I was reading yesterday that an Olean man pleaded guilty to firebombing an apartment house last fall in a dispute with some St. Bonaventure University students. The man admitted he threw a Molotov cocktail thru a window. Everybody knows what it is – but why is it called a Molotov cocktail?

It goes back to 1939 during a border dispute between the Soviet Union and Finland. The Soviets demanded the Finns turn over a section of land. The Finns refused and the Soviets launched what came to be known as the Winter War. Red Army tanks began to roll across the border and the Soviet air force began dropping fire bombs and cluster bombs against the Finnish army. In radio broadcasts, Soviet Foreign Affairs Commissioner Vyacheslav Molotov insisted they weren’t bombing anybody – they were delivering food to the starving Finns. The Finns started calling the Soviets bombs Molotov bread baskets. In response, the Finns copied a type of gas bomb they saw used in the Spanish Civil War. They called them Molotov cocktails – a drink to go along with the "food" being delivered by the Soviets.

Made of various mixtures of gasoline, kerosene, tar and potassium chloride, the Molotov cocktails made by the Finns were pretty effective against the Soviet tanks. The Finns targeted the rear deck of the tank. The liquid would seep thru the large cooling vents and the flames would spread thru the tank igniting its fuel tank, hydraulic fluids and ammunition.

SOURCE: wikipedia