Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.



THE exhibits of the Research Department, Woolwich, at the Imperial War Museum, Crystal Palace, illustrate some of the work vital to the war which was done there, and incidentally our unpreparedness, much of it might have been done before. Amongst the specimens shown are the six isomers of T.N.T., isolated whilst devising new processes for the manufacture of the symmetrical variety, and for cheaply eliminating the undesirable isomers—a problem not yet fully solved. There are also specimens of amatol, which has largely replaced T.N.T. as a shell-filling; tetranitromethyl aniline, which is of increasing use an initiator of detonation in others; trinitrobenzene, which should have a future, and many others. The exhibits of fragments of shells detonated by picric acid, T.N.T., and amatol respectively show by the relative numbers of the fragments that picric acid still remains our most shattering shell explosive, and, the minuteness of most, how limited the killing range of such shells really is. The specimen of R.D.B. cordite illustrates how, when through lack of foresight our supply of acetone failed, our chemists and distilleries saved the situation by providing soluble nitrocellulose and alcohol-ether to gelatinise it. The sections of gaines show how the problem of detonating insensitive shell-fillings was solved during the war employing a series of explosives in the detonator, and accomplishing in several steps what could not be done with certainty in one. The specimens which display the eroding effect of hot gases on gun-tubes present problem to chemists which will probably be solved by the invention of a new alloy. An excellent series of X-ray photographs shows that great progress has been made in the penetration of metals. Internal flaws in parts are revealed, and also the internal structure of ammunition—an important matter when captured ammunition has to be examined and dissected. There are many other exhibits of interest.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Notes. Nature 105, 622–625 (1920).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing