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5 Weird Weapons Of World War II
Allies

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The Pigeon-Guided Missile

American behaviorist B.F. Skinner hit on a novel idea for the war effort when he came up with
the idea for ‘Project Orcon’ (which stood for organic control), which was his attempt to
produce the world’s first pigeon-guided missile.
The control system had a lens attached to the missile which projected an image of the target to
a screen. Three trained pigeons would then peck at the target on the screen and where they
pecked would determine where the missile hit. As long as they pecked the center of the
screen the missile would remain on target but if they pecked off center, the missile would
change course, as long as two of the three had it right though, the target would be hit
The National Defense Research Committee put $25,000 for research into the project but
despite this, for some unfathomable reason, the US military didn’t take the idea too
seriously. On the 8th October, 1944 the project was canceled, the official reason given
was;”further prosecution of this project would seriously delay others which in the minds of
the Division have more immediate promise of combat application.”

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The Flying Jeep
The Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment in Manchester, UK began work in 1940 on attaching rotor
blades to a jeep. Nicknamed the ‘Rotabuggy’, initial tests involved dropping the jeep from heights of a few
meters while it was filled with concrete to demonstrate it could take the impact without damage.
The jeep was then fitted with additional equipment including the rotor blades, a tail fairing with twin rudderless
fins, a rotor control next to the steering wheel and glider navigational instruments. In 1943, the first test flight
was conducted when the Rotabuggy was toed behind a Bentley and managed to glide at speeds of up to 65
mph.
The initial flights had limited success as handling proved difficult but after some modifications, the flying
qualities of the vehicle were officially described as “highly satisfactory”. However the project became
deemed unnecessary with the development of Horsa II and Hamilcar which were gliders equipped to carry
vehicles.

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The Poisoned Dart Bomb
Between 1941 and 1944, British scientists were working
on a top secret project to developed a projectile
bomb that released darts tipped with poison. A
recently de-classified document entitled ‘Research
Into Use of Anthrax and Other Poisons for
Biological Warfare’ revealed that sewing machine
needles would be used in the weapon and tipped
with a lethal poison, which would probably be either
anthrax or ricin.
According to a 1945 memo about the project, light darts
could be used as the poison ensured slight
penetration would be lethal and there was no need
to hit vital organs. It also had the added advantage,
according to the memo, of making it so that medical
treatment would be unlikely to prevent the victim’s
death.
The bombs could carry 30,600 needles and if they hit,
you were likely to be dead within half an hour.
However the chances of hitting someone varied and
while they would have had great effect against
troops out in the open, they were virtually useless
when there was any type of cover. This made them
unlikely to cause mass damage frequently and
therefore uneconomical and as a result, they never
made it passed the planning stage.

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Anti-Tank Dogs
Anti-tank dogs or dog-bombs were dogs that
were trained by the Soviet military to seek
food under tanks and armored vehicles. The
dogs were left hungry for a few days and
explosives strapped to their backs, they
would then be left to wander fields where
enemy tracked vehicles approached. As
they went under the vehicle, the explosives
were detonated by a wooden lever that
would be triggered as they went under.
Soviet reports claim that the dogs managed to
disable 300 German tanks and caused
enough of a problem to the Nazis that they
took measures against them. Dogs were
ordered to be shot on sight and flame
throwers deployed on tanks and armored
vehicles to ward them off in the field.
In an unfortunate incident in 1942, the use of the
dogs went horribly wrong as a group of the
hungry hounds ran amok. This forced an
entire division of Soviets to retreat from the
battlefield and soon after the anti-tank dogs
were withdrawn from regular service,
however they continued to be trained right
up until 1996.

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Ice Ships
In 1942, the allies were suffering heavy losses of merchant ships to
German U-boats as a result of the limited range of patrolling
aircraft. Lord Louis Mountbatten suggested building large
ships made of ice to protect allied merchant ships and
possibly as a platform to launch an offensive from.
Mountbatten, the Chief of Combined Operations, an
organization responsible to the Chiefs of Staff for the
development of equipment and special craft for offensive
operations, had been advised by one of his scientists,
Geoffrey Pyke, that huge ships of up to 4,000 feet long and
600 feet wide could be made cheaply and in large numbers.
Winston Churchill, Britain’s PM was enthusiastic of the project and
saw to it that it got underway. In 1943, it was discovered that
by adding wood pulp to the water before freezing, a very tough
material was made which was called ‘pykrete’, in honor of
Geoffrey Pyke. It was reported that when demonstrating the
idea to a group of high brass military leaders, Mountbatten
fired a shot at an ordinary block of ice, which shattered into
little pieces. However when he fired at the Pykrete, the bullet
bounced right off and almost hit the Chief of Air Staff Sir
Charles Portal.
Construction on a prototype began at Patricia Lake in the Canadian
Rocky Mountains, and it was determined that the hull needed
to be at least 35 feet thick in order to contain damage from
bombs and torpedoes. However before tests were complete,
the Battle of the Atlantic had been virtually won and with the
construction underway of the new aircraft carriers, the project
was reluctantly abandoned in August 1943.

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