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Cluster Bomb Unit CBU-19A/B

The CBU-19 chemical cluster was a 130-lb. modified U.S. Army dispenser intended for use on helicopters and consisted of two subclusters fitted to a strongback. Each cluster contained 528 agent-filled canisters; each canister contained an incapacitating chemical, called CS, and a pyrotechnic fuze. Upon ejection from the aircraft, the fuze ignited the CS, disseminating the CS for four to six seconds. This required delivery below 600 feet AGL [above ground level] to insure that the chemical reached the ground. Also, as the cluster had originally been designed for use on helicopters, delivery was restricted to use on the A-1 and A-37 because the cluster could not withstand the airloads encountered on faster aircraft.

As the Vietnam war continued into the late 1960s, the North Vietnamese, Viet Cong, and Pathet Lao used increasingly sophisticated weapons and tactics to frustrate rescue efforts. Rescue forces reacted to these challenges by developing new weapons and changing tactics. Tear gas bombs and riot control chemicals were some of the most controversial weapons used to support rescue operations. These weapons included Cluster Bomb Unit (CBU)-19A/B and CBU-30A antipersonnel area denial bombs, which were essentially tear gas bombs. CBU-19 could be used on enemy gun or troop concentrations when the enemy was not equipped with masks or other protective equipment. In these areas it was more efficient to disable the enemy temporarily than to employ normal weapons. It was most effective in areas of widespread small arms which were normally difficult to locate and silence. CBU-19 could be used directly on the survivor if the survivor was surrounded, had been captured, or was injured and unable to help himself and was in imminent danger from advancing enemy forces.

The CBU-19 gas bomb had been originally designed for helicopters, but within the Air Force, mostly A-1s expended them, and they were little used after 1969. During 1970-1972 the Air Force principally used the CBU-30 tear gas cluster bomb. Both propeller aircraft, A-1s, and jet aircraft, especially F-4s and F-100s, employed the CBU-30, which contained 66 pounds of CS tear gas, while the CBU-19 contained only 14 pounds.

CBU-19 could be used on enemy gun or troop concentrations when the enemy was not equipped with masks or other protective equipment. In these areas it was more efficient to disable the enemy temporarily than to employ normal weapons. It was most effective in areas of widespread small arms which were normally difficult to locate and silence. CBU-19 could be used directly on the survivor if the survivor was surrounded, had been captured, or was injured and unable to help himself and was in imminent danger from advancing enemy forces.

The CBU-19 gas bomb had been originally designed for helicopters, but within the Air Force, mostly A-1s expended them, and they were little used after 1969. During 1970-1972 the Air Force principally used the CBU-30 tear gas cluster bomb. Both propeller aircraft, A-1s, and jet aircraft, especially F-4s and F-100s, employed the CBU-30, which contained 66 pounds of CS tear gas, while the CBU-19 contained only 14 pounds.

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