The Tallboy Bomb

Designed by Barnes Wallis in 1944, these 12,000 lb (5,443 kg) blockbuster bombs, codenamed "Tallboy", had to be dropped from a minimum of 8,000 ft and could only be carried by Lancaster Bombers with modified bomb bay doors. They had a super sleek shape and angled fins which produced a rapid spin, reducing drag and improving accuracy. It was this spin-stabilized design which gave the bomb enough deep penetrative power to break through reinforced concrete 16 ft thick before exploding.

Tallboy was 21' long, with an overall diameter of 3'8" inches, while the bomb body itself was 10'4" long and 3'2" in diameter. It contained 5,200 lbs (2,358 kg) of Torpex D1 explosive which, when dropped from 20,000 feet, made an 80ft deep crater, 100ft across. The shockwaves it generated gave it its nick-name of the "earthquake bomb", as a direct hit was not necessary.

Tallboy was succesfully used for attacks on V1 Flying Bomb launch sites, U-boat pens, tunnels and other high-priority targets. In particular, it was used in the sinking of Germany's giant batttleship, Tirpitz, on 12th November 1944. In all, 854 Tallboys were dropped during WWII.

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Page published October 2003
Source Code updated 17 August 2004

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