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Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) - Politics - Nairaland

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Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) by Ikengawo: 8:25am On Mar 07, 2011
3 Decades after, military engineer chronicles wonders of Biafran Ogbunigwe (missile)



By VINCENT UKPONG KALU

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dr. Felix Oragwu is a nuclear physicist and the arrowhead of the scientific and technological innovations that sustained secessionist Biafra during the thirty months of the Nigerian civil war. While many records have been made of the bloody struggle, there has not been much attempt to chronicle in details the scientific and technological feat that took place in Biafra.



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To fill that gap, Oragwu decided to provide that missing link by writing the book, Scientific and Technological Innovations in Biafra: The Ogbunigwe Fame 1967 – 1970.

Ogbunigwe, the deadly mass destruction missile that made the federal troop jittery, was a product of the scientific feat of Biafra. Oragwu revealed how the Biafran scientists were assembled and how the name ogbunigwe was coined.

The author, in an interview with Saturday Sun, informed that the book basically deals with two major things – the ability of a nation in the development of science and technology and an instrument for the economic and industrial development of a country. The book was supposed to have come out in the 1970s, but couldn’t because of the heightened emotions then.

How ogbunigwe was invented

Between late July and early September 1967, it was reported that Biafra enjoyed air superiority over Nigeria by mere possession of an old 1939-1945 war vintage B.26 Bomber. One early September morning in 1967, the old B.26 was, as usual, primed for action at the Enugu airport, where the bomber was normally stationed preparatory for its routine bombing trips on military targets in Nigeria.

A Bofor ground to anti-aircraft gun located near the Enugu Airport defended the airport and the bomber. The primed B.26 bomber was ready to take off, at about 0630 hours on that fateful day to Nigeria, when suddenly there appeared a fast moving, low flying Russian MIG 15 Jet fighter, over the Enugu Airport and Biafra airspace for the first time since the war began. No member of the Science and Technology (S&T) Group before this incident had witnessed a MIG Jet fighter in action. The MIG jet fighter promptly attacked the airport and deflated the tyres of B.26 bomber, thereby immobilizing the vital warhorse.

“Later in the evening of that eventful day, the Commander of Biafra Air Force, after recovering from the shock and humiliation of the morning incident, summoned his officers, including the commander of Biafra Army engineers and some leading members of the S&T Group to the Enugu Airport for advice on the matter and what to do to bring down the low flying MIG jet fighter without the ground-to-air anti-craft guns.

“The Air Force commander, in shaking voice, informed the small group assembled of the MIG 15 Jet incidence of that morning and the implications for Biafra short-lived air superiority over Nigeria.”

With the emergence of MIG jet fighters in the federal troops’ arsenal, the use of B26 bomber, says the author, had come to an end. The ‘Bofor’ gun at the Enugu Airport had become irrelevant against fast moving low flying jet fighters. Therefore, he sought for what could be done to contain the jet fighters and maintain the morale of the Biafran troops and the population at large.

“In the course of the deliberations, a number of suggestions were made. The most viable was to find a mechanism for sending up debris, dust, small pebbles and the like in the path of the flying jet fighters in the hope that these dust particles could be sucked in by the jet fighters to impede its propulsion, asphyxiate and bring the jet fighters down. The question was what type of mechanism could be produced easily and quickly in Biafra to accomplish the task.

“To utilize this scientific principle in throwing up the debris in the path of a fast flying Jet fighter, the S&T-Group had to solve two problems. The first was the rotation of the debris in the bucket to set up laminar flow without allowing the latter to spin, the second was to generate such a recoil that the reaction to the recoil could impart sufficient energy to the rotated debris to rise far beyond the rooftops and spread the contents over a large air space.

An engineer member of the S&T Group called William Achukwu, Agricultural Engineer, volunteered to design and fabricate a metallic bucket-like system for the trials.

“A series of trial tests with varying masses (light materials) and sizes of the debris respectively, depending on the mass/sizes of the debris, gave excellent results achieving heights of 30-1000 feet (10-30 meters) respectively depending on the mass/sizes of the debris. The Air Force commander, the military personnel present, and members of the S&T Group present who witnessed the feat achieved, were very excited and went into jubilation. Most people were convinced that the new mechanism was an answer to the jet fighters, and the S&T Group was directed to produce many of the devices to be used not only at the airports but also as air defense cover at various Biafran troop locations.

The name Ogbunigwe

“In October 1967, the federal troops, having captured and secured Enugu, the capital of Biafra were on their way to Awka and Onitsha, the commercial nerve centre of Biafra, through the old Enugu-Awka-Onitsha road. The well armed, heavily equipped federal troops, with their superior fire power, encountered a battalion of poorly equipped, out-gunned and virtually exhausted Biafran troops at the Ugwuoba Bridge, few kilometers into Awka. However the Biafran troops had on hand some of their air defence dust mines. Unable to withstand the superior firepower of the federal troops, they began to run for their dear lives carrying along with them their air defence ‘mines’. Their resourceful commander (whose name has escaped my memory) ordered them back and commanded them to place the air defence mines horizontally rather than vertically as designed and fire them on the approaching federal troops to see what would happen and thereafter run for their dear lives. The command was promptly carried out. Indeed, the federal troops could not understand what hit them. The effect of the horizontal detonation of the air defense dust mines was very devastating leading to loss of many federal troops, as well loss of large quantities of arms and ammunitions some of which got completely burnt. The devastation was, indeed, very extensive particularly in the unintended loss of military personnel, some of who died from the shock waves generated by the unexpected explosions. The mass of water, from the river below the bridge, was thrown up and widely spread by the generated waves, thus adding to the trauma of the advancing troops.

“The following morning some members of the S&T Group were summoned to Ugwuoba Bridge by the military to help explain the new phenomenon and what really had happened to make the air defense dust mines accomplish what they did. Meanwhile, the people of Amansi Awka, the neighbouring village, were called out to the scene to help in burying the dead. An elderly man from Amansi Awka on seeing the large number of dead soldiers along the bridge exclaimed in Igbo: “ogbuefa n’igwe” (the dust mine had killed them in masses or massively). That was how the otherwise anti-aircraft “Air Dust Mine” got its name ogbunigwe (mass killer) and the S&T Group came to be referred to by the generality of the Biafra public as ogbunigwe people.

“Arising from the Ugwuoba incident, a device designed and fabricated as an anti aircraft dust mine had suddenly become useful as a ground-to-ground weapon with devastating impact beyond imagination. Its new mode of deployment provided Biafra with additional ammunitions. This incident vindicated the adage “that necessity is the mother of invention.”

*The book was presented in Lagos yesterday

Re: Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) by Adonike(m): 9:01am On Mar 07, 2011
'Wonders' go on!
Re: Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) by alex101(m): 3:47pm On Mar 07, 2011
Dr. Oragwu has just made a big mistake by writing a book about our dear "ogbunigwe" imo. undecided This should be our (Ndigbo's) classified document and not for any non-Igbo to have access to. angry

The blue print for this Biafran made bomb should be preserved by the Igbo leadership,,,,,,,,,, as a matter of fact, it should ONLY be in the "hand" of Ohaneze. There ought to be a group of Igbo sons and daughters who should be working on modernizing this bomb to suit/fit into the 21st century. I say this because of future events that may warrant us Ndigbo the need to deploy these bombs in enemy territory. cool
Re: Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) by ekubear1: 4:19pm On Mar 07, 2011
Skimmed through the post, didn't read through it closely. But doesn't seem like new technology? Just making tech under adverse circumstances?

If you have a solid engineer and he has access to a machine shop he can probably make pretty much anything.

Unless the purpose is just ot learn, things only become interesting if:
A) He makes something novel
B) He makes it cheaper than it ordinarily is made

Otherwise, nothing really groundbreaking, is it?
Re: Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) by KokoBeware: 7:58pm On Oct 22, 2012
eku_bear: Skimmed through the post, didn't read through it closely. But doesn't seem like new technology? Just making tech under adverse circumstances?

If you have a solid engineer and he has access to a machine shop he can probably make pretty much anything.

Unless the purpose is just ot learn, things only become interesting if:
A) He makes something novel
B) He makes it cheaper than it ordinarily is made

Otherwise, nothing really groundbreaking, is it?

This was the 60's nothing short of groundbreaking for d time in question.
Re: Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) by kodewrita(m): 11:16pm On Oct 22, 2012
why hoard designs for an incendiary device in an age of hunter-killer drones-for-sale? Celebrate past achievements. accepted. But realise that technology has moved far beyond that now.

Nowadays rather than cower from planes or invent an ogbunigwe, we would simply buy a few SAM rockets and a few well trained and well hidden MANPAD units could wipe out a helicopter gunship platoon or two.
Re: Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) by obicentlis: 11:02pm On Jan 21, 2013
Its a big feat that could have seen Biafra in per with the western powers.
Re: Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) by manny4life(m): 4:00am On Jan 22, 2013
alex101: Dr. Oragwu has just made a big mistake by writing a book about our dear "ogbunigwe" imo. undecided This should be our (Ndigbo's) classified document and not for any non-Igbo to have access to. angry

The blue print for this Biafran made bomb should be preserved by the Igbo leadership,,,,,,,,,, as a matter of fact, it should ONLY be in the "hand" of Ohaneze. There ought to be a group of Igbo sons and daughters who should be working on modernizing this bomb to suit/fit into the 21st century. I say this because of future events that may warrant us Ndigbo the need to deploy these bombs in enemy territory. cool

Whether he discusses it or not, the world has since moved into a better shape. The world weapons market has advanced weaponry, different types and standards, depending on what your end mission is. I understand we need to preserve this technology, but even the U.S. declassifies materials or weapons 30+years or more since existence.

Modernizing of bombs requires resources, manpower, and advanced technology and machines. Ogbunigwe was the sh.it in the 60's, no doubt, but today, that technology is somewhat obsolete. In the future, should ndigbo be needing it, solid modern day weaponry is advised.
Re: Wonders Of The Biafran War Tech (ogbunigwe) by obicentlis: 8:52am On Jan 22, 2013
manny4life:

Whether he discusses it or not, the world has since moved into a better shape. The world weapons market has advanced weaponry, different types and standards, depending on what your end mission is. I understand we need to preserve this technology, but even the U.S. declassifies materials or weapons 30+years or more since existence.

Modernizing of bombs requires resources, manpower, and advanced technology and machines. Ogbunigwe was the sh.it in the 60's, no doubt, but today, that technology is somewhat obsolete. In the future, should ndigbo be needing it, solid modern day weaponry is advised.
You must start from somewhere. Be it known to you that if we had had a good govt, a research should have followed immediately after the war to carry on or trigger a more modernize weapon. No inventions started and end at a particular point. Its a continuous effort to arrive at the best.

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