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M117 bomb.jpg
Type free-fall general-purpose bomb
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1950's–present
Used by United States
Wars Korean War , Vietnam War
Production history
Variants M117R, M117D
Weight 340 kg
Length 2.06 m-2.16 m
Diameter 408 mm

Maximum range Varies by method of employment
Warhead Tritonal
Warhead weight 183 Kg

Wingspan 520 mm

An F-100D of the 308th TFS, being loaded with Mk 117 750 lb bombs at Tuy Hoa, South Vietnam, in early 1966.

The M117 is an air-dropped general-purpose bomb used by United States military forces. It dates back to the time of the Korean War of the early 1950s. Although it has a nominal weight of 340 kilograms (750 lb), its actual weight, depending on fuze and retardation options, is around 372 kilograms (820 lb). Its explosive content is typically 183 kilograms (403 lb) of Minol 2 or Tritonal. It can also be configured with a low-drag tail fin for medium and high-altitude deliveries.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

In the 1950s through the early 1970s the M117 was a standard aircraft weapon, carried by the F-100 Super Sabre, F-104 Starfighter, F-105 Thunderchief, F-111, and F-4 Phantom.

The M117 series was used extensively during the Vietnam War, and B-52G Stratofortress aircraft dropped 44,600 M117 and M117R bombs during Operation Desert Storm.[1][2]

At present it is used only by the B-52 Stratofortress, tactical aircraft now tend to use the Mark 80-series bombs in particularly the Mark 82 (227 kilograms (500 lb)) or Mark 84 (907 kilograms (2,000 lb)) bombs and their guided equivalents.

Variants[edit | edit source]


The M117R (R - Retarded) uses a special fin assembly providing either high-drag or low-drag release options. For low altitude deliveries, the tail assembly opens four large drag plates which rapidly slow the bomb and allow the aircraft to escape its blast.[1]


The M117Rs that are fitted with tail units, are the MAU-103 low drag tail and the MAU-91 high drag tail, respectively.[3]


The M117D (D - Destructor) looks similar to the M117R but uses a magnetic influence fuze, which enables the bomb to function as an mine. The M117D is released in a high-drag configuration for ground implant or shallow water mining. It detonates when an object passing near the bomb triggers the fuze.[1]


The M117 was the basis of the MC-1 chemical warfare bomb, which had the body cavity filled with sarin nerve gas. The MC-1 was never used by the U.S. in combat and was eliminated from the U.S. stockpile in June, 2006.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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