A "natural bombing"
Vesuvius - The eruption of 1944
In March 1944, during the Second World War, Vesuvius, after years of quiescence, reactivated.
In early January 1944 inside the crater of Vesuvius, a fracture opened at the base of the small cone. Lava flowed out of the crater and ran a few hundred meters on sides of the mountain before stopping. On March 13 the small cone collapsed and weak throws of lapilli and dross occured. In the afternoon of 18 March the actual eruptive event began with small explosions and lava flows heading north while slag and lapilli were pushed up to about 100 m in height.
Meantime the seismic shocks increased, on the afternoon of 21 March, 2 km high lava fountains occurred. These fountains developed intermittently and lasted for no more than an hour, with the wind transporting waste and lapilli in the south-east direction.
In a Neapolitan area airfield, 88 US air force bombers were covered by ash and conspicuously damaged ("worse than under a bombing" as US soldiers testified).
In the early afternoon of the 22nd another change, most conspicuous and dangerous: the explosive intensity of the eruption increased, with the formation of a high eruptive column up to 5 km where there were also stone products torn violently from the duct. Explosions followed each other and some pyroclastic flows and small burning clouds formed, however, being of limited size, they exhausted directly on the sides of the mountain, fortunately without reaching the residential areas (as opposed to the eruption of Pompeii in 79 AD). This was the main phase of the eruption.
From 23 March explosions became phreatomagmatic (due to the contact between magma and water), the seismicity increased and other small flows and landslides of newly erupted material occured. Afterward explosions decreased and the lava this time was channeled in the southwest direction without doing any particular damage. The erupted ash changed its color from blackish to grayish-white and finally white so enough to it looked like the snow-covered mountain top. On the 29th the eruption was practically all over and it was possible move on to damages estimate. There were 26 victims.