M33 cluster bomb

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The M33 cluster bomb; the M114 bomblets are visible inside it.
For other uses, see M33.

The M33 cluster bomb, also known as the (M33) Brucella cluster bomb, was a U.S. biological cluster bomb developed in the early 1950s and deployed in 1952. It was the first standardized biological weapon in the U.S. arsenal.

History[edit]

The U.S. Army Chemical Corps selected Brucella suis as its first mass-produced biological agent in 1949. Tests at Dugway Proving Ground followed in 1950 and 1951. These tests paved the way for the first mass-produced biological weapon in the U.S. arsenal in 1952.[1]

Specifications[edit]

The M33 cluster bomb was a 500-pound (227 kg) biological munition that initially carried the biological agent Brucella suis. The M33 held 108 M114 4-pound (1.8 kg) anti-personnel bombs; each M114 held about 320 milliliters of B. suis culture.[2] Besides B. suis the M33 was tested with other agents throughout the 1950s.[2] The M33 was an air-released munition: released at high altitude, it would eject its bomblets while still aloft. Each bomblet would then explode using its own detonator.[3]

Issues[edit]

The M33 presented a special logistical problem. The agent used, B. suis, required refrigeration which created a logistical "nightmare".[1] In addition, experts calculated that to attain a proper infection rate over an area of one square mile up to 16 separate M33s were required;[1] around 1,500 individual bomblets.[3] The large number of biological weapons made transport of the weapons for 1952 tests more difficult.[3] The M33 cluster bomb was never used in battle.[1]

Tests involving the M33[edit]

The M33 cluster bomb was used in a series of tests from August-October 1952. At Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, the Army Chemical Corps exposed over 11,000 guinea pigs to B. suis via air-dropped M33s.[3] Although the guinea pig trials caused one Chemical Corps general to remark, "Now we know what to do if we ever go to war against guinea pigs",[3] the tests resulted in the realization that the M33 could not compete with the casualty volume caused by atomic weapons.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Croddy, Eric and Wirtz, James J. Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Encyclopedia of Worldwide Policy, Technology, and History, (Google Books), ABC-CLIO, 2005, p. 75, (ISBN 1851094903), accessed November 13, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Smart, Jeffery K. Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare: Chapter 2 - History of Chemical and Biological Warfare: An American Perspective, (PDF: p. 51), Borden Institute, Textbooks of Military Medicine, PDF via Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, accessed November 13, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e Regis, Edward. The Biology of Doom: The History of America's Secret Germ Warfare Project, (Google Books), Macmillan, 2000, p. 140-56, (ISBN 080505765X).