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"Military Pyrotechnics"

US War Department Technical Manual TM 9-1981 of technical information regarding the properties, care, and use of aerial and ground flares, photoflash bombs, signals, and related items

Reprint of the Rare 1943 Edition
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Military Pyrotechnics

War Department Technical Manual TM 9-1981 describing technical information regarding aerial and ground flares, photoflash bombs, signals, smokes, and related items

Reprint of the Rare 1943 Edition


A veritable encyclopedia of military and pyrotechnics lore!

For a long time this book was a military secret. The cover is clearly marked "Restricted," and states this material may be given "only to persons of undoubted loyalty and discretion who are cooperating in Government work, but will not be communicated to the public or on the press."

(Page two bears one of the most famous names of World War II:  General of the Army George C. Marshall.  America's foremost soldier during World War II, Marshall served as chief of staff from 1939 to 1945, building and directing the largest army in history.  A diplomat, he acted as secretary of state from 1947 to 1949, formulating the "Marshall Plan", an unprecedented program of economic and military aid to foreign nations.)

And inside you'll find a wealth of practical and technical information for aerial and ground flares, parachute illumninants, photoflash bombs, colored smokes, signals, and dozens of related items.  More than 100 kinds of flares, bombs, signals, shells, and smoke grenades are described in great detail.

There's also information about chlorates and nitrates; magnesium and aluminum; barium, copper and strontium salts; and binding and waterproofing agents such as asphalt and paraffin; and "first-fire compositions" for ignition.

Just a few of the many fascinating topics in this once-restricted book are:

  • Photoflash bombs that produce 150,000,000 candlepower, for night photography
  • Parachute flares that give over 800,000 candlepower for 3 minutes or longer
  • Long-burning tow target flares for day and night anti-aircraft practice firing
  • Metallic-powder shells for surface reference slicks markings for air navigation
  • Parachute trip flares, to give warning of enemy marauders or infiltrating hostile trips ("Take care not to trip on your own trip wire," the manual advises.)
  • Signal rifle grenades for use with  the M1917, M1903, M1, and M1A1 combat rifles and carbines
  • Fluorescent dye "persistent slick" markers for reference points on water: visible up to 10 miles at 3,000 ft altitude
  • White, red, yellow, green, orange, violet, and black smoke grenades
  • High-burst ground signals
  • Floating night and navigational drift signals
  • "Blinker," cluster, multiple-star, and chain signals
  • White, colored, and multi-star parachute signals
  • Red  and double-star parachute aircraft signals
  • Aircraft parachute flares
  • Hnad-launched Very signal lights and airport flares
  • Time fuze mechanisms

There's also much excellent information for the safe handling and use of pyrotechnics, explosives, propellants, and other high-energy materials.  This alone could save your life, if you work with fireworks or amateur rockets!

  • Care, handling, and usage safety of fuzes, friction compositions, and percussion primers
  • Handling "duds" and misfires
  • Handling spilled and loose powder
  • Safe use of pyrotechnic pistols and launchers
  • Use of noninsulating safety shoes
  • Firefighting, toxicity, and storage magazine operations

Want more technical and theoretical material?  How about these topics:

  • Candlepower, pyrotechnic colors, and sensitivity to colors by the human eye
  • Burning and delay times, fall rates (ft/sec), dimensions, and weights
  • Complete details about pyrotechnic classifications, standard nomenclature and identification codes, painting and marking, service life and expiration dates
  • Illumination under different atmospheric conditions and tables of visibility
  • Penetrating haze and fog

This is a book by “the experts,” loaded with nearly 100 excellent photos and scale drawings, tables, and charts.  The entire volume is both an education and an entertaining “read.” 

Here's a small sampling of the fine illustrations:




Every serious rocket experimenter, pyrotechnician, fireworks hobbyist, and amateur scientist deserves a copy of Military Pyrotechnics in their library.  Read it.  Study it.  Learn the safest ways to handle energetic materials.  This Technical Manual might save your life.

We offer this rare digital reprint, printed with a high-resolution laser printer (not photocopied) on high-quality, bright-white, acid-free paper for years of reference use.  It’s is an attractive, quality-bound volume--a jewel of a book.  It has 72 pages, an excellent index, and measures 8.5 x 5.5-inches.  ISBN 1-878628-16-X     $17.95

USA (Insured Priority Mail: $3.85)
International (Priority Airmail: $9.85)

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