10 secret…and strange…weapons from WW2 (66 Photos)
Project Habakkuk was a plan by the British during the Second World War. The idea came from Geoffrey Pyke, who worked for Combined Operations Headquarters. Pyke hit upon the solution, an idea both revolutionary and practical. He would have build the biggest aircraft carrier the world had ever seen, cheaper and more efficiently than any before it: an unsinkable floating island made entirely of ice for use against German U-boats in the mid-Atlantic, which were beyond the flight range of land-based planes at that time.
Bat bombs were an experimental World War II weapon developed by the United States. The bomb consisted of a bomb-shaped casing with over a thousand compartments, each containing a hibernating Mexican Free-tailed Bat with a small timed incendiary bomb attached. Dropped from a bomber at dawn, the casings would deploy a parachute in mid-flight and open to release the bats which would then roost in eaves and attics in a 20-40 mile radius.
Nazi Minesweeper NK-101
I’ll let you guess on what it was designed to do.
“Rotabaggi” Willys Jeep Gyroplane
The prototype Hafner Rotabuggy was built in 1942 by the company R. Malcolm Ltd. It was designed to fulfil a design brief from the Air Ministry which called for a “Special Rotating Wing Glider”. Preliminary testing showed that thanks to its rugged construction a Willys Jeep could be dropped from heights up to 2.35 metres (7.7 ft) without damage to the vehicle.
November 16, 1943 the “Rotabaggi” took off for the first time, towed by AM38 Whitley bombers. On the takeoff gyroplane behaved well, but after the separation commenced unexpected. Two test pilot, who were in the cabin, “Willis” swiftly realized that the control unit, to put it mildly, difficult. Stick force was such that the crew had joined forces to move it. In addition, the device mercilessly Mota: he then flew to the aircraft-towing, it strove to fall into a tailspin. After landing, the pilots had to practically stand on his hands.
The Fliegerfaust B, also known as the Lufthaust (which literally translates to ‘air fist’), was a prototype for a portable ground-to-air rocket launcher trialled by the Nazi after 1944, designed to take out enemy planes attacking targets on the ground. An improvement on the Fliegerfaust A, the Lufthaust was a metre and a half long, weighed 6.5 kg and had nine (9) barrels instead of the usual one.
Fu-Go Balloon Bombs
As the Nazis were lobbing V2 rockets over the English Channel, the Japanese were fashioning their own “vengeance weapons” as well. Military planners, who were unable to develop an intercontinental missile, instead came up with the idea of balloon bombs. To make it work, the Japanese attached incendiary bombs to balloons which travelled 5,000 miles toward the United States along the jet stream. The intention was to have the devices explode over the forested regions of the Pacific Northwest and start large forest fires that would divert precious U.S. manpower.
One-Wheel Tank/Ball Tank
The Kugelpanzer (literally translates as “spherical tank”) was a prototype reconnaissance tank built by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was one of the most unusual armored fighting vehicles ever built. The history of the vehicle is unknown, as no documents were found with it and it had no clear markings.
Ring The Bell
One of the more esoteric weapons being worked on by the Third Reich’s cadre of geniuses was an experimental relativistic device called ‘Die Glocke’, or ‘The Bell’. The idea behind it appears to have been to utilize Einstein’s theories to pursue the creation of either anti-gravity or free energy… possibly one, with the other as a welcome side effect. The transcripts allegedly describe The Bell’s area of effect as being around 200 meters, extended from the skin of the device. Within that area of effect, plant matter would collapse and disintegrate and flesh would crystallize, leading to the accidental deaths of most of the scientists working on the project.
Fukuryi Suicide Attack Suits
These special dive suits were designed for the Japanese Special Attack Units to fend off an invasion of the Home islands by Allied forces. The suits were armed with a mine containing 33 pounds (15 kg) of explosives attached to a 16 foot (5 meter) bamboo pole. The divers, weighed down by 20 pounds (9 kg) of lead, would walk underwater for as much as six hours and at depths of 16-23 feet (5-7 meters). The divers, upon reaching the hull of an enemy ship, would detonate the explosives, killing themselves in the process. It’s not known if this suit was ever used in combat, but there are accounts of U.S. infantry landing craft and a surveyor ship being attacked by suicide swimmers.
One of the first project is almost finished flying tank suggested South American designer John Walter Christie. The one that made the system tank suspension and was the “grandfather” of a number of Russian tanks.
The flying tank was originally proposed by an American engineer named John Walter Christie. Although he developed a working example of the lightweight tank vehicle, it never flew. The key problem facing designers is that tanks are in many ways the very opposite of airplanes. Where an airplane has to be lightweight, a tank has to be heavy. Where an airplane must be streamlined, a tank is typically the least aerodynamic shape imaginable. Nonetheless, for every engineering challenge, one can find an engineering solution. However, tank engineers are quite a different lot than aeronautical engineers. They come with completely different training, knowledge and talents. Merging the two engineering disciplines together into a cohesive team is difficult.
Christie developed and built a four ton tank that could be mated with a pair of wings. The idea was simple — the tank would use its own power and wheels (the tracks were removable) to accelerate down the runway to about 55 mph, then the tank engine would be switched to power a propeller. Accelerating to a speed of 85 mph, the unit would take off. Engineering problems confounded the project and the War Department abandoned working with Christie when he offered to sell his designs to the Soviet Union. The Japanese developed a tank too, the Special No. 3 Tank (Ku-ro), but it too did not fly. In Britain, Saunders-Roe created the P.1033 tank landing module, which mated a wing with four engines and twin tails to a light tank. Yet the USA, Japan and England would abandon flying tanks due to technical difficulties. Only the Soviet Union would persist — and actually fly.
One of the major problems faced by the Japanese military during WW2 was the challenge of transporting heavy equipment, like tanks, from island to island. A potential solution was found in the form of flying, or rather gliding, tanks. These light tanks featured detachable wings, empennage (stabilizing surfaces at the tail-end of an aircraft), and take-off carriages. But because the tracks of the tank would never survive a landing, a pair of detachable skis were attached to the machine. Once detached from an aircraft, like the Mitsubishi Ki-21 “Sally” heavy bomber, it would coast to the destination like a glider, land, and assume responsibilities as an armoured ground vehicle.
The Japanese managed to produce some prototypes of these flying tanks, including the Maeda Ku-6 and the Special No. 3 Flying Tank, or Ku-Ro.
Antonov A-40 “Flying Tank”
In late 1941, Oleg Antonov decided to create a hybrid tank and landing glider, giving up a single power plant. Work on the glider, to get the index of A-40 (or CT – wing tank), started in the most difficult period of the beginning of the war – in December 1941 for the tests was given the serial light tank T-60.
The first flight of “CT” 2 September 1942, the aircraft-towing TB-3 with four boost (970 hp.). Motors AM 34RN commanded Paul Arsentevich Eremeyev last constructor aerobatic gliders. Glider ran a test pilot pilot test site of airborne troops of the Red Army Sergei Anokhin. Due to the large mass and low streamlining “CT” Towing conducted at close to maximum capacity engine TB-3 with a speed of 130 km / h. Despite this, the lifting speed was insufficient. The aircraft reached an altitude of just 40 meters.
It does not give a positive result of an attempt to increase the speed to 140 km / h, as the A-40 began to decline with the vertical speed of 0.6 m / s. In addition, the rise was the water temperature in the engine cooling system, which could lead to overheating. In these circumstances, Eremeev decided to withdraw A-40 the area nearby airfield bulls and unhook the glider. Anokhin, thanks to their professional skills, successfully landing. After landing, he started the engine of the tank, and without dropping wings, walked slowly to the command of the airfield. Not being warned about the emergency landing unusual apparatus, the head of operations at the aerodrome combat alert raised anti-aircraft battery. When the test pilot got out, he was detained by the Red Army.The incident was closed with the arrival of the rescue team of FRI. Tank under its own power delivered to the village Stakhanov (now the city of Zhukovsky) to the airfield LII. Thus ended the first and last flight of the flying tank.
ONE MORE BIT OF AVIATION TRIVIA
The British did came up with a better alternative to the Flying Tank for the invasion of France on June 6, 1944, with the General Aircraft Hamilcar GAL.49 glider. Inside each Hamilcar, a variety of heavy vehicles or weapons could be carried, including the Light Tank Mk VII Tetrarch. In the hours leading up to D-Day, thirty of the Hamilcars were employed with British airborne forces as part of Operation Tonga to land in the fields of Normandy. Of those, twenty carried Tetrarch tanks. En route, one crashed into the English Channel when the tank unseated from its tie-downs. Two more collided while orbiting to land in the nighttime skies over Normandy, destroying both. The remainder touched down successfully, but then one was overturned when another Hamilcar hit it on landing. Problems continue when the tanks were immobilized when their tracks became entangled in the many discarded parachute shrouds. Once clear, however, they provided infantry support successfully, though they were no match for the heavier German tanks encountered. Just three survived the first two months of combat.