H1MIN: IJN/IJA TYPE99 TYPE 3 AIR-TO-AIR BOMB


The Imperial Japanese Type 99 no.3 Mark 3 aerial incendiary bomb was a cluster munition originally designed to damage or destroy enemy bomber formations. Weighing 75lbs. inside were 198 phosphorous filled steel pellets. Armed with two fuzes, the spinning bomb exploded over the bombers, releasing the pellets over a wide area. The explosion would be visually impressive, with smoke and fire tendrils descending on the targets below. These bombs were sometimes referred to as “tako” or octopus bombs by the Japanese pilots for the shape the burning phosphorus pellets created. But using these were extremely difficult, the plane had to line up to the formation and drop above the expected flight path, then at the right altitude the bomb would be released. The bomb was designed to spin to arm the tail fuze to spread the pellets in a wide conical area. Once the right RPM and time elapsed the bomb would burst. The pellets contained phosphorus that would ignite with exposure to air, designed to hit and burn through the aircraft fuselage igniting the fuel tanks or disabling the aircraft’s control surfaces. While good in theory, in practice it was very difficult to get results, as often the bombers could alter course to avoid the burning pellets with minimal damage. These bombs were eventually used against land targets such as airfields as they were more effective in that role.

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