Glass bottle, filled with gasoline (or petrol), flaming wick made from a rag or bandanna, simple but deadly. But where did the name come from?
The origins seem to have come from the Russo-Finnish War of 1939-1940. The Finns were heavily out-manned and out-gunned. The Soviets had four times as many soldiers, thirty times the aircraft and had 218 times the tanks. Yet the gallant Finns fought the Red Army to a near standstill.
The Finns made up in moxie what they lacked in equipment. The Soviet tanks were among the best in the world and would prove superior to German tanks on the Eastern Front. But the best tank in the world could be disabled by a well-place petrol bomb.
It’s believed that the Finns derisively nick-named their petrol bombs “Molotov cocktails” in “honor” of VM Molotov, number two in the Soviet government after Stalin himself.
Later, in World War II, the largely Communist-led Partisans against the Germans embraced the once derisive nick-name as a point of pride.
The Molotov cocktail lives on even as Molotov himself doesn’t.