The Napalm Bomb

The kinds of napalm bomb and the characteristics of burnsNapalm bombs are classified by type as NP1, NP2 (super-napalm and NP3. NP1 was the kind used in the Korean War and the Algerian War. In combustion, it develops a temperature ranging from 900-1,300°C and burns for approximately three to fifteen minutes. There is a variation of the NP1, mixed with thermite, magnesium, sodium and phosphorus, which produces far greater heat to 1,500-2,000°C. This is the NP2, or super-napalm. {199}
     Other kinds now in use include what is called the thermite bomb, developing the great heat of 2,500-3,000°C, and the magnesium bomb which reaches 3,500°C. These are all combustion bombs.
     Napalm bombs are in extensive use in South Vietnam, as well as North Vietnam, notably in Quang Binh province and Vinh Linh district. The injuries from napalm are not limited to burns. We give here the record of napalm bombs from a medical point of view by Mr Le The, a specialist of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The testimony is based on approximately 150 cases of napalm bomb victims he has examined and treated.
     The first damaging effect of a napalm bomb is, of course, a burn. Due to its strong power of adhesion to a man's skin, the napalm never lets him off with a slight burn. Whenever it burns, it causes a medium to serious burn. The doctor says that it has been demonstrated that the heat of a man's hypodermal tissues continues above normal for five or six minutes after the fire is quenched. Burns from napalm affect not only the skin surface but also the muscles, and the bones, depending on location.
     Pain from the burns is terrible. It is horrible to see a victim suffering the acute pain of napalm that may well cause his death. In terms of degree, our Vietnamese colleagues classify these burns into the following:
first degree: outer skin only
second degree: to inner layer of the outer skin
third degree: the inner layer of the inner skin
fourth degree: the deepest hypodermic tissues
fifth degree: the muscles
Napalm burns are so deep that they are never first degree. Second- and third-degree burns represent fifteen per cent. Fourth-degree seventy-five per cent. Fifth-degree ten per cent. In other words, three quarters of all napalm victims are burned through the hypodermic tissues to the muscles.
     Two thirds of the victims have burns covering twenty to twenty-five per cent of the whole body surface. All those burned up to 100 per cent of the surface of course die. What is the degree of fatal burns? The Vietnamese doctor gave the following reply. If burns cover fifty per cent of a victim's outer skin and twenty per {200} cent of this is fourth or fifth degree, through the hypodermic tissues to the muscles, death is almost certain, or at least a year or more is needed for healing. If fourth- or fifth-degree burns extend over five per cent of the victim, he can be saved.
     If he lives he will be covered with keloids. Keloid scars not only look hideous, but bring about motor disturbances, depending on cases, one of the frightful characteristics of the napalm bomb.

Poisoning and other injuriesThe second effect of napalm bombs is carbon monoxide poisoning. A great amount of carbon monoxide is produced right after the explosion of a napalm bomb. It makes it hard for people to breathe and they collapse, and get burned to death. Even if lucky enough to escape death, they have serious burns and suffer the drawn-out after-effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. For example, lassitude of the whole body, notably weakness in the legs, dull senses, low temperature, insomnia and other disturbances in the nervous system are common.
     These symptoms are developed by twenty to forty per cent of victims under medical treatment, and five per cent of those whose treatment is over still complain of weak memory, being poor at figures and other mental disorders as well as nervous prostration.
     The third effect of napalm bombs is a burn in the upper part of the windpipe. A victim takes in a breath of heat fumes which burn his windpipe.
     The fourth is shock. There are frequent occasions when victims suffer shock from the intensity and extent of the burns they receive.
     One survey by a Vietnamese doctor shows that a burn victim with leakage and exudation of 173 millilitres of blood plasma will lose 1,730 millilitres if the burn extends over ten per cent of his total skin.
     Changes arising in the formation of serum protein when affected by a napalm burn are different from other burns, such as from hot water or a heated stone: a napalm burn shows a decline in the total volume of serum protein (3.5-4.9 per cent) and in {201} albumin (34.9-62 per cent). Globulin will show an increase in d1 (6.6-13.5 per cent) and an increase in d2 (5.6-13.4 per cent, a remarkable figure). There will also be an increase in d (17-25 per cent). The A/G ratio, therefore, is on the decline (0.53-1.63 per cent).
     The fifth is an effect on the blood and internal organs. Napalm victims on the whole are likely to develop anaemia. One case was of a victim who had a red blood corpuscle count of 4,600,000 and an Hb reading of ninety-nine per cent the day he was affected, but the next day they were reduced to 1,010,000, thirty per cent, and he died. There was another victim who had a count of 4,300,000 red blood corpuscles and a sixty-nine per cent Hb the day he was affected, and he died on the second day. At the same time, the number of white blood corpuscles increases. Along with anaemia, many victims complain of kidney trouble, suffering haematuria and albuminuria beginning right after the moment of injury.
     The sixth is a change in the bones. There is a phenomenon of bone-ashes dropping away and burnt bones fusing together or disappearing. X-ray examination reveals that most change is seen close to the bone joints.
     This is the outline of the changes that are caused by napalm in the human body. We definitely affirm that the napalm bomb is an extremely brutal weapon in that it not only burns people to death but leaves anyone who survives with after-effects of hideous keloids, general disorders and carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as disturbances in the nervous system.
     What is more, it is reported that not only napalm bombs, but also other combustion bombs, such as thermite and magnesium bombs, are being used in North Vietnam. No medical reports are available on these bomb victims, because such intense heat is generated that victims may be burnt to ashes. We observed part of the stomach that was left of a woman who was burned to death by the explosion of what seemed to be a magnesium bomb. {202}

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