Having once created the first samples of weapons, a person could no longer stop. Already in the 20th century, this activity led to the emergence of nuclear weapons. At the same time, even the creation of a means capable of destroying all life on the planet did not stop the violent human activity in the field of creating various weapons systems.
Many military projects proposed by designers, engineers, scientists and just enthusiasts look, by today's standards, a real madness. Battle bats; rockets guided by pigeons; gay bomb; an aircraft carrier from an iceberg; climatic weapons - all these are real projects, over which human thought fought and money and resources were spent on them.
An icy mountain iceberg grows out of the fog
The Second World War started very badly for Great Britain. The expeditionary force in France was defeated and lost almost all equipment and heavy weapons. France was withdrawn from the war, in North Africa the Germans and Italians pushed British troops back almost to the Nile. In Asia, on the other side of the earth, Japan was advancing on the colonial possessions of Great Britain. The situation was aggravated by the actions of German submariners, who tried to implement a naval blockade of Great Britain and were active in the Atlantic.
Against this background, the Admiralty seriously discussed the possibility of using aircraft carriers-icebergs in the North Atlantic, primarily to combat German submarines. German submariners reached their peak in 1942. In November 1942 alone, they reported the sinking of 134 Allied transport ships in the Atlantic.
Against this background, Lord Mountbatten, who was responsible for the development of various offensive weapons, gave a go to the ideas of engineer Jeffrey Pike, who came up with a proposal to build an aircraft carrier from ice, not steel. At the same time, the possibility of towing a large iceberg or large ice floes to the North Atlantic was seriously discussed, which could be used as an air base.
Already at the end of 1942, the British Admiralty issued an order for the development of a draft design for such an aircraft carrier. Initially, it was about the most real blocks of ice, which were planned to be equipped with engines and the necessary equipment. But over time, the project has transformed. Pike suggested using a special composite material, pykerite, to build the ship. The resulting material provided good performance and was not susceptible to stress cracking.
The material obtained experimentally consisted of a frozen mixture of ordinary fresh water and cotton wool and cellulose (raw materials for making paper / cardboard), which accounted for up to 14% of the composition. The ice thus strengthened was strong enough to attempt to assemble a surface ship out of it. The pykerite aircraft carrier project was named Habbakuk (biblical name Habakkuk).
The project had not only a biblical name, but also its size. The British considered the possibility of building a ship with a displacement of 1.8 million tons. In this case, the length of the ship would be more than 600 meters, the width - 100 meters, the speed should have been 7 knots. And the crew of the unusual ice ship would be more than 3,500 people.
It is easy to guess that such an ambitious project as a result was first frozen, and over time it was completely abandoned. As an experiment, in 1943, an experimental vessel with a displacement of 1000 tons and dimensions of about 18 by 9 meters was created from pykerite. Located on Lake Patricia in Canada, the unusual ship completely melted only a year after it was built.
The British completely abandoned the Habbakuk project at the end of 1943. By that time, the situation at sea had improved, ships in the Atlantic received a strong sea and air cover, the performance of German submariners dropped dramatically. At the same time, the project of creating an aircraft carrier from ice was deemed too expensive. Huge production and technical resources that could have been spent on the implementation of the project were deemed inexpedient.
Bats - kamikaze
Incendiary bombs were effective weapons during the Second World War. Especially against cities and towns, mainly with wooden buildings. This is exactly what the cities of Japan were in those years.
To improve on an already existing incendiary weapon, a Pennsylvania dental surgeon suggested the use of bats. Dr. Little Adams was personally acquainted with President Roosevelt and his wife, which helped him secure funding for his unusual project, which went down in history as a bat bomb. Bats were to become the basis of the "living weapon". You can read more about the mouse bomb in our article.
The idea was to place hundreds of live bats, injected by lowering the temperature into hibernation, in special containers that self-expand in flight. A miniature napalm incendiary bomb with a delayed action mechanism was attached to each bat with glue. Miniature bombs weighing up to 22 grams gave an ignition source within a radius of 30 cm.
The bombs were planned to be dropped on Japanese cities before dawn. Once free, bats would begin to seek shelter for themselves in order to wait out the daylight hours. Hiding under the roofs of residential buildings and various outbuildings, they would cause multiple fires. In fact, it was about live submunitions.
They managed to spend more than two million dollars on the project (more than $ 19 million at today's exchange rate), but in the end it was completely curtailed in 1944. By that time, nuclear weapons were on the way. And practical experience has shown that American aviation is doing an excellent job of destroying wooden Japanese cities with a traditional arsenal of ammunition.
Pigeons instead of a homing system
The Second World War is a treasure trove of unusual and very strange military projects.
Among the crazy ideas, the work of the behavioral psychologist Berres Frederick Skinner, who has been researching birds for many years, will not get lost. With the outbreak of World War II, he decided that pigeons could be trained and trained so that they could direct various types of ammunition to a target.
The project, named "Dove", managed to enter a large federal research program for the development of various guided weapons systems (missile, aircraft, torpedo, etc.). At first, pigeons were trained to work with mock-ups of various objects, ships and weapons systems. Then they were planned to be placed in the warheads of ammunition so that they could track the target on special digital screens.
The direction of the rocket or bomb had to occur with the help of pigeons pecking at the target image. Peck data was transmitted from the progenitor of all modern touchscreens to the servos of guided weapons, adjusting the flight of a bomb or rocket. To improve the reliability of the system and improve accuracy, Skinner suggested using three pigeons at once for homing. In such a system, the rudders changed position only when two of the three birds pecked at the target image.
The project was predictably not implemented, as it was fraught with a huge number of difficulties. Training the same carrier pigeons required a huge amount of time, especially in terms of how many warheads would have to be equipped with such a guidance system. You can read more about the unusual project that did not leave the pigeons a single chance to survive in our article.
By the early 1950s, the emergence of electronic and electromechanical ammunition control systems forced the military to completely abandon crazy projects using warm-blooded animals and birds as guidance systems.
Among the weirdest and craziest projects, the gay bomb can rightfully fight for the first place.
This unofficial name was given to the American project for the creation of non-lethal chemical weapons. The possibility of developing such a weapon was discussed in one of the research laboratories of the US Air Force.
It is known that employees of a secret laboratory in Dayton (Ohio) prepared a corresponding report in 1994. The general public learned about the details of the report only in 2004. Laboratory specialists suggested developing bombs filled with a powerful aphrodisiac.
Being dropped on enemy troops, such weapons were supposed to cause strong sexual arousal among enemy soldiers, and ideally, stimulate homosexual behavior.
The idea predictably ended in nothing, and its consequences had to be raked up by representatives of the Pentagon, who stated that the project to create such a non-lethal weapon had not been developed.
At the same time, the American military was inhabited by gay activists who were offended by the assumption that homosexual soldiers should have less combat capability, as well as representatives of various international organizations who were concerned about the possible violation of the Convention on the Non-Proliferation of Chemical Weapons.
It all ended as it should have - in 2007, the "Shnobel Prize" was awarded.
Rain against the Vietcong
The Vietnam War was a serious test for the United States, having a huge impact on American society. Unable to defeat the Viet Cong with traditional weapons during numerous ground operations, the US military was looking for new ways to combat the guerrilla movement. The most famous and terrible example was Agent Orange.
The mixture of defoliants and herbicides, which was dropped by planes and helicopters of the American army, was supposed to destroy the rainforests and vegetation in which the guerrillas were hiding. A total of 14 percent of Vietnam's territory has been treated and poisoned with this chemical. The consequences are still being felt. The mutagen contained in Agent Orange has caused cancer and genetic mutations in humans and animals that come into contact with the substance.
But, in addition to Agent Orange, the United States also developed other methods of fighting the Viet Cong. The US military wanted to be in control of the weather. Climate weapons, developed as part of Operation Popeye, were supposed to flood rice fields, roads and stop the movement of goods along the famous Ho Chi Minh trail. Anyone who has watched Forrest Gump knows that the rainy season is common in Vietnam. But we were not talking about ordinary rain, the American military expected that the amount of precipitation would many times exceed the climatic norms usual for the region.
Operation Popeye was carried out for five years from March 20, 1967 to July 5, 1972. Activities under this operation were organized during the rainy season from March to November. The experimental operation did not help the United States win the war, but it was carried out with amazing tenacity and scope.
Operation Popeye was supposed to be active on the clouds.In the rain clouds over Vietnam, American aircraft, mainly C-130 transport aircraft, scattered silver iodide, causing heavy rainfall. Such actions are believed to have tripled the amount of precipitation. In total, during the war, the Americans sprayed over 5, 4 thousand tons of silver iodide in the sky over Vietnam.
At the same time, the flooding of rice fields, roads and crops of cultivated plants still did not bring them victory.