History is filled with different examples of types of human ingenuity run amok. Weapons design is surely no exception.
A group of Quora users sought to answer the question “What are some historical weapons that most people have never heard of?” The answers provide an amazing insight into the history of war, and offer examples of some of the most ingenious — yet impractical — weaponry ever created.
We’ve highlighted some of the most interesting below.
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1. Pigeon-Guided Missiles
Department of Defense
Pigeon-guided missiles (Yes, Literally) were developed by noted behaviorist B.F. Skinner during Project Pigeon. Although the project was ultimately cancelled because of the impracticality of the weapons, the idea of pigeon-guided missiles showed promise.
The missile had an array of lenses at the front that projected an image of the target to an interior screen. The pigeons were conditioned to peck at the target on the screen. The pigeon’s pecks corrected the missile’s flight-path.
2. The Bat Bomb
Created and developed by the U.S. targeted for use against Japan during the World War II, the bat bomb was literally a bat bomb. Each bomb would contain 40 hibernating bats, each of which would be strapped with a small napalm bomb and a timer.
The bombs could deploy their own parachutes, giving the bats time to fly out and look for places to roost. They would soon after explode into thin air, potentially burning down whatever structure they had chosen as their new home.
3. Anti-Tank Dogs
The Nazi betrayal of the Soviets during World War II caught the Russians completely off guard. In a desperate attempt at staving off the Nazi advance into their territory, the Soviets strapped dogs with explosives and trained them to run under German tanks. Quite sad.
Soviet propoganda claims that more than 300 German tanks were successfully destroyed in this manner. The anti-tank dog program continued until the late 1990s, reportedly 1996.
4. Nuclear Artillery
US Department Of Energy
Conventional nuclear weapons are capable of destroying entire cities, but during the Cold War, the idea of ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons emerged. These smaller nukes were limited-yield weapons that would be launched from the ground at targets on the battlefield. Nuclear artillery was delivered with shells and short-range rockets.
5. Kaiten Torpedoes
Kaiten torpedoes were built by the Imperial Japanese Navy and were in service between 1944 and 1945. These torpedoes were manned and were a variant of the suicide weapons that Japan resorted to towards the end of the war. The torpedoes were launched from submarines and the pilots of the torpedoes could steer the weapons as necessary to inflict maximum damage against an enemy.
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Author – Jake Meilak