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MASH Bomb Joke Is Actually Realistic, Says Ex-Navy Special Ops Tech

by Xtreme HD IPTV


  • MASH episode receives high marks for realism from an ordnance expert, depicting how soldiers would deal with unexploded bombs and the possibility of propaganda leaflets.
  • The use of a stethoscope to examine a clockwork fuse is plausible, as old bombs had ticking mechanisms. Leaflets were commonly used in psychological warfare during conflicts.
  • While the scene may not be entirely realistic with two doctors defusing the bomb, it still captures the tense and comedic tone that made MASH successful. The show’s blend of drama and absurdity was its defining characteristic.



An unexploded bomb scene from an episode of MASH gets high marks for realism from an ordnance expert. Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce, and the rest of the gang from the 4077th, first came to prime-time TV in 1972, and immediately delivered ratings gold. MASH’s memorable characters would remain fixtures on America’s screens until the show’s farewell episode aired in 1983, drawing a massive 105 million viewers according to Nielsen data.

Not only was MASH a classic show that brought the comedy and tragedy of war home to viewers, it was also surprisingly realistic, at least according to one expert. In a video for Insider, real life special ops bomb tech Jay Ly breaks down a scene from MASH season 1 in which Hawkeye and Trapper John must defuse a dud bomb that has stuck itself in the ground in the middle of the camp, giving the scene high marks for its depiction of how such devices actually worked, and how soldiers might go about trying to deal with one. He also confirms the plausibility of the scene’s twist ending, in which the bomb turns out to be filled with propaganda leaflets. Check out his remarks below:

Those are very common because sometimes fuses just dud out, and it’s still a threat because we just don’t know the condition of it. Why did it not go off? Is it a time? Is it a proximity thing? Is it a delay that just hasn’t gone all the way yet? So, very much a concern, less so for everyone else that’s behind cover, but mainly for the guys that are right on top of it.

It is definitely plausible to use a stethoscope to examine a suspected clockwork fuse. Seems hokey, but yeah, that is old-school legit. It was a thing. For old bombs like that, they had clockwork mechanisms in the fuse that you could hear ticking down. We don’t see that a lot anymore. That was a lot of training in school, just to get the exposure to it.

Leaflets are definitely employed. They were dropped all over Europe during World War II. They were employed in North Korea, Vietnam. Leaflets are definitely a type of psychological warfare or even just a means to communicate with a population that just is confined to an area. I’d give it a solid seven for realism. Granted, two random people would not be working this bomb, but yeah, so we’ve gotta dock it a little bit. I just don’t know why they didn’t have any bomb-squad people.

MASH Season 1’s Army-Navy Game Episode Encapsulated The Show’s Mixture Of Drama & Absurdity

Alan Alda's Hawkeye in MASH season 1

MASH season 1, episode 20 “The Army-Navy Game” sees the 4077th coming together to listen to a broadcast of the annual football game between Army and Navy, but having their fun interrupted when a barrage breaks out, leaving an unexploded bomb in the middle of the camp. Hawkeye and Trapper John are enlisted to defuse the bomb (as Ly points out in his remarks, it’s perhaps strange that two doctors are tasked with this dangerous duty), but the manual they’re reading from is useless, and they accidentally set the device off. Fortunately, instead of high explosives, it’s loaded with propaganda leaflets.

“The Army-Navy Game” featured an alternate arrangement of the famous MASH theme song, one of just three episodes to do so.

When it comes to dramatic situations, nothing could be more tense than a pair of untrained individuals trying to defuse a bomb. But MASH mined the situation for comedy as well as drama, while taking satirical digs at military incompetence (the bomb was actually dropped by the CIA). Mixing gripping drama with absurd comedy was indeed the show’s MO for much of its run, though by the time of the classic MASH final episode, it was criticized for too often descending into the mawkish, while losing its comedic edge. When MASH clicked, it executed its particular blend of the tragic and the comic as well as anything on TV, and at least according to one expert, it did so with a fair amount of realism.

Source: Insider/YouTube

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by Xtreme HD IPTV

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