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9/11 Commission

Pentagon Impact Damage

Some skeptics of the official account of the Pentagon attack have claimed that the pattern of damage to the Pentagon's facade does not have much relationship to the profile of a 757-200, the kind of plane that Flight 77 was. Often, such claims are based on erroneous descriptions of the impact damage, such as making only a small hole in the building's facade.

e x c e r p t
title: Flight 77 - Pentagon Event - 3d Test
authors: Silent but Deadly
This French researcher created simulations showing the size of a 757 relative to the building.

In the simulation above, the damage to the facade was determined by combining multiple photographs, each of which clearly shows the condition of some portion of the wall. The clean lawn shown in the simulation is misleading, since none of the pre-collapse photographs give a clear picture of the condition of the lawn near the building, and some show significant debris fields. It is also misleading in the following two ways:

  • It makes objects in the construction yard appear right up against the facade, supporting the idea that objects in the flight-path remained standing. In fact, the cable spools that appear against the wall were 25-70 feet away from it.
  • It depicts the plane as a stainless steel solid object, reinforcing a common misconception about the construction of aircraft. In fact, jetliners are very light and fragile compared to buildings, their aluminum hulls being less than 2 mm thick.

Photographs show that the maximum extent of impact damage consisting of broken-away walls is about 96 feet wide on the first floor, 18 feet wide on the second floor, and about 26 feet high. This contrasts with an impact profile of a 757 at a 45-degree angle to the wall of 177 feet wide and 40 feet tall.

There is a question of how much the impact of a 757 would have damaged the thick masonry walls of the building. Perhaps the walls were strong enough to prevent breaching by bulky parts of a jetliner such as the outer wings and tail. The situation is somewhat analogous to a crash study involving the collision of an F-4 with a concrete block. In the test, the entire plane was reduced to confetti, while the concrete block sustained only a shallow impression. However, examination of the Pentagon's facade reveals that regions that would have been hit by the wings and tail of a 757 show neither broken windows nor evidence of scoring of the relatively soft limestone.

Also, photographs show what appear to be still-standing columns where some of the densest and longest parts of the plane would have passed, such as on the first floor to the right of the hole's center, where the right engine would have entered, and an apparent dangling column in the second-floor puncture, where the upper part of the fuselage would have entered. However, it is not clear that those objects were columns, and there is evidence that the leaning objects on the first floor are not damaged columns, but are hanging pieces of the second-story floor.

One deficiency of analyses purporting to show that a 757 impact could not have produced the observed damage to the Pentagon is a failure to take into account the blast hardening of the facade. The nature of that hardening remains, like all information about the structural composition of the buildings attacked on 9/11/01, the subject of considerable uncertainty. For example, if the windows were composed of thick polycarbonate panes, they may have been able to repel lighter fragments of the plane without breaking. Nonetheless, the apparently unscored limestone in the predicted paths of the wing ends and tail section are difficult for many observers to reconcile with such a crash. One suggestion is that portions of the jetliner were destroyed just before impact, as proposed by French researcher Eric Bart, fragmenting these components into small debris so as to leave no impression on the facade. Meanwhile the punctured areas of the facade were large enough to admit the vast majority of the aircraft into the building.


page last modified: 2011-07-04
Copyright 2004 - 2011,911Review.com / revision 1.08 site last modified: 12/21/2012
Photographs taken by Geoff Metcalf immediately after the crash show no signs of sizable pieces of debris from the crash.
A set of photographs was composited to determine the maximal extent of impact damage.
This crash simulation by Mike J. Wilson shows that a 757 mostly fits through the areas of broken-away walls, except the wing ends and vertical tail section.