Divers Discover WWII “earthquake” Bomb in Shipping Channel

The Tallboy was a 5.5-ton seismic bomb
The Tallboy was a 5.5-ton seismic bomb

One of Poland’s busiest shipping channels just happens to be the location of one of the largest unexploded WWII bombs ever found in the country.

Employees of a German company were working to deepen and widen the Piast Channel when they discovered the Tallboy bomb. The Tallboy was a 5.5-ton seismic bomb which used by the British to destroy targets underground. It is one of the largest bombs used in WWII. The detonation of a Tallboy would trigger an earthquake that would destroy the target.

tallboy bpmb
Also known as the Earthquake Bomb

The Piast Channel starts in the Baltic port of Świnoujście in the northwest part of Poland and runs to the Szczecin Lagoon.

The bomb was reported by the company on  Monday, September 16, 2019.  Polish Navy divers then examined the bomb and analyzed it  and they were able to confirm that the bomb is a British Tallboy.

Tallboys were used by the British Dambuster squadron. On April 16, 1945, the squadron attacked the German cruiser Lützow that was anchored in the channel.  Lt. Commander Grzegorz Lewandowski of Poland’s 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla stated that the bomb is most likely one that missed its intended target.

RAF crew
RAF pilots checking their maps before flying on a bombing raid. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

This is not the first British bomb from WWII found in the channel while work has been going on. In August, a British air-dropped Mark VI navy mine was found. In July, a Mark IV mine was discovered.

Despite the massive firepower present in the bomb, the shipping channel has not been closed. According to Lewandowski, since the bomb had been sitting there for 74 years, they saw no reason to shut down the channel.

WW2 ship
The Lützow after being attacked by Allied bombers in 1945.

On September 20, 2019, a crisis team met to formulate a plan on how to remove the bomb. There is a need for abundant caution since the bombs have 2,400 kilograms of explosives with a blast radius of 13 kilometers.

About 160 residents needed to be evacuated when each of the smaller mines were found. For the Tallboy, it is possible that the entire town of 41,000 may need to be evacuated.

The bomb will need to be dug up as it is very well buried in the bottom of the channel.

The Tallboy was designed by the legendary British bomb inventor Barnes Wallis to bury deep into the ground. It was typically used to destroy German underground submarine shelters in occupied France.

Invented by the British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis

The bomb was so large that the Avro Lancaster bomber had to be specially modified to fit it. All extraneous equipment was removed from the plane. Even defensive guns were removed.

Near the end of WWII, the British became determined to destroy the German cruiser Lützow. It was a source of pride of the German Kriegsmarine and had originally been named the Deutschland. Hitler became concerned that it was too tempting a target to the Allies with that name, so it was renamed.

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The Lützow was damaged several times and used as a training ship until put back into action in 1945. The RAF’s 617 squadron finally sank the Lützow on April 16, 1945. It lay under water until the Russians salvaged it and sank it again with experimental weapons.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE