Molotov breadbasket


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Coined around 1940 to describe cluster munitions used in Finland by the Soviet Union during the 1939–1940 Winter War. From Molotov +‎ bread basket, after Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov. Compare Molotov cocktail.


Molotov breadbasket (plural Molotov breadbaskets)

  1. A cluster bomb; a munition that disperses multiple smaller explosives.
    • 2001, Steven H. Newton, Kursk: The German View[1], page 187:
      Our bombardment aircraft dropped this armament in bomb-shaped 250- and 500-kilogram canisters (models AB250 and AB500). These fragmentation bombs proved to be extremely effective against live targets when discharged by a scatter drop (an adaptation of the Molotov “bread basket”).
  2. (specifically) The RRAB-3, a Soviet cluster bomb.
    • 1940, “Soviet army's new weapons”, in Life, volume 8, number 14, page 34:
      Molotov breadbasket” is a large bomb container which, whirled by its fins, drops low, then sprays out a mass of 4 1/2 pound incendiary bombs.
    • 2010, Gro Nystuen and Stuart Casey-Maslen, The Convention on Cluster Munitions: A Commentary[2], page 6:
      The Russian air force dropped RRAB-3 ‘Molotov bread basket’ incendiary cluster munitions on Finland during the ‘Winter War’ in January 1940, and perhaps even earlier.