Bomb and Bomb-Bay Sizes

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Zipper730

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Nov 9, 2015
This is kind of a strange question, but I'm curious what the general relationship was to the length and maximum diameter of a bomb to the length, height, and diameter of the bomb-bay for aircraft of the WWII period through the mid-1950's era?


I figure the following might have useful information since many here have proven quite knowledgeable and reliable in the past
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It's not very helpful as an answer, but the answer is it depends. Planes like the TBF/TBM could hold 4x500lb bombs laid out 2x2. The heavier bombers like the B-17 had more vertical storage:

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... but even that doesn't always hold true. I believe Lancasters had a much longer but shallower bays, so the ordnance was stored in a single or sometimes double layer.

ETA: It's a single layer, as shown below:

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Thanks for the kind words, I learn so much more than I impart here that it's nice to get positive feedback.
 
Clearly they varied significantly. All the following are indications as the range to the target clearly had a huge impact on the payload.

Lancaster
5ft wide and 33ft long. Bombs were not carried one above the other. The variations were almost endless with 14 x 1,000lb or 1 x 4,000lb plus 18 x 500lb being quite normal.

Halifax III
Similar in the weight with a max practical payload of 14,500lb, but my understanding was that 10,000lb normal, however there were compartments in the Bomb Bay which caused difficulties. It could carry the 4,000 and 8,000lb bomb but certainly with the 8,000lb the bomb doors didn't fully close which was less than popular.

He111
I believe they normally carried 8 x 550lb bombs in a vertical manner, nose up. Anything larger was carried externally which must have had an impact on performance.

Wellington
Originally it had a bomb bay in two half's with a break down the length of the bay. This limited the aircraft to 500lb bombs totalling 4,000lb. However this was altered and it could carry larger weapons internally.

I should add that the above should be taken as approximate, more than happy to be double checked
 
To elaborate: I'm curious as to the clearance requirements in front of, to the rear of, and to either side of the bomb
 
To elaborate: I'm curious as to the clearance requirements in front of, to the rear of, and to either side of the bomb
Clearance requirements vary based on what the weapons are, launch or drop requirements and whether they are dumb or guided munitions. Folding fins could get you a denser loading configuration, keeping within the weight and location limits.

For a bit more current loading, one can have 3 Mk82's on a TER rack and there is only two or three inches clearance between tail fin sets. In something like a B-17, depending on the planned load, the load order and the particular release shackles, you might have as little as 6" clearance. With there being dozens and dozens of load configurations, it's hard to be very specific on what you would have.


BTW....BB stacking (aka bomb loading) is probably the most dangerous part of flight ops.....Doesn't matter if it's inert or live, it's way too easy to get dead in an instant.
 
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As mentioned already I don't believe there was any firm standard. It would have been variable, also because bombs etc varied as well throughout the war.
 
Wellington
Originally it had a bomb bay in two half's with a break down the length of the bay. This limited the aircraft to 500lb bombs totalling 4,000lb. However this was altered and it could carry larger weapons internally.

The Wellington originally had 2 bomb beams, dividing the bomb bay into 3. One beam had bombs hung on both sides, while the other had bombs hung on the outside.

 
This is kind of a strange question, but I'm curious what the general relationship was to the length and maximum diameter of a bomb to the length, height, and diameter of the bomb-bay for aircraft of the WWII period through the mid-1950's era?

To elaborate: I'm curious as to the clearance requirements in front of, to the rear of, and to either side of the bomb

This is going to depend on the bomb size and the plane.
The actual problem is getting crewman's hand/arm around the bomb to the lug/fitting to fasten the bomb in place. Also to fit the safety wires from the bomb rack to the fuses. And detach the bomb hoist cables from the larger bombs. With small bombs crewman may only to get his hand/arm around the bomb while sitting/kneeling/whatever under the bomb. Once they were dealing with large bombs (needs elbow along side the bomb or shoulder?) you need more 'clearance'. Some aircraft, like the B-17s, B-24s, B-26s had a walkway separating the left and right stacks of bombs and the crewmen could stand/kneel on the walkway and work on the top of the bombs. Some British bombers had access holes in the bomb bay ceiling for the bomb hoists to go through and for doing the fiddley bits with the latches/safety wires.

Another thing for 'clearance' is the angle at which the bombs could be dropped. Bombers could drop bombs at different angles of flight. Diving, climbing and/or banked. Some bombers had more latitude than others.
 
The actual problem is getting crewman's hand/arm around the bomb to the lug/fitting to fasten the bomb in place. Also to fit the safety wires from the bomb rack to the fuses. And detach the bomb hoist cables from the larger bombs. With small bombs crewman may only to get his hand/arm around the bomb while sitting/kneeling/whatever under the bomb. Once they were dealing with large bombs (needs elbow along side the bomb or shoulder?) you need more 'clearance'.
What would you need for a 500 lb., a 1000 lb., a 2000 lb., a 4000 lb., and a Tallboy (crazy as it was there was an interest in the USAAF of some light bombers being built with the ability to carry them).
Another thing for 'clearance' is the angle at which the bombs could be dropped. Bombers could drop bombs at different angles of flight. Diving, climbing and/or banked. Some bombers had more latitude than others.
For starters, what would you need for a level delivery (wings level, nose level)?
 
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Ok, IF you have to reach around the bomb deal with the shackles and such how much room to to need around which bomb?
The crew could mount an intermediate shackle to the bomb and run the fuse safety wires to it but the intermediate unit still needs to be attached to the main support/shackles.
and larger bombs use winches to lift them into position and you need access to the winch point/s if something hangs up.
Again, many British bombers had access from above.

Building a bomber to fit a specific bomb size while flying in certain conditions (level) may be short sighted. Air Force may decide to change the shape of the bomb, the tail fins or even the fuse arrangement. In the photo note the difference between the 500lb M31 bomb (GP ?), 5th from left and the 500lb SAP AN-M58 bomb 8th from the left.
 
Bomb bays were modified on some planes like the Lancaster and Mosquito while with the Halifax they just put up with the doors not closing around a "cookie". A Lancaster with a Grand Slam didnt have a bomb bay at all, they took the bloody doors off.
 
What ordinance is available at the time of design also changes. Here's a chart of what we could hang on the F-16 in 1990. There's at least two dozen more that have been added since then. During WW2, weapon design was changing almost as fast as aircraft design. The design guys had to have some imagination on the potential for weapons that were in development, but so classified, that only the weapons people would know of them.


View: https://www.reddit.com/r/hoggit/comments/9q9yv2/all_the_possible_weaponsequipment_that_the_f16/#lightbox
 
View attachment 787003

Ok, IF you have to reach around the bomb deal with the shackles and such how much room to to need around which bomb?
I figure I'd probably have to have my upper body along one side of the bomb for the 4000 pounder. I have no idea the depth of my chest is, but I was around 38" around when I was thin.
Building a bomber to fit a specific bomb size while flying in certain conditions (level) may be short sighted.
What would be the most extreme condition? I figure releasing in a steep diving turn. I know dive bombing covered angles of 60˚ or greater, I don't know how many bomb-drops in those days were done while turning and to what extent.

Do you have anything on that?
 
The funny thing about being a contractor for the military is when the military change their minds about what they want it is the contractors fault when they cant comply with the new request. With hindsight designing a plane around a specific type of bomb was a mistake
 
The only Allied aircraft that I know of, that could release ordinance from an internal bay while on a diving and turning profile, would be the Vultee Vengeance. To clear the prop during dive bombing profiles, the forward ordinance was on a trapeze that forced the weapon in a arc out of the bay and into the air stream and clear of the prop. Several Axis aircraft used the same type system, but not from an internal bay that I know of.
 
The only Allied aircraft that I know of, that could release ordinance from an internal bay while on a diving and turning profile, would be the Vultee Vengeance. To clear the prop during dive bombing profiles, the forward ordinance was on a trapeze that forced the weapon in a arc out of the bay and into the air stream and clear of the prop. Several Axis aircraft used the same type system, but not from an internal bay that I know of.
Some bomb bay pics from this thread - Vultee Vengeance bombbay, interior...
 

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