The Molotov cocktail, also known as the petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, Molotov bomb, fire bottle, fire bomb, or simply Molotov, is a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons. Due to the relative ease of production they are frequently used by non-professionally equipped fighters and others who cannot afford, manufacture, or obtain hand grenades. They are primarily intended to set targets ablaze rather than instantly destroy them.
A Molotov cocktail is a breakable bottle containing a flammable substance such as gasoline (petrol) or a napalm-like mixture and usually a source of ignition such as a burning cloth wick held in place by the bottle's stopper. The wick is usually soaked in alcohol or kerosene, rather than petrol.
In action, the wick is lit and the bottle hurled at a target such as a vehicle or fortification. When the bottle smashes on impact, the ensuing cloud of petrol droplets and vapor are ignited, causing an immediate fireball followed by a raging fire as the remainder of the fuel is consumed.
Other flammable liquids such as wood alcohol, turpentine and E85 have been used in place of petrol. Thickening agents such as tar, strips of tire tubing, sugar, blood, XPS foam, egg whites, motor oil, rubber cement, and dish soap have been added to help the burning liquid adhere to the target and create clouds of thick, choking smoke.
The name "Molotov cocktail" is derived from Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, who was the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars (i.e. Soviet Prime Minister) and the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union during World War II. The soldiers of the Finnish Army successfully used Molotov cocktails against Red Army tanks in the two conflicts (Winter War and Continuation War) between Finland and the Soviet Union, and coined the term to mock Molotov. Molotov cocktails were even mass-produced by the Finnish military, bundled with matches to light them. They had already been used in the Spanish Civil War, sometimes propelled by a sling.
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