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British White Bombs


Eduardo Soler
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40 minutes ago, Eduardo Soler said:

In a well-known color photo of the Typhoon HH-N, two bombs appear with their front part painted white. Is this color due to any reason?

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I think white was the colour of practice bombs.

 

Steve

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@Steve 1602

 

Might that also explain the color on the 500lb bomb fins seen in the photos of the  A-36A evaluated by the RAF, EW998? Note that both bombs are lacking fuses. Photo via Wikicommons

Mike

 

RAF_A-36A_2.png

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23 minutes ago, 72modeler said:

@Steve 1602

 

Might that also explain the color on the 500lb bomb fins seen in the photos of the  A-36A evaluated by the RAF, EW998?   photo via Wikicommons

Mike

I don’t know to be honest Mike - I’m no expert on this area.  My guess would be that the colours applied to the bombs rather than fins. I would imagine that fins might be interchangeable across inert and live ordnance.

there’s a link below which goes through British ordnance in some detail. The index is hyperlinked to save scrolling through hundreds of pages.

http://www.lexpev.nl/downloads/britishexplosiveordnance1946.pdf

 

Steve

 

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8 minutes ago, 72modeler said:

I'm betting that @Selwyn will know- I was just curious, as I have always wanted to do an A-36A as EW998!

Mike

White  bomb body = practice bomb.

UK Tail units were painted with markings over the original finish depending on the fuzing, For example red tail markings denoted long delay fuzing. 

I'm not sure what the colour tail units are on the A36. As this aircraft was under evaluation and not an operational aircraft I would suggest these tails  may be painted in a non standard colour related to these evaluation trials, and not indicative of an operational bomb.

 

Selwyn

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From what I read in a book a few years ago the practice bombs were concrete, so maybe not even "white" per se but the colour of dried concrete. 

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6 hours ago, Jeff G said:

From what I read in a book a few years ago the practice bombs were concrete, so maybe not even "white" per se but the colour of dried concrete. 

Nonsense. The bombs were metal cases filled with a mass representative substance, that was not concrete, which would be far too heavy. The colour white was mandated as the PB colour, so even if the bomb had been made of concrete it would have been painted white.

 

The whole idea of concrete filled bombs is a myth, some bombs have fillings that use a small proportion of concrete used as a binder,  British cold war PB's were filled with a substance called "Cheekol" which was I understand a chalky insulation material.  Current US PB's have a concrete binder / verniculite fill. The Last type of UK 1000lb PB was actually thick walled metal to make up the correct mass,  but it was actually hollow.

 

Selwyn

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On 5/15/2020 at 6:03 AM, Jeff G said:

From what I read in a book a few years ago the practice bombs were concrete

In Luftwaffe the practice "ZC" bombs were made of concrete, with the sides under the wooden linings are niches in which the cartridges were laid with a smoke-forming mixture. In the rear of the bomb, there was also a tracer with a burning time of about 50 seconds. But these bombs were painted beige with a white tip. They can be seen in many photos, including the famous color photos next to Me-262 and Alfons Orthofer's Ju-87B-1 with a shark's mouth

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With regard to the statement "The whole idea of concrete filled bombs is a myth", this is possibly true only for British-produced ammunition.

It would seem that, while the UK may not have used cast concrete and/or concrete-filled practice bombs, other countries did, particularly in the pre-Cold War period.

 

U.S. bombs (cast and filled):

http://uxoinfo.com/blogcfc/client/includes/uxopages/Mulvaney_Details.cfm?Ord_Id=B127

https://bulletpicker.com/bomb_-100-lb-practice_-m85.html

http://quanonline.com/military/military_reference/american/wwii_equipment/cementb.php

http://jtreinarch.com/image-gallery/historic-cultural-resources/

https://authors.library.caltech.edu/58964/1/ND-32.pdf (pages 5 and 9)

and

(cold war period) http://uxoinfo.com/blogcfc/client/includes/uxopages/Mulvaney_Details.cfm?Ord_Id=B195

(cold war period) http://uxoinfo.com/blogcfc/client/includes/uxopages/Mulvaney_Details.cfm?Ord_Id=B214

 

Japanese bomb (filled):

http://www.inert-ord.net/jap02h/bombfuze/b-6/index.html

 

German bombs (cast):

https://www.auferstandenausruinen.de/urban-exploration/militar/betonbombe-sbe-250/

and

Betonbombe.JPG

 

 

Having said all this, one wonders whether the term concrete is used - somewhat erroneously - to denote a generic range of fillings that use common concrete aggregates - wet or dry - without the use of a cement (a cement being the binding component of concrete). I have heard vermiculite (often used as a practice bomb filler) referred to, on many occasions, as 'concrete sand'.

To amplify a previous comment - many post-WWII 'concrete' practice bombs aren't strictly concrete, but use a dense aggregate fill inside a metal case.

 

Still, this is just an interesting aside; the above-mentioned ammunition is not germane to the overall thread, which is about British-produced ammunition!

Edited by Blimpyboy
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On 5/15/2020 at 12:35 AM, 72modeler said:

@Steve 1602

 

Might that also explain the color on the 500lb bomb fins seen in the photos of the  A-36A evaluated by the RAF, EW998? Note that both bombs are lacking fuses. Photo via Wikicommons

Mike

 

RAF_A-36A_2.png

 

I don't know if this photograph was taken in the US or UK, but this aircraft does seem to be carrying what I think are US-produced M43- or M64-series practice bombs, which were, apparently, cast concrete (see pictures on page 5, and text on page 9 of this document: https://authors.library.caltech.edu/58964/1/ND-32.pdf) and were not fitted with nose-mounted fuzes.

 

Of course, this has little-to-no bearing on the composition and colours of British-produced ammunition.

 

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On 5/15/2020 at 7:03 PM, Selwyn said:

Nonsense. The bombs were metal cases filled with a mass representative substance, that was not concrete, which would be far too heavy.

 

Not quite correct (and the premise being referred to is - while erroneous - certainly not nonsensical).

 

Size-for-size, a cast concrete practice bomb will not necessarily be heavier than its conventional - iron/steel heavy-cased HE/frag or AP/SAP - counterpart; in most of these instances, a concrete munition would be lighter.

In some 'concrete' practice munitions, a given portion of the interior mass will be made up of steel reinforcement (beams or mesh), as well as a dense aggregate fill component such as haematite or a dense metal core material such as lead. This is largely to ensure the practice munition shares the parent munition's structural integrity characteristics, and carriage and ballistic properties (points of balance, moments of inertia, etc.) - if not to attain the approximate mass of the parent munition.

 

Still, I cannot speak to the exact ammunition that is the subject of the initial post - British-produced WWII practice bombs!

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8 hours ago, Blimpyboy said:

 

Not quite correct (and the premise being referred to is - while erroneous - certainly not nonsensical).

 

Size-for-size, a cast concrete practice bomb will not necessarily be heavier than its conventional - iron/steel heavy-cased HE/frag or AP/SAP - counterpart; in most of these instances, a concrete munition would be lighter.

In some 'concrete' practice munitions, a given portion of the interior mass will be made up of steel reinforcement (beams or mesh), as well as a dense aggregate fill component such as haematite or a dense metal core material such as lead. This is largely to ensure the practice munition shares the parent munition's structural integrity characteristics, and carriage and ballistic properties (points of balance, moments of inertia, etc.) - if not to attain the approximate mass of the parent munition.

 

Still, I cannot speak to the exact ammunition that is the subject of the initial post - British-produced WWII practice bombs!

From my 40+years as a weapons professional, I have never heard or seen of such a thing as a "cast concrete bomb,"  or "Concrete" Practice bomb  (I discount the small ballistically representative PB's  used from carriers such as SUU 20 or CBLS). All the ones I have seen save one,  use the standard metal bomb case as used on operational weapons. Remember we are just talking about using concrete as a substitute filling, not the whole bomb, so there would not be any steel reinforcement, dense aggregate fill component,  or dense metal core material such as lead,  as the filling is not structural, and these components would simply not be needed.

The key factor on any inert substitute filling is that it is in terms of mass and density identical to the standard explosive used in that weapon to ensure that the weapon maintains the correct C of G to ensure representative ballisic properties. Just "filling with concrete" would not do this.

The only time I have seen concrete used on a weapon is on WW2 British aircraft rockets which had a 60 lb lump of concrete screwed on the end to simulate a 60 lb warhead. In this case of course it did replicate the Cof G properties of the weapon.

 

Selwyn

 

Edited by Selwyn
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Ohh kay (sigh)...

 

The term 'cast concrete bomb' is mine, and defines those practice bombs for which the bodies (or forebodies, generally excluding tail assemblies that don't normally contain the explosive fill) were manufactured by being cast in concrete in a single mould, without an outer casing. This includes the German-produced, WWII-era ZC series and the US-produced, WWII-era M85 munitions (see linked references in earlier posts).

The aforementioned term is to provide a distinction from practice bombs that used a quantity of concrete or aggregate fill inside the parent munition's standard outer casing; for these, I used the term 'concrete-filled'. This latter definition includes the Japanese-produced, WWII-era Number 3 Practice Bomb Model 1 and the US-produced, cold war-era inert-loaded Mk 82 Mod 2 munitions (both of which, in addition to a range of other designs, are also referenced in earlier posts).

To be sure, both design types ('cast' and 'filled') have official nomenclatures and designations, which differ between eras, designers, producers, operators and the lay reader - I simply applied the above-mentioned definitions in plain English for simplicity's sake in this forum. I also made reference to the fact that the word concrete is quite often used erroneously to describe munitions that use a whole or partial aggregate fill rather than an actual concrete fill.

 

You are correct in that most designs that incorporate concrete use a standard case with a concrete (or other) fill. This is not being disputed - I am simply pointing out that some designs were produced by being cast in whole (eg. the ZC- series) while others were produced by being standard casings that were filled - fully or partially - with concrete or an aggregate.

 

You are also correct in that the principal bomb design this topic relates to is a standard design that was filled with an aggregate material. This too, is not in dispute - I am simply addressing the statement in post #9: "The whole idea of concrete filled bombs is a myth, some bombs have fillings that use a small proportion of concrete used as a binder". This statement is - technically and in the totality of WWII practice ammunition designs - incorrect.

Technically, cement is a binder for concrete; concrete is the final result of the mixing of a cement with - among other compounds - an aggregate and water or a carbonation agent.

With regard to the totality of WWII practice ammunition designs, there were types of practice bombs that were cast in whole from concrete, just as there were types that comprised a standard casing filled wholly or partially with concrete or aggregate (examples of these can be seen in the linked references). I appreciate you may have been referring to the singular British-produced bomb type shown in the initial photograph; however I was simply pointing out - purely out of interest - that there were other designs with differing compositions.

 

 

Some thoughts regarding your comment "Remember we are just talking about using concrete as a substitute filling, not the whole bomb, so there would not be any steel reinforcement, dense aggregate fill component, or dense metal core material such as lead, as the filling is not structural, and these components would simply not be needed".

* Overall, I was simply making general reference to the broad gamut of practice bomb designs that incorporated concrete - in this sense, it should be noted that some designs were pure concrete (wholly cast or wholly/partially filled), while some others did indeed incorporate reinforcement.

* Reinforcement is needed - but only in large and heavy practice bomb designs (generally not so much those less than 250-300 lb). It should be noted that, for these reasons, most 'cast' designs were small-ish bombs (the largest I can think of is 250 kg). It is very important that - for large designs - the practice bomb be capable of withstanding the same in-flight, pre-release stresses as the standard munition, and does not crack and create stress/weak points in the whole bomb design, whether they be 'cast' or 'filled', which is why concrete (generally poor comparative lateral/shear strength) often requires reinforcement. This is another reason why there are more 'filled' designs rather than 'cast' designs. Additionally, depending on the bomb design and filling configuration, internal weighting will be incorporated to ensure correct ballistic properties and desired weights (as you stated "Just filling with concrete" would not do this" - in this, we seem to be in violent agreement )!

 

 

Additionally, I will amplify the statements I made in all my posts, in that the examples given and information provided by me do not apply to the principal ammunition about which this topic asks, or any other British-produced, WWII-era practice ammunition. My posts simply - for interest's sake - provide examples of, and information relating to, some WWII (and cold war) practice munitions that do indeed incorporate concrete in their designs.

 

Lastly, if we are going to use the time we've spent working as professionals in the armaments field (in addition to the chemistry and aerospace engineering fields) as a form of seniority and/or eminence, we should all be mindful of the history and research regarding the totality of our professions.

As for 40+ years in the profession(s) - get some time up, kiddo!

 

To Eduardo - my apologies, and good luck with your project.

To everybody - I hope we can all still be friends.

おやすみなさい / Oyasuminasao,

BB

Edited by Blimpyboy
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To somewhat piggyback on the earlier descriptions, USAF Mk 82 and Mk 84 practice bombs used to be filled in the field. The empty bombs, still palletized and banded, were stood on their noses and the tail wells were bashed down into the bomb bodies with a long wrecking bar. A cement truck was backed up to the stacks and a certain quantity of Vermiculite bags were emptied into the mixer (the technical order specified the cement/Vermucilite ratio). This mixture was then pumped into each bomb by means of a pump and a hose. A particularly unpleasant task in the winter and one for which you wore an old, close to end-of-life uniform.

 

Current practice bombs (BDU-50  and BDU-56 series) are factory filled.

 

The US seems to have taken a page from the UK's book and has come out with the BDU-50C/B which, instead of an inert fill, has a thicker body made of Cast Ductile Iron (CDI). Presumably this is somewhat less expensive than a prefilled inert body?

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4 hours ago, Slater said:

To somewhat piggyback on the earlier descriptions, USAF Mk 82 and Mk 84 practice bombs used to be filled in the field. The empty bombs, still palletized and banded, were stood on their noses and the tail wells were bashed down into the bomb bodies with a long wrecking bar. A cement truck was backed up to the stacks and a certain quantity of Vermiculite bags were emptied into the mixer (the technical order specified the cement/Vermucilite ratio). This mixture was then pumped into each bomb by means of a pump and a hose. A particularly unpleasant task in the winter and one for which you wore an old, close to end-of-life uniform.

 

Current practice bombs (BDU-50  and BDU-56 series) are factory filled.

 

The US seems to have taken a page from the UK's book and has come out with the BDU-50C/B which, instead of an inert fill, has a thicker body made of Cast Ductile Iron (CDI). Presumably this is somewhat less expensive than a prefilled inert body?

The reason the RAF went to thick walled practice bombs was as an economy measure in that it made them recoverable and reusable up to three times.

I would suggest the BDU 50C/B was produced with the same thought in mind?

 

Selwyn

 

PS used to watch the Saudis filling Mk 82 PB with the concrete verniculite mix It was better than any Laurel and Hardy film you would See!

Edited by Selwyn
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5 hours ago, Blimpyboy said:

Ohh kay (sigh)...

 

The term 'cast concrete bomb' is mine, and defines those practice bombs for which the bodies (or forebodies, generally excluding tail assemblies that don't normally contain the explosive fill) were manufactured by being cast in concrete in a single mould, without an outer casing. This includes the German-produced, WWII-era ZC series and the US-produced, WWII-era M85 munitions (see linked references in earlier posts).

The aforementioned term is to provide a distinction from practice bombs that used a quantity of concrete or aggregate fill inside the parent munition's standard outer casing; for these, I used the term 'concrete-filled'. This latter definition includes the Japanese-produced, WWII-era Number 3 Practice Bomb Model 1 and the US-produced, cold war-era inert-loaded Mk 82 Mod 2 munitions (both of which, in addition to a range of other designs, are also referenced in earlier posts).

To be sure, both design types ('cast' and 'filled') have official nomenclatures and designations, which differ between eras, designers, producers, operators and the lay reader - I simply applied the above-mentioned definitions in plain English for simplicity's sake in this forum. I also made reference to the fact that the word concrete is quite often used erroneously to describe munitions that use a whole or partial aggregate fill rather than an actual concrete fill.

 

You are correct in that most designs that incorporate concrete use a standard case with a concrete (or other) fill. This is not being disputed - I am simply pointing out that some designs were produced by being cast in whole (eg. the ZC- series) while others were produced by being standard casings that were filled - fully or partially - with concrete or an aggregate.

 

You are also correct in that the principal bomb design this topic relates to is a standard design that was filled with an aggregate material. This too, is not in dispute - I am simply addressing the statement in post #9: "The whole idea of concrete filled bombs is a myth, some bombs have fillings that use a small proportion of concrete used as a binder". This statement is - technically and in the totality of WWII practice ammunition designs - incorrect.

Technically, cement is a binder for concrete; concrete is the final result of the mixing of a cement with - among other compounds - an aggregate and water or a carbonation agent.

With regard to the totality of WWII practice ammunition designs, there were types of practice bombs that were cast in whole from concrete, just as there were types that comprised a standard casing filled wholly or partially with concrete or aggregate (examples of these can be seen in the linked references). I appreciate you may have been referring to the singular British-produced bomb type shown in the initial photograph; however I was simply pointing out - purely out of interest - that there were other designs with differing compositions.

 

 

Some thoughts regarding your comment "Remember we are just talking about using concrete as a substitute filling, not the whole bomb, so there would not be any steel reinforcement, dense aggregate fill component, or dense metal core material such as lead, as the filling is not structural, and these components would simply not be needed".

* Overall, I was simply making general reference to the broad gamut of practice bomb designs that incorporated concrete - in this sense, it should be noted that some designs were pure concrete (wholly cast or wholly/partially filled), while some others did indeed incorporate reinforcement.

* Reinforcement is needed - but only in large and heavy practice bomb designs (generally not so much those less than 250-300 lb). It should be noted that, for these reasons, most 'cast' designs were small-ish bombs (the largest I can think of is 250 kg). It is very important that - for large designs - the practice bomb be capable of withstanding the same in-flight, pre-release stresses as the standard munition, and does not crack and create stress/weak points in the whole bomb design, whether they be 'cast' or 'filled', which is why concrete (generally poor comparative lateral/shear strength) often requires reinforcement. This is another reason why there are more 'filled' designs rather than 'cast' designs. Additionally, depending on the bomb design and filling configuration, internal weighting will be incorporated to ensure correct ballistic properties and desired weights (as you stated "Just filling with concrete" would not do this" - in this, we seem to be in violent agreement )!

 

 

Additionally, I will amplify the statements I made in all my posts, in that the examples given and information provided by me do not apply to the principal ammunition about which this topic asks, or any other British-produced, WWII-era practice ammunition. My posts simply - for interest's sake - provide examples of, and information relating to, some WWII (and cold war) practice munitions that do indeed incorporate concrete in their designs.

 

Lastly, if we are going to use the time we've spent working as professionals in the armaments field (in addition to the chemistry and aerospace engineering fields) as a form of seniority and/or eminence, we should all be mindful of the history and research regarding the totality of our professions.

As for 40+ years in the profession(s) - get some time up, kiddo!

 

To Eduardo - my apologies, and good luck with your project.

To everybody - I hope we can all still be friends.

おやすみなさい / Oyasuminasao,

BB

Thank you for repeating what I said in 300 words!

Selwyn

 

 

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1 hour ago, Selwyn said:

The reason the RAF went to thick walled practice bombs was as an economy measure in that it made them recoverable and reusable up to three times.

I would suggest the BDU 50C/B was produced with the same thought in mind?

 

Selwyn

 

PS used to watch the Saudis filling Mk 82 PB with the concrete verniculite mix It was better than any Laurel and Hardy film you would See!

Some of our visiting RAF personnel echo what you said about the bombs (Mk 20 in this case) being able to be re-used three times. I'm not sure about current USAF (or USN/USMC) procedures, but if I was to hazard a guess it would be that re-use is not an option for these bombs. I believe that they would be certified "Free From Explosives" by EOD or an inspector and then sold for scrap. It's interesting to compare US and UK bomb pallets (If I may extend this thread drift even further). US Mk 82's and BDU-50's come six per pallet secured with steel banding. UK Paveway IV warheads are two per pallet and secured with nylon ratchet straps. I can appreciate the thinking behind the ratchet straps as much time, effort, and expense is saved over steel banding. The only caveat this would present in US service is that bombs are often stored outside for extended periods - even years. In the desert, with intense sunlight, heat, and the elements would not the nylon be subject to gradual deterioration?

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9 hours ago, Slater said:

A particularly unpleasant task in the winter and one for which you wore an old, close to end-of-life uniform.

And yet, these fun activities are never highlighted in the recruiting material...

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12 hours ago, Slater said:

Some of our visiting RAF personnel echo what you said about the bombs (Mk 20 in this case) being able to be re-used three times. I'm not sure about current USAF (or USN/USMC) procedures, but if I was to hazard a guess it would be that re-use is not an option for these bombs. I believe that they would be certified "Free From Explosives" by EOD or an inspector and then sold for scrap. It's interesting to compare US and UK bomb pallets (If I may extend this thread drift even further). US Mk 82's and BDU-50's come six per pallet secured with steel banding. UK Paveway IV warheads are two per pallet and secured with nylon ratchet straps. I can appreciate the thinking behind the ratchet straps as much time, effort, and expense is saved over steel banding. The only caveat this would present in US service is that bombs are often stored outside for extended periods - even years. In the desert, with intense sunlight, heat, and the elements would not the nylon be subject to gradual deterioration?

Intense heat and sunlight in the UK?😂

Most of   UK munitions are stored indoors nowadays, so no problem with deteriation. The British 1000lb PB was the mark 22 by the way.

 

Selwyn

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