Is this gigantic thing actually a bomb? Pic from

This question was raised on, not exactly the fount of all knowledge, but I’ll pose it here. A few people over there claimed it wasn’t a bomb, but an external fuel tank.

Well, IANAP (pilot), and the picture is rather small, but I’d say it looks more like a drop tank than “unexploded ordinance”. I know it was deformed upon impact, but it has a strange shape for a missile or bomb.

Well, IANAP (pilot), and the picture is rather small, but I’d say it looks more like a drop tank than “unexploded ordinance”. I know it was deformed upon impact, but it has a strange shape for a missile or bomb.

in the last few minutes.

External fuel tanks are tapered along their entire length, and are fattest in the middle, becoming narrower toward front and rear. Bombs are cylindrical thru most of their length.

I think I saw the same picture last night. Judging by the person standing next to it, the “unexploded ordinance” looked to be about four feet wide and, no kidding, about thirty feet long. I assumed that it was a building column, and that the caption was incorrect, or possibly it could have been an optical illusion. Here’s the old photo:

That thing is as big as the fuselage of an F-105.
When I go back to what I thought was the article I saw last night, I now see this photo:

That, I suppose, could be either a guided bomb that has lost its rear control surfaces or a drop tank. Since it appears to have made a small crater without deforming, I’d say it’s a bomb.

I saw both pics on this morning - the freakin’ huge thing (dwarfed the guy standing next to it) had to be an unexploded SAM that the Taliban launched - we don’t drop stuff as BIG AS AN AIRPLANE from our fighters and bombers…the smaller one looked to be a drop tank - it was still awful big for a bomb. Also, the US military tends to paint bombs dark green for some reason. Both of these objects were light-grey…

Re: Sofa King’s photo links. Something’s funny.

Look at the lugs on top of the thing at Those look like the points at wich the object would attach to a rack. Now look at Notice the shackle points on what seems pretty clearly to be a drop tank. The shackle points on the first photo look as if they’re as big as a head! Too big to fit on a bomb rack.

Also notice the colouration of the objects. Very similar.

There is one man in the photo of the smaller object. He doesn’t appear to be looking at the thing, but to the left of it.

The object appears to be at the same angle in both of the photos.

The rocks around the crater seem to be a little large – at least to me. Note also the detail of the ground. Photo #2 (with the seven men around it) seems to be more rocky. Photo # 1 seems to have been taken from a closer spot.

I’m wondering if maybe the photo of the “huge” thing is faked. On the other hand, drop tanks carried by bombers (what kind do we have over there?) are pretty big. The first photo (with the one guy in it) shows something that is larger than drop tanks carried by carrier-based aircraft (if the photo is real).

No photo analyst, I; but it looks “funny” to me.

You know, Kilt, the nose of the big one does appear to be ablated, as a spent rocket might look.

You don’t think it could be two pictures of the same thing, with some trick of perspective accounting for the difference in apparent size, do you? They’re both the same color, both appear to be ablated near the “front”, and both appear to be slighly deformed in the same way (I think I was wrong in my earlier post about that second object not being deformed).

Or maybe not “faked”. Could just be telephoto distortion.

Well I recently heard that ‘some’ of the bombs that were dropped on taliban and al quaeda had NYPD and NYFD painted on them some even had pictures of the WTC attack painted on them. Possibly what we are seeing is munitions from them that has not blown up.

This just in on CNN. I am actually watching it right now and they are saying it is unexploded munitions, from the taliban. not ours.

As for the painted things on the munitions, I doubt it. But hey you never know.h

FWIW, today’s Chicago Tribune has the second picture, ,on the front page, much larger and not cropped–there’s a ninth guy standing over on the right, and from the perpective it looks like it’s at least 6 feet long, and as big around as a man. The flat circular end that’s sticking up is not solid–it’s got indentations in it, like punch-outs. It’s got two clip thingies on top, like D-rings, and there’s nothing at all painted on it. I even took it over by the dining room window and looked at it in bright natural light. It’s just light gray all over. It sure looks like an unexploded missile to me. Dunno what a “drop tank” is.

It’s credited to “Enric Marti”, and the caption says, “Afghans examine unexploded ordnance Sunday in Karam, west of Islamabad. Taliban agents escorted foreign journalists to the area.”

Is it possible that it could be a fuel/air bomb, never seen one but they would have to be like a large fuel tank ?

A drop tank is an external fuel tank that can be jettisoned when empty or when more maneuverability is needed.

From what I understand, fuel/air explosives tend to be more spherical, and you have to drop them out the back of a cargo plane because they’re too freaking huge for any bomber or fighter in the inventory…

I’m thinking that it’s gotta be a Taliban SAM that missed its target and obeyed the law of gravity afterward.

Following is a link to a clip of an Fuel Air Explosive bomb test at China Lake from back in 1976. I’m sure the configuration of such things has changed by now, but at least back then, they looked more or less like a regular bomb.


Whatever it is, it has shackle-points, so it’s not a SAM (the shape is generally wrong for a SAM, too). My current best guess is “drop-tank”, based upon the observation that it’s:

  • Aerodynamicly shaped (which means Drop Tank or low-drag bomb),
  • Appears to have bent along its length (HE bombs have surprisingly strong cases),
  • Has two obvious shackle points (for connecting to an aircraft),
  • Apparently has no fuse (no way to tell it when to go “boom”).

It might be an FAE, but I doubt it, as the explosive in FAEs is in itself very dangerous, even if it doesn’t detonate, and it’s unlikely that people would be casually standing around in an enviroment soaked in propylene oxide. Choking and running away, maybe, but not just standing about.

FAEs come in a variety of sizes, including the humongous BLU-82, which is a big, clumsy thing. From this page, discussing Russian use of FAEs:

And, in case you want to know, the following is a link to a military contractor, Sargent Fletcher, who manufacturer all sorts of underwing and fuselage mounted fuel tanks–the linked table lists gallon capacity and major diameter. Note the biggest one, for the KC-130, which holds 1300 or so gallons and is 45 inches in diameter. (They don’t list a length.)


The Better Half, who although not a Military Guy, still is a Guy, and thus feels qualified to pontificate, read this thread at lunchtime and wishes to point out:

And since he’s a Guy, and was going back to work to earn money to put bread on my children’s table, I tactfully didn’t remind him of the Morton Thiokol O-rings and the Challenger, that presumably cost a lot more than $100,000 and that didn’t work right, either.

Is there a tally somewhere of bombs that we’re dropping on Afghanistan that aren’t exploding? Does someone keep track of the duds, if any? Does a single missile cost $100,000?

And as long as I’ve got you here: I was actually wondering, when I first saw the picture in the paper, whether you can clean up and reuse a dud like that (if it were in fact a dud missile). Does it explode if you go too close to it? Is it ticking? Can you re-use it?

Is the Taliban scurrying around Afghanistan picking up dud American missiles like kids at a parade picking up the candy the clowns are throwing?

Has anyone considered the possibility that the size of the ordinance in the first photo might be “normal” and that there are actually some very small Afghans?:slight_smile:

Well, DDG, from here, a TLAM may cost as much as US$1.4 Million, while a Mk-84 low-drag “iron” or “dumb” bomb may cost as little as US$3,100.

In cluster-bomb bomblets, dud rates have been observed from as low as 2%, to as high as 30%. Human Rights Watch and the US DoD use the rate of 5% when predicting “duds” for CBUs. The dud rate for more espensive ordnance will be significantly lower, but is non-zero. One doesn’t go about “picking up” dud ordnance, unless one has a death wish. What is normally done is to use a controlled detonation to destroy the device. For really big bombs, or bombs you don’t want to detonate (too close to something you want to keep), you can burn a hole in the side and either melt or burn the bomb filling out of the case. Most explosives will burn quite nicely as long as they’re not subjected to a shock-wave. Last resort it to try and de-fuse the device, but that’s a good way of getting dead, and is only for the bravest or most desperate.

So: It’s unlikely that the Taliban & Co are arming themselves at our expense.