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Molotov Truck

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One crude but effective way of attacking your enemy is to load up a vehicle with flammables, explosives, or anything else that would make a nice big boom, and send it on a collision course toward a target. Thus, the Molotov Cocktail levels up.

Any vehicle will do, but large trucks, planes, and even boats are commonly used due to both their size and the speeds they can get up to. In a Period Piece, a wagon or carriage filled with oil-soaked hay may be rolled towards the target. In science fiction, the hero may set an anti-gravity barge or spaceship alight and steer it into an enemy target. The attack combines the force of the vehicle's impact, the possible detonation and/or cook-off of its fuel, and the added punch from the weight of its cargo into a massive strike. If the vehicle can be easily set on course for its target, the person using it might bail out well before it hits. If things are desperate and the vehicle needs to be steered towards its target, the person may do a Heroic Sacrifice and die with the explosion.

There are multiple reasons why you might want a Molotov Truck: you're low on ammo, your small arms can't make a major dent in what you want to target, you're in La Résistance and don't have real weapons, you want to shock and awe the enemy, or maybe just Rule of Cool.

For cars that are not intentionally weaponized but just happen to blow up upon receiving significant damage, see Every Car Is a Pinto.

A large-scale form of Improvised Weapon.

See also Car Fu, External Combustion (kind of an X Meets Y of the two), Action Bomb and Incendiary Exponent. Note that while MotorStorm has a manufacturer called Molotov and they do make trucks, this trope does not refer to that.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The Joker (in collaboration with some Middle Eastern terrorists) once did this with an oil tanker in a Legends of the Dark Knight storyline.
  • Doctor Zero assists William Belluts with his plan to drive a truck bomb into a US government SDI facility, in revenge for the way they closed down the previous factory on the site and left some workers redundant and in poverty.
  • In G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers #2(IDW), some criminals in the 1930s are trying to use a Mode Locked and unconscious Optimus Prime to blow a hole in a bank. During a tense chase with some Joes, Cobras and Autobots trying to find Optimus and bring him back, The Baroness simply shoots the explosives and detonates them prematurely, realizing that even a truckload of explosives isn't going to hurt Optimus Prime.
  • In Huntress #5 (the 2012 mini-series), the Huntress sends a speedboat packed with explosives into a harbour as a distraction.
  • This is how The Question eventually destroyed Luthor's Science Spire from Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. (He did it to free the souls trapped in the building.)
  • Spider-Man tried to stop The Juggernaut by driving a tanker full of gasoline directly into him. At first, Spidey was worried he had gone too far and killed him, but Juggernaut wasn't even slowed down.

    Comic Strips 
  • Modesty Blaise: In "Fraser's Story", Willie delays pursuit by setting fire to a truck and driving it into the bad guys' motor pool.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Forward, the crew straps some bombs to the mule from Serenity and drops it on Womack's gunship.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: The militia employs many of these as improvised incendiaries during the embassy attack and notably the ambush on the DSS agent's car.
  • The African Queen: In colonial WWI Africa, our hero and heroine convert the eponymous boat into a torpedo to try and blow up a German patrol ship.
  • In Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man does a much more literal version of this by accident. During the airport fight, he gives Cap a shrunken truck and tells him to throw it at a disc that will enlarge it after he throws the disc. Once the truck is enlarged it lands near War Machine and explodes as soon as it hits the ground. Ant-Man is shocked though because he thought it was a water truck, not a tanker truck.
  • In Children of Men the heroes are ambushed after a flaming car blocks their path.
  • In The Dark Knight the Joker corrals Harvey Dent's police escort by blocking off the road with a flaming fire truck, leading to an epic Chase Scene.
  • In District 9 the Nigerian gangsters trap Wikus, Christopher, and MNU mercenaries using a molotov truck.
  • In Ernest Goes to Camp, the kids get the idea to take out the bulldozer threatening to destroy the camp by loading up the runaway maintenance cart with all the volatile stuff they can get their hands on and ramming it. Unfortunately, the kids realize they don't have enough material to make a suitable boom, until Ernest shows up with the local Lethal Chef's latest batch of Eggs Erroneous, "the most powerful substance known to man!" This being an Ernest movie, it works beautifully.
  • Escape to Athena. Telly Savalas' character has an accidental version when he decides to assassinate a German officer by sabotaging the brakes of his kübelwagen, and it crashes into a German ammunition dump which subsequently explodes.
  • In The Giant Gila Monster, Chase loads his car with nitroglycerin and crashes it into the eponymous monster when it proves to be Immune to Bullets. Mystery Science Theater 3000 made fun of the fact that a car full of nitroglycerin driving across rough terrain would go off WAY easier than what's shown in the movie.
  • Predator. There's a truck up on blocks so its engine can be used to power the guerilla camp. Arnold Schwarzenegger's character puts a Satchel Charge in the back, then uses his great strength to raise the truck so the blocks fall over and the truck goes careening downhill into the camp, whereupon he sets off the charge's radio detonator.
  • The Film of the Book of Sahara (2005) does this with a boat when Pitt and his teammates have to escape an attack by the army. Apparently, he and Giordino attempted it once in Nicaragua when they thought they were in Panama. By the way, this scene does not appear in the book.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture:
    Engineer: Why has the captain ordered self-destruct?
    Scotty: I would say, lass, because he thinks, he hopes, that when we go up, we'll take the intruder with us.
    Engineer: Will we?
    Scotty: When that much matter and anti-matter come together, oh yes, we will indeed!

  • Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, loaded a damaged truck with assorted flammables and sent it roaring into a swarm of Orks in Death of Glory to provide a distraction while he and Jurgen escaped. It made quite a satisfying fireball.
  • In Cibola Burn, the militia on Edward Israel turns one of their shuttles into an impromptu missile by packing it with explosives to use in case those unruly illegal colonists on the planet get some uppity ideas.
  • Endling: Tobble destroys a Marsonian ship by crashing a flaming boat into it.
  • In Everworld, a boat is simply lit afire and rammed into a wooden dam on the Nile.
  • In a non-combat example, the fleet that carries the Kite to the Edge in The Last Hero use rafts loaded with inflammable materials and swamp dragons to blast a gap in the Circumfence and clear the way for the vessel's launch.
  • In The Power of Five, Matt's aunt is mind-controlled and attempts to kill Matt by driving one of these into his school.
  • In Michael Crichton's Prey, one of the characters rigs an ATV this way to blow up the wild nanotech swarms' nest.
  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the Battle of Chibi (Red Cliff) is decided in dramatic fashion by a fleet of fire ships... disguised as supply ships.
  • In The Scar, a whole swarm of Molotov boats turns the tide of battle when the New Crobuzon fleet attacks Armada.
  • In Slaves of the Klau, when Roy Barch, an Earth man, is kidnapped by the warlike Klau aliens and taken to a slave planet, he escaped to the Wild Wilderness and launches La Résistance. One of his asymmetric warfare tactics against the heavily armed Klau is to load an air barge with mining explosives to attack the Klau's headquarters.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion Lannister devastates Stannis Baratheon's fleet by sending in ships filled with wildfire, a highly explosive alchemical substance like Greek Fire.
  • In The Granite Shield, eleven-year-old Flairalynne leads a fireship raid on the enemy fleet — and follows it up by setting her father on fire.
  • In Tomorrow: When the War Began, a petrol tanker is used to blow up the bridge into town.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agent Carter: In ''Hollywood Ending", the Zero Matter rift is closed by sending Howard Stark's hovercar into it with the gamma cannon's core inside, then blowing it up. They even blow up the car by sticking a rag into the gas tank and lighting it on fire, just like a Molotov cocktail.
  • Andor: In Reckoning", Cassian and Luthen manage to make their way to a garage containing two speeders — a larger model with an enclosed cockpit, and a smaller, faster bike-style craft. At Cassian's suggestion, Luthen loads his remaining explosives into the larger one, which they set off down the street. The Corpos disable it with blaster fire, and step towards it to inspect the crash, allowing Luthen to detonate the explosives and send them flying as he makes his escape with Cassian on the other vehicle.
  • Ekaterina: In season 2, the Russian navy turns one of their ships into a brander (AKA a fire ship) and sends it into the Turkish harbor, where the enemy has fortified. This forces the enemy to scatter and allows the Russian fleet to come in and blast the Turks into splinters.
  • In the Firefly episode "War Stories", the crew of Serenity load up their 4x4 with incendiaries and drive it into the guard post on Niska's space station.
  • In the Hornblower episode "The Examination for Lieutenant" the Spanish sail a fire ship (an old ship packed with gunpowder and set alight) into Gibraltar. Hornblower and Foster manage to steer it clear of the British fleet.
  • A (probably unintentionally) hilarious example from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: An accused pedophile is exiting the courthouse and his wife arrives to pick him up and gets out of her car. Out of nowhere he leaps into the car and speeds off, driving directly under a tanker truck which almost seems to pause to think about it before deciding to blow up.
  • In the pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen, there is a government conspiracy to crash a passenger plane into the middle of New York.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: In "Udûn", Bronwyn torches several hay wagons on fire and traps the Orcs between them to give the villagers a chance to launch a surprise attack on them.
  • The fifth season of Lost has this. Ben use a Molotov Truck as a diversion to get rid of the guards so he can break a certain guy out of jail.
  • In the Mission: Impossible episode "Nitro", the IMF has to stop a near-eastern ultra-nationalist group from blowing up a government building with truck full of nitrogylcerine.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Orks. While some might be content with filling mere trukks and planes with explosives (and given how Orks drive, that's pretty much what they do), Orks hollow out giant asteroids, fit them with equally oversized engines, life-support systems and warp drives, and hurl them into space on collision course with a planet. This leaves the Rok with one of two options: crash land on target, unleashing thousands of fight-happy Orks, fully equipped with weapons, vehicles, ammo and fuel; or airburst, causing a catastrophic explosion as the aforementioned ammo, fuel, and giant engines go boom. Both options are considered equally entertaining by the Orks.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires II gives every civilization (except the Koreans) Demolition Rafts and Ships, which are packed to the brim with explosives and whose only attack is to ram themselves into things and explode, causing massive damage. They're the fastest vessels in the game, so they're pretty hard to fend off, and are ideal if there's a heavily-loaded transport coming for your shores.
  • Age of Empires III with the Fire Junk of the Chinese.
  • One of the campaign missions of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag involves the player character teaming up with Charles Vane and Jack Rackham to use a fire ship to break a British blockade around Nassau after it comes under occupation by Woodes Rogers.
  • It's a common sight in Battlefield 3 of people covering jeeps in C4 and then drive them into what ever needs to be blown-up.
    • In Battlefield 1942, jumping in a jeep and ramming a tank was a good way to make both explode.
  • A variation appears in Call of Duty: World at War, where your squad encounters a truck with fuel barrels in it, at the top of a hill, facing an enemy encampment. Rather than lighting the whole thing on fire, you puncture one of the barrels while a squadmate puts the truck in neutral and lets it careen downhill, and then ignites the fuel trail instead.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals: The terrorist GLA have a Bomb Truck unit, which can carry explosives and upgrade with better explosives or anthrax, or even both (though that's quite expensive). It can also be disguised as any vehicle, so the enemy thinks it one of their resource gatherers, and won't react as it cheerfully runs over their infantry. The Expansion Pack Zero Hour adds 3 Generals per faction, two of the GLA Generals have their Bomb Trucks pre-upgraded with anthrax or high-explosive payload, respectively.
  • Demolition Trucks from the Command & Conquer: Red Alert series. They contain nukes. They tend to get blown up before getting near their targets, so a common strategy is to make them temporarily invincible with the Iron Curtain, allowing you to detonate them right where your opponent doesn't want you to.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3:
    • The Empire has the Yari Submarine, whose special ability is a suicide run at enemy ships (a plausible strategy since the units are cheap). They are based off the real-life kaiten (see Real Life section).
    • The Honorable Discharge ability pre-loads every Imperial vehicle with explosives that detonate on death, hopefully dealing more damage to the enemy than nearby friendly units. It also boosts the power of units that are meant to explode, like the aforementioned Yari, but also the Sunburst Drones (remote-controlled miniplanes that crash onto a target, strafing everything on the way there) and Balloon Bombs (bombs with parachutes).
  • An uncommon tactic in Command & Conquer: Renegade's multiplayer. Engineers may pile remote C4 onto a cheap vehicle and drive it into the enemy's harvester to cripple their income generation. It takes a lot of C4 to do this, however, but it's faster than trying to blow up the harvester in a more traditional fashion. The cheapest and fastest (and therefore most expendable) GDI ground vehicle is a Humm-Vee.
  • Company of Heroes have the Wehrmacht faction fielding the remote-controlled Goliaths that explode spectacularly upon destruction or prompt. Which are created from bunkers. The Panzer Elite Munitions Half-track also has this capability for more flexible deployment.
  • Cortex Command allows you to load several dozen of grenades, bombs, and crab bodies into a rocket and steer it on top of a cluster of enemies. Not very efficient, but often hilarious to watch.
  • In Days Gone the residents of the Lost Lake camp use one as a distraction, so as to gain entry to the Militia's island fortress after resident scumbag Skizzo joins up with the faction and informs its leader of the camp's existence with the intent of it being conquered and forcefully absorbed into the Militia, like every other camp it's run across. Oh, and Militia Colonel Garrett has Sarah as a hostage due to Skizzo showing up at the worst possible moment and recognizing Deacon, DURING his and Sarah's attempt to go AWOL.
  • Devastator in Dune II is a borderline example: it's a nuclear-powered heavy tank. Plowed into enemy base and got too damaged to get away? Move it a bit further and blow up. (It helpfully has a Destruct command.)
  • If you have the time and means to sacrifice a vehicle in Far Cry 2, it is entirely possible to slap a half-dozen improvised explosives onto a junker car you just found, drive it at high(ish) speeds into a checkpoint or secure zone, and bail out to let inertia and your remote detonator do the rest.
  • The Avatar in Fire Emblem: Awakening pulls this off with ships. They start with a fleet of ships with a skeleton crew, then load most of them with explosives and send them at the enemy ships, evacuating the rest of the crew to a smaller number of ships at maximum occupancy.
  • A recommended strategy for some Grand Theft Auto missions.
  • Homefront has your rebel force using this against the KPA, or so it appears at first; the truck is actually a distraction; the KPA forces no sooner move in to examine the truck as white phosphorus rains down upon them.
  • Useable to great effect in Just Cause 2. Every Car Is a Pinto + speed + instant parachute = fun!
    • This is the point of Crash Bomb side missions in Just Cause 3, where you have to supercharge a Bavarium bomb attached to your vehicle by reaching and staying above a certain speed, then drive it into the middle of a group of DRM vehicles and soldiers.
  • Mad Max (2015) features cars packed with explosives. Enemies driving these try to get close to you and light the fuse, killing themselves in the process. If you can get rid of the driver without destroying the car, you can do the same thing... just remember to jump out before it blows. Additionally, one side mission involves Max intercepting explosive trucks heading towards an allied base.
  • In Master of Orion II ships that are self-destructed (or sometimes just killed) explode, damaging all targets around. Quantum Detonator device allows ships to explode for greater damage and more reliably. Making ships oriented on self-destruction usually isn't a good idea, but occasionally running into enemy and blowing up a doomed ship may help others.
  • MechWarrior 4 multiplayer featured a unique piece of equipment for Light 'Mechs called the "High Explosive Pack." This weapon would stuff any sufficiently sized missile slot with a really big bomb, with the idea being to stealthily approach (or just plain bum rush) enemy heavy or assault 'Mechs and light the fuses. This was immediately fatal to the Light 'Mech, but often resulted in damaged or destroyed opponents. Because multiplayer offered point bonuses for damaging or destroying larger opponents and many players sacrificed armor or speed for firepower, this ended up being a semi-reliable way for Light 'Mech pilots to rack up points.
  • During the Attract Mode of Mercenaries 2, a clip shows one of the mercenaries attatching a homing beacon to a monster truck, driving it over a half ramp and into a military base, bailing out mid-air and watching a Tomahawk missile annihilate everything. However, in the game, most players stick to C4 as their explosive of choice.
  • Red Dead Redemption has you use an dynamite-laden wagon to crash the gates of El Presidio.
  • Red Faction: Guerrilla is no stranger to this either. Plentiful vehicles, ready access to mining explosives, and gratuitous (perhaps excessive) values for explosive splash damage means that EDF checkpoints can be cleared by virtue of a truck full of demo charges and, if you're lucky, another handy vehicle nearby to escape in.
    • It's a possible strategy in Demolition side missions since the victory condition is either killing all EDF or blowing the building up yourself (also applicable for just blowing up key structures in a sector in order to weaken EDF control): since you're going to have to drive to the site, you can stick mining charges on your ride, drive into the target structure thanks to demolishable physics engines, get out, and blow the charges. Friendly fire can be a hazard, though, especially as you may have up to three guerrilla fighters automatically join you and hitch your charged ride when you start the mission. And, of course, you may find that the building you just crippled, if you're not careful or lucky enough, toppling in your direction.
  • Resident Evil 4 has powder keg wagons, which start moving when shot, exploding on impact with the enemy.
  • Ride to Hell: Retribution has the protagonist steal a tanker truck and blow up a power plant to disable an electric fence, rather than just plow through the fence with the truck.
  • In The Saboteur, Sean can booby-trap vehicles he's driving with explosives, which will detonate once the vehicle impacts something. Make sure to bail out beforehand. In addition, there's the Phoenix, a modified version of the Aurora packed with explosives that's used to assassinate a German general in one mission.
  • The conclusion to the role-playing/strategy classic Star Control II 'The Ur-Quan Masters' requires employing this strategy to destroy the alien battleship and achieve final victory.
  • Absolutely required in the second level of Total Overdose. Recommended strategy in other levels, as the points for combination kills can be helpful to completion score.
  • In World War III Black Gold, the Iraqi players have "devastator" and "huge devastator" as suicide weapons, being a 40's pickup and a 6x6 military transport respectively.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Brander, or the "Fire ship" often used in the age of wooden ships. It was simply an old, wreck-like ship, with a skeleton crew, set aflame and rammed into the center of the enemy fleet for massive damage. Preferrably filled with as much powder as it could carry, but even when not, once the brander's riggings snag on another ship's, there's a good chance that its target's powder-magazine will shower everything with burning remnants soon. Another name for them? Hellburners.
    • The British used a galleon packed with gunpowder and set alight against the Spanish armada during one of the Gibraltar skirmishes.
    • The US Navy used the ship Intrepid as a fire ship to attack the Barbary Pirates of Tripoli, in 1803. The attack was unsuccessful, but the same ship had been used shortly before to detonate the captured USS Philadelphia in the same harbor. [1]
    • In 1770 at Chesma almost the entire Turkish fleet was wiped out by a single Russian brander, demonstrating just how unsafe wooden powder kegs tightly packed in a small harbor can be.
    • Chinese in the Opium Wars tried to harass English ships by sending junks, some aflame, some packed to the gills with black powder. Didn't work, since Brits were alert and without covering fire branders were easily intercepted by boats.
    • In the Russo-Japanese War during the Port Artur blockade the Japanese tried to sink a few old ships in the port's exit. This doesn't work well under intense artillery fire.
  • Operation Chariot, the St. Nazaire Raid was an amphibious attack by the British on the heavily defended docks of Saint-Nazaire in occupied France, which took place during the night of 28 March 1942 during the Second World War. The target was the Normandie Dock, the only drydock on the European Atlantic coast big enough for the German battleship Tirpitz. The destroyer HMS Campbeltown was loaded with four tons of high-grade explosives and rammed into the exposed caisson of the Normandie Dock. While the explosives went off an hour or so later than intended, the explosion wiped out several hundred German soldiers and knocked the whole dock out of commission for the remainder of the war.
  • The Japanese used two separate versions of this in WWII:
    • The most well known are the kamikazes — aircraft of all types that were loaded with bombs, after which their pilots intentionally crashed them into enemy ships.
    • The other version is the Kaiten submarines, which were essentially manually-piloted torpedoes.
  • A usual practice in modern terrorism/freedom fighting/whatever you prefer.
    • 9/11 (September 11th)
    • Riyadh compound bombing
    • U.S.S. Cole bombing (with an exploding boat).
    • Taliban forces have become fond of this. Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device.
    • Setting cars afire in the middle of roads is a common and popular tactic to create a hazardous obstacle and distraction in many conflict regions.
    • Failed spectacularly during one attack in Glasgow. Inept wannabe terrorists set a Jeep on fire and tried to crash the passenger terminal at the airport. The bystanders were none too pleased. (And we are talking about Scotland, after all). One particularly bold bystander charged the terrorist who had accidentally lit himself on fire and delivered a kick to the guy's balls so hard that it tore a tendon in the kicker's foot. The bystanders in question were then encouraged by the newspapers to argue over who had hit who the hardest.


Video Example(s):



Pork Chop and Monkey drives Old Smokey, an 18-Wheeler pulling a tanker loaded with Nitrox 3½, and drive it into a Drone Sweeper to save their fellow Metal Maniacs in the Junk Realm.

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5 (6 votes)

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Main / MolotovTruck

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