On April 16, 1945, a flight of British Royal Air Force Lancaster bombers and their escorts took off on a bombing run.
A German Kriegsmarine warship, sitting anchored in the Piast Canal, now part of Poland, had been spotted by reconnaissance aircraft.
The boat was seemingly a sitting duck.
The squadron was armed with Tallboy bombs, seismic ordnance that works by forcefully crashing into the earth and delivering a powerful shockwave to rock nearby structures.
This style of munition was a wartime secret and helped Allied air forces keep up the strategic campaign against infrastructure feeding the Nazi war machine.
After spotting the ship, the Lancaster pummeled it with explosives. Although not all of the Tallboys hit their mark, the ship was heavily damaged and partially sank in shallow water.
Although it was able to function as stationary artillery, the German cruiser Lutzow would never sail as a warship again. The loss came as the central Axis power’s defeat was imminent.
Fourteen days after the raid, Adolf Hitler would commit suicide in the Fuhrerbunker. A week later, Germany unconditionally surrendered, virtually ending the European theater of World War II.
For the next 75 years, an unexploded ordnance that had missed the Lutzow sat at the bottom of the canal until recent dredging of the waterway revealed the still-deadly munition.
Experts identified it as a Tallboy — otherwise known as an “earthquake bomb.”
According to Euronews, Polish navy divers attempted last week to neutralize the Tallboy, which had 3.6 tons of TNT. Some 750 nearby residents were evacuated Monday as work on the bomb began.
“No one has ever [neutralized] such a well-preserved Tallboy lying at the bottom of the water,” a spokesman from the 8th Polish Coast Defense Fleet told Euronews.
The delicate operation ended with a bang as the earthquake bomb detonated Tuesday, sending a shockwave across the canal and throwing water high into the sky.
Although no one was injured and there was no damage, the raw power of the decades-old explosive proves how deadly forgotten munitions found in old war zones can be.
Watch the detonation below:
While Polish divers weren’t able to successfully defuse the Tallboy, the destruction of the bomb is a step toward removing the last deadly reminders of World War II.
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