Below given are images of bombers releasing many bombs at the same time.

Why don't they collide with each other?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm sure it's happened, I don't see why it would matter much if they bumped occasionally. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 7:27
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    $\begingroup$ You make the assumption they don't, by saying "Why don't they collide with each other?". But unless you elaborate on this assumption, the question is rather moot. In plain terms: What makes you think they don't collide? $\endgroup$
    – user12873
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 7:34
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for asking this - for some reason I just imagined a bunch of bombs just piled up on the floor of one of those planes, and then they just let them go at once. ...makes infinitely more sense (but is a lot less fun) that there's a system and each bomb is placed carefully in releasing mechanisms instead. $\endgroup$
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ "Below given are images of bombers releasing many bombs at the same time." – They are clearly not releasing them at the same time, otherwise, they wouldn't be at different altitudes. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed they do, or at least did. $\endgroup$
    – Zeus
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 8:50

4 Answers 4


Because there's a lot of engineering effort to make sure the bombs are cleanly and safely released from the aircraft (safely, that is, for the aircrew, not for the recipients). Aside from the safety issues, it is also necessary to ensure accuracy.

The concern is in the first couple seconds after release when the bomb is moving through the air surrounding the aircraft. Once in clear air, gravity and aerodynamics keep them separate.

Much of it is controlled by the release sequence. If you look at the B-2 photo you can see that bombs are released in a left-right and alternating between the front and aft racks to maintain separation.

The USAF SEEK EAGLE Office is responsible for ensuring compatibility between the weapons and the aircraft.

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    $\begingroup$ It also maintains aircraft trim; wouldn't want to e.g. release all bombs on the left side first, as the aircraft would pitch to the right, or all bombs in the rear first, as the aircraft would dive. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 2:46

If you’ve ever parachuted from an aircraft you’ll know that although you might expect to float gently away into the air, you do in fact drop like a brick. Bombs are typically released in a controlled manner and so they will tend to separate vertically as they fall. Given the significant weight of a bomb it’s most unlikely that there would be enough turbulence in the air to cause two bombs falling side by side to touch.

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    $\begingroup$ Even if some bombs collide, this would happen laterally with relatively little lateral velocity compared to high forward velocity of the bombs. One could safeguard by arming the bombs some seconds after they have been released. $\endgroup$
    – Dohn Joe
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 9:36
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    $\begingroup$ @DohnJoe Aren't most modern bombs set to blow based on altitude rather than impact anyhow? You get more bang for your buck by blowing up slightly above the target rather than directly touching it. So there's little chance of the bombs blowing up while still close enough to the bomber to be a problem (unless it's flying really low, which just seems like a bad idea in general if there's the possibility of people on the ground shooting back at you...) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ @DarrelHoffman it probably depends on the objective. While airbursts are best at spraying soft targets with shrapnel, if you're trying to destroy buildings above ground you want to penetrate and detonate inside the building. If you're going after underground bunkers or just trying to make craters to impede movement you want to penetrate into the ground before exploding. The same is true of armored vehicles, you can damage external equipment with a near miss; but to actually destroy a tank you need a direct hit (and either a guidance system or a lot of luck). $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ @DohnJoe, the delayed arming you describe has been standard practice since at least World War II, and probably since World War I. (The common mechanism in WWII was a propeller-driven screw on the nose of the bomb; today, it's probably a pressure sensor of some sort.) $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ @DarrelHoffman Dohn Joe is talking about arming the bomb, which has to happen before the fuse (airburst, impact, delayed etc.) can trigger it $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 10:29

Then there is always the trusty Intervalometer which controls the rate or interval at which bombs are dropped.

The intervalometer generates electrical impulses that actuate the bomb release units. It may be set fore either selective or train release of bombs. When set at SELECTIVE, the intervalometer generates a single release impulse each time it receives an impulse from the bombardier’s firing switch or from the bomb sight. When set at TRAIN, the intervalometer provides a series of evenly spaced impulses. The number of impulses (up to 50), and therefore the number of bombs dropped, is controlled by a dial setting. The impulse frequency can be varied from 2 to 20 per second; it is controlled by matching two dial scales, one of ground speeds and one of distances between the impact points of successive bombs. When the desired spacing is matched with the actual ground speed of the aircraft, a small computing unit automatically sets the proper impulse frequency in the intervalometer.




Bombs aren't just laid together in a bomb bay and dropped out of the bottom of the bomber. They are connected to a launcher, like the Conventional Rotary Launcher in the B-52 (google that for nice pictures), that times the release of bombs to minimize any chance of overlaps during the actual launch process. In addition since the bombs are all the same size and weight and have the same aerodynamics, they tend to maintain the same relative distance from each other once they're launched because there is no difference in the forces acting on each bomb. If a gust of wind blows one bomb sideways, it blows all the bombs sideways the same amount, because they all have the same size and weight and aerodynamics.

And finally, on the modern battlefield bombers are no longer used for carpet bombing like in the pictures you posted. Instead they are dropping precision JDAMs onto exact targets marked by spotters on the ground. These are conventional bombs with fin kits that guide them directly to a designated target. Unless multiple bombs are being sent to the exact same target, they're going to diverge after being dropped from the bomber as their fins guide them towards their specified targets. The end result is, if the guys on the ground called for five buildings and a fortification to be bombed, there's going to be six bombs dropped, all going in slightly different directions, not a whole string of bombs carpet-bombing an area.


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