When you think of World War Two, you probably picture Spitfires, bombs and tanks. However, there were some highly unique ideas put forward as the war progressed and each side wanted to outdo the other. Here are some of the more weird and wonderful weapons of the Second World War:
This huge machine might not have looked like it, but it was, in fact, a cannon. Designed by the Germans, the machine was built into the side of a hill and its purpose was to shoot artillery shells right across the English Channel, directly from France to London. Thankfully, the idea was a failure, even though the cannon could fire shells up to 58 miles.
Tanks suffered with getting stuck on beaches during the Second World War and this is something the Allies were keen to avoid on D-Day. Cue Major-General Sir Percy Hobart, who was given the job of designing a series of vehicles that could conquer the beaches. Some of them looked so bizarre that they were nicknamed Hobart’s Funnies. If you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to drive a tank, try Tank Driving Days with Armourgeddon Tank Driving.
One of the wildest ideas to have circulated in the Second World War was that of bat bombs. The American dentist, Lytle Adams, who was friends with Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have come up with the idea when visiting the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, which are home to roosting bats.
After hearing of the events of Pearl Harbour, he had the idea of putting explosives on bats and releasing them over enemy cities. When they had found places to roost inside buildings, the military could detonate the explosives, starting a multitude of fires in hard-to-reach places. Believe it or not, the military actually tested Adams’ idea, but it worked a bit too well – setting fire to a general’s car and burning down a hangar!
Other animal-based ideas included using pigeons to steer missiles. Another concept was to put dogs in anti-submarine torpedoes. It was thought that the acute hearing of the dogs could pick out faint enemy sounds and steer the torpedo towards them. Unsurprisingly, nobody took this idea seriously.
The Russians tried to attach bombs to dogs in order to blow up tanks and the British also considered using animals as mobile explosives. British agents came up with an idea of loading rat carcasses with plastic explosives and placing them near industrial buildings and ships in Germany. They believed that whoever found the carcasses would throw them on the fire, causing them to explode in spectacular fashion. A shipment was discovered by the Germans before they could be used but this had a surprising effect. The Germans, thinking they had only found one of many shipments became paranoid about every rat they saw!