BigWindow BackArrow top
War Stories

Homemade Bombs

During different tours some crewmembers could not resist the urge to make their own bombs to be dropped from their helicopters. Gunship crews tried it in 1968 and Slick crews in 1970. There may have been others. Also see UH-1 Bomb Exercise

Bob Taylor, Bruce Powell, Jack Neymeyer, Pat Eastes, Carl Betsill, Jim Kreil


Bob Taylor: Crew Chief, Heavy Scouts 1967: In Bob's 2011 video "Bros DVD 2" titled "Crew Chiefs Did These Things", he talks about gunner Mike Rice creating big homemade bombs and convincing the rest of the crew that it was a good idea.

Bruce Powell: 1LT Gun Plt Ldr 1967:

I am still looking for my notes on bombs. Maybe what I'm remembering is the pilots side of the Bob Taylor and Mike Rice bomb making stories. I did fly Bob's 444 gunship frequently. But mostly I remember flying with TJ Lange in 462.

LZ Clearing Bomb: I think we were flying in the area of Dau Tieng when we decided to test my crews "LZ Clearing Bomb". It was a very large ammo can with C4 and various pieces of metal and nails. We picked an area that was typical of an obstructed LZ where we might want to pick up LRRPs, and would be able to if a few small trees and brush were cleared by a creative bomb.

I was almost positive that we were in 462 and that TJ Lange had invented a grenade "pin pulling cable" using old flare cables. The long cable, fastened to the skid at one end and the grenade pin at the other, would allow the bomb to travel some distance below the aircraft before tightening and pulling the pin. My concern in this matter was not to end up getting anything (like cables) into the tail or main rotor.


To increase our accuracy we flew slow for the drop. Altitude was estimated to where the bomb would go off just a bit before hitting the ground. After the drop we were out of there with full forward pitch and power. I felt the shock from the bomb jolt our tail boom. The intercom conversation centered around the phrase "Holy shit". I could see the report, "Gunship crew shoots itself down!". We headed for home concerned about possible aircraft damage. I don't think we even stopped to see how well the bomb did.

During inspection of the aircraft in the Corral a smart ass young maintenance guy smirks as he points to a hole in the tail boom that is the perfect shape of a bent ten penny nail, and says "Boy! they are throwing everything at you guys!".

Bamboo Footbridges in War Zone C (North of the Razorbacks): We shot at them with rockets. Even what seemed to be direct hits would not take them down. The rockets would go passed or pass through the bridge and explode below. Maybe a home made bomb would work, says someone! The concept was to have a long weighted rope hanging below the aircraft with a lessor strength rope leading from there to the bomb below. If we were flying at a reasonable speed and the bomb was at an altitude slightly below the bridge, the rope would impact the bridge and the bomb would wrap around the bridge like a whip on a railing. With the bomb attached to the bridge we could then hit it with tracers, our maybe have some mechanical way of pulling the pin on the bomb. I never knew for sure if the guys were drunk or pulling my leg. My answer, besides commenting that they had been watching too many Road Runner Cartoons, was telling them if we had a bridge that was of enough importance, that we would lower the Gunner or the Crew Chief on a rope and let him fasten his bomb to it.


Jack Nemeyer: SGT, Crew Chief Slicks 1970:

One night the slick hootch got to drinkin beer and we decided to build DoomsDay Bombs. We got C-4 from the ammo dump and we made 3 such bombs using Mini gun ammo cans.

The next day we put one on my aircraft and I cannot recall the other two, but maybe it was Calvin Williams on Slick #494 and either #217 or 237 ... We made a aero rifle insertion into a dried up rice paddy close to a small group of huts. The huts were backed up next to trees and brush. The rifles were taken under fire from The huts and the only cover they had was the rice paddy berm. The two Cobras were soon short on fuel and ammo; and the loach and slicks provided top cover while the Cobras broke for rearm and refuel to Tay Ninh... I told CPT (Michael) Haggar that I had a Doomsday Bomb on board and that we could make a pass over the huts and I would kick it out the door. He had no idea I had such a thing !!! He was thinking this crazy idea over and a FAC came on station and was thinking about an air strike. CPT Haggar decided to try the bomb.

We made a low level pass about tree top level and I think about 60-70 knots....I held the grenade spoon (lever) and pulled the pin on the base ball grenade then booted it out the door. It could not have been any more perfect!!! That bomb went off just before it hit the ground and it put out a shock wave just like the slow mo pics on the History Channel!! That FAC controller came on the radio and asked "what wasTHAT????" Hager replied my crew chief just kicked a bomb out the door!! The FAC was quiet for a few seconds and came back that it's the Air Forces job to drop ordinance, not the Army's!!!

So long story short, I got my ass chewed for allowing and taking part in the building of the three bombs!! The other two bombs were dropped over the Filhol and that was the end of the Dooms Day Bombs, at least in the Slicks ...

The explosion did allow the Rifles to advance into the huts...I cannot recall just what the inspiration was to build the damned things to begin with ...Seems like a contact the day or two before, maybe... who knows , maybe it was the Budweiser....

strandKenneth Strand: CW2 Scout Pilot 1969-70 (deceased): Ken too, apparently liked to mess with homemade bombs. Dave Atkinson (deceased) had this photo of Ken at work.


Pat Eastes: I recall one of those bridge blowing attempts. I think I was flying a hog, but I don't remember which crew was in back. They had made a bomb from a 50 cal ammo can full of C4, and as I recall had drilled a hole in the top of the can and had a grenade fuse rigged to it (don't remember specifics). We hovered over the bridge, somebody pulled the pin, and we got away. Big boom, but I can't recall if the bridge survived or not. This was somewhere up in War Zone C.


Carl Betsill: I just read the discussion on homemade bombs. Just for the record, this activity didn't end in 1970. I remember distinctly watching a scout crewmember make one at Lai Khe in the fall of 1971. Again he used one of the large ammo cans with layers of C-4 and layers of spent machine gun links. It was detonated with a frag. I don't think he used a rope but just kicked it out the door. They too took some shrapnel in the tail fin. I also recall that same individual looking for glass jars that would hold a frag grenade but small enough to not allow the lever to trip when the pin was pulled. The idea was that the glass would break when the grenade hit the ground thus tripping the grenade. Since glass jars were hard to come by he was experimenting with wrapping frags with rubber bands assuming they would break on impact. This guy was a real inventor. I wish I could remember his name. There is not too many of us Lai Khe era guys that are members, but perhaps someone else will remember.

piersonJim Kreil: There is a picture in my album of Robert Pierson making bomb (Image 26 of 89).

We used mess cans with fleshettes , c4 and grenade top middle. I think we dropped a few when i was with Mr. Forringer in 177. I seemed to remember rocks and other things too.

At the reunion we remembered when I dropped a grenade in an artillery hole that they had pulled grass on top of. It blew the top of. As we came around the guy came out shooting (I couldn't believe it). We were firing at each other. My M60 jammed and Mr. Forringer kicked the aircraft around so the gunner could shoot. We went back to Cu Chi.

kreilOn the next mission that day, the ship wouldn't start. We discovered a hole next my seat. (Image 3 of 89 in album) which must have occurred in the previous mission. At the time, things like that were happening daily.

At the reunion Mr. Forringer said can you imagine if we had cell phones in those days. We would have had a lot more spontaneous photos.