Did ordinance underneath an aircraft explode after being hit by anti-aircraft fire?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by DogFather, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. DogFather

    DogFather New Member

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    I have only heard of one instance of this happening. I believe it was a Jap plane attacking a destroyer during the battle of Okinawa. I also remember a
    story about a direct hit by a 5 inch shell, which completely destroyed the airplane. Anyone else read about anything like that? Was there any protection
    on the front of US bombs to prevent this?

    How about the bombs in a B-17. Did they ever explode after being hit by fire from an attacking fighter plane?
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I've read accounts of RAF bombers blowing up when attacked, both from other RAF crews and the attackers who sometimes went down with their victim. This would imply at least a part of the load did explode. On the other hand I've also heard a bomb load comprising HE bombs (rather than the normal mixture of incendiaries etc) referred to as an "armoured belly". A peek inside a Lancaster bomb bay would explain why.
    I suspect the answer is yes but that it was unusual.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  3. JtD

    JtD Member

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    Considering that the most common general purpose bombs had a wall thickness that made it mostly immune to fighter sized weapons, it would indeed be a rare thing to happen. But it wasn't impossible and it did happen. There's also little in the way of a direct heavy AAA hit.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Indeed. Typical loads on RAF bombers were not composed of GP bombs but a combination of ordnance depending on the target and a load of GP, medium case (MC) or similar weapons was uncommon. The code for an industrial demolition load of GP,MC or US short finned HE bombs, carried by a Lancaster, which might be considered an armoured belly gives us a clue. It was "Abnormal" and comprised 14 x 1,000lb bombs.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  5. pattle

    pattle Member

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    Mind you the Blockbuster being a blast bomb had a thinner wall.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It certainly did! I don't think anyone would consider one of them, a component of most area bombing loads as it would blow in windows and roofs to allow the incendiaries to fall into the buildings, to be part of an armoured belly.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  7. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    Certainly a load of smaller sized medium to thick cased bombs would cut down on flak splinters getting through from below, but wasn't the cookie or blockhouse typically loaded in the middle of a loading in a position of the bomb bay where there was not a crewman so nearby.
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but somewhere above would be the mid upper turret. I've also read accounts of incendiaries being ignited whilst still in the SBC.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The bomb casing might be safe from bullets, but the fuse isn't.
    The bomb can normally be dropped from any altitude, and if safetied to where the fuse propeller isn't free to spin to arm the bomb, the bomb won't explode on hitting the ground, unless it hits something so solid ( big rocks, for instance) it crushes the fuse and overcomes the safeties.
    The same in the air, most high explosives are so stable you can shoot them with a gun and they usually will not explode, In munitions training we were told 1 in 30.
    But don't try that with the fuse. Part of the explosive in a fuse is of much more sensitive explosive than the TNT, Amatol ,etc. used in the bomb itself.
     
  10. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The possability of flak or enemy fire detonating the ordinance was a hazard and did happen. There's a good number of archival footage and photos showing that event.

    Here's a photo of a Lancaster that had taken a direct hit by flak, detonating it's load:
    lanc_flak3[640].jpg
     
  11. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    Saburo Sakai told of attacking B17's from directly above in a verticle attack with the intention of igniting the bomb load. This story was either told in Zero or Samuri, I can't remember which. But I have also read that Saburo Sakai sometimes made up stuff that he really didn't do and so he may not be a reliable source.
     
  12. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes when a bomber went off it'd also damage and even down other bombers in the formation, I hate to think what it could do to a fighter.
     
  13. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    Just like retail sales, it would all be about location, location, location. How big is the bomb load and how far away are you when the bombs detonate. But as I said earlier, I think later on Saburo Sakai was proven out to be somewhat of a liar, so there may not be a shred of truth in his story at all.
     
  14. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I've read both Samurai, and Zero, I don't remember the specific incidents you're talking about. But I read them about 25-30 years ago.
    I think some of the lies you accuse Sakai of might best be laid at the feet of his co-author, Martin Caiden.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    On 16th /17th March 1945 Hauptmann Gerhardt Friederich was killed when the Lancaster he was attacking exploded, destroying his Ju 88 G in the process. I remember another in which a Stirling exploded, bringing down another Stirling and the attacking night fighter. If I find the details I'll post them. The Luftwaffe pilot got credit for both bombers.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    TNT is pretty insensitive: my father said he saw bullets go through torpedo warheads when he was serving on PT boats; they worried much more about the air flasks exploding. As a non-military person, I would think that the incendiaries would be much more problematic.

    Not to be too pedantic, but no ordinance I've heard of has ever exploded. Ordnance, however, has.
     
  17. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    In one of the carrier battles off Guadalcanal, a IJN dive bombers bomb was hit by a 5" round from the carrier it was attacking. And witnesses said it simply vaporized from the explosion.
     
  18. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    i never really studied or read too much on ww2 bombs. i always assumed they had a spinner that armed the detonator after falling so far. that way if something happened during loading or in flight it wouldnt have been a really bad day for the crew of that ac.
     
  19. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    Please understand that I myself am not accusing Mr Sakai of not telling the truth. Honestly, before joining this forum, I simply believed what ever I read, I had no idea of the lies and propaganda that had been printed about WW2. But, and it may have been in this forum somewhere, I did read that Mr Sakai was questioned about some of the things he had claimed he did in those 2 books and he sort of shrugged his shoulders and admitted he lied. If you ask for proof, I don't have it, it was on the internet somewhere, and I think it was actually on this forum, but I read so much stuff from so many different places that I could not tell you where that particular article was from.
     
  20. pattle

    pattle Member

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    I can't recall the source of this either but I have heard on a number of occasions that a danger of attacking bombers from underneath with vertically mounted canon was hitting the bomb load. I wonder if the blockbuster with it's slightly temperamental reputation for exploding mid-air may have been more vulnerable to attacks from beneath, blockbuster fuses arming themselves were said to have been the cause of these explosions.
     
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