The Explosive power of a Daisy Cutter.
Above image: Fireball from the detonation of the last Daisy Cutter; Utah, 2008 (© unknown)
Doing research for my Vietnam War/modern-day Backpacker novel, BACK, I frequently came across fascinating photographs of some of the massive ordnance that was dropped on the jungles of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, much of which still lies, unexploded, in the jungles of the region.
One of the biggest bombs dropped on the jungle during the war was the 15,000 lb BLU-82 bomb, know as a Daisy Cutter.
Given its destructive force, it should have been called a Jungle Destroyer, and it was used to create firebases on mountains and to create helicopter landing zones out of dense jungle, destroying everything within a 600 yard radius.
Approximately 17 feet long and 5 feet in diameter, Daisy Cutters were dropped from C-130 aircraft and contained around 12,600 pounds of ammonium nitrate, phosphorous and polystyrene.
Daisy Cutters were so large they had to be launched out of the back of the aircraft, by way of a trolley, and when the bomb was airborne a parachute would open and it would float to the ground. The bomb would then explode at tree-top level, the intention being to cause as small a crater as possible on the ground.
The plane dropping a Daisy Cutter had to be at least six thousand feet off the ground to avoid being hit by the bomb’s shock wave when it exploded.
I often wonder when I’m in the jungle out there whether, along with the other many millions of unexploded bombs dropped during the Vietnam War, there are any Daisy Cutters lying around too, still undetected and highly unstable, ready to claim more modern-day victims, and it was that reflection that saw me include them in my novel BACK.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
BACK Parts 1 and 2:
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