A suspected 500lb Unexploded Bomb (UXB) was destroyed in a controlled explosion near Pembury, Kent, yesterday after being found in woodland off the A21. The UXB is thought to have been left in situ after the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft carrying it crashed after a mid-air collision in the summer of 1944.
Flown primarily by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) as a fighter aircraft, the Thunderbolt was also capable of carrying a payload of 2,500lb to be used opportunistically during combat. In the build-up to, and in immediate aftermath of, D-Day in June 1944 numerous sorties were flown by British and American aircraft to try and destroy German defensive positions along the Normandy coast. Unfortunately many planes did not make their targets, with mid-air collisions common across hectic skies.
WWII aircraft crashes remain a potential source of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) hazard in many parts of the UK. Whilst those carrying bombs often exploded on crashing, some UXB did not detonate. Many of these were subsequently recovered for disposal or re-use but some remain buried, particularly those at more remote crash sites.
In 1989, 3No. 50kg explosive-incendiary bombs, 2No. 50kg High Explosive (HE) bombs and 2No. 500kg HE bombs were found at the crash site of a Dornier Do 217 in a bluebell wood near Fernhurst in West Sussex. It was one of the biggest hauls of post-WWII German bombs found in the UK.
The controlled explosion of the Pembury bomb was certainly spectacular enough and can be see at the link below: