Question about the Molotov Cocktail

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Laurance.Robinson
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Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Laurance.Robinson » 24 Sep 2019 14:05

Currently writing an entry for Tanks Encyclopedia looking at the Molotov Cocktail.

I have seen the date 3rd/4th and 7th of December being cited for when the first official manufactured Molotovs arriving on the battlefield.

Does any one of which date is correct?

Regards as always,

Lare

Mangrove
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Mangrove » 03 Oct 2019 15:07

Laurance.Robinson wrote:
24 Sep 2019 14:05
I have seen the date 3rd/4th and 7th of December being cited for when the first official manufactured Molotovs arriving on the battlefield.
According to Olli Vehviläinen's "Rajamäen tehtaat 1888-1963", the first empty 0.5 litre bottles were ordered "a few weeks" before the start of the Winter War. This would suggest the first hand made bottles were ready when the war started. According to Olli Kauppila's "Rajamäen tehtaat 1888-1988", ALKO shipped 20,000 empty bottles to the front on 9 December 1939. 10,000 bottles were sent to Hiekka station (II Corps at Viipuri), 5,000 bottles to "Sairaala" station (sic!, III Corps at Sairala, Kirvu) and 5,000 bottles to Alattu station (IV Corps at Suistamo). ALKO did not start to manufacture Molotov cocktails until late December 1939.

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Laurance.Robinson
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Laurance.Robinson » 06 Oct 2019 21:16

Mangrove wrote:
03 Oct 2019 15:07
Laurance.Robinson wrote:
24 Sep 2019 14:05
I have seen the date 3rd/4th and 7th of December being cited for when the first official manufactured Molotovs arriving on the battlefield.
According to Olli Vehviläinen's "Rajamäen tehtaat 1888-1963", the first empty 0.5 litre bottles were ordered "a few weeks" before the start of the Winter War. This would suggest the first hand made bottles were ready when the war started. According to Olli Kauppila's "Rajamäen tehtaat 1888-1988", ALKO shipped 20,000 empty bottles to the front on 9 December 1939. 10,000 bottles were sent to Hiekka station (II Corps at Viipuri), 5,000 bottles to "Sairaala" station (sic!, III Corps at Sairala, Kirvu) and 5,000 bottles to Alattu station (IV Corps at Suistamo). ALKO did not start to manufacture Molotov cocktails until late December 1939.
Thanks

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alpinoinMT
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by alpinoinMT » 07 Oct 2019 04:30

Were all these bottles 0.5 litre ? or were there any other sizes?
a reporter once asked me, after an awards ceremony
"are purple hearts for soldiers & bronze stars for officers?'

Mangrove
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Mangrove » 07 Oct 2019 17:33

alpinoinMT wrote:
07 Oct 2019 04:30
Were all these bottles 0.5 litre ? or were there any other sizes?
The ones ordered from ALKO in November and at least in early December were all 0.5 litre bottles.

Seppo Koivisto
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Seppo Koivisto » 08 Oct 2019 18:54

According to Sotahistoriallinen aikakauskirja 24 (page 137) first Molotov Cocktails filled by Alko were delivered to 2nd Army Corps on 4th December 1939. In the beginning of December Minister of Defense Juho Niukkanen had ordered Alko to mass produce Molotov Cocktails. In December Alko filled 201 887 bottles and over half million during the Winter War. (There is a summary in English from page 150.)
https://www.sshs.fi/pdf/Sotahistorialli ... 202005.pdf

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Juha Tompuri » 09 Oct 2019 07:04

Thank you Seppo!
Very interesting reading.

Regards, Juha

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Laurance.Robinson
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Laurance.Robinson » 10 Oct 2019 12:43

Seppo Koivisto wrote:
08 Oct 2019 18:54
According to Sotahistoriallinen aikakauskirja 24 (page 137) first Molotov Cocktails filled by Alko were delivered to 2nd Army Corps on 4th December 1939. In the beginning of December Minister of Defense Juho Niukkanen had ordered Alko to mass produce Molotov Cocktails. In December Alko filled 201 887 bottles and over half million during the Winter War. (There is a summary in English from page 150.)
https://www.sshs.fi/pdf/Sotahistorialli ... 202005.pdf
Thanks Seppo, I second Juha's words. Very interesting indeed.

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Harri
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Harri » 27 Oct 2019 00:14

As a curiosity it is worth mentioning that when industrially produced Molotov Cocktails were delivered and Soviets captured these their producer "Alko" in Rajamäki became one of Soviets' primary aerial bombing targets. The reason was that no-one had noticed that in the bottle top was a clear text: "ALKO Oy Alko Ab Rajamäen tehtaat" or something like that (the same as in an ordinary alcohol bottle).

There are still three original Molotov's Cocktails in Finland (only in Finnish):
https://www.is.fi/kotimaa/art-2000001159984.html

The contents of this bottle seems to have more alcohol and petrol than tar. And it has been opened.

Robert M Hammond
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Robert M Hammond » 03 Feb 2023 02:46

Dear Listers:

Hello! My very limited research shows me the following (PLEASE, correct me if I have misspelled people's name):

On the same day as the invasion, Major Kuittinen contacted Mr. Niukkanen directly about the need for the Alko Company’s bottling capabilities to make petrol bombs. Later that day, Mr. Niukkanen circumvented bureaucracy and issued an emergency directive to Alko for the immediate manufacture of 40,000 petrol bombs. Dr. Virtanen then communicated with Mr. Niukkanen about the glass ampule of sulfuric acid. Niukkanen agreed to utilize Virtanen’s suggested improvement to the petrol bomb. This modification would require mass production of the glass ampule; however, due to the delicate nature of its manufacture, this would cause most petrol bombs to be made using the match light version. The Alko Company immediately started hiring assembly line workers in order to expedite production of the petrol bombs. By the following day, Alko had hired ninety-two people (87 women, 5 men) enabling the plant to operate 24-hours a day. The order for the 40,000 petrol bombs was completed by the end of 2 December.

During the Talvisota (Winter War), Dr. Virtanen’s expertise in chemistry would shine in the defense of Finland. He crafted a sulfuric acid ignition device that was very similar to one found in Russian naval mines (which used a vial of sulfuric acid surrounded by a mixture of sugar and potassium perchlorate). When these three compounds combined they would ignite violently and cause the explosives inside the naval mine to detonate. For his efforts, Dr. Virtanen would eventually be awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1945.

The first of these petrol bombs arrived on 3 December in wooden cases marked TOP SECRET. The majority of the remaining 40,000 petrol bombs were delivered the next day. It appears that the vast majority of the Finnish military learned of this wonder weapon during the first week of the Winter War when wooden cases were delivered to the front lines with petrol bombs inside. The soldiers realized they would have to get extremely close to the tanks to use these petrol bombs.

The one military intelligence failure in the production of the Molotov Cocktail was the use of the pre-existing metal bottle caps at the Alko factory. These caps were imprinted with the words, “Alko - Rajamäki”, which tipped off the Russian military. This military intelligence blunder came to light on 26 December when Russian bombers attacked the Alko factory. Fortunately for the Finns, none of the bombs hit their intended target. Because of this attack, the Finns installed 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns on towers near the factory. The Russians would attempt to bomb the factory eight more times. Aside from a few windows shattered by concussions, the bombs did not damage the factory. To add to the consternation of Russian aircrews, Finnish anti-aircraft crews shot down or damaged seven bombers; bombers which could have been deployed elsewhere in support of Russian ground forces.

I hope this helps. Please, let me know if you see any errors. Most respectfully submitted,
Robert

Lammio
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Lammio » 10 Feb 2023 17:31

Robert M Hammond wrote:
03 Feb 2023 02:46
For his efforts, Dr. Virtanen would eventually be awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1945.
He did not get his Nobel Prize for making the Molotov Cocktail better. 8-)

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemi ... graphical/

Robert M Hammond
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Re: Question about the Molotov Cocktail

Post by Robert M Hammond » 11 Feb 2023 06:57

Lammio wrote:
10 Feb 2023 17:31
Robert M Hammond wrote:
03 Feb 2023 02:46
For his efforts, Dr. Virtanen would eventually be awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1945.
He did not get his Nobel Prize for making the Molotov Cocktail better. 8-)

https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemi ... graphical/
Dear Lammio,

Hi! Thank you for sharing this with me. I still have much to learn!

All the best,
Robert

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