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I was looking for special missiles that do more than just explode or release radiation, thus I looked at some of the harder Warhammer 40k weapons, until I came across the Hellfire Missile.

To describe this:

"Hellfire is a common term for a potent acidic/viral compound developed by the Adeptus Mechanicus. It burns through armour and sears flesh, usually leaving the few who survive hideously scarred and crippled. It is a matter of opinion whether or not it is better to die from a Hellfire attack or to survive. Ordinatus Golgotha carries 6 Hellfire Missiles and can only fire 1 or 2 per hour. A Hellfire Missile has multiple warheads, allowing it to completely devastate a wide area. In addition, the extensive scanning equipment aboard Ordinatus Golgotha allows it to fire with unerring accuracy. The Hellfire Missiles can be fired at any point on the battlefield, even at targets that are out of line of sight, with no chance of scattering. Unlike normal indirect barrages, there is no need for friendly troops to spot for the accurate launch of a Hellfire Missile. Enemy units attacked by this horrendous weapon may be panicked by the agonised screams of their comrades, as their flesh burns away and their bones melt."

So, effectively this is essentially an acid bomb, that when detonated releases the acidic compound into the atmosphere, corroding all there is.

I ask if it is possible to dope a bomb with superacid or similar chemicals to achieve such an effect, given that there are materials like Teflon to store it in the first place.

Once again, assume all resources required are present.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hellfire missile. Laser-guided or radar-guided modular missile system used by the armed forces of the U.S.A. and other countries. Manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Recently used to kill an Iranian general and anybody who happened to be around him. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 16 '20 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, am I reading that description right? It's a potent acidic / viral compound? As in, it possesses the ability to spread disease as well as the acid component? $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Jan 16 '20 at 0:42
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    $\begingroup$ After some digging, I discovered that a) Warhammer 40K loves itself some Hellfire as an adjective (though to be fair, that's perfectly understandable), and b) apparently when they say 'viral', what's really meant is 'mutagenic'. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Jan 16 '20 at 0:48
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    $\begingroup$ Instead of asking more questions, why don't you accept some answers on your old ones, or deal with some of the issues in those questions, or clarify as to why the answers do not suit? You've asked 21 on this site in total, and only accepted a single answer. That's not a great ratio. $\endgroup$ Jan 16 '20 at 8:19
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Chlorine trifluoride

enter image description here

Chlorine trifluoride's fluorination and oxidation power surpasses the oxidizing power of oxygen, which allows the chemical to ignite materials normally considered fire-safe, such as oxides. Chlorine trifluoride burns asbestos, sand, glass, concrete, and even flame retardants. Most fire control and suppression systems are ineffective or else actually worsen the resulting fire. The chemical also ignites human skin and other tissue on contact, producing hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid. Both acids burn human tissue. Hydrofluoric acid selectively activates pain centers and attacks bone, causing potentially lethal poisoning.

https://www.thoughtco.com/most-flammable-chemical-607315

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  • $\begingroup$ Notably attempted to be weaponized by Nazi Germany. They eventually abandoned the project because of how volatile the stuff was. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Jan 16 '20 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ Nastiest stuff I could think of and is well worthy of the title "Hellfire". Makes napalm look like aloe jell. $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Jan 16 '20 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ Very unplesent but there are some materials that it won't react with such as polychlorotrifluroethylene todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/07/… $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Jan 16 '20 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ This has all the potential to kill a score of your own people (while manufacturing, storing, transporting and handling) for every enemy you manage to damage. $\endgroup$
    – Rekesoft
    Jan 17 '20 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Rekesoft Have you ever read anything about Warhammer 40K? Hellfire missiles are the least of the worries. Thousands of psyker kids are fed to the Emperor to keep him alive each year. They make and use life eater virus bombs that destroy whole planets. Life is very cheap in WH40K. The other side is they're an advanced society with advanced manufacturing facilities that could handle materials like this. $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Jan 17 '20 at 20:56
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The problem with this kind of weapon is not finding the compound, but the weapon itself. In the description you provided, the missile affects a wide area. How wide? The problem with chemical weapons is how to deliver them in the right amount so the local concentration is enough to cause the effect intended - to be lethal, generally.

With toxic gases is complicated enough, since local conditions such as wind, air pressure and humidity can and do affect greatly to its effectiveness, but at least toxic chemicals have the advantage of requiring tiny amounts of the substance to achieve lethality. But you want a burning compound.

When you burn something, or you melt something with acid, what you have is a chemical reaction between your agent and the target's "body" - if the target is a human, then definitely their body, without quotes. The problem is that this reaction usually has a mole-per-mole equivalency, so is, you need this much of agent to destroy an equivalent portion of your target. If you burn one square milimeter of my skin you are not going to make me any significant damage. You need to hit me with enough substance to burn or dissolve through several layers of skin and other tissues, and over a significative proportion of the body. Even with a "mutagenic" compound which surely is able to burn several grams of tissue for every miligram of substance you need to bathe an area with tons of the chemical in order to be effective. We are talking about Saturn V-sized Hellfire missiles. Your Ordinatus Golgotha would be the size of a an aircraft carrier.

Since it's out of the scope of this question, I'll leave out the rest of the problems with chemical weapons: accidents during manufacturing, storage and disposal, removal of the remnants in the targeted areas (so your own troops aren't killed when they advance, or you can re-settle the place safely) or what happens to your troops when the enemy artillery blows up one of your Golgothas.

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This sort of bomb is not a realistic option. Based purely on chemical reactivity there are no feasible chemical weapons that would react with or dissolve any form or armour. Whilst some extremely reactive chemicals can be generated at the point of use they are not viable in a bomb and even in these cases there would still be substances that they will not dissolve.

Chemicals also tend to be easily diluted by their environment and the wider they are spread the less concentrated and effective they become. The problem with high reactive substances is that they react and once reacted tend to be much less reactive, so a deep bunker is going to require an enormous amount of acid etching to reach.

As for the agonising screams, I doubt very much that there would be any difference to what might be expected on a conventional battle field with napalm or phosphorous or even high explosives. This is theatrical dressing.

I am also curious as to why hellfire missiles can only fire at 1-2 per hour. This seems ridiculously slow?

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  • $\begingroup$ "why hellfire missiles can only fire at 1-2 per hour" game balance, innit. Gotta have something to counteract the rule of cool being an intrinsic part of that universe's physics. Also lazy cutpasting of irrelevant background fluff. $\endgroup$ Jan 16 '20 at 12:11
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    $\begingroup$ Well, Rekesoft suggested the missiles would have to be huge to be effective. If so, one can easily imagine that firing one is quite the production, more akin to firing an ICBM than the sort of piddling rockets that you ripple-fire from pods. Or maybe they can't be "carried live", and it just takes that long to arm the things. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Jan 16 '20 at 15:53

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