AskDefine | Define bombsight

Dictionary Definition

bombsight n : a sighting device in an aircraft for aiming bombs

User Contributed Dictionary



bomb + sight


  1. A device which allows bombs to be accurately dropped from moving aircraft so as to hit a desired target.

Extensive Definition

A bombsight is a device used by bomber aircraft to assist in the task of accurately dropping bombs on a ground target. Although it could be as simple as a set of crosshairs, the term generally refers to more complicated devices that allow correction for various factors that affect the ballistic trajectory of the dropped ordnance. These include, but are not limited to, the altitude, airspeed, and heading of the aircraft, the wind, and the aerodynamic properties of the specific bomb.
The first truly useful bombsight for the Drift Sight Mk 1A, which was introduced on the Handley Page O/400 heavy bomber of World War I. While it was not as effective as later bombsights, it was an improvement in sighting equipment of the period, as it took into account the aircraft's altitude and speed, wind velocity, and drift.
The Norden bombsight, used by the Allies in World War II, brought all of these factors together and was a major technical achievement that for the first time enabled high-precision, high-altitude bombing under certain conditions.
Beginning in the 1950s, more modern bombsights replaced the analog computer in the Norden with electronic ones, and became increasingly integrated into the weapons system of the host aircraft. They may be controlled by the pilot directly and provide information through the heads-up display or a video display on the instrument panel. The specific functions of the bombsight are further blurred as bombs with in-flight guidance, such as laser-guided bombs or those using GPS replace "dumb" gravity bombs.
A bombsight plays a major role in the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce film Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon.


bombsight in Polish: celownik bombowy
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