Bunker Buster

A bunker buster bomb is designed to penetrate hardened targets or targets buried deep underground.

In World War II the British designer Barnes Wallis of Bouncing bomb fame, designed two bombs that would today be called bunker busters: the five tonne Tallboy and the ten tonne Grand Slam "Earthquake" bombs. The designs were very aerodynamic with a tail which caused them to spin. This allowed them to break the sound barrier as they fell from a height of 22,000 ft (6,700 m). They had a much stronger casings, made of high grade steels, than the typical World War II bomb so that they would survive the impact of hitting a hardened surface or penetrate deep into the ground.

Though these bombs might be thought of as 'bunker busters' today, in fact the original 'earthquake' theory was more complex and subtle than simply penetrating a hardened surface. The Earthquake bombs were designed not to strike a target directly, but to impact beside it, penetrate under it, and create a 'camouflet' or large buried cavern at the same time as delivering a shock wave through the target's foundations. The target then collapses into the hole, no matter how hardened it may be. The bombs had strong casings because they needed to travel through rock rather than re-inforced concrete, though of course they could perform equally well against hardened surfaces. In an attack on the U-boat pens at Farge two Grand Slams went through the 23 ft (7 m) re-inforced concrete hardening — equalling or exceeding the best current penetration specifications.

Post war the U.S. added a form of remote control guidance to the Tallboy to create the Tarzon.

The Disney Rocket-Assisted Bomb was another World War II device to be used against U-boat pens and other super-hardened targets. Designed by a Royal Navy Captain it was streamlined hardened case bomb weighing some 4,500 lb (2 tonnes). The bomb was dropped from 20,000 ft (~6,000 m). At 5,000 ft (~1,500 m) a barometric fuse fired the rocket in the tail to give it a velocity at impact of up to 2,400 ft/second (730 m/s). It was first used by the 92nd Bomb Group on 10 February 1945 on U-boat pens at IJmuiden in The Netherlands.- one bomb under each wing of 9 B-17 Flying Fortress. On that occasion a single direct hit was scored. A total of 158 "Disney Bombs" were used operationally by the end of hostilities in Europe.

In the First Gulf War (1990-1991) there was a need for deep penetration bomb similar to the British weapons of World War II, but none of the NATO air forces had such a weapon, though the RAF still retains several of Barnes Wallis' bombs as museum pieces. As a stop-gap, some were developed rapidly over a period of 28 days, using old 8 inch (203 mm) artillery barrels as casings. These bombs weighed over two tons but carried only 647 lb of high explosive. They were laser-guided and were designated "Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28)". They worked very effectively.

The traditional fuze is the same as a classic armor-piercing bomb: a combination of timer and a sturdy dynamic propellor on the rear of the bomb. The fuze is armed when the bomb is released, and detonates when the propellor stops turning and the timer has expired.

Modern bunker busters may use the traditional fuze, but some also include a microphone and microcontroller. The microphones listens, and the microcontroller counts floors until the bomb busts through the desired numbers of floors.

The extra speed provided by a rocket motor enables greater penetration of a missile-mounted bunker buster warhead. To reach maximum penetration (Impact depth), the warhead may consist of a high density projectile only. Such a warhead carries more energy than a warhead with chemical explosives (kinetic energy of a projectile at hypervelocity).

The McAlester, Oklahoma production plant for the U.S. Military halted the production of 2,000 pound (900 kg) bunker buster bombs on two occasions. The first, on February 8, 2005, revealed that 17 employees who made the weapons had low blood oxygen levels because of their exposure to trinitrotoluene(TNT). Later in August, 34 workers were also found to be anemic. Production restarted on January 1, 2005 after a new ventilation system was installed, but halted again on March 2 of the same year when blood tests confirmed continued adverse effects to employee health from TNT exposure. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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