DSTL Principal Advisor
David is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Chartered Scientist and Member of the Institute of Explosive Engineers with a degree in Chemistry and over 25 years of experience in science and technology involving explosives. He joined Dstl (DRA as it was) in 1993 and spent 12 years researching chemical and physical techniques for the detection of explosives for a number of MOD and OGD customers as well as providing direct support to military operations. In 2005 he was appointed Group Leader for the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Group leading research into the neutralisation and render safe of explosives.
He then spent 3 years on secondment to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reporting directly to the department’s Chief Scientific Advisor and producing the department’s Science and Technology Strategy. On his return to Dstl in 2011, David was appointed Group Leader for the UK Defence Exploitation Facility (UK DEF) and in July 2012, he took on Group Leadership of the newly formed Forensic Exploitation Group which merged the UK DEF with the Forensic Explosives Laboratory (FEL). In 2015 he was appointed as Group Leader for the Energetic Technologies Group leading the transition of the group’s capabilities from Fort Halstead to Porton Down and responsible for the new Energetics Enclosure. In March 2019 he was appointed as a Dstl Fellow and is currently acts as Dstl’s Principal Advisor for EOD and the Technical Strategy Leader for Explosives and Energetics.
There remains an enduring challenge of rendering safe German air dropped bombs
(Abwurfmunitions) from World War 2 in the UK. It is estimated that there were approximately 50,000 bombs dropped on the UK. Urban regeneration routinely leads to the discovery of those which failed to explode and present a continuing threat. Such operations take time to resolve, with commensurate financial and social impact on the local economy and residents. Recent presentations at the OME Symposium and article in the IExpE Journai2 described the various stages of a recent Air Dropped Weapons (ADW) task at Kingston-Upon-Thames and the operational difficulties an operator may encounter. A previous article described the effects of ageing on munitions in post conflict situations around the world3• The aim of this presentation is to build on these articles and describe the specific scientific challenges arising from dealing with WW2 bombs and the programme of work underway to provide enhanced understanding and tools for the operator to employ, with the purpose of reducing the time taken to return the situation to normality. The presentation will start with an overview of the variety of different air dropped munitions used by the Luftwaffe in WW2, including different fuzes and explosive fills, drawing on contemporary sources wherever possible. It will then report progress on a number of scientific lines of experimentation, including:
- Ageing of the explosives in the different parts of the explosive train
- Thermal attack methods and options
- Fuze attack
- Water jet cutting
- Effectiveness and opportunities to enhance current equipment
- Mitigation options
The presentation will end with thoughts as to how the wider UK R&D community- government, industry, and academia – can work together with the aspiration that before the centenary of the end of WW2, this threat has finally been eliminated.