Special Report

18 of History's Most Famous Bridge Bombings

Shortly after a portion of a key bridge between Russian and the Crimea Peninsula was destroyed with a truck bomb on Oct. 8, with Russia blaming Ukraine intelligence services, Russians announced the bridge would be fully repaired by July 2023.

The $3.7 billion 12-mile Kerch Strait Bridge was inaugurated to much fanfare by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018, four years after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine. The attack disrupted Russia’s main supply line to its troops fighting in southern Ukraine and elicited missile strikes on civilian targets across Ukraine in retaliation. (Here are the 20 biggest bombs in Russia’s military arsenal.)

Bridge attacks are an integral but challenging part of warfare.  

“Bridges were never easy targets,” notes author Edward M. Young in his book about American B-24 Liberator heavy bombers used in the China-Burma-India theater of World War II. He points to the fact that only one out of every 81 sorties resulted in a direct hit to the intended target.

Vital bridges are typically heavily defended, difficult to hit, and often quickly repaired. For example, the Thanh Hoa Bridge south of Hanoi was bombed in U.S. air strikes numerous times between 1968 and 1972 and was only taken out completely in 1972 after the introduction of laser-guided bombs. (Here are the bombs and missiles used by the U.S. military.)

The Kerch bridge attack was unusual because it used a truck bomb, underscoring Russia’s poor security of its crucial expanse. Most offensive bridge attacks in modern times involve aircraft. Bridges have also been demolished defensively by explosives as they were in 1944 by retreating Germans in Florence who were hoping to slow down an Allied advance in Northern Italy.

24/7 Wall St. used several sources and references to find high-profile bridge bombings since World War I. The list is by no means comprehensive, meant only to provide a few examples. Of the 18 high-profile wartime bridge attacks or defensive demolitions we chose, half of them occurred in World War II, including six by Allies forces and three by Nazi Germany. 

The most famous bridge assault of the Korean War involved a dramatic attack by AD Skyraider and VA-195 “Tiger” aircraft led by Lt. Cmdr. Harold Gustav “Swede” Carlson. One of the most infamous of these attacks was the 1993 destruction of the Old Mostar Bridge dating back to the 16th century by Croatian forces seeking to cut off weapons and supplies to besieged Muslim civilians and Bosnian troops.

Here are 18 of history’s most famous bridge bombings.

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