bomb disposal workers.

Improvised explosive device homemade bomb

An improvised explosive device (IED) is a bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action. It may be constructed of conventional military explosives, such as an artillery shell, attached to a detonating mechanism. IEDs are commonly used as roadside bombs.

A limpet mine is a type of naval mine attached to a target by magnets. It is so named because of its superficial similarity to the limpet, a type of sea snail that clings tightly to rocks or other hard surfaces.

List of notable incidents involving time bombs

1776 Turtle submarine attack on the Eagle New York City harbor, New YorkEzra Lee and David Bushnell 00 David Bushnell designed the Turtle submarine using a clockwork time bomb crafted by Isaac Doolittle that would attach to the hull of the British ship the Eagle using a screw, but the screw failed to penetrate the hull. The time bomb was released and eventually exploded causing great noise but no harm to the British.
1864 Confederate sabotage of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters City Point, VirginiaJohn Maxwell of the Confederate Secret Service 43 to 300125Maxwell called his device a "clockwork torpedo"; placed on an ammunition barge, it detonated 30,000 artillery shells [1]
1875 Attack on the Mosel (ship) Bremerhaven Alexander Keith, Jr. 80 or 83200Bomb set for insurance fraud purposes; detonated prematurely
1880 Winter Palace bombingSaint Petersburg Narodnaya Volya 1130Attempted assassination of Tsar Alexander II
1881-1885 Fenian dynamite campaign Great BritainFenians3 (bombers who died when bomb went off early)100Irish nationalist campaign led by Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa
1910 Los Angeles Times bombing Los AngelesJohn J. McNamara and James B. McNamara21100Union-related action
1915 Muenter Attack Spree Washington DC, New York CityGerman nationalist Eric Muenter 01Set time bombs in United States Capitol, SS Minnehaha, and shot J. P. Morgan, Jr. against selling arms to Germany's enemies
1916 Preparedness Day Bombing San FranciscoLabor leaders1040Isolationist political action
1920 Wall Street bombing New York CityAnarchists (suspected)38400Followed other bombings in 1919
1939 Bürgerbräukeller Munich Georg Elser 763Assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler
1942 St Nazaire Raid St Nazaire, France (wartime)Royal Navy, British Commandos590unknownTo damage port facilities being used by enemy forces
1944 July Plot Wolf's Lair, Poland (wartime)German Resistance4?Failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler
1955 United Airlines Flight 629 over Longmont, Colorado, USA Jack Gilbert Graham 440Murder; insurance fraud
1956Milk Bar, Place Bugeaud,
Cafeteria, Rue Michelet,
Air France office (failed to detonate)
Algiers, French Algeria Djamila Bouhired
Zohra Drif
Samia Lakhdari
350Reprisal bombings at start of the Algerian War, September 30, 1956 [2] Part of the so-called Café Wars
1963-1971 FLQ bombings Canada Front de libération du Québec None1 (Army officer Walter Leja)Series of politically motivated bombings (timed and non-timed devices) and other activities
1969-1976 Weatherman bombings United States Weather Underground 1 unconfirmed; 3 bombers (premature)3 confirmed; 1 unconfirmedSeries of politically motivated bombings (timed and non-timed devices) and other activities including jailbreaks and riots
1972 Aldershot Bombing Aldershot, UK Official IRA 718A 280 lb time bomb in a car
1972 - 1973 1972 and 1973 Dublin bombings Dublin, Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 3185Part of anti-Irish Nationalism campaign
1972 Belturbet bombing Cavan, Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 28Part of anti-Irish Nationalism campaign
1973 1973 Old Bailey bombing London, EnglandIRA1220Continuing anti-British campaign
1974 M62 Coach Bombing West Yorkshire Provisional IRA 1238Continuing anti-British campaign
1974 1974 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries bombing Tokyo, Japan East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front 8376Targeted against "Japanese imperialism" and "its colonist"
1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings Dublin, Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 343004 time bombs in car bombs Part of anti-Irish Nationalism campaign. Biggest loss of life from an attack during the Northern Ireland Troubles.
1974 Birmingham pub bombings Birmingham, UKIRA (suspected)21182Continuing anti-British campaign
1974 Guildford pub bombings Guildford, UKIRA565Targeted against Army personnel
1975 Donnelly's Bar and Kay's Tavern attacks Dundalk, Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 221Part of anti-Irish Nationalism campaign (1st part of double attack)
1976 Hillcrest Bar bombing Tyrone, Northern Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 450Part of anti-Irish Nationalism campaign
1976 Castleblayney bombing Monaghan, Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 117Part of anti-Irish Nationalism campaign
1977 Lucona sinkingIndian Ocean Udo Proksch 66Attempted insurance fraud
1982 Droppin Well bombing Ballykelly, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland Irish National Liberation Army INLA1730Bombing against British soldiers
1984 Brighton hotel bombing Brighton, UKIRA531Attempt to assassinate PM Margaret Thatcher
1985 Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior Auckland, New Zealand French DGSE 10Two limpet mines, set to detonate 10 minutes apart
1985 Air India Flight 182 and 1985 Narita International Airport bombing Atlantic Ocean, Tokyo Narita Airport Babbar Khalsa Khalistan separatists 3314Bombing of two 747 flights with alarm clock and dynamite hidden in radio tuner
1987 Korean Air Flight 858 Andaman SeaNorth Korea115 (all)0State terrorism against South Korea
1987 Remembrance Day bombing Enniskillen, Northern IrelandIRA1263Continuing anti-British campaign
1988 Pan Am flight 103 Above Lockerbie, ScotlandLibya2700Reprisal against UK & US
1989 Deal barracks bombing Deal, Kent, UKIRA1121Targeted against military personnel
1993 World Trade Center bombing New York City Ramzi Yousef 61,042Truck bomb used 20 ft fuse for twelve-minute delay, intended to collapse both towers.
1994 Philippine Airlines Flight 434 Between Cebu and Tokyo Ramzi Yousef 110Blast missed fuel tank, killed one passenger and damaged control systems but pilot was able to land. Yousef bombed World Trade Center in 1993
1995 Oklahoma City bombing Oklahoma City Timothy McVeigh 168683Deadliest domestic terror attack in the United States.
1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing Atlanta, Georgia, USA Eric Rudolph 1111Politically motivated anti-abortionist; occurred during 1996 Summer Olympics.
1998 Omagh bombing Omagh, Northern Ireland Real IRA 29220Worst single incident loss of life during the anti-British campaign.
1999 Columbine High School massacre Columbine, Colorado Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold 1524Bombs did not explode, and were not the cause of any of the deaths or injuries. [3]
1999 Russian apartment bombings Buynaksk
unknown2936514 bombs over 4 days; purpose unknown.
2003 Murder of Brian Wells Erie PennsylvaniaMarjorie Diehl-Armstrong
Kenneth Barnes
1Silence witness to forced bank robbery; timed body bomb
2006 Moscow market bombing MoscowRacialist organization1346Racially motivated attack

Time bombs in fiction

Time bombs are common plot devices used in action/thriller TV series, cartoons, films and video games, where the hero often escapes the blast area or defuses the bomb at the last second. Many fictional time bombs are improvised, and usually involve a beeping sound with a large prominent countdown timer (on rare occasions, the timer will count up).[ citation needed ]

A plot device or plot mechanism is any technique in a narrative used to move the plot forward. A clichéd plot device may annoy the reader and a contrived or arbitrary device may confuse the reader, causing a loss of the suspension of disbelief. However, a well-crafted plot device, or one that emerges naturally from the setting or characters of the story, may be entirely accepted, or may even be unnoticed by the audience.

Thriller (genre) Genre of literature, film, and television programming

Thriller is a genre of fiction, having numerous, often overlapping subgenres. Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Successful examples of thrillers are the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

Video game electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.

Such fictional appearances include:

<i>Kojak</i> American television series starring Telly Savalas

Kojak is an American action crime drama television series starring Telly Savalas as the title character, New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak. Taking the time slot of the popular Cannon series, it aired on CBS from 1973 to 1978.

<i>Knight Rider</i> (1982 TV series) 1982-1986 American television series

Knight Rider is an American television series created and produced by Glen A. Larson. The series was originally broadcast on NBC from 1982 to 1986. The show stars David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a high-tech modern crime fighter assisted by KITT, an advanced artificially intelligent, self-aware and nearly indestructible car. This was the last series Larson devised at Universal Television before he moved to 20th Century Fox.

<i>MacGyver</i> (1985 TV series) American television series

MacGyver is an American action-adventure television series created by Lee David Zlotoff and starring Richard Dean Anderson as the title character. Henry Winkler and John Rich were the executive producers. The show ran for seven seasons on ABC in the United States and various other networks abroad from 1985 to 1992. The series was filmed in Los Angeles during seasons one, two and seven, and in Vancouver during seasons three through six. The show's final episode aired on April 25, 1992 on ABC.

See also

Related Research Articles

Land mine Explosive weapon, concealed under or on the ground

A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically detonated automatically by way of pressure when a target steps on it or drives over it, although other detonation mechanisms are also sometimes used. A land mine may cause damage by direct blast effect, by fragments that are thrown by the blast, or by both.

Bomb disposal Activity to dispose of and render safe explosive munitions and other materials

Bomb disposal is an explosives engineering profession using the process by which hazardous explosive devices are rendered safe. Bomb disposal is an all-encompassing term to describe the separate, but interrelated functions in the military fields of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD), and the public safety roles of public safety bomb disposal (PSBD) and the bomb squad.

A booby trap is a device or setup that is intended to kill, harm, or surprise a person or animal. It is triggered by the presence or actions of the victim and sometimes has some form of bait designed to lure the victim towards it. The trap may be set to act upon trespassers that enter restricted areas, and it can be triggered when the victim performs an action. It can also be triggered by vehicles driving along a road, as in the case of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Exploding-bridgewire detonator

The exploding-bridgewire detonator is a type of detonator used to initiate the detonation reaction in explosive materials, similar to a blasting cap because it is fired using an electric current. EBWs use a different physical mechanism than blasting caps, using more electricity delivered much more rapidly, and explode in a much more precise timing after the electric current is applied, by the process of exploding wire method. This has led to their common use in nuclear weapons.

The Lewes bomb was a blast-incendiary field expedient explosive device, manufactured by mixing diesel oil and Nobel 808 plastic explosive. It was created by Lieutenant Jock Lewes, one of the original members of L Detachment SAS in 1941. The SAS needed a combined incendiary and explosive device light enough to be carried by a small group of commandos yet powerful enough to destroy and set fire to aircraft on an enemy airfield. Weighing approximately 1 pound (0.45 kg), the Lewes bomb could be carried in quantity by an individual.

Pencil detonator Time fuze used by British Special forces during the Second World War

A pencil detonator or time pencil is a time fuze designed to be connected to a detonator or short length of safety fuse. They are about the same size and shape as a pencil, hence the name. They were introduced during World War II and developed at Aston House, Hertfordshire, UK.

M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition

The M86 Pursuit Deterrent Munition (PDM) is a small United States anti-personnel mine intended to be used by special forces to deter pursuing enemy forces.

The proxy bomb, also known as a human bomb, was a tactic used mainly by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland during the conflict known as "the Troubles". It involved forcing people to drive car bombs to British military targets after placing them or their families under some kind of threat. The Ulster Volunteer Force replicated IRA actions with a series of bombings in the Republic of Ireland in 1974. The tactic was later adopted by the FARC in Colombia and by rebels in the Syrian Civil War.

A time bomb is a bomb whose detonation is triggered by a timer.

Trap Gunner: Countdown to Oblivion, known in Europe as Trap Runner, is a PlayStation video game published by Atlus in 1998. It is a strategy, arcade-style game for one or two players.

Anti-handling device integral part of a landmine or other munition that prevents tampering and disarming

An anti-handling device is an attachment to—or an integral part of—a landmine or other munition e.g. some fuze types found in general purpose air-dropped bombs, cluster bombs and sea mines. It is designed to prevent tampering. When the protected device is disturbed, it detonates, killing or injuring anyone within the blast area. There is a strong functional overlap of booby traps and anti-handling devices.

In military munitions, a fuze is the part of the device that initiates function. In some applications, such as torpedoes, a fuze may be identified by function as the exploder. The relative complexity of even the earliest fuze designs can be seen in cutaway diagrams.

Grenade Small bomb that can be thrown by hand

A grenade is an explosive weapon typically thrown by hand, but can also refer to projectiles shot out of grenade launchers. Generally, a grenade consists of an explosive charge, a detonating mechanism, and firing pin inside the grenade to trigger the detonating mechanism. Once the soldier throws the grenade, the safety lever releases, the striker throws the safety lever away from the grenade body as it rotates to detonate the primer. The primer explodes and ignites the fuze. The fuze burns down to the detonator, which explodes the main charge.

A pencil bomb was a type of time bomb with a timer that could be set to detonate any given time. It was designed by German chemist Dr. Walter Scheele and used by German spy Franz von Rintelen during World War I.

A contact fuze, impact fuze, percussion fuze or direct-action (D.A.) fuze (UK) is the fuze that is placed in the nose of a bomb or shell so that it will detonate on contact with a hard surface.

Pressure cooker bomb type of bomb

A pressure cooker bomb is an improvised explosive device (IED) created by inserting explosive material into a pressure cooker and attaching a blasting cap into the cover of the cooker.

The Aldwych bus bombing occurred on 18 February 1996 when an improvised explosive device being carried by Irish republican Edward O'Brien detonated prematurely on a number 171 bus in Aldwych, in the West End of London. The 2 kg semtex bomb detonated as he stood near the door of the bus.


  1. Grady, John (August 15, 2014). "The Confederate Torpedo". New York Times. New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  2. Gannon, James (2008). Military occupations in the age of self-determination: The history neocons neglected (PDF). Westport CT: Praeger Security International. p. 49. ISBN   978-0-313-35382-6 . Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  3. "10 years later, the real story behind Columbine". April 14, 2009.