Modelling > Engineering Dept.

Carolina Moon Focused Energy Weapon

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Jeffry Fontaine:
A few months ago (actually way back in September, 2010) I posted a request for information on another forum asking about the weapon called Carolina Moon.  My own research had been off and on over the years with little to show for it in hard information other than written descriptions of the weapon being used against a rather troublesome bridge in North Vietnam and the unsuccessful results of these attacks that had been made by a standard cargo carrying C-130 Hercules. 

What I do know about the hardware (weapon) is summed up in this excerpt from the book titled "Gradual Failure: The Air War Over North Vietnam: 1965–1966" written by Jacob Van Staaveren and published by USAF History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C.:
--- Quote ---Operation Carolina Moon

The most creative bridge assault during the three-month period was against the Thanh Hoa rail and road bridge in route package 3 (RP3).  Bombed repeatedly in 1965, the structure withstood Air Force and Navy bombs while ground fire inflicted considerable losses.  To destroy its two heavy spans, the Air Force devised a special attack program nicknamed Carolina Moon.  This called for dropping five huge 5,000-pound bombs from a Hercules C–130 cargo plane into the Song Ma River upstream from the bridge.  The bombs would float towards the bridge and explode when they struck the superstructure.  General Moore believed an upstream bomb drop was the only feasible method of attack, given the heavy air defenses in the vicinity of the bridge.  Preparations for Carolina Moon began in late 1965 at the Air Force's Tactical Air Warfare Center at Eglin AFB, Florida.  At the Center's Armament Development Laboratory, personnel constructed a number of high-explosive bombs, 96.0"wide and 31.5 high, with affixed sensors.  The bomb weighed about 3,750 pounds, but the attachments increased the weight to about 5,000 pounds.  During the extensive test and training period that followed, aircrews made about 80 test drops of the huge bombs from C–123 and C–130 aircraft, while two aircrews underwent special training in two C–130 Hercules planes that would conduct the mission in the war theater.
--- End quote ---

Suggestions were made by forum members to request the information through the Freedom of Information act.  I was a bit reluctant to do so thanks to my first ever and absolutely last attempt to request information about the 280mm shell used with the Atomic Cannon that resulted in a visit from an FBI agent out of the local FBI office and his sidekick from the Naval Investigative Service at Naval Submarine Base, Bangor, WA.  To put it mildly, I was not pleased with the attention that my request had generated from the local constabulary and I was told to not attempt any further requests for information on that particular subject.  This kind of negativity will certainly make you think twice before trying to ask nicely for anything from the government.  Anyway, to make this a happy ending, one of the other members on the forum stepped up and did the legwork and succeeded where I failed.  He has now posted the results of his efforts at Global Security with a diagram of the launch sequence for the Carolina Moon device.  The diagram is informative and also adds another question as to the actual shape of the device.  The diagram depicts a device that is not the "hockey puck" shaped circular shape that I had envisioned based on the available descriptions, it shows instead what appears to be a multifaceted object that is hexagonal or octagonal in shape which further complicates my attempts to model this thing in SketchUp. 

Jeffry Fontaine:
Based on the diagram provided at the Global page on the subject of Operation Carolina Moon (TAWC OPLAN 155) Project 1559 I decided to model what I could based on the dimensions provided in the various sources on the subject.  Not knowing if this was a six-sided or eight-sided object I modeled both in SketchUp as shown in the two screen shots attached to this post.  Until a better source for the information is found there will continue to be some unknown features that could be added now but may not be factual.  So basic shapes as an octagon and hexagon with a green tactical paint scheme and a 3.0" (76 mm) yellow high-explosive identification stripe around the circumference of the device are as far as I am willing to go in speculation on the appearance. 

***edit to upload different images based on further analysis of the sketch provided via the FOIA it is apparent that the Carolina Moon weapon was an octagon shape. 

Interesting design Jeff, so basically it's a mine only designed for river purposes. 

I wonder why they even considered it, it seems a bit of a slap-dash sort of effort, once dropped in the river it could go just about anywhere except to the target.  It could miss the piers altogether, then what?  And a torpedo net would be a cheap and easy counter to it I think.

Jeffry Fontaine:
There were two fuzing systems on the weapon.  One was a proximity fuze that was adapted from the BOMARC surface to air missile and the other was an infrared fuze.  The weapon was not intended to crash into the bridge piers or abutments.  The designers planned for the weapon to float under the bridge span and then detonate based on the fuzing systems sensing the optimum moment to fire the weapon.  Certainly a lot of effort went into the planning and execution of the mission and it is a shame that it was not successful plus the cost of the aircrew killed and the aircraft destroyed.   

Gee Jeff,  you get to meet interesting folks.
In my decades of defence work I also got meet folks with unusual experience/information.  But nothing to write about here or elsewhere.


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