Well, ok – Lazy Dog is technically not a bomb. It is an American kinetic munition, used extensively during the Vietnam and Korean wars. However, it is still interesting how this air-dropped weapon has absolutely no explosives and that’s actually a feature.

The Lazy Dog munition is 44 mm long and 13 mm in diameter. There is no explosives, fuses or moving parts inside. Lazy Dog would be perfectly harmless lying on your desk or getting kicked around in your garage. In fact, you could use it to stir embers in a fireplace or hammer nails into a wall – it’s just a solid piece of metal. But it is a weapon of war.

Lazy Dog’s predecessor is the French fléchette, which was used in the First World War. Fléchette is a small metal dart, designed to be dropped from airplanes over enemy infantry. Falling from a great altitude these darts effectively penetrated tree canopies, weaker roofs, and helmets. At the time there was no body armour that could withstand such a devastating blow from the skies. Similar kinetic munitions were also used during the Second World War, but the Americans began more detailed research into this type of weapons only in the early 1950s.

Fléchette – older type of kinetic munition. (Wikimedia)

The new Lazy Dog projectiles were tested in 1951. US forces were looking for the most optimal shape of kinetic projectiles and the way to disperse them over enemy heads. During these tests, Republic F-84 Thunderjet fighter-bomber attacked various targets from an altitude of just 23 metres. Kinetic projectiles were dropped on all kinds of targets, including vehicles. Tests revealed that 7-8 munitions per square metre make the Lazy Dog a deadly weapon. The most effective forms of Lazy Dog kinetic projectiles penetrated 30-50 centimetres of compacted sand – they went deeper than large-calibre rounds.

The Lazy Dog was an easily adaptable weapon – these 20 gram munitions could be dropped by virtually any aircraft, including helicopters, jet figther and bomber. You could pretty much drop them from a hot air balloon if you wanted to. They could be thrown by hand one at a time, or in literal bucketloads. The Lazy Dog could be used on high-tech systems, but it didn’t need them, which made it ridiculously cheap to use.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Lazy Dog

Sleek Lazy Dog projectiles would accelerate to a high velocity, thus accumulating enormous amounts of energy. Some reports suggest that the Lazy Dog was reaching speeds of 210 metres per second before the impact, allowing it to penetrate even some thinner armour. In the Korean and Vietnam wars, these weapons proved their worth by penetrating dense tree canopies and primitive wooden shelters. Thus, the Lazy Dog was an effective weapon, especially when used in larger quantities.

A couple of Lazy Dog exaples – one forged and one turned on a lathe. (Ikessurplus, Wikimedia(CC BY 3.0)

Lazy Dog projectiles were cheap and easy to make. After all, the quality of the metal was not THAT important, and manufacturing defects did not mean anything – Lazy Dog was just a piece of metal falling from the sky. In fact, Lazy Dog munitions could theoretically be used multiple times, although they were too cheap to attempt any kind of recovery.

In addition, the production and transportation of Lazy Dog munitions was completely safe. They do not contain explosives or chemicals, which means that transporting kinetic weapons was about as dangerous as carrying a load of junk metal.

Lazy Dog munitions can be air-dropped using this kind of packages. (Wikimedia)

Lazy Dog projectiles, sometimes called missiles, were scattered in large quantities, but the affected area was completely safe after the attack. There was no danger of so-called “duds” – unexploded munitions that could be dangerous to the advancing friendly forces or civilians after the war.

Kinetic ammunition is still used today. In fact, since the beginning of the 21st century, dropping tungsten rods from space was considered several times – this kind of a kinetic attack would be almost impossible to defend against. Drones are also using missiles that do not contain explosives – these guided devices eliminate the target using blades or just blunt force.


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