Throughout history, mankind has evolved through numerous technological advancements—particularly in war. The evolution of weaponry has taken place rapidly from the 1800s until now, with some weapons becoming so deadly that they are forbidden or have conventions not to use.

Today, biological weapons and most chemical weapons are prohibited, with nuclear weapons development extremely monitored. However, some of the deadliest weapons in war that have been used in history are not forbidden, despite the controversies they may bring.


Napalm is a torch of sticky white gel and a petrochemical, sometimes petrol or diesel. Fused, the weapon can cause a widespread fire chain that can cook a human body.

Incendiary uses of napalm would take place in the late stages of WWII, targeting key logistical cities of Germany and Japan. During the Korean War, napalm was used frequently to halt the human wave tactics of North Korea and China—albeit the bombings came at a price of massive civilian life lost.

The effects of napalm and the grizzly toll of the torch came during the Vietnam War. As the Vietnam War was televised, the general public saw some of the most horrific effects of firebombing.

A plethora of Vietnamese civilians, in the then separated north and south, suffered lasting burn effects along with US troops caught by friendly fire. Napalm is prohibited against civilian use, but the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) does not outright ban the use on military targets.

“Napalm Girl” then and now from Nick Ut’s original, uncropped version of “Napalm Girl” Phan Thi Kim Phúc with ARVN soldiers and several journalists.

White Phosphorus

White phosphorus, another incendiary munition, is primarily used for illumination for frontline forces. The torch is also extremely harmful to the human body, leaving horrific burn marks and often excruciating pain to those who touch it.