It’s an internal spacer from the RBK series of Soviet-era, cluster-munitions dispensers.
Huh? Basically, it fits within a long hollow steel cylinder that amounts to the main body of an unguided air-dropped bomb, and it holds one end of 14 submunitions in place during transport and flight.
There is a lot that could be said about this item, if we had time to riff. This is in part because from the standpoint of industrial history, it’s an interesting find and it suggests an interesting story. The shaped metal plates you see, for example, are mounted on a circular piece of wood that appears to have been machined by jigsaw. You can readily imagine Soviet arms-plant workers, in the last years of Lenin’s failed experiment, cutting pieces from wood to pack into some of the most fearsome conventional weapons to be delivered by MiGs. Don’t let your imagination deceive you. Like many Soviet systems, it’s fairly crude. But that’s no measure. It’s also effective — and well matched to a densely forested nation that happened to be engaged in an arms race.
How does it all fit together? Ultimately, once an entire RBK dispenser is released from an aircraft, and a charge breaks the weapon open and ejects the bomblets within, this spacer, like the tail fin package, and the main body, and the ATK-EB nose fuze, and the obdurator, and more, falls to earth and lands at or near the area struck by the bomblets. And there it can be found.
In other words, what you see above is not just a Cold War curio.
It’s also evidence.
More soon, on the NYT.
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