November 18, 2015

The bomb that brought down a jet?



"The Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula last month, released an image that purports to show the improvised explosive device used to kill all 224 people aboard the flight from Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt."

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, that's terrifyingly easy. Although I'm not sure it's a great idea to advertise how terrifyingly easy it is.

Achilles said...

Petn detonator and looks like an accelerant to push it into. Probably balled up det cord. If so it would get wrapped around the can. The can looks like it would hold a poundish c4. With shrapnel it could have a decent kill radius. Shaped it could cut a small hole in the plane wall. Unshaped It would do little to a mud brick wall and I don't know how a plane wall compares.

If a small hole will bring down a plane i guess. It doesn't seem like it would though.

Curious George said...

That's #34 on garage's list of the top threats he foresees in his neighborhood.

Big Mike said...

@Achilles, near a fuel tank would be more than adequate.

Derp said...

@Achilles, near a fuel tank would be more than adequate

I am sure that they bearer of the bomb probably forced his way to a specific seat.

Skeptical Voter said...

Except that apparently the fuselage broke in two aft of the wing while the plane was at altitude.

Not certain that a pound of C4 or more likely Semtex is strong enough to do that. I think that ISIS is yanking our chain with that photo. I'll buy the idea that a bomb did it--but I'm not certain it was "that" bomb.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

If anyone remembers anything about a President, it is usually just one or two short sentences.

Washington was the father of his country.
Lincoln freed the slaves.
Reagan defeated the Soviet Union.

Obama, first black president, made Jimmy Carter look good in retrospect.

Kylos said...

Plus, that bomb looks like it has a manual trigger. Maybe ISIS isn't good with math, but they claimed that bomb caused the deaths of "219 Russians and 5 other crusaders". With 224 on board, that doesn't leave any room for a jihadist.

Lem said...

Is Althouse a Mastermind Denier?

Soldering Science not Settled.

Michael K said...

Decompression might have been part of it. Modern jets fly much higher than the prop airliners and decompression becomes more of a factor.

Lem said...

Aren't they are missing MacGyver's paper clip?

cubanbob said...

Pardon the pun but it looks like they are pulling our chain. Such a bomb it would appear would require a passenger to manually detonate it, be seated near a structural area of the plane for maximum affect and would require the bomber to have got the bomb onto the aircraft. More probable is the bomb was planted in someone's luggage as was the case in the Lockerbie bombing.

traditionalguy said...

That looks like a bomb that jihadist trained women and children could easily plant with no trouble. Lets be American and admit a few hundred thousand more of the Alauackbar Brigades tomorrow to take baggage handler jobs.

mikee said...

Schweppes makes pineapple soda? Western civilization is indeed a wondrous and awe-inspiring force!

Based solely on my just now learning that there exists pineapple soda made by Schweppes in this world, I'd say ISIS has no future.

I recall that up to 40% of all US industry was required to produce war materials in order to defeat the Axis powers in World War II, while Germany and Japan had 100% of their industry attempting to supply the troops by 1944.

Imagine if a country that has enough innovation and resources to make pineapple soda devoted just 2% of its energy and resources to eradicating the annoyance of ISIS. The jihadis would never know what hit them as they went, very suddenly, to the harsh judgement of the afterlife.

alan markus said...

Pardon the pun but it looks like they are pulling our chain

Well, a kid can put the guts of a Radio Shack clock into a case and claimed he "built that clock" and the President believed him (and he got invite to the White House). ISIS might think we are "low-hanging" fruit (at least the President and everyone else who fell for the Radio Shack clock scam)

Larry J said...

From what I recall, the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103 was hidden in a portable radio. It doesn't take a lot of explosive to bring down a plane, especially if the explosive is placed properly (by a ground agent) instead of simply being hidden in a luggage bin. Blowing a hole in the aft pressure bulkhead, for example, can tear the plane's tail apart as what happened to Japan Airlines Flight 123 back in the 1980s.

Dave D said...

What bothers me most is that their backwards, medieval culture couldn't have invented/developed the soda can, let alone the detonator, plastic explosives and wire harness to actually pull this off.

Achilles said...

Big Mike said...
"@Achilles, near a fuel tank would be more than adequate."

I don't think you can get close enough to those from the passenger compartment. We built shape charges out of soda cans. They will reach about 2 feet through "stuff."

Bobby said...

The aviators here tell me that the Brits, with their de Havilland Comet, had several flights break up in flight in the 1950s, and couldn't figure out what was causing it. They apparently "reverse pressurized" it by filling it with water and found that it was due to a structural flaw related to the fibreglass windows- the windows would get blown out and the plane would subequently break apart. (They scoff at the Hollywood portrayal of people getting sucked out the openings.) They all tell me that it's theoretically possible that a guy using this device manually against a window could possibly have brought down this plane, but they don't buy it.

I studied electrical, not aerospace, engineering and I'm a ground guy, not an aviator. So I have no idea how accurate any of this is.

Achilles said...

I would also point out that all of those items would trigger a dog from a quarter mile. If you handled them a dog would trigger on you.

exhelodrvr1 said...

"Except that apparently the fuselage broke in two aft of the wing while the plane was at altitude.
Not certain that a pound of C4 or more likely Semtex is strong enough to do that."

The explosive doesn't have to blow it in two - just do enough structural damage that the aerodynamic forces (which are very significant at that speed) can do the rest.

alan markus said...

In the article, the NYT says "The image of the device recalls the sort of “liquid bomb” three British men were planning to use in 2006 to blow up flights over the Atlantic.

They link to their article from 2009 about the jury verdicts - at the end of the article, “We have warned you enough,” Mr. Ali said. “We have warned you again and again to leave our lands.” In his video, Mr. Hussain said his only regret was that “I can’t come back and do this again and again until people come to their senses and realize, ‘Don’t mess with the Muslims.’ ” They must have had a real hard time having to use the term "Muslim", considering that it was a direct quote of something on video. But at least in the current article, they were able to use "British" despite the actors self-identifying as "Muslims".

Bobby said...

Achillies,

Agreed- IS has bragged about exploiting a loophole at the airport, which could possibly be something like an inside guy(s) waving it through. But if that were the case, why disclose what it was that brought it down and needlessly reduce the possibility of doing it again? Unless the inside guys already went on the run and there's no incentive to preserve the viability of the method of attack in the future?

Sammy Finkelman said...

@Kylos. We know it wasn't a passenger, because they were all real people (not false identities) not linkable to terrorism.

Fabi said...

That can't be a bomb! All of Ahmed the Clockmaker's defenders told us exactly what a real bomb would look like!

Where are those experts now? Hello!

Sammy Finkelman said...

Here is a link from the Long War Journal that contains an additional photograph some additional details about the ISIS magazine article not in the New York Times article.

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/11/islamic-state-releases-photograph-of-bomb-that-brought-down-russian-airliner.php

They claim to have exclusive pictures of some Russian passports. One name is mostly visible. It is photoshopped on to some opicture of wreckage.

The caption is:

"EXCLUSIVE: Passports belonging to dead crusaders obtained by the mujahidin"

Sammy Finkelman said...

Interesting: Russia describes it as an IED and then this publication does.

richlb said...

Great. Now I won't even be able to take a Diet Rite onto the plane.

Derp said...

The explosive doesn't have to blow it in two - just do enough structural damage that the aerodynamic forces (which are very significant at that speed) can do the rest.

No no no! Next you are going to tell me that the twin towers didn't collapse due to a series of explosions planted by Bush operatives!

jr565 said...

So if that were brought to a school what should teachers make of it? Why would the clock produced bu the Muslim student produce no scrutiny, but this one is obviously a Bomb?

Curious George said...

Did you know Steve Jobs dad drank Pineapple Schweppes?

Sammy Finkelman said...

@derp. About the World Trade Center:

This is funny:

https://xkcd.com/690/

Sammy Finkelman said...

TWA Flight 800 was actually probably brought down by a small hole, followed by a fire on the outside of the plane, and finally a crack that expanded and destroyed the fuselage.

Bobby said...

Fabi, jr565,

Because the "clock" had no place for hidden explosives, whereas the soda can could have hidden up to maybe a pound of C4 in it. But that's not really the point, because both teachers stated they knew it was not a bomb and did not suspect it was a bomb when they saw it. And we don't yet know for sure that this was the bomb that brought down the Russians- IS lies a lot, it's not a good idea to take anything they say at face value.

Bobby said...

Note also that airport security is set up with special detection systems precisely to identify these kinds of disguised explosives. I don't expect teachers to ever be in a position where they're calling in the police on every student with a soda can, Muslim or otherwise, since the stakes are a bit different: a pound of C4 in a classroom is unlikely to do nearly as much damage as a pound of C4 on a plane, right?

Curious George said...

I think it's time to end the controversey and consult UW expert Kevin Barrett

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/01/education/01madison.html?_r=0

Larry J said...

Bobby said...
The aviators here tell me that the Brits, with their de Havilland Comet, had several flights break up in flight in the 1950s, and couldn't figure out what was causing it. They apparently "reverse pressurized" it by filling it with water and found that it was due to a structural flaw related to the fibreglass windows- the windows would get blown out and the plane would subequently break apart.


Not exactly: The first model of the Comet had square windows. This resulted in fatigue cracks forming near the corners of the windows that spread. You'll notice the pressurized planes don't have windows with square corners. The Comet accidents is the reason why.

The BubFather said...

Not sure how much it matters, but my understanding (read it somewhere) was that the bomb weighed 1 kg, which is about 2.2 pounds. I'm not a blowie uppie guy other than owning guns, but I'm guessing an an extra 1.2 pounds of explosives might matter at high altitude.

Bobby said...

Larry J,

Okay- got it. You did a better job of explaining it to me than they did.

The BubFather said...

I knew I read this somewhere - - - "Alexander V. Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, said investigators estimated that the bomb that brought down the Metrojet Airbus A321, killing all 224 people aboard, was made of up to 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of TNT. He added that “foreign made” explosive material had been found in the wreckage." - http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/world/europe/russia-plane-crash-bomb.html

Big Mike said...

@Derp, the bomb set onboard Phillipines Airline Flight 434 by Pakistani terrorist Ramsi Yousef was left behind under the seat on a previous flight. The bomber used a seating chart and transferred to a seat that would be over the main fuel tank. Unfortunately for him the actual plane used on the route was a different model 747 and his seat was not over the fuel tank after all. That, and the skill of the cockpit crew, were all that saved 292 passengers and crew (one passenger was killed by the bomb). You can view the story here or read about it here.

Commercial airliners are relatively fragile constructions.

John Henry said...

Larry J said...


Not exactly: The first model of the Comet had square windows. This resulted in fatigue cracks forming near the corners of the windows that spread.

Larry, are you a Norwegian? As in a fan of Neville Shute Norway?

Most people know him as Neville Shute for his novel On the Beach but he was also a highly accomplished aeronautical engineer and designer of oddball weapons in WWII (the big fireworks wheel you sometimes see being testes for D-Day was his invention)

In 1948 he wrote a novel called No Highway that predicted the breakup of the Comet from metal fatigue which actually happened 4-5 years later.

Also a pretty good movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Olivia de Havilland. (fittingly, Shute started and ended his aeronautical career at de Havilland Aircraft)

For more info on Shute and his novels, visit the Nevil Shute Foundation at www.nevilshute.org

John Henry

TreeJoe said...

This is excellent terrorist propaganda, when ISIS' (should really be Islamic State, or ISIL, or Daesh, but fine - ISIS even though they aren't just in Syria) when ISIS' magazine is extensively quoted and pictured in the NYTimes without heavy fact-checking first.

It's deliberately made to instill fear of flying, fear of how easy it can be to take down a plane, etc.

And look at how quickly it is taken up by our press - the same press who showed live video of police trying to break into the Bataclan (breaking journalistic rules).

I don't know how to fix our press. But I do know they need to be fixed.

Rusty said...

Achilles said...
Petn detonator and looks like an accelerant to push it into. Probably balled up det cord. If so it would get wrapped around the can. The can looks like it would hold a poundish c4. With shrapnel it could have a decent kill radius. Shaped it could cut a small hole in the plane wall. Unshaped It would do little to a mud brick wall and I don't know how a plane wall compares.

If a small hole will bring down a plane i guess. It doesn't seem like it would though.


It doesn't even have to do that. All that is necessary is to over pressure the interior of the cabin past its rated limits. IOW all it needs to do is blow out a few windows. Speed and altitude will do the rest.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

I'm curious about the engineering commenters here saying that a small hole in the right place can bring down a plane. It wasn't that long ago when I saw pictures of some plane which had its roof torn away, yet it still remained airborne and landed safely. Remember the photo of all the passengers still sitting in their seats with the roof and walls gone?

Bobby said...

Michael,

Yeah, the aviators I talked to specifically brought up Aloha Airlines Flight 243 (where the roof of the front section practically came off, and yet the pilot landed it fine) and two Southwest Airlines flights 812 and 2294 both of which ruptured holes in the plane and the pilots still made safe emergency landings. They just said "You never really know, it all just depends."

If it really was 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of explosives, then I'd have a hard time seeing that fit in that can. Maybe it was multiple cans? Or maybe IS is just lying- we should never take anything they say at face value.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Relatively small impacts/forces in the right spot can cause significant structural damage or significant damage to controls/control surfaces. And even relatively minor damage can become major, or have a disproportionate affect, if the pilots don't respond correctly.

Michael K said...

"The aviators here tell me that the Brits, with their de Havilland Comet, had several flights break up in flight in the 1950s, and couldn't figure out what was causing it."

The Comet story came a few years after Neville Shute, an aeronautical engineer, wrote "No Highway, a novel about metal fatigue causing a new airliner to crash. It was made into a pretty good movie with Jimmy Stewart. Shute also wrote "Ordeal" a novel that predicted the Blitz that came two years later. When his third novel predicting disaster came out, "On the Beach" it scared the shit out of me. I was in college and almost dropped out. I still don't like to read it.,

Michael K said...

"Remember the photo of all the passengers still sitting in their seats with the roof and walls gone?"

A stewardess was sucked out and lost. I leave my seat belt loosely fastened. She was walking up the aisle.

Carl Pham said...

Seems iffy. A standard soda can has a volume of 350 mL, and C-4 (for example) has a density of about 1.8 g/mL, so the can is not likely to hold more than 500g of explosive, and quite possibly as little as 300g, depending on how much you can jam in and still leave room for a detonator. There's not a lot of data on successful bombings of airplanes, but as I recall Korean 858 was brought down by about 1kg of explosives, hidden in a radio, and Pan Am 103 by about the same amount, hidden in a suitcase. You could always get lucky, of course.

Nichevo said...

I understand that the analysis of TWA flight 800 suggested that if an explosive had been placed directly over a half empty fuel tank, it could have been the size of a nickel. Placement is key. The NTSB if allowed will get to the bottom of this.

Alternatively, catch some of the people involved and tear their fingernails out. I'm sure the Russians have all the proper pliers, and if not, I suspect that either the Egyptians or the French will be happy to lend from their well-equipped toolboxes.

damikesc said...

We need more of this:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3321962/If-don-t-like-country-f-did-come-Impassioned-speech-Muslim-decries-ISIS-terrorists-trying-impose-Sharia-law-West.html

Nichevo said...

Also, I see wiring, I see red and green lights. I fully admit I don't know what I'm looking at or what I'm talking about more or less, but where you got electricity you got the ability to wire it into a circuit. Maybe they had an engineer who knew that at some stage of the flight, some control would be actuated, and they wired the detonator into that circuit.

Also, anybody notice that is one raggedy-assed looking can? I daresay if it had been in the beverage cart it would not have gone unnoticed even by a Russian. Seems possible Daesh is telling not the whole truth.

That said, those fuckers should be selling soap and greeting cards - as ad men, not as retailers.