Aircraft Ordnance Weathering - Part II

The Vietnam War

If any moment in history could give credence to the typical modeling myth that ordnance doesn't weather, it would be the Vietnam era. The number of bombs dropped on South East Asia during the Vietnam War exceeded the tonnage dropped during the extent of World War II by nearly three fold. It would be the largest air campaign in military history with five and a quarter million sorties flown by the United States Air Force alone. The tremendous and ultimately futile undertaking required thousands of bombs being expended on a weekly basis. It is no wonder then that many a modeler believes ordnance simply has no time to get dirty. 

I already explained this flawed logic in part I, which covers essentially World War II and Korea. You might think that moving forward twenty years, the strategy for transporting and storing munitions would have changed but that is not the case. You will see here in part II and subsequent part III that the treatment of bombs has changed very little through history, at least in the United States.


While this may look like a World War II stockpile, these are indeed World War II era munitions at a bomb dump at Bien Hoa early in the war.

The war's insatiable appetite for bombs meant that ordnance did not have the luxury of being stored indoors and were exposed to the elements and even enemy fire. They were stacked on top of each other, moved, jostled, repositioned, which would have left chips in paint, surface wear and likely some corrosion (gasp). 


Note the bomb sitting on the ground near the sandbag revetment.

Even at a time when ordnance was being expended at an extraordinary rate, bombs were being stored stored outside and exposed to the elements.  While ordnance can generally be considered "one time use" as many modelers refer to them as, especially in the high tempo requirements of South East Asia, they were still able to pick up dust and grime and in some cases rust, from the environment they were left vulnerable to. 
There is more to ordnance than just a layer of OD paint and a yellow stripe. They weather. They get dirty, and posts like this and part I show that. While there isn't anything wrong with a clean bomb, there is error in thinking that bombs should never be weathered. Though bombs may seem like insignificant add-ons to your model, with the proper treatment they will enhance the look of your completed kit. Don't let your lazy bomb making skills hold your model back.