Sunday, February 6, 2011

Witnesses at Pentagon on 9/11 Report Smelling Cordite, But Why?

After the September 11th attacks, hundreds of eyewitnesses told their stories. The stories varied, some contradicted, and overall they raised a lot of questions. One of the questions that was raised was why eyewitnesses reported smelling "cordite" or "gun smoke". Speculation has been floating around (Possibly based on the following quote.) that perhaps the smell of cordite means that secondary explosives had been set off at the Pentagon. This theory is a valid one, but my intention is to show that that idea is unlikely and even has a much more likely and reasonable explanation.

"Even before stepping outside I could smell the cordite. Then I knew explosives had been set off somewhere."Don Perkal

"We saw a huge black cloud of smoke, she said, saying it smelled like cordite, or gun smoke." - Gilah Goldsmith

Source: Wikipedia
"Cordite is a family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom from 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant. Like gunpowder, cordite is classified as a low explosive because of its slow burning rates and consequently low brisance. These produce a subsonic deflagration wave rather than the supersonic detonation wave produced by brisants, or high explosives. The hot gases produced by burning gunpowder or cordite generate sufficient pressure to propel abullet or shell to its target, but not enough to destroy the barrel of the firearm, or gun.
A United Kingdom government committee, known as the "Explosives Committee", chaired by Sir Frederick Abel, monitored foreign developments in explosives and obtained samples of Poudre B and Ballistite. However, neither of these smokeless powders were recommended for adoption by the Explosives Committee.

Abel and Sir James Dewar, who was also on the committee, developed and jointly patented in 1889 a new ballistite-like propellant consisting of 58% nitroglycerine, by weight, 37% guncotton (nitrocellulose) and 5%vaseline. Using acetone as a solvent, it was extruded as spaghetti-like rods initially called "cord powder" or "the Committee's modification of Ballistite" but this was swiftly abbreviated to "Cordite".
 Cordite began as a double-base propellant and later triple-base cordites were developed. Cordite was made by combining two high explosives: nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine. Whilst cordite is classified as anexplosive, it is not employed as a high explosive. It is designed to deflagrate, or burn, to produce high pressure gases."

We read above that cordite is not considered a high explosive, and additionally, it is used in ammunition to slow the burn rate of the gunpowder, which is also a low power explosive. So why would someone use Cordite, a low power explosive at the Pentagon in an attack that requires the use of high powered explosives? That doesn't make enough sense, so we're left to find a more reasonable explanation. 

According to a personal source of mine, in Wedge 1 of the Pentagon where the plane hit, there happened to be a gun shop. Gun shops are known to stock ammunition, and the Pentagon is no exception. Based on this information, the presence of the smell of cordite or gun smoke is not unreasonable or unexpected. Perhaps the witnesses were either unaware of the gun shop, or simply didn't make the connection. Another 9/11 question answered.

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