Polish Authorities to Dispose a 12,000 Pound British Tall Boy

Jack Beckett
the Tallboy would travel at speeds up to 750 miles an hour

Authorities in Poland are preparing to neutralize a World War II-era bomb found in the water of the Piastowski Canal in Świnoujście which is located in northwestern Poland.

The bomb was discovered during dredging work in September 2019. It has been identified as a Tall Boy bomb, one of the largest bombs used in WWII, and could only be delivered by an Avro Lancaster bomber.

Divers from the 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla cleared the canal of smaller bombs they found in the area. The larger bomb was left while authorities worked with scientists from the Poznan University to find the safest method to remove it.

A 12,000 lb deep-penetration bomb; Tall Boy.
A 12,000 lb deep-penetration bomb; Tall Boy.

Pawel Rodzos, the director of the Security and Crisis Management Department of the district office said that the team had determined that deflagration was the proper course of action to remove the bomb. Deflagration is the act of setting off the unexploded ordnance where it is found. He also stated that this will be the largest neutralization of a post-war unexploded bomb in Poland.

The process is set to begin in mid-October. It will take several days as it will require special preparation of the facility.

There will be special safety rules in place to protect the Gaz-System pipeline, the LNG Terminal and shipping lanes in the area. Designated safety zones will be established on land and in the Szczecin Lagoon, canals and water near the bomb site.

The Piastowski canal, the canal containing the Tall Boy bomb. Image by Mateusz War. CC BY-SA 3.0
The Piastowski canal, the canal containing the Tall Boy bomb. Image by Mateusz War. CC BY-SA 3.0

There will also be evacuation zones for residents of Świnoujście. Because of the size and bomb and of the security zones, polish officials have invited German authorities to participate.

It is thought that the bomb was one that had been dropped on the German battleship Lutzow which had been docked in the Port of Świnoujście.

A 6.4 metre Tall Boy as its released from a Lancaster bomber over a V-2 rocket launch site.
A 6.4 metre Tall Boy as its released from a Lancaster bomber over a V-2 rocket launch site.

The Port of Świnoujście has become even more important to Poland after Central European Petroleum discovered a field of gas and oil deposits there which is large enough to supply energy for up to 30 years. It is expected that drilling operations in the area could bring in PLN 1.5 billion in tax revenue over those 30 years.

The region is also a thriving tourism spot with thousands coming each year to enjoy the area’s beaches.

There is also a popular national park and the Szczeczin Lagoon which are favorites for tourists to visit.

Each of these factors adds an additional wrinkle to the neutralization operation as authorities seek to minimize risk of harm to people and to the surrounding economic infrastructure and to the environment.

This collection of ordinance shows the huge size of the Tall Boy bomb, and the even larger Grand Slam Bomb.
This collection of ordinance shows the huge size of the Tall Boy bomb, and the even larger Grand Slam Bomb.

The Tall Boy bomb was developed by the famed bomb designer Sir Barnes Wallis, who also created the Dambuster bombs used to destroy several German dams and the Grand Slam bomb. The Tall Boy, at 5,400 kg (12,000 lb), is a smaller version of the Grand Slam.

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Carried by Lancaster bombers, the Tallboy would travel at speeds up to 750 miles an hour. When detonated, it created seismic quakes that damaged the foundations of nearby buildings and created landslides in nearby hills and mountains.

The destructive power of the “earthquakes” caused by the bomb were so effective that the railway bridge at Bad Oeynhausen was completely destroyed even though the bomb missed the bridge by 60 feet.