Sunday, March 5, 2017

M117 750 lb GP Bomb

The M117 is a general purpose bomb with a weight class of 750 pounds although, depending on its fuse and fin assembly, it can weigh around 820 pounds. It was born out of the Korean War and saw extensive use in Vietnam, and was dropped by B-52's during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990's.
It is fairly common, and a modeler will likely see them in kits of tactical fighter aircraft that served in the Vietnam War era. It has several different configurations, all of which are briefly highlighted below along with references for a few of the aircraft they were typically released from.

Fin Assembly

The M117 had several fin assemblies, giving the bomb a low drag or high drag capability.

This is the early version on the low drag fin assembly. The M131 conical assembly weighed 52 pounds.

The fin assembly was changed in the 1970's to feature strakes, weighed 64 pounds and was known as the MAU-103.

The M117 could also be fitted with a high drag kit that weighed 117 pounds. Called the MAU-91A/B, an M117 fitted with this kit was designated as M117R (R for Retarded).

Here is a live version of the M117R loaded on an F-100.


The M117 was found, it seems, most frequently on F-100's and F-105's though it could be carried by other aircraft in the US inventory as well. 

The M117 can be seen at the most inboard station on the left wing of this A-1 Skyraider.

Another Skyraider with M117's inboard.
An M117 on an F-100. This one has an extended "Daisy Cutter" fuse.

The M117 seems rather ungainly under the wings of F-5's.

M117 on an F-5.
Not often one sees bombs on a Starfighter, but here are two F-104's in the SEA scheme with a pair of M117's each.
The F-105 could carry a s**t ton of M117's.

This F-105 is carrying six M117's on a centerline MER. Also note the AIM-9B on the outer wing station.
This USAF F-4 has a mixed load of five M117's on the centerline and three Mk 82's on the TER.

This Phantom has two M117's on a TER. The pod on the bottom station of the TER is an early combat camera.

This is straight out of the USAF tech data for the M117 load configurations on an F-4. The next two photos are a good reference for these configurations. Both F-4's below are from the 366th TFW based in Da Nang. Both fighters are loaded with M117s in different configurations.

Not as easy to find are photos of Navy aircraft carrying the M117. In this case, several early M117's are in front of an A-4.

Head on view of an M117 being loaded onto an A-4.
This A-4 from VMA-31 is only carrying two M117s per Multiple Ejector Rack. The bombs look huge on the little jet.
An F-111 being loaded with M117s

The Canberra's of the Royal Australian Air Force dropped M117's from the bomb bays... well as from the wingtips.
The M117 was probably most extensively used by the B-52 in Vietnam.

High Drag M117R's being loaded on pylons of a B-52.

M117's with the MAU-103 kit on the pylons of a B-52 during Operation Desert Storm.

How M117's fit within the bomb bay of a B-52 during Operation Desert Storm.

The M117 is still in use for training. Here is an inert M117 at Barksdale AFB, 2011.
The last M117 in the Pacific Air Force's inventory was dropped in June, 2015.
Israeli Phantoms also carried M117's.

Not to be confused with...

The M117 had a bigger brother, the M118. Weighing in at roughly 3,000 lbs, the M118 has a much longer fin assembly as you can see below.

In Scale

Knowing about the M117 doesn't matter if you can't get your hands on any to put on your model. Fortunately, the M117 has been covered fairly well in the aftermarket. 

Generally, you can't go wrong with Eduard Model Accessories and they produce three versions of the M117 in 1/48 and 1/72.

Daco Products also makes a M117R in 1/48.

For your larger scale needs, Cutting Edge made a set in 1/32.

Video Aviation produces a beautiful set in 1/32 scale.

I hope that was helpful and informative. If you have any pictures of the M117 you would like to share, please feel free to do so!

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