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Cluster Bomb Unit CBU-30A

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.

The CBU-30 consisted of the SUU-13 downward ejection dispenser and 1,280 BLU-39/B23 submunitions, each filled with CS. Upon ejection, a pyrotechnic fuze in each submunition ignited, disseminating the agent into the air. Delivery was restricted to below 600 feet AGL to insure ground coverage. Upon contact with the ground, the submunitions skittered about, disseminating the CS even further. The CBU-30 was compatible with both low and high speed aircraft.

The A-1 Skyraider weapons loads for the Search & Rescue [SAR] support configuration carried two CBU-30 weapons, and they were hung on the right and left stubs of the aircraft, which placed them under the right and left wing, immediately next to the fuselage.

Information in the 56 SOW history indicates that the A-1 Skyraiders which dropped tear gas during TAILWIND, expended CBU-30, not CBU-19, tear gas munitions. Two other sources point to CBU-30 as the gas weapon the A-1s dropped. The computerized Southeast Asia Data Base (SEADAB) reveals that A-1s from NKP expended 6 CBU-30s on 13 September and 6 CBU-30s on 14 September, in the area where the TAILWIND team was located. The 12 CBU-30s used over the two-day period include the 8 CBU-30s specifically listed in the 602 SOS September history. Art Bishop, one of the pilots who dropped the tear gas on the last day of the operation, 14 September, stated that he used CBU-30, and he is certain of the type because he consulted a diary in which he had written CBU-30. The second pilot who dropped the gas bombs, Don Feld, clearly remembered it as tear gas, but could not recall the type of CBU.

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