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WW2 shaped charge bomblets question?

HE117

LE
:)

It was a double bluff by Sandy Sanderson, who was an instructor there at the time. He’d started to include bits of stuff that weren’t ordnance related to make us tie ourselves in knots trying to classify them. Then he showed us the Hawkins mine, upside down out in the garden...

Since then, I’ve found that the ‘group, sub-group, role, hazard’ system of recognition is something that has been incredibly useful in all the odd places I have found myself, and seems to be pretty unique to people who have been through the British system.
Sandy tried to catch me out with the old Citroen suspension unit ploy..

It didn't work!
 
Slight thread swerve here but whilst looking up details of Allied bombing of Singapore, I chanced across this account of a serious M-47 accident at a US base in India which left nine dead and a score wounded.

Disaster at Chakulia
Another in the ETO 17 casualties

A bomb, designated as U.S. M41 and described as an antipersonnel fragmentation bomb, exploded when it was dropped accidentally on the concrete surface of dispersal area No. 3 of AAF (Army Air Force) Station 128 at Deenethorpe, England, on 12 June 1944.1 A mission in which aircraft B-17-G No. 42-107210 was to have taken part was cancelled. The ground crew of the B-17-G ship, together with the ground crew of another ship, were engaged in unloading the clusters of M41 bombs from the bomb racks. A shackle holding three of the bombs to one end of the support for a cluster of six was loose or broken, and during the handing down of the cluster the three bombs fell to the concrete-a distance of approximately 6 feet. One of the bombs exploded, another became armed but did not explode, and the third remained unarmed.

 

Pteranadon

LE
Book Reviewer
Excellent attack on his integrity there.

He was not and is not ‘employed by the RAF’. He’s always been employed by King’s College London, and as well as misunderstanding his employment history, you’ve failed to realise that he’d finished the PhD and the article to which I referred before he started teaching at Henlow, the article appeared more than five years prior to his starting there. He also did some work for DERA which was, IIRC, a jointly-inspired study DERA had been asked to conduct (there was at least one part of the study which led to a paper by an Army officer).

Strangely enough, King’s seems to have taken the view that employing an academic who knew something about air power to help them meet the contract to teach at Henlow might be a good idea. He’s taught the RAF staff courses, but isn’t in their employment, and to imply that he’s cravenly parroting an RAF line because he’s employed by them is factually incorrect and a cheap shot.

Play the ball, not the man, please.

(And, for avoidance of doubt, as one of the site owners of Arrse, MM and various others can confrim, I‘m not Ian Gooderson...)
I am not playing the man, but commenting on the selective interest of the RAF in history in promoting its own service interests. The effectiveness of air power in influencing land operations is a matter that has big implications for defence spending. It is no different from the research undertaken to support or denounce particular drugs foodstuffs etc. It is deeply political and has been since 1918.

In 1944 the Army was really keen to get the RAF engaged in close air support. This was not what the senior RAF commanders thought that an independent air force should be doing. Harris and Spaatz thought D Day was an irrelevance and they could win the war by strategic bombing. Montgomery lied through his teeth to get strategic bombers for their firepower they could apply in greater depth than field artillery.

It would have been really helpful if the RAF's Typhoons were really an ace tank killer. But they weren't. The ORS reports make vague references to Germans fleeing their tanks to add abandoned tanks to the air kills column. But that data does not stack up. There is no direct evidence that Germans abandoned tanks rather than face an air attack. Indeed the ORS evidence points the other way ( see the extracts from ORS reports in post #37). Hence my scepticism about Ian Gooderson's findings.
 
Another in the ETO 17 casualties

A bomb, designated as U.S. M41 and described as an antipersonnel fragmentation bomb, exploded when it was dropped accidentally on the concrete surface of dispersal area No. 3 of AAF (Army Air Force) Station 128 at Deenethorpe, England, on 12 June 1944.1 A mission in which aircraft B-17-G No. 42-107210 was to have taken part was cancelled. The ground crew of the B-17-G ship, together with the ground crew of another ship, were engaged in unloading the clusters of M41 bombs from the bomb racks. A shackle holding three of the bombs to one end of the support for a cluster of six was loose or broken, and during the handing down of the cluster the three bombs fell to the concrete-a distance of approximately 6 feet. One of the bombs exploded, another became armed but did not explode, and the third remained unarmed.


Both the British and the Americans adopted HE cluster munitions after learning about their effects in places like Grimsby. Incendiary bomblets were used first: the 1kg incendiary pre-dates the use of the SD-1, for example.

However the interesting question posed by the OP is the use of shaped charges in cluster munitions. The use of HEAT/HEDP cluster munitions today is commonplace but it wasn’t immediate. The earliest US one I know of (having tidied up a few in Laos) is the BLU-3.

Somebody upthread mentions the idea of saturating an area in the hope of hitting something. The experience of facing human waves in Korea led directly to the M18 Claymore: the weakness of the Fulda Gap, for example led, I believe, to the development of HEAT cluster munitions by the west in a way that wasn’t necessary in WW2.
 
The FROG/Luna missile warhead had a shaped charge... why*?

View attachment 510971

* Rhetorical question.. I have no idea why putting a shaped charge on an unguided bombardment missile was thought a good idea..!
Me, Me, Me.

Having worked with these sodding things several things are apparent. The main warhead types were Nuke, Chemical and HE blast and HE/Frag. The Nukes/Chemical were held under Soviet control measures. Talking to one of the guys who helped design later models he said that the Soviets would try and shape charge anything e.g. 203mm shaped charge projectiles.

But a shaped charge on a Guy Fawkes rocket with a CEP of 500-700 m is like praying to a God who the Soviets didn't believe existed!

Like the warhead equivalent of Mr Kipling the Soviets (and now Russians) make exceedingly good shaped charges. And we have trialled them all.
 
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HE117

LE
Both the British and the Americans adopted HE cluster munitions after learning about their effects in places like Grimsby. Incendiary bomblets were used first: the 1kg incendiary pre-dates the use of the SD-1, for example.
Ah..

The history of the cluster incendiary is quite interesting...!

They were developed during WW1 by the RNAS! The Navy were much more interested in bombing than the Army as they were trying to use aircraft to attack ships at anchor and shore installations rather than use aircraft for artillery spotting. It was the Navy that did many of the early bombing trials at Orford Ness, looking for the best way of utilising the somewhat limited bomb load of the time...

They looked at how incendiary bombs could be used, as their potential for causing property damage was greater than explosive ones, and did a number of trials on fire propagation. They came to the conclusion that using a large number of small incendiaries was more effective than a few large ones, both from the point of view of the bomb load carried and the difficulty of fighting a fire with multiple origins. I believe that the tactic of blast to expose wooden structure and fire to set it alight may have come from this period in time..

The Navy had a pyrotechnic factory attached to the Gunpowder Mill in Roslin, just south of Edinburgh. This factory was known locally as "the bomb factory" and was set up to make flares and smoke floats for the RNAS. A range of small scale incendiary bombs based on thermite and magnesium were developed in the factory, which were known as "Baby Incendiary Bombs" or "BIBs". These were carried in the aircraft in crates and deployed en-mass over the target.

I believe that it is the BIB that is the genesis of all the 1KG Electrum type incendiaries that were used by both sides in WW2, although this is contested (or ignored!) by the RAF Historical Society... (who knew? I thought they were too recent to have a history!)
 
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You couldn’t blame anyone for reporting that :)

I once placed a counter charge against a 100mm AP shot in Kuwait.

It was covered in about 1” of oil and had exactly the same shape as a HESH round. All I could go on was the shape.

When I went back after the surprisingly small bang there it was, split beautifully in half down the centre line. Solid as a solid thing, not even a tracer pocket.

It had never occurred to me that Saddam would be trying to use 100mm shot against Abrams or Challenger.

Perfectly understandable thing to do. You probably cursed yourself when you discovered it was solid shot (I have), but you’d have been far more foolish to be uncertain and move it.

Many moons ago a few 6pdr with Hotchkiss fuzes were returned to ammunition stores, having been mistaken for solid shot. The Regt SAT wasn’t amused.
 
Why though?

We found a lot of Soviet-era shaped charge artillery ammunition in Kuwait.

At first it caused a lot of consternation amongst some people because it was grey (although it’s a non-significant body colour for Sov ammo).

I understand that after a few incidents in the Great Patriotic War, Stalin directed that all Soviet artillery should have a direct-fire, anti-armour capacity, in case it found itself facing enemy tanks.

That would explain 203mm shaped charges.

Don’t know how true it is, but it’s plausible.
 

theoriginalphantom

MIA
Book Reviewer
Sandy tried to catch me out with the old Citroen suspension unit ploy..

It didn't work!


the only part that worked on my two citroens was the suspension.
Everything else was plop and should have been disposed of with explosives.
 
We found a lot of Soviet-era shaped charge artillery ammunition in Kuwait.

At first it caused a lot of consternation amongst some people because it was grey (although it’s a non-significant body colour for Sov ammo).

I understand that after a few incidents in the Great Patriotic War, Stalin directed that all Soviet artillery should have a direct-fire, anti-armour capacity, in case it found itself facing enemy tanks.

That would explain 203mm shaped charges.

Don’t know how true it is, but it’s plausible.
100% correct and all of their ARTY systems had it! And although the fragmentation qualities of their HE natures were shyte, the shaped charges were great.
 
We found a lot of Soviet-era shaped charge artillery ammunition in Kuwait.

At first it caused a lot of consternation amongst some people because it was grey (although it’s a non-significant body colour for Sov ammo).

I understand that after a few incidents in the Great Patriotic War, Stalin directed that all Soviet artillery should have a direct-fire, anti-armour capacity, in case it found itself facing enemy tanks.

That would explain 203mm shaped charges.

Don’t know how true it is, but it’s plausible.
It's a little puzzling viewed alongside things like the Foxbats avionics (valves) and the attitude towards things like military jet engines being viewed as a consumables. Such decisons had been made with an aim in mind.

Could it have been that shape charges were seen as modern and therefore the sort of thing that the New Soviet man would use everywhere?
 
It's a little puzzling viewed alongside things like the Foxbats avionics (valves) and the attitude towards things like military jet engines being viewed as a consumables. Such decisons had been made with an aim in mind.

Could it have been that shape charges were seen as modern and therefore the sort of thing that the New Soviet man would use everywhere?

I don’t know.

The Sovs seem to really like HEAT.

As I understand it, they couldn’t get the hang of making HESH. Or just didn’t like it.

Thinking about it, I’ve also encountered older A/Tk Sov ammo like HVAP and APDS in Cambodia, but I’ve never seen any Sov fin stabilised ammo. Mainly I think because most of the places I’ve worked have been client states with T55/62, or perhaps because the locals have had anything solid away as scrap before I’ve rocked up.
 
Another in the ETO 17 casualties

A bomb, designated as U.S. M41 and described as an antipersonnel fragmentation bomb, exploded when it was dropped accidentally on the concrete surface of dispersal area No. 3 of AAF (Army Air Force) Station 128 at Deenethorpe, England, on 12 June 1944.1 A mission in which aircraft B-17-G No. 42-107210 was to have taken part was cancelled. The ground crew of the B-17-G ship, together with the ground crew of another ship, were engaged in unloading the clusters of M41 bombs from the bomb racks. A shackle holding three of the bombs to one end of the support for a cluster of six was loose or broken, and during the handing down of the cluster the three bombs fell to the concrete-a distance of approximately 6 feet. One of the bombs exploded, another became armed but did not explode, and the third remained unarmed.

That's why the Luftwaffe hated the SD2 bomb, as it had a habit of hanging upon the racks and then dropping off and exploding when the unwitting aircraft landed.
 

9.414

Old-Salt
Did you own a Citröen?

:)
Of course he didn't. He owned a gentleman's vehicle with a very smooth ride that also used them:
 
That's why the Luftwaffe hated the SD2 bomb, as it had a habit of hanging upon the racks and then dropping off and exploding when the unwitting aircraft landed.

I’m not sure how that could happen.

The SD2 had quite a robust (for the time) safe-to-arm delay mechanism involving the wings (hence ‘butterfly’ bomb) acting as an arming vane. If the bomblet didn’t fall the prescribed distance through the air it wouldn’t spin enough and couldn’t arm.

And like other cluster munitions it was carried in a ‘mother bomb’. If anything was going to get hung up in the bomb bay it would be the mother bomb.


I don’t know the fuzing mechanism for that particular mother bomb, but if it was a typical German ECR fuze it wouldn’t arm until it fell away from the aircraft.

Edited for typo.
 
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