What would have been the legal status of N-Stoff in World War 2?

This is probably a question I’d need Indy himself to answer, but if there are international law experts, I’d welcome their input too:

N-Stuff or Chlorine Trifluoride has become something of an internet meme as the chemical too destructive and savage for the frickin Nazis. However, in principle, it seems from a war crimes perspective, it’s a souped-up version of White Phosphorus, which is legal as long as it’s used as an incendiary, not as a chemical weapon, although it’s byproducts ARE poison gas that will kill you dead than dead. Thus it’s good for burning through bunkers. WP was used extensively in both WW without incident.

Nonetheless, every time I bring this weapon up in an alternate history people are adamant the Allies would treat using N-Stoff, to say blow through a section of the Maginot Line, the Entente would treat it as a breach of chemical warfare treaties. Is there legally a difference between the poisonous offshoots of CTF and WP enough to make the case? Also, is something like WP permitted in Naval warfare, where unlike bunkers you can’t really escape the fumes of death? It seems to me that CTF, and to a lesser degree WP, would be the kind of things you’d put in air-dropped bombs on top of vessels stuck doing bombardment for amphibious invasions, like in Husky. Salerno and Anzio, much less D-Day.

CTF in particular, well in the 1950s a ton of this stuff leaked and ate through a solid concrete floor and then a meter of gravel underneath it. You put this on the deck of a ship, it’s gonna eat through the decks and into the hull like Xenomorph blood. The ship is going to sink. So…why not give the Japanese plans for this instead of a Tiger tank and let the Kamakees…star shrine a little brighter?


Most likely the Status of N-Stoff would have been seen as a Chemical weapon Because that’s exactly what it is and is most likely going to fall under the category of a blistering agent at best. Also white Phosphorus is most the time used to mask troop movements instead of as a weapon. In fact the US Military has made it very clear that any Incendiary weapons should not be used in a way that contributes to unnecessary suffering “unnecessary suffering” being defined through the use of the proportionality test. But I would agree with the idea that it would have been better to give the Japanese plans to create N-stoff.


@Matthew_Burnside Yeah…in modern times it would be seen as a blistering agent. But, in WW2, WP was used extensively for bunker clearance and that’s the reason it wasn’t banned in the chem weapons treaty in the 20s. The argument that CTF would be seen as a chemical weapon because it is, is the same argument against WP. I’m not seeing an actual argument that separates CTF from WP, and it seems to me that you can’t separate the legality of one from the other, because the chemical weapon effects are exactly the same. As an incendiary, WP and CTF are in different solar systems, but chemical weapons effect is the same.

And as far as Petersburg convention, CTF follows this because it’s anything beyond necessary to achieve hors de combat. And in the case of bunker clearance and ship bombardment, it’s use is well justified to that end.

I’ll link to WP:

At the start of the Normandy campaign, 20% of American 81 mm mortar ammunition consisted of M57 point-detonating bursting smoke rounds using WP filler. At least five American Medal of Honor citations mention their recipients using M15 white phosphorus hand grenades to clear enemy positions, and in the 1944 liberation of Cherbourg alone, a single US mortar battalion, the 87th, fired 11,899 white phosphorus rounds into the city. The US Army and Marines used M2 and M328 WP shells in 107mm (4.2 inch) mortars. White phosphorus was widely used by Allied soldiers for breaking up German attacks and creating havoc among enemy troop concentrations during the latter part of the war.

“US Sherman tanks carried the M64, a 75mm white phosphorus round intended for screening and artillery spotting, but tank crews found it useful against German tanks such as the Panther that their APC ammunition could not penetrate at long range. Smoke from rounds fired directly at German tanks would be used to blind them, allowing the Shermans to close to a range where their armour-piercing rounds were effective. In addition, due to the turret ventilation systems sucking in fumes, German crews would sometimes be forced to abandon their vehicle: this proved particularly effective against inexperienced crews who, on seeing smoke inside the turret, would assume their tank had caught fire.[6] Smoke was also used for “silhouetting” enemy vehicles, with rounds dropped behind them to produce a better contrast for gunnery.[7]

CTF used in similar ways, to clear an enemy position, in this case, sections of Maginot Line, and it seems to be completely above board. And the fact that panzer crews had to abandon their tanks because of toxic fumes IS technically using WP as a chemical weapon, but no one protested, not even Hitler, who had a thing against chemical weapons, for good reasons.