Prehistory | Rising Empires | Age of Seeking | Modern Times | Future

Air Launched Weapons
 

Laser Guided Bomb

The accuracy of air-launched weapons is almost unbelievable, with laser-designation a laser-guided bomb or missile can hit a target with pin-point accuracy. As the picture shows, it's tapping the 'driver' on the shoulder prior to exploding. It wasn't always like that though.

The Early Years

Gotha Bomber GVII

The first recorded engagement of aircraft against ground forces was in 1911. An Italian pilot names Giulo Gavotti dropped four 2 kilo bombs against Turkish infantry in Libya.
From here the developments in technology saw Biplanes and monoplanes fighting it out in WW1.
At first pilots were arming themselves with revolvers and shotguns. It's was hit and miss, hoping for a pilot-kill at best or ammunition exhaustion to end the engagement. Until machine-guns were properly mounted bring down a monoplane or biplane was incredibly difficult. From then on air-to-air combat became deadly.

By the end of the first world war ground-attack aircraft and bombers had been developed. The former, the Sopwith Salamander and Junkers C1, would fly a few feet above the trenches in support of the infantry. The latter, like the De Havilland DH.4 Zepplin Staken and Handly Page V/1500 could thousands of pounds of bombs.

During the second world war cannons and unguided rockets saw widespread use, along with bombs of formidable devastation. The devastation of city's like Coventry (bombers and fighter bombers) and Dresden (wave after wave of incendiary bombers) is still etched on many peoples minds in Europe and elsewhere.
The fertile minds of German scientists in world war 2 were highly active and inspirational. Yet many of their designs and ideas did not see fruition until the after the war and even then only in the hands of allied and soviet powers.

 
 

Types of Air-Launched Weapons

 
  Guns Free-fall Bombs  
    Unguided Munitions  
 

At the European wars end Allied and Soviet powers (greatly aided by German scientists in Operation Paperclip) ushered in a new age of warplanes. These would be tainted with the insane notion of nuclear ordinance.

The heavy bomber Enola Gay dropping the Fat Man atomic bomb on Hiroshima was seen as an outrage, a controversial move, yet also a shrewd use of an atomic arsenal. For it almost certainly saving many US lives from a looming and daunting ground invasion of Japan.

1950s to 2000s

F4 Phantom

Post-war saw heavy bombers like the B-52 and delta wing bombers like the Vulcan take to the air. These were two radically different designs. One was the traditional prop-driven 'heavy' while the other was more of a medium tactical bomber, jet-propelled.
As the cold-war set in the 'last-resort' nuclear option took on a 'first-strike' edge as tactics of combatting soviet bomber formations with nuclear missiles like the Genie. Bombs became more streamlined, chemical weapon where used during the Vietnam War via low-flying aircraft.

Air-to-Air missles, originally unguided and for use against slow-moving aircraft now became first heat-seeking, then IR guided. The ranges of engagement increased dramatically. Guns still had their place, but the use of machine-guns were woefully slow to match the speed of a jet. Even single and dual-mounted cannon soon struggled to cope with the increasing speeds.
The return of the gatling gun in the form of a multi-barrelled-cannon meant devastating firepower at the close-ranges of a dog-fight.

Cluster-bombs, a bomb containing many small-bombs that scattered over a wide area were once seen as a great force-multiplier in a conventional ground war. They often failed to go off (either by deliberate design or by fault) causing havoc for a civilian population. The air-raids into Serbija in 1999 highlighted the misuse of such weapons.

Military Aircraft Ordinance

Other areas of note are the anti-radiation missiles that home in on enemy radar installations (providing they are turned-on). Laser-guided munitions enabling pin-point accuracy are one of the best-known examples of air-launched weapons. This is considered a niche in the MIC, the air-weapons used in the modern age (21st Century) are almost prohibitively expensive to buy yet a great source of profit for a company that specialising in making them.

Stealth aircraft such as the F117 and the B2 Bomber resemble the cutting-edge of 'delivering' these deadly weapons.

 

 

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