Bombardier (air force)
A bombardier in the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 and United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

, or a bomb aimer, in the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 and other Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 air forces, was the crewman of a bomber
A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground and sea targets, by dropping bombs on them, or – in recent years – by launching cruise missiles at them.-Classifications of bombers:...

 responsible for assisting the navigator
A navigator is the person on board a ship or aircraft responsible for its navigation. The navigator's primary responsibility is to be aware of ship or aircraft position at all times. Responsibilities include planning the journey, advising the Captain or aircraft Commander of estimated timing to...

 in guiding the plane to a bombing target and releasing the aircraft's bomb load. In many planes the bombardier took control of the airplane during the bombing run, using a bombsight such as the Norden bombsight
Norden bombsight
The Norden bombsight was a tachometric bombsight used by the United States Army Air Forces and the United States Navy during World War II, and the United States Air Force in the Korean and the Vietnam Wars to aid the crew of bomber aircraft in dropping bombs accurately...

 which was connected to the autopilot of the plane. Often stationed in the extreme front of the aircraft, on the way to the target and after releasing the bombs he could also serve as the front gunner
Air gunner
An air gunner a.k.a. aerial gunner is a member of an air force aircrew who operates flexible-mount or turret-mounted machine guns or autocannons in an aircraft...

 in aircraft that had a front turret.
In the latter part of the 20th century, the title of bombardier fell into disuse, due largely to changes in technology, emanating from the replacement of this manual function with the development of computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

ized technology and smart bomb
Smart bomb
Smart bomb has several meanings:* In weapons, a smart bomb is a precision-guided munition* Smart Bomb Interactive, a video game development studio based in Salt Lake City, Utah...

s, that has given rise to terms like weapons systems officer or combat systems officer (CSO) to describe the modern role.

In the United States, the position of bombardier was originally held by a sergeant but they were commissioned as officers in 1941. In the Commonwealth, one could be an officer or (more frequently) a senior non-commissioned officer
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

. During World War II, US Army Air Force bombardiers were recognized with the award of the Bombardier Badge
Bombardier Badge
The Bombardier Badge was a military badge of the United States military which was issued between the years of 1918 and 1949. The decoration was intended to recognize the military training and qualification required by those service members who were bombardiers on board military aircraft.Originally...


In popular culture

  • The principal character, Yossarian
    This article is about a "Catch-22" character. For the meerkat from "Meerkat Manor", see List of "Meerkat Manor" meerkats - Yossarian.Capt. John Joseph Yossarian is a fictional character and protagonist in Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 and its sequel Closing Time...

    , in the novel Catch-22
    Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953, and the novel was first published in 1961. It is set during World War II in 1943 and is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the twentieth century...

    and in the film of the same name
    Catch-22 (film)
    Catch-22 is a 1970 satirical war film adapted from the book of the same name by Joseph Heller. Considered a black comedy revolving around the "lunatic characters" of Heller's satirical anti-war novel, it was the work of a talented production team which included director Mike Nichols and...

     serves as a B-25 bombardier during World War II.

  • A movie about bombardiers was made by RKO Pictures in 1943. It included the song "Song of the U.S. Bombardiers" by Jack Scholl and M.K. Jerome.
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