Whenever an object is falling from the sky towards a character, it is often accompanied by a high pitched whistling tone that both increases in volume and decreases in pitch as the object approaches the ground. It is usually heard while a Shadow of Impending Doom
engulfs said character. May be accompanied by a Stuka Scream
Usually, though not always, an example of artistic license, as in Real Life
, the pitch of the whistling noise would increase rather than decrease
as the object accelerated towards the ground, due to the Doppler effect. Possibly justified in that those who have heard a bomb whistle and lived to tell about it were usually in a position (such as the plane) moving away
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- Johnny Dangerously contains a scene actually involving a bomb dropped from a plane on the casino of his enemy, Roman Maronie. Followed by an explosion. Followed by a declaration of FARGIN WAR!!
- Pink Floyd, The Wall uses the sound. Pink's father is killed by a bomb from a dive bomber. Note that since the plane dropping the bomb was an Axis plane during World War II, it might actually have been a Stuka.
- The incoming mortar in Stripes. Only Sgt Hulka knows what it means. The recruits just look around in confusion.
- Falling bombs in Battlefield 1942 make this exact sound. Because bombs do more damage to soldiers on the ground in the game, everyone stands up and starts running away while jumping up and down.
- Canabalt: The whistle is only heard for an instant before the bomb lands.
- Half-Life: When you're outside of Black Mesa, mortars fall at times. They make sounds similar to this.
- World War II MMOFPS WWII Online includes sounds for falling bombs. If you're close enough to hear it, you're probably dead. The in-game Stukas are equipped with a toggle for the Stuka whistle. (a.k.a. Stuka kazoo)
- Scorched Earth has several option settings for this. It can avert the trope, play it straight, or invert it (with a whistle that ascends in pitch as the bomb falls).
- Invoked in Alpha Protocol; in the fight with Sean Darcy, he makes this noise by whistling when he throws grenades at you. Earlier in the game, you can see mortars being used against enemy mooks; these make the correct noise.
- Dance Dance Revolution: The bomb whistle (along with the air-raid siren) is used as something of a recurring audio theme in the track "Drop Out".
- The Boomer attack in Fallout: New Vegas.
- In Star Ocean: The Second Story Chisato has a move that calls in an airstrike that drops bombs on an area of the combat screen complete with Bomb Whistles. The fact she can do this deep UNDERGROUND makes the bomb whistles the least head scratcher.
- This sound is played in Heavy Weapon as soon as a bomb is dropped by any enemy aircraft. Yes, when the bomb comes out of the airplane, no less.
- Call of Duty uses it for mortars as well as air-dropped bombs.
- Grenades in the BioShock series make this sound when thrown.
- The Warner Brothers cartoons are the most frequent users of this trope. The whistle makes sense in most of these, as the viewer is usually on top of a cliff watching a character fall downwards.
- Family Guy: Parodied; a Manatee Gag shows a Japanese man having a terrible day (while in Hiroshima in 1945). After several annoying and inconvenient trifles, we hear a Bomb Whistle and he looks up, saying "Oh my God..." just before a baboon lands on him and starts attacking.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle "Banana Formula" story arc did an extensive one. Boris drops the "hush-and-boom" explosive vial over the heroes from a second story window and we hear a Bomb Whistle with a lowering pitch. Boris has enough time to catch the formula after realizing he'll be blown up too.
- The American SBD "Dauntless" divebomber, meanwhile, managed to get a similar effect using its perforated dive brakes. The holes in the dive brakes, included for aerodynamic reasons, had the side effect of giving the plane a reportedly banshee-like wail sound in a divenote
- One of the pilots flying in to Dien Bien Phu during the French efforts to defeat the Viet Mihn would, so the story goes, drop empty bottles out of the plane because they sounded like falling bombs to the Vietnamese besiegers.
- Inverted with the Doodlebugs of WWII. Their engines droned and propelled them forward constantly until their timers ran out. When they stopped making noise, you knew something nearby was about to blow up. Also inverted by their upgrade, the V2, which traveled faster than sound. If you heard it, you were fine. People who lived through the Blitz on London (1940-41, mostly) mention that falling bombs made a sound like a parcel sliding down a chute.
- Averted in Real Life armies on distinguishing between oncoming shells which are likely to hit and which are likely to miss. Those who are likely to hit have an ugly, shrieking sound like a locomotive, while those who are likely to miss have the classic bomb whistle.
- Fireworks can often make a similar noise as they fly into the air.
- The whistle effect in fireworks does not come from movement through the air; it is created by burning a special whistle fuel in a half empty tube. The fuel burns in a pulsating fashion, which resonates with the empty section of the tube. As the fuel burns away, the empty section becomes longer and the whistle frequency decreases. Since the burning produces thrust, it can be used for rockets.
- One of the stories in Band of Brothers book tells how soldiers would sometimes play pranks on each other by mimicking the sound of an incoming bomb or artillery shell.