5 The Smallest Bomb with the Biggest Bang
Nuclear warheads don’t have to be all that big to create a big old bang. The W54 nuclear warhead is all of 11 inches across and 15 ½ inches long, or about the size of a small roll-aboard suitcase. But its explosion was strong enough to destroy two city blocks! This weapon, created in the 1950s, was designed to be launched from canons or even bazooka-style implements in the so-called Davy Crockett configuration. It was the ultimate tactical nuclear weapon. They have purportedly been deactivated without ever having been used offensively.
4 The First Ancient Bombs
The Ancient Chinese were the first to use bombs in warfare, which is not surprising, given that they developed the substance now known as gunpowder. Simple bamboo tubes packed with explosive material were used in both celebrations and warfare as early as the 1000s, but around the year 1220, in a conflict pitting armies from the Jin and Song Dynasties against each other, warfare was forever changed as the first powerful explosive devices were used. These early bombs were made of simple iron casings packed with explosive materials, and may be rudimentary compared to today’s ordnance, but we’re still glad not to have one going off in our faces.
3 The Biggest IED
On April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City was rocked by the largest bomb ever used against Americans in peacetime. This deadliest act of terror in American history (up to that point) was launched by a man born and bred in the United States, Timothy McVeigh. The bomb, which was made largely from fertilizer housed in a rental truck, killed 168 people. Some 700 were injured, and more than 300 buildings were damaged. McVeigh and his conspirators were angered by the Federal government’s handling of several standoff situations in the early ‘90s, and in response bombed a federal building, killing scores of innocent people. Because, y’know, they were monsters.
2 The Biggest Bombs Ever Dropped in Combat
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the biggest bombs ever used in combat were far from the most powerful in terms of pure explosive, destructive force. The Grand Slam bombs were developed by the Brits during WWII. They were designed to penetrate deeply buried and/or heavily fortified bunkers and U-boat pens constructed by the Germans. And they worked. At more than 22,000 lbs. and nearly 30 feet long, these huge weapons converted many previously untouchable targets into piles of rubble.
1 The Biggest Explosion Ever
On October 30th, 1961, the Soviets detonated a weapon named the Tsar Bomba, also known by its technical name, the AN602 hydrogen atom bomb. The Tsar Bomba created the single largest manmade explosion in history. Thankfully, it was a test weapon, because this A-bomb’s explosion produced a yield comparable to 57 megatons of high explosive TNT. That number might not make sense to the average civilian, so let’s use a comparison: the nuclear bomb detonated over Hiroshima in August of 1945? This bomb was more than 600 times more powerful than that one.