This article is about explosive devices. This can also refer to water bombs or volcanic bombs. Bomb is also a slang term.
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Massive ordinance air-burst bomb. Courtesy: USAF

A bomb is an explosive device, usually some kind of container filled with explosive material, designed to cause destruction when set off. The explosion of the bomb has to be triggered, usually by a clock, a remote control, or some kind of sensor, usually pressure (altitude), radar, or contact. The word comes from the Greek βόμβος (bombos), an onomatopoeic term with approximately the same meaning as "boom" in English.

These are first and foremost weapons; the term "bomb" is not usually applied to explosive devices used for civilian purposes (such as construction or mining). Note that many military explosive devices are not called "bombs". The military mostly calls airdropped, unpowered explosive weapons "bombs," and such bombs are usually the provenance of air forces and naval aviation. Other military explosive devices are called grenades (such as hand grenades), shells, depth charges, missiles or mines.

They have been used for centuries in warfare and are a central part of the terrorist's arsenal. They fall into three distinct categories: conventional (filled with chemical explosives), dispersive (filled with submunitions, chemicals or other disruptive agents which are spread on or shortly before impact) or nuclear (relying on nuclear fission or nuclear fusion for their effect).

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Device originally thought to be a pipe bomb, found to be a time bomb.

A distinction is commonly drawn between terrorist and military bombs. The latter are almost always mass-produced weapons, developed and constructed to a standard design out of standard components and intended to be deployed in a standard way each time. By contrast, terrorist bombs are usually custom-made, developed to any number of designs, use a wide range of explosives of varying levels of power and chemical stability, and are used in many different ways. For this reason, they are generally referred to as improvised explosive devices or IEDs.

The most powerful bomb in existence is the hydrogen bomb, a nuclear weapon. The most powerful non-nuclear bomb is the United States Air Force's MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Burst).



Although a bomb may be delivered by being thrown or may be concealed in a car or truck or by the roadside, the usual method of delivering bombs to their target is by dropping them from a bomber airplane. Modern bombs, precision-guided munition, may be guided after they leave an airplane by remote control or (in the case of atomic weapons) mounted on a guided missile.

Bombing may be directed at military targets such as ships or armament factories or at civilian targets such as office buildings or cities. Bombing of particular targets such as ships, tanks is called tactical bombing; bombing of areas such as military bases or cities is called strategic bombing. Strategic bombing of civilian targets is controversial and considered a war crime by some and a defining characteristic of terrorism by others, see terror bombing. Area or carpet bombing of cities using Incendiary bombs may result in a firestorm and extensive casualties especially when it is windy.

Bombing of civilian targets

During World War II there were instances where civilian targets had been bombed—first, during the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and the Netherlands (Rotterdam), then following The Blitz directed at London and other British cities and the British bombing of German cities such as Dresden. Towards the end of the Pacific War, when air defense over Japanese cities had become weak, U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific engaged in extensive bombing of Japanese cities such as Tokyo. This campaign culminated in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic weapons, which would play a major part in ending the war. Due to the huge size of a nuclear blast, such weapons can either intentionally or unintentionally cause massive civilian casualties both from the initial blast and subsequent nuclear fallout.

  • BLU = Bomb/mine Live Unit
  • GBU = Guided Bomb Unit
  • LGB = Laser Guided Bomb
  • C4 = a type of plastic explosive

See also

External links

es:Bomba explosivo fr:Bombe he:מטען חבלה hu:Bomba id:Bom ja:爆弾 lt:Bomba nl:Bom no:Bombe pl:Bomba lotnicza sv:Bomb


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