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Encyclopedia > General purpose bomb

A general-purpose bomb is an air-dropped bomb intended as a compromise between blast damage, penetration, and fragmentation in explosive effect. For other uses, see Bomb (disambiguation). ... Fragmentation is a term that occurs in several fields and describes a process of something breaking or being divided into pieces (fragments). ...

Contents

Characteristics

General-purpose (GP) bombs use a thick-walled metal casing with explosive filler (typically TNT, Composition B, or Tritonal in NATO or United States service) comprising about 50% of the bomb's total weight. (The British term for a bomb of this type is medium case, abbreviated MC). The GP bomb is a common weapon of fighter bomber and attack aircraft because it is useful for a variety of tactical applications and relatively cheap. Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is an explosive. ... Composition B is an explosive consisting of castable mixtures of RDX and TNT as well as, in some instances, additional desensitizing agents. ... Tritonal is a mixture of 80% TNT and 20% aluminum powder, used in several types of ordnance. ... NATO 2002 Summit in Prague The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation[1] (NATO), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, the Atlantic Alliance or the Western Alliance, is an international organisation for collective security established in 1949, in support of the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington, DC, on 4 April 1949. ... A ground attack aircraft is an aircraft that is designed to operate very close to the ground, supporting infantry and tanks directly in battle. ... A ground attack aircraft is an aircraft that is designed to operate very close to the ground, supporting infantry and tanks directly in battle. ...


General-purpose bombs are often identified by their weight (e.g., 500 lb, 250 kg). In many cases this is strictly a nominal weight, or caliber, and the actual weight of each individual weapon may vary depending on its retardation, fusing, carriage, and guidance systems. For example, the actual weight of a U.S. M117 bomb, nominally 750 lb (340 kg), is typically around 820 lb (374 kg). The word calibre (British English) or caliber (American English) designates the interior diameter of a tube or the exterior diameter of a wire or rod. ... The M117 is an air-dropped general-purpose bomb used by United States military forces. ...


Most modern air-dropped GP bombs are designed to minimize drag for the carrier aircraft. Such weapons are called low-drag general-purpose (LDGP) bombs, nicknamed "slicks." An object falling through a gas or liquid experiences a force in direction opposite to its motion. ...


In low-altitude attacks, there is a danger of the attacking aircraft being caught in the blast of its own weapons. To address this problem, GP bombs are often fitted with retarders, parachutes or pop-out fins that slow the bomb's descent to allow the aircraft time to escape the detonation. The Apollo 15 capsule landed safely despite a parachute failure. ...


GP bombs can be fitted with a variety of fuzes and fins for different uses. One notable example is the "daisy cutter" fuze used on Vietnam-era American weapons, an extended probe designed to insure that the bomb would detonate on contact (even with foliage) rather than burying itself in earth or mud, which would reduce its effectiveness. In an explosive device, a fuse (or fuze) is the part of the device that causes it to function. ... A daisy cutter fuse is designed to detonate a bomb at a stand-off distance above the ground in order to maximise the blast effect. ... Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000...


GP bombs are commonly used as the warheads for more sophisticated precision-guided munitions. Affixing various types of seeker and electrically controlled fins turns a basic 'iron' bomb into a laser-guided bomb (like the U.S. Paveway series), an electro-optical guided bomb, or, more recently, GPS-guided weapon (like the U.S. JDAM). The combination is cheaper than a true guided missile (and can be more easily upgraded or replaced in service), but substantially more accurate than an unguided bomb. A laser-guided bomb (LGB) is a free-fall bomb, usually dropped from an aircraft, that is guided to its target by a laser designator The laser is directed at the target, illuminating it. ... A Paveway III seeker head, at the RAF Museum in Hendon, London. ... Over fifty GPS satellites such as this NAVSTAR have been launched since 1978. ... The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is a guidance tail kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurate, adverse weather smart munitions. ...


Types of GP bomb

Modern American GP bombs: the Mark 80 series

During the Korean War and Vietnam War the U.S. used older designs like the M117 and M118, which had a higher explosive content (about 65%) than most current weapons. Although some of these weapons remain in the U.S. arsenal, they are little used, and the M117 is primarily carried only by the B-52 Stratofortress. Combatants United Nations: Republic of Korea  Australia  Belgium Canada  Colombia Ethiopia  France Greece  Netherlands  New Zealand  Philippines South Africa  Thailand  Turkey  United Kingdom United States Medical staff:  Denmark  India  Italy  Norway  Sweden Communist states: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea People’s Republic of China  Soviet Union Commanders Syngman Rhee... Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000... The M117 is an air-dropped general-purpose bomb used by United States military forces. ... The M118 is an air-dropped general-purpose or demolition bomb used by United States military forces. ... The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range jet strategic bomber flown by the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1954. ...


The primary U.S. GP bombs are the Mark 80 series. This class of weapons uses a shape known as Aero 1A, designed by the famous Ed Heinemann of Douglas Aircraft as the result of studies in 1946. It has a length-to-diameter ratio of about 8:1, and results in minimum drag for the carrier aircraft. The Mark 80 series was not used in combat until the Vietnam War, but has since that time replaced most earlier GP weapons. It includes four basic weapon types: Edward Henry Heinemann (b. ... The Douglas Aircraft Company was founded by Donald Wills Douglas in July 1921. ... This is a list of aviation-related events from 1946: // Events January January 1 - a British South American Airways Avro Lancastrian becomes the first commercial flight to depart Heathrow Airport January 10 - a Sikorsky R5 sets an unofficial helicopter altitude record of 6,400 m (21,000 ft) at Stratford... An object falling through a gas or liquid experiences a force in direction opposite to its motion. ... Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000...

  • Mk 81 (nominal weight 250 lb / 113 kg)
  • Mk 82 (nominal weight 500 lb / 227 kg)
  • Mk 83 (nominal weight 1,000 lb / 454 kg)
  • Mk 84 (nominal weight 2,000 lb / 908 kg)

Vietnam service showed the Mk 81 "Firecracker" to be insufficiently effective, and it was withdrawn from U.S. service. More recently, however, precision-guided variants of the Mk 81 bomb have begun a return to service, based on U.S. experience in Iraq after 2003, and the desire to reduce collateral damage compared to Mk 82 and larger bombs (e.g., when attacking a single small building in a populated area). The Mark 81 (Mk 81) (nicknamed Firecracker) was the smallest of the Mark 80 series of low-drag general-purpose bombs. ... The Mark 82 (Mk 82) is an unguided, low-drag general-purpose bomb (dumb bomb), part of the U.S. Mark 80 series. ... The Mark 83 is part of the Mark 80 series of low-drag general-purpose bombs in United States service. ... The Mark 84 is an American general-purpose bomb, the largest of the Mark 80 series of weapons. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Since the Vietnam War United States Navy and USMC GP bombs are distinguished by a thick ablative fire-retardant coating, which is designed to delay any potential accidental explosion in the event of a shipboard fire. Land-based air forces typically do not use such coatings, largely because they add some 30 lb (14 kg) to the weight of the complete weapon. Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000... USN redirects here. ... United States Marine Corps Emblem The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is the second smallest of the five branches of the United States armed forces, with 170,000 active and 40,000 reserve Marines as of 2002. ... Ablation is defined as the removal of material from the surface of an object by vaporization, chipping, or other erosive processes. ...


In the Mk 80 series bomb bodies is also used in the following weapons:

  • BDU-50 A practice (no explosive) version of the Mk 82 bomb body
  • BDU-56 A practice (no explosive) version of the Mk 84 bomb body

The Mark 82 (Mk 82) is an unguided, low-drag general-purpose bomb (dumb bomb), part of the U.S. Mark 80 series. ... The Mark 84 is an American general-purpose bomb, the largest of the Mark 80 series of weapons. ...

Modern British GP bombs

As mentioned, the British describe general-purpose bombs as medium case (MC) bombs. The principal modern British bombs are 540 lb (245 kg) and 1,000 lb (454 kg), with a wide variety of fin, fuze, and retarder options.


Soviet / Russian GP bombs

A 1946 FAB-250 bomb.
A 1946 FAB-250 bomb.
A 1954 FAB-500 bomb.
A 1954 FAB-500 bomb.

The Russian term for general-purpose bomb is fugasnaya aviatsionnaya bomba, abbreviated FAB and followed by the bomb's nominal weight in kilograms. Most Russian iron bombs have circular ring airfoils rather than the fins used by Western types. Motto: Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь! (Transliterated: Proletarii vsekh stran, soedinyaytes!) Translation: Workers of the world, unite!) Anthem: The Internationale (1922-1944) Hymn of the Soviet Union (1944-1991) Capital (and largest city) Moscow None; Russian de facto Government Federation of Soviet Republics  - Last President Mikhail Gorbachev  - Last Premier Ivan Silayev Establishment October Revolution   - Declared...


In 1946 the Soviet Union developed a series of freefall bombs in four sizes 250 kg (550 lb), 500 kg (1,100 lb), 1,500 kg (3,300 lb), and 3,000 kg (6,600 lb) and sharing a single nose and a single tail fuze. The bomb could be dropped from up to 12,000 m (40,000 ft) and up to 1,000 km/h (625 mph). The original, 1946-series bombs had poor ballistic characteristics at supersonic speed, and their construction was fragile. As an interim measure, upgraded versions of the bombs were built with thicker walls and no nose fuze. The thick-walled version of the bombs were built until 1956. Year 1946 (MCMXLVI) was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... It has been suggested that hypersonic be merged into this article or section. ... 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The 1954 series of high-drag bombs was built in six sizes: 250 kg (550 lb), 500 kg (1,100 lb), 1500 kg (3,300 lb), 3,000 kg (6,600 lb), 5,000 kg (11,000 lb), and 9,000 kg (20,000 lb). The smaller (less than 3,000 kg) bombs had a single nose and a single tail fuze, while the larger weapons shared a single nose fuze and two base fuzes. The FAB-9000 (9,000 kg / 20,000 lb) weapon was roughly comparable to the wartime Grand Slam bomb. Its use in the postwar era was apparently never seriously contemplated, but it was used by Russian aircraft designers as a substitute for early nuclear weapons when determining the size and clearances of bomb bays. 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Nazi Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Harry Truman Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead... A British 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) Grand Slam bomb The Grand Slam ( Earth Quake bomb ), was a very large bomb developed by the British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis in late 1944. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter. ...


In 1962 a new series of streamlined, low-drag bombs was introduced, designed for external carriage by fighter-bomber aircraft rather than in internal bays. They come in only two sizes, 250 kg (550 lb) and 500 kg (1,100 lb). Both bombs have a single nose fuze. 1962 (MCMLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1962 calendar). ... A ground attack aircraft is an aircraft that is designed to operate very close to the ground, supporting infantry and tanks directly in battle. ...


Both the 54 and 62 series designs remain in use. The most common of these are the FAB-100, FAB-250, FAB-500, FAB-750, and FAB-1000, roughly corresponding to the U.S. Mark 80 series. These have seen widespread service in Russia, Warsaw Pact nations, and various export countries. Unofficial Seal of the Warsaw Pact Distinguish from the Warsaw Convention, which is an agreement among airlines about financial liability and the Treaty of Warsaw (1970) between West Germany and the Peoples Republic of Poland. ...


Larger bombs with less streamlined shapes also remained in the Soviet arsenal, primarily for use by heavy bombers. In Afghanistan in 1988 Soviet Tupolev Tu-22M bombers used massive FAB-1500 (1,500 kg / 3,300 lb) and FAB-3000 (3,000 kg / 6,600 lb) weapons to devastating effect. 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Tupolev Tu-22M (NATO reporting name Backfire) is a supersonic, swing-wing, long-range strategic bomber developed by the Soviet Union. ...


French GP bombs

France's GP bombs, marketed by Matra and built by the Société des Ateliers Mécanique de Port-sur-Sambre (SAMP) are made in a variety of types with nominal weights from 50 kg (110 lb) to 1,000 kg (2,205 lb). The most common are the 250 kg (1,102 lb) EU2 and T25, 400 kg (882 lb) T200, and 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) BL4. Mécanique Avion TRAction or Matra is a French company covering a wide range of activities mainly related to aeronautics and weaponry which today operates as the Lagardère Group. ...


Other nations

Other countries, including Brazil, Chile, Israel, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden manufacture their own bombs, most of which are either licensed version of the U.S. Mark 80 series or close copies.


See also

A U.S. developed B-61 gravity bomb. ...

References

  • Yefim Gordon, Soviet/Russian Aircraft Weapons Since World War Two, ISBN 1-85780-188-1

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