12,000lb Tallboy bomb at Brooklands Museum

A collection of pictures of a 12,000lb Tallboy bomb on display at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey.

All photos were taken on April 5th 2016
Photos: Tony Wilkins


The Tallboy bomb was an earthquake bomb (an earthquake bomb is dropped from very high altitude to gain sufficient speed to penetrate and then explode deep underground, causing massive caverns or craters as well as generate severe shockwaves to descimate a large area) employed by the RAF during World War II. It was highly effective against hardened targets and its weight meant that it could be dropped from high altitudes with a higher degree of accuracy than smaller bombs. It was designed by the legendary engineer Barnes Wallis famous for developing the bouncing bomb of the Dambuster raids and was used in the later stages of the war.

Sitting on its trolley, the Vauxhall estate car parked behind it gives a good indication of the size of the weapon.

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17 responses to “12,000lb Tallboy bomb at Brooklands Museum

  1. Im not sure that their weight meant they were more accurate. That came from being dropped by hand picked crews. At the altitudes required the problem was establishing the small target, as the RAF didnt use the US Norden bombsight ( which had its accuracy problems)
    A common RAF bomb was the 4000lb, which wasnt any more accurate than lighter ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It must have been truly frightening to be on the receiving end of one of these. During the first massive RAF daylight raid of May 1943, two waves attacked e-boat facilities at Le Havre: No 1 Group first, No 3 Group second. Just before the first wave, 22 Lancasters of 617 Squadron and 3 Mosquito marker aircraft attacked, several hits were scored on the pens, one bomb penetrated the roof. One of many such waves, small wonder the Germans began moving their manufacturing facilities underground. Thanks for the informative post Tony.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was watching a documentary recently about Belgian civilians who were rounded up and sent to the Weingut I factory in Bavaria to build an underground factory for Me262 construction. The conditions were truly horrific for the workers who weren’t Jewish or any other kind of Nazi “undesirables”. They were simply strong, healthy men plucked for slave labour. They were anything but by the end of it though.

      Also, can you imagine flying over enemy territory with one of those bombs strapped underneath you and flak going off everywhere. Even with a normal bomb you wouldn’t stand much of a chance if it cooked off but the psychological aspect of such an immense weapon must have made for at least one twitchy tail gun

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There is a story about (I believe) a Tallboy that was on display outside the gate at Scampton for many years. It is said that it was never made inert and was live eventually being discovered years later. A pretty hefty weapon to say the least. A nice example you show.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have a funny recollection that this bomb was so big the Lancasters couldn’t fully shut their bomb doors – not sure about that. No question about its effectiveness. ‘Operation Catechism’ took out the Tirpitz with them – 29 Tallboys dropped, scoring 3 direct hits of which one didn’t explode, but the remaining two still sank the battleship. When you consider that the Home Fleet pounded Bismarck with around 400 hits from 8, 14 and 16-inch shells without sinking her, that’s an impressive result from the Tallboy! Woah!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Yes thats how it worked. I have stood under a Lancaster in a museum and I can see right away the design advantage the Lanc had. A long shallow bomb bay that started about under cockpit. Most other bombers of the time had deep short length bays at the center of gravity of the plane between the wings. As the bombs got bigger they had nowhere to put them. By then most light bombs could be carried by fighter-bombers which operated at lower levels

        Liked by 1 person

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