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ton, a unit of weight equal to 2,240 lb avoirdupois (1016.05 kg).

tonne, a metric ton.

'The tonnage of bombs dropped on Vietnam was more than that of WW2 and Korea.' When 'tonnages' are not specified like this there is doubt about what they amount to, and I'm strenuously engaged with the problem of thinking in terms of 'tons' or 'tonnes'.

Can anybody help me in understanding whether is better to think in terms of 'tons' rather than in terms of 'tonnes'?

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The "tonnage" of a bomb is the number of metric tons1 of TNT that would be required to generate a comparable explosion. See wikipedia.

1 I suspect tonnages given in the U.S. and U.K. several decades ago may have been equivalent Imperial tons or U.S. tons, and not metric tons, of TNT. The difference between these is relatively small.

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Whether tonnage is measured in Imperial tons or metric tonnes makes no difference in this case, because you are comparing amounts.

"The amount of High Explosive dropped on Vietnam was more than that of WW2 and Korea."

You could measure each amount in tons, tonnes, or even apples. As long as the units are the same for the comparison, it doesn't matter what those units are.


Note: The tonnage of an atomic bomb is measured in Imperial tons, and as Peter Shor has answered, is the weight of TNT needed to produce an equivalent explosion.

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Except you're not. One ton of dynamite is not equal in tonnage to one ton of TNT. –  Peter Shor Aug 9 '12 at 18:00
    
+1 good point, though. –  Kris Oct 2 '12 at 14:28
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