TO LISTEN to Major Stephen Hambrook actually defuzing a 1,000Lb bomb dropped on Stanley Airfield during the Falklands war in 1983 , click on Link below and here his commentary.
The actual Kidney plate from that bomb
P78 allways pistol from the bomb
I have dedicated this page to my late friend Major Stephen Hambrook MBE GM For those lucky enough to have met Stephen all will tell you what an interesting soldier and officer Stephen was.
In conversation with me one day he thinks he spent as much time under water in Valletta Harbour Malta as he did on land , he took part in a joint operation clearing Japanese bombs and other ordnance from Pennang a particularly nasty operation as the snakes had infested the buried ordnance some of which was in a highly dangerous state , Stephen only joined that operation because the Sgt he replaced was injured.
An article here in the uk states that Stephen was the army's top bomb disposal officer , in fact there is a lovely picture of Stephen in a bomb dump smiling and his foot on a bomb case.
Stephen also helped in the safe disposal of the last German parachute mine found in London in Kentish town he helped Major fletcher.
Pages from the service held at Barnham crematorium 5 th March 2015
Kidney plate from British MC1000Lb Bomb which was succesfully defuzed by Major Stephen Hambrook at Stanley airfield 29 th December 1982
Pistol P78 found in british MC1000Lb Stanley airfield
Top view of P78 Pistol Note arming vane missing ,showing that pistol had armed and was fully live
Bottom view of P78 pistol with striker just showing
Sectioned view of P78 pistol
The P78 Pistol was an allways acting tail pistol
used in 500 and 1,000Lb Medium Capacity bombs
Type Instananeous impact All ways acting
Arms in flight after 15 revolutions of arming vane which then detaches
History of Bomb
The bomb was located by Royal Engineers searching the area of Stanley airfield Major Hambrook being tasked to clear this UXB located approx 1,200 yards south of the control tower.
Major Hambrook gently scraped away the sand from around the bomb and gingerly examined the tail pistol confirming his worse fears it was a type 78 all ways acting pistol, the same type that had killed Staff Sgt Jim prescott and badly injured Sgt Major John Phillips whilst trying to defuze a bomb on the frigate Antelope 8 days earlier.
It is suspected that this bomb was probably dropped from a British harrier jet at too lower an altitude and failed to detonate , it was found facing the control tower and pointing down at about 3 degree angle.
Having contacted control tower who diverted all movement of aircraft and personel and instigated a no fly zone Major Hambrook ,alone undertook the long walk again to dufuze the bomb.
Making sure the area was clear Major Hambrook assembled a microphone on a very long lead to a tape recorder a distance away so that if anything happened ,those on the ground would know what had happened, the manual states that this sort of pistol should not be defuzed by hand,but with millions of pounds of aircraft around Stephen himself decided the only option was to take it out by hand.
Kneeling next to this cold blooded monster Stephen read out loud into the microphone the details on the kidney plate (A brass plate with manfacturers details etc ) it read
Manf and Date PAT3?69 correction PAT3/68
Type MC 1,000Lb Mk13
Ref No12A 368 Correction 360
lot No Empty Not filled in
Ser Number C4418
Filler date GD9/70
ser number filled 417
Pausing for a moment and with a nasty wind blowing Major Hambrook went back to the pistol and confirmed again that it was a type P78 tail pistol and that it was fully armed and that any sudden movement could cause the bomb to detonate.
The pistol was held in by a multi tagged washer that fitted into recesses in the fuze pocket,these would have to be bent upwards very carefully before he could even think of unscrewing the pistol.
Wipeing hs hands on a piece of cloth he looked into his tool bag to find a suitable screwdriver in which to bend the lugs upwards,these he did without any problems, at least now he could very carefully begin to unscrew the pistol,again searching in his tool kit Stephen found a pair of stilson (Long nosed wrench) gingerly he applied the cloth around the head of the pistol to act as a cushion and fitted the wrench conscious that any sudden movement could detonate the bomb.
At first the pistol refused to budge,several times Major Hambrook attempted to loosen the pistol ,each time the stillsons wouldnt take hold , he didnt want to use Brute force and ignorance on such a delicate operation. several times more he tried until finally he felt a bit of movement, he rested for a while , then managed to free the pistol enough to unscrew by hand,this he relayed into the tape recorder that he had finally managed to loosen the pistol,enough to carefully unscrew the remainder by hand.
The pistol was now out of the bomb, but he couldnt rest yet ,as with this type of pistol the detonator,was inserted first and then the pistol, therefore what went in first comes out last ! the detonator used was was extremely sensitive and Major Hambrook had no way of knowing what its state was! ,luckly in his tool kit he had a pair of measuring calipers,which being long would be able to reach inside and by opening them carefully , extract the detonator, this done Major Hambrook spoke into the microphone , "Mission complete , you can remove the No fly zone, and organise the removal of the bomb!" and he added he was off to catch up with his well earned sleep.
Pistol type 78 with Detonator attached
Top of Detonator
My gratitude to Major Hambrook for allowing me to publish his account A few weeks later Major Hambrook was checking a minefield and stepped on a unmarked mine outside the minefield he was checking and lost his leg.
SADLY Stephen died on the 6Th February 2015 I feel very proud to have actually met and talked to Stephen and for having the opportunity to acquire his Stanley bomb pistol.
Newspaper articles on Stephen
British 1,000lb bomb dropped by the Argentine airforce
500Lb Low drag bombs recovered from the Falklands
An interesting souvineer from the Falklands conflict was the instructions for laying the spanish C-3-B anti personell mines
This was found at the side of a actual mine, still in its original plastic bag (next picture)
OC of the RAF bomb disposal Flt Lt Swan
Copy of the Argentian surrender doccument 14Th June 1982