From anti-tank dogs to balloon bombs. In this article, I will be covering 3 bizarre world war 2 weapons. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.
1. Fu-Go balloon bomb
First off, we have the Fu-Go balloon bomb. Simply put, it was an incendiary balloon that was considered to be the first intercontinental weapon.
Launched by Japan in 1944 this bomb was comprised of a hydrogen balloon that measured 10 meters in diameter, carried 11 pounds of incendiary devices, and a 33-pound anti-personnel bomb.
Essentially, they were designed to drift across the Pacific Ocean and reach the mainland United States using the strong seasonal currents from the jet stream. The idea behind the Fu-Go balloon bomb was to start forest fires and cause panic and destruction in the US.
All in all, it was estimated that 9,300 balloons were launched with 300 of them being discovered in North America. In an attempt to mask the effectiveness of the Fu-go balloons, the office of censorship ordered newspapers and radio broadcasters to not report on them.
Although these bombs caused little damage, there was one incident of a lethal attack. On May 4, 1945, a group of four Sunday school students a reverend, and his wife discovered one of the balloons in Fremont National Forest.
When they approached the device it then exploded leaving all 6 of them dead. Bomb disposal experts at the time guessed that the device was kicked and therefore activated it. Overall, the project was unsuccessful and was scrapped in April 1945.
2. Anti-tank dog
Next we have Anti-tank dogs. This project was devised by the Soviets whereby they strapped dogs with explosives. They essentially taught them to target armored vehicles by starving them and placing food under the tanks.
At first, they would train them to leave the explosives and a timer-detonated bomb would explode once they retreated. However, this was later replaced by impact detonation explosives.
Each dog was fitted with between 10 and 12 kilograms of explosives and a wooden lever extended out of the pouches carrying the explosives.
Once the target was identified the safety pin was removed, and the lever would then hit the tank when the dog went under it activating it and ultimately also killing the dog in the process.
The first group of anti-tank dogs were deployed in 1931. All in all 30 dogs were sent to the frontline, however as they were trained on stationary tanks to save fuel they were hesitant to attack the moving targets.
Not to mention, they were also scared by the gunfire and would often retreat to the soviet soldiers while also detonating the explosives after jumping into the trenches. As a result, soldiers often had to shoot their dogs if they did end up retreating.
Overall, the evidence on the efficacy of this project is weak. The soviets claimed that an estimated 300 german tanks were damaged however this is widely disputed as being propaganda.
However, at the Battle of Kursk, a group of 16 dogs managed to disable 12 German tanks so the project was not a complete failure. But ultimately, after 1942 the soviet’s use of anti-tank dogs rapidly declined.
Lastly we have the Panjandrum. This was a rocket-propelled cart designed by the British Military. This obscure-looking device was essentially comprised of a steel drum that was suspended between two wooden wheels.
The drum was filled with explosives and launched from a landing craft using cordite rockets to propel it forward. The designers intended to use it to breach the german defenses in Normandy.
With the plan for it to reach speeds of 60mph and hold over 1700kg of explosives, this would have enough power to breach the 2m thick concrete walls that made up the Atlantic wall.
However, after extensive testing, this project was a failure. The cart would not remain stable and was too powerful to be controlled by steel cables. I hope you found this article useful and thanks for reading.
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Want to learn about the weaponization of robots? Click here to read my previous article.