Published May 29, 2015
DAYTON, Ohio - The BLU-82/B on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
During the Vietnam War, the USAF used 10,000-pound M121 bombs left over from World War II, to blast Helicopter Landing Zones in the dense undergrowth. As the supply of M121 bombs dwindled, the USAF developed the Bomb Live Unit-82/B (BLU-82/B) as a replacement. Weighing a total of 15,000 pounds, the BLU-82/B was essentially a large thin-walled tank (1/4-inch steel plate) filled with a 12,600-pound explosive "slurry" mixture. The designers optimized this bomb to clear vegetation while creating little or no crater, and it cleared landing zones about 260 feet in diameter -- just right for helicopter operations. Since only cargo aircraft could carry them, C-130 crews delivered the BLU-82/B with normal parachute cargo extraction systems.
The BLU-82/B first saw use in Vietnam on March 23, 1970. Throughout the rest of the war, the USAF used them for tactical airlift operations called "Commando Vault." After the war, the BLU-82/B was used during the Mayaguez rescue in May 1975, but the remaining BLU-82/Bs went into storage until the mid-1980s, when the Air Force Special Operations Command began using them again in support of special operations. During Operation DESERT STORM, MC-130E "Combat Talon" aircraft from the 8th Special Operations Squadron dropped 11 BLU-82/Bs, primarily for psychological effects. The USAF also used these weapons against terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Weight: 15,000 lbs.
Length: 141.6 in.
Diameter: 54 in.
Total produced: 225
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The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at:
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433
(near Dayton, Ohio)