The Quick 10: 10 Unusual War Weapons
Think fighting wars is all about grenades and tanks? Think again. It takes some serious innovation to win wars – here are a mere handful of those ideas, although some of them were bombs in more than one way.
1. Major Martin, AKA Operation Mincemeat. How did a homeless alcoholic help pull one over on Hitler? After a Welsh vagrant named Glyndwr Michael killed himself with rat poison, the British government dressed him up like an army officer and gave him an incredibly involved backstory that even included a fiance named Pam. They outfitted Major Martin with a briefcase that included false Allied documents about the planned attack on Greece, and then dropped his body off in the sea near Spain as if he had drowned. Hitler fell for it and was taken completely unawares when Allied forces attacked Sicily instead.
2. Bat Bombs. Holy flaming flights, Batman! They may sound like something Bruce Wayne's alter ego would have used against Catwoman in the old T.V. show, but bat bombs were almost used during WWII. Although more than 6,000 bats were outfitted with small explosives and dropped on various test sites, satisfactory results were never produced and "Project X-Ray" had to be abandoned at a loss of about $2 million.
3. The Love Bomb. For several years in the '90s, a weapon was considered that would make soldiers completely irresistible to one another. It wasn't repeated exposure to Barry White music as you might suspect - it was a chemical bomb that would cost $7.5 million to develop. The Department of Defense had said the idea has since been squashed.
4. Super Strength Silly String. Perhaps taking inspiration from the canned foam kids like to spray, the U.S. military has been working to develop a sticky substance that stops enemies in their tracks when applied. A version of it was even tried in Somalia in 1995 but wasn't as effective as had been hoped. The idea hasn't been totally scrapped, though - it's now being tested as a "foam-based vehicle arresting system," meaning it could clog up the inner workings of an enemy tank bearing down at a fast rate of speed.
5. Anti-Tank Dogs. This one is quite a sad tale that you certainly won’t be hearing from our Puppies Wearing Hats (even bacon wouldn’t be able to cheer them up after hearing this story). The Soviet Army would starve dogs and then leave food under tanks, teaching the hungry beasts they could quell the pangs in their stomachs by diving under the vehicles for kibble. Once they mastered that, the dogs had bombs strapped to them. The bombs were equipped with levers that were pulled when the dog ducked under the tank and the lever struck the bottom of the tank. When the lever was pulled, the bomb was detonated. The Germans quickly caught on to this inhumane trick, so even dogs that weren’t blown up were shot on sight by soldiers who spotted them.
6. Exploding Donkeys. Similar to the Anti-Tank Dog, donkeys outfitted with explosives were found in Afghanistan in 2006. Found in the Zabul province near a place the Taliban were believed to hide, the poor ass was wearing 66 pounds of explosives in addition to several land minds. They were strapped to the donkey’s back and hidden under old sacks. Luckily, the donkey was discovered and disarmed before he and his handler reached what U.S. officials believe was their target – an American base in Qalat.
7. The “Who, Me?” “Who Me” is actually a stupendous stink used in the manufacturing industry to test air fresheners against, which is how an extremely malodorous mix made of various sulfurs got its name. It was designed to be used by the French Resistance during WWII, but after tests had the user suffering the same ill effects as the target, it had to be scrapped.
8. Dragon Breath. It kind of sounds like a serious flame-thrower, but no - we're actually talking halitosis. An idea was formed but never solidified about a chemical that would cause such horrendous halitosis that enemies that had been “bombed” by the chemical would give themselves away when they tried to sneak up on camps or blend in with civilians.
9. Ice Ships. The theory, according to Lord Louis Mountbatten, was that ships built of ice could block real ships and even serve to launch offensive attacks if necessary. Winston Churchill was so enthusiastic about the idea that he ordered tests and demos to be arranged immediately. In this testing stage, they discovered that adding wood pulp to the water before it was frozen created an even stronger material they called “Pykrete.” It was so tough that when Lord Mountbatten fired a bullet at it to prove its strength, the bullet ricocheted and nearly killed the Chief of Air Staff. Further testing showed that the hull of the ship alone would need to be 35 feet thick to stop a torpedo, which presented a bit of a challenge. Before this little kink could be worked out, the war ended and the project was abandoned.
10. Bouncing Bomb. Yep, that's what it did. This bomb was designed to bounce across the water, cleverly avoiding torpedo nets and other underwater defenses. Here they are in action: