Just wait 'till you see what the little bombs split up into.
Oh God. Even the bullets shoot bullets.
There's Abnormal Ammo
for those cases when your weapons fire something unusual. But what if your weapon fires stuff... that also shoots projectiles of its own? That would be cool, right?
is what happens when ammunition for a certain weapon uses another level of weapons to do the dirty work. In Real Life
, the secondary ordnance is called "sub-munitions". This does not include things such as fragmentation grenades
, Attack Drones
, or missiles with multiple thrusters that break away. Various forms of Real Life
versions of these weapons will show up anytime someone decides to look up modern weapons
games in general tend to make use of this trope, as interesting patterns and changes of direction of bullets is their bread and butter.
Can be one of the three different types of Spread Shot
and frequently a way to instigate Splash Damage
of Abnormal Ammo
and Matryoshka Object
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Anime and Manga
- Code Geass has a unique Humongous Mecha in episode 8 called the Raikō that uses a massive railgun that fires shells that split into several dozen pellets, each "pellet" being roughly the size of a tennis ball.
- Earlier on, there was a one-off Knightmare weapon called a chaos mine which is thrown like a grenade but at the top of its trajectory, it opens up and releases a sustained barrage of pellets on the target from above. Euphemia almost gets killed by one but as it turns out, chaos mines are ineffective against the Lancelot's Blaze Luminous.
- Cowboy Bebop, episode "Gateway Shuffle": a group of insane ecoterrorists launches a large bomb toward a moon. As our heroes near it, it opens and releases three missiles. Two are destroyed by Spike, and just as he's about to destroy the third, it splits further into a thousand tiny rockets.
- In Dragon Ball, Krillin uses a Ki Attack variation of this where he throws an energy ball into the air which then breaks apart raining death on all those below.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED had various battleships and such that fired missiles into the air, which would then fire a rainfall of shrapnel to cover the enemies. It's been one of the most successful tatics for heroes and villains alike.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team has a similar weapon fielded on Zakus as anti-infantry measures. When a bunch of guerrillas charge at a downed Zaku, the pilot fires three of these into the air. Two are shot down by small arms fire but the third explodes into a brutal rain of shrapnel that shreds the entire guerrilla force in a second.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory has several that are mounted on the GP03 Dendrobium in the form of missiles that shoot other missiles◊.
- The Zeon Xemel mobile suit that bombarded the base in the first episode also fires cluster munitions.
- Combattler V BIGGU BURASUTO! DIBAIDAAAA!!!
- Full Metal Panic! pulled this off in The Second Raid season premier: when the Arbalest is retrieved by the Tuatha De Danaan, the sub fires several cluster missiles onto the tanks lining the riverside. The entire army gets wiped out in seconds.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Ali al-Saachez's custom Enact has a rifle attachment that launches a micromissile-launching missile.
- Evac's missiles in Transformers Cybertron, opening up to release a zillion smaller missiles.
- Naruto has the Shuriken Shadow Clone Jutsu, which causes one throwing start to become a wide area cloud of them.
- Banner of the Stars has antimatter mines that, when shot at by point defences, split into even more mines. These mines disguise themselves as the debris of the destroyed mine, and then jump any Abh spaceship that strays too close.
- Transformers comic, Blustreak uses a missile like this as one of his signature weapons.
- Iron Man: The Jericho missile at the beginning splits up and proceeds to simply level a small mountain.
- The Avengers: A miniaturised version of the Jericho (from Iron Man) is shown as part of the suit's arsenal, used to take out multiple Chitauri.
- Hawkeye also uses an arrow which embeds itself in one of the Chitauri and then releases a spray of projectiles into several others.
- Star Trek The missiles of the Narada which break open and deploy warheads.
- Spawn starts with Al performing an assassination with one of these.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit there was a cartoon gun that fired bullets modeled as western characters who then shot or otherwise killed their target with their own weaponry. Although they're pretty much the opposite of smart ammunition, demonstrated when a bunch of them hare off in the wrong direction.
- Night Watch the film Day Watch, there is an aluminum foil ball attached to a rubber band. If thrown, it unfolds in midair and splits into three identical, but faster and harder, balls, which also split, etc. It devastates Moscow in one strike.
- Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. The Action Duo leave one of their anachronistic rifles with a Kid Sidekick they've picked up on the way, and he uses it to shoot at the Big Bad as she's zooming by. Cue Bullet Time shot of the bullet unraveling in mid-flight to spray pellets in a make-shift Anti-Air projectile that shoots down her Flying Broomstick.
- In David Brin's Uplift series, some of the more advanced Galactic missles have multiple layers to them. In Startide Rising, the Soro fire missiles at a Synthian scout. He fires anti-missile missiles at them, and the missiles shoot them down with Beam Spam!
- Night's Dawn Trilogy, starships launch "combat wasps", which in turn launch "submunitions".
- Honor Harrington features missiles that shoot several dozen laser beams in a shotgun-like spread, powered by a small nuclear warhead. This is based loosely on a Real Life concept; see below. Loosely speaking, the series contains spaceships that launch pods which then launch multistage missiles that are capable of spraying lasers everywhere.
- Dale Brown books since Fatal Terrain include the submunition-laden Wolverine cruise missiles. In addition, various UCAVs, although meant to resupply from a mothership and go for more attack runs, mount warheads of their own just in case.
- In Banner of the Stars, the United Mankind develop a new type of mine (other sci-fi series would probably call them torpedoes), which can divide into four independent mines to overwhelm point defense guns or lie in wait in debris fields until a ship passes by. They're dealt with by deploying More Dakka.
- In Harry Harrison's Northworld series, mention is made of shield penetrating bullets that hit a shield then fire another shot at the same now weakened spot, up to twice. note This is probably also inspired by a Real Life weapon, the explosively formed penetrator.
- In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar, cluster bombs are one of the modern-era weapons unleashed on World War II-era Earth by The Race. It takes a while for the contemporary soldiers to get used to them and several are crippled by bomblets blowing off one of their feet. Fortunately for humanity, they're also one of the weapons the Race only has a very limited supply of.
- Fyodor Berezin's novel Ash features orbital defense railguns that automatically target incoming missiles. Then we find out that there are even larger railguns that launch those smaller railguns. On the other side, many of the missiles launched from the planet are multi-stage MIRVs, releasing thousands of warheads and even more decoys. Some of the missiles are cluster bombs where each bomblet is a tiny nuke that uses californium (which has a smaller critical mass than plutonium).
Live Action TV
- Thunder LRMs are essentially missile-deployed minefields, which even come in a variety of distinct types. FASCAM (see the Real Life section below) and cluster rounds for proper artillery weapons also exist.
- Also, the Maximum Tech book introduced several types of specialized autocannon ammunition, one of which was a sub-munition round, which broke up after firing, like the special ammunition for the LB-X series of autocannons (Which were more like shotguns than autocannons.)
- GURPS: Ultra-Tech has Smart Explosively Forged Projectiles that fly over the target before using the explosive force of the warhead to create a flaming armor piercing spike.
- Star Fleet Battles drones (missiles) include multi-warhead capacity, such as Starfish drones and swordfish drones which fire a phaser at the target.
- Transhuman Space has military spacecraft launching "Autonomous Kill Vehicles" (AKVs), which are basically robot fighters with guns installed — except that they also capable of ramming if the situation justifies it, bringing them into this category.
- Warhammer 40,000 The Manticore Multiple Rocket Launcher has, as its most common armament, a rack of 4 (and only 4) Storm Eagle rockets. A Manticore may only fire one Storm Eagle per turn, and each Storm Eagle breaks into a barrage of 1-3 mini-rockets once the main Storm Eagle reaches the apex of its trajectory. Due to their temperamental nature, Manticores are sometimes distrusted by commanders, but having that kind of potential in firepower makes up for it.
- Ricochet Rabbit had several trick bullets, one of which would stop in front of the bad guy, pop open, and pull out its own gun to shoot.
- The Simpsons: In one episode, Nelson was drawing a robot with guns for arms fighting a plane made out of guns that shoots guns.
- In the original Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century short, Marvin the Martian's "Ultimatum Responder" gun fires a bullet that fires another bullet right in Daffy Duck's face.
- The first widely used example was probably the shrapnel shell, which used a timed fuse to trigger a small explosive charge within that would deploy its payload of musket balls. So it was basically a giant shotgun launched from a cannon and rigged to shoot the enemy from over their heads. It was invented by Henry Shrapnel, whose name became a word we use to this day.
- The M65 280mm cannon fired a W9 shell whose explosive charge was ignited by a projectile within the shell, as seen here footage
- MIRVs, a nuclear cluster bomb.
- Cluster bombs.
- Explosively formed projectiles when launched from a rocket.
- Sensor fused weapon which is a smarter version of the cluster bomb.
- FASCAM (Field Artillery SCAtterable Mines), AKA "instant minefield", similar to the Generals reference above.
- The military once experimented with a bomb that opened up to reveal... a swarm of bats. Little kamikaze bats with little incendiary bombs strapped to them. The idea was to drop these over Japan — most Japanese buildings being mainly made of wood. By the morning bats roost on or near important buildings, then timed bombs go off. The Absurdity Ascendant part? The little incident where the bats escaped and took refuge in buildings all across the military base where they were held, followed by a flawless demonstration of the weapon's destructive potential. This actually convinced doubters that this was not in fact as stupid as it sounds: it was clearly effective enough for a single unit to devastate a moderately sized military base. The bat bomb, however, was not to be. The more expensive (and equally absurd-sounding at that time) Atomic Bomb was finished first and didn't accidentally go off on a friendly base, so the batty project quickly fell into obscurity despite having a handfull of enthusiastic supporters in the military.
- The Strategic Defence Initiative postulated a design for "Excalibur", a nuclear warhead powering a bunch of x-ray lasers, which inspired the Honor Harrington example above. It was never built as a finished weapon due to having a few problems on top of issues with SDI in general.
- In their early experiments with gunpowder, the Chinese invented a rocket that shoots smaller rockets. The large rocket was shaped like a dragon, and the smaller missiles emerged from its mouth. It probably freaked the hell out of their enemies.
- A modern example of the above is the Starstreak missile which launches three laser guided 'darts' to increase the chances of a hit.
- The traditional cluster bomb, releasing dozens or hundreds of grenade-sized submunitions, has been the subject of a 2008 limitation treaty, mainly because the high percentage of submunitions that go dud on impact like to stay around to make life miserable for quite a while. Notably, the US, China, and Russia are not signatories, and careful Loophole Abuse—fully deliberate—reveals that modern "smart" submunitions are exempt as long as they meet a number of criteria: bigger than 4kg, no more than 10 to a container, and have two self-disabling/self-destruct devices in case it doesn't hit anything. This makes sense, since the main purpose is to make sure they don't hang around like an unplanned minefield after the war's over.
- As a response to the above, even though not truly bound by it, the US Army has developed the world's largest shotgun shell under the Alternative Weapon Program. Fired from the MLRS rocket system it uses 800 tungsten rods to achieve much the same effect as a conventional cluster bomb but without the unplanned minefields. A similar bomb exists, though with a mix of steel and tungsten and it is intended to attack targets in cities such as fuel storage or chemical weapons without hurting anyone else.
- The GT-1, a glide bomb that could be dropped 20 miles away from the target at 10,000 feet. The bomb would gently glide down, and once it was just above the water, it released a Mark 13 torpedo.
- Similarly, the ASROC, an anti-submarine weapon consisting of a ship-fired missile that dropped a homing torpedo.