The Molotov cocktail, also known as a petrol bomb or alcohol bomb, is a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary devices. Due to the relative ease of production, they are frequently used by amateur protesters and non-professionally equipped fighters in urban guerrilla warfares. They are primarily intended to set targets ablaze rather than instantly destroy them.
The Molotov cocktail traces its origins to an improvised incendiary device that was used in the 1936–1939 Spanish Civil War in which General Francisco Franco had Spanish Nationalists use the weapons against Soviet tanks.
The name “Molotov cocktail” was coined by the Finns during the Winter War in World War II. During the war, the Soviet air force made extensive use of incendiaries and cluster bombs against Finnish troops and fortifications. When Soviet People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov claimed in domestic propaganda broadcasts that the USSR was not bombing Finland, but merely delivering food to the starving citizens, the Finns - who were not starving - started sarcastically to call the air bombs Molotov bread baskets. Soon the Finns responded by attacking advancing tanks with “Molotov cocktails”, which were “a drink to go with the food”. Molotov himself highly disliked the name. [read more]