Friday, April 17, 2015

How deep can the penetrator bombs go?

Can they go deep enough to take out Iran's nuclear facilities?  Ordinary iron bombs in reasonable sizes (750 to 1000 pounds) punch down 30-35 feet in plain dirt.  Out of a six bomb rack load, we would put a long delay time fuse on just one bomb.  The other five would get instantaneous fuses.  Those bombs would blow up the target.  The long delay fuze would get the repair crews the next day.  After a while the comrades wised up and would wait 24 hours after the raid before starting work to fix the damage.
  Back in WWII, Barnes Wallis in England devised the first deep penetrator bomb.  He called it Tallboy, it weighed 12000 pounds, had a tough steel case with a pointy nose, and it would go down 80 or 90 feet and then explode.    It took out a number of German targets, and was used to sink the Tirpitz in Alta Fiord.  Even Tallboy couldn't deal with all targets.  The British built a bigger penetrator for the harder targets that they called Grand Slam.  Grand Slam was 20000 pounds, which was so heavy that the wings of the Lancaster bomber carrying it could be seen to bow upwards under the load.  Grand Slam seems to be the limit for WWII aircraft to hoist off the ground.
   Twenty first century aircraft can hoist a good deal more than their WWII ancestors.  Little has been published, but Aviation Week once described new penetrator bomb casings  made out of old 16 inch cannon barrels.  Those ought to go down quite a ways. 
  But, little has been published on how deep the Iranians have dug in.  And what they have bug into, plain dirt? sedimentary rock? granite?  NORAD HQ in Colorado was dug under a solid granite mountain and was considered proof against nukes. 
   So, mission planners either IAF or USAF, the question is, will your penetrator bombs penetrate deep enough?  Will even a nuclear penetrator bomb go that deep? 
   One clue, the Israelis have not already bombed out the Iranians.  If they thought it would work, they probably would have done it by now. 

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