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From Hannibal's mighty elephants to Genghis Khan's swift horses, or even those hoversharks the British used in the Falklands, animals have always been used in warfare to fight, and die, right alongside us.

But some animals go farther. We speak, of course, of the exploding animals, those four-legged friends who trotted bravely into battle for the sole purpose of blowing shit up. Even if they didn't know that's what they were doing.

7
Rat Bombs

What Were They Thinking?

1941 was a dark year for England. The Germans had already subjugated half of Europe, the Luftwaffe was pounding London from the air and U-boats were inflicting terrible losses along Allied shipping routes. Assailed on all sides, the English searched high and low for a chink in the seemingly impenetrable armor of the German war machine.

Then, someone said, "I've got it! Rat bombs!" And the entire course of the war was changed not at all.


"Look, all I'm saying is, I bought too many rats and we've got a ton of extra dynamite."

Dear God, What Have We Done?

Developed by the Special Operations Executive, these were actual rat carcasses stuffed with explosives. The plan was to sow German coal supplies with rat bombs in the hope that the rats would be shoveled into boilers along with the coal, whereupon the heat would detonate the bombs.

If successful, the damage to German infrastructure could have been massive.


Jesus, even the rat in the diagram looks like it's in pain.

That's a big freaking "if."

The Result:

The Germans intercepted the first shipment of rat bombs and, alerted to the threat, began scouring their coal supplies for suspiciously stiff, bomb-shaped rat carcasses, whereupon the British gave up on the whole idea. Or at least, that's what they want the rest of the world to think.

6
Fire Birds and Bat Bombs

What Were They Thinking?

Since the beginning of time, man has looked with awe at the majesty of birds in flight and thought, "If only those bastards were on fire, man, that'd be awesome." Indeed, people have been trying to use birds as incendiary weapons for ages. The thinking was that if you caught the birds that nested within a walled city, and attached fire to them somehow, they would return to their nests and start an inferno.

Chinese military manuals from the Tang and Ming dynasties describe the technique, and it was put into use by both Olga of Kiev in the 10th century and Viking badass, Harald Hardrade, in the 11th century, and was a success both times.

But the idea didn't reach its full potential until the final years of WWII, when an American dental surgeon, named Lyle S. Adams, tried to come up with a way to bring Japan to its knees.

Dear God, What Have We Done?

Instead of birds, though, Adams proposed using bats. Millions of them. Each bat would have a small incendiary charge attached to its leg. The bats would then be packed by the thousands into special bomb casings and dropped over the target.

At the right altitude, the casings would open and release the bats in a Hellstorm of leathery wings seldom seen outside a Meatloaf album cover. When dawn came, the bats would go off in search of some nice, dark place to sleep. Like a nice, big building. Later, timers would detonate the charges, and all Hell would break loose.


Thanks, Google Image Search!

The Result:

Initial results were promising, including one large-scale test that all involved considered a rousing success. Unfortunately, the military pulled the plug on the project when the atomic bomb came along, even though that bomb didn't involve any bats at all.

Then again... how long until the technology is there to make tiny atomic bombs? Ones small enough that they can be attached to bats?

Just wait, guys. Your time is coming.

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5
Cat Bombs

What Were They Thinking?

Well, we've done rats and bats, so...

WWII was the golden age of the dive bomber. Dive bombers were especially used to attack high-value targets, such as ships. But even experienced pilots in state-of-the-art planes sometimes missed. How could military engineers improve accuracy when the guidance technology at the time was so limited? If you just jumped to your feet and shouted "Cats, of course!" then you, too, can be a military engineer.

Dear God, What Have We Done?

According to the book A Higher Form of Killing, this was a project of the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency).

The thinking was that cats hated water so much that, if you dropped a cat bomb in the general vicinity of a ship, the cat would instinctively guide the bomb to the deck below in order to avoid getting wet. Exactly how a 10 pound cat was supposed to guide a 500 pound bomb is unclear. In fact, the entire concept may have been based on experts' confusion between real cats and the sentient ones you see in cartoons.

The Result:

The project never got past the testing stage. It seems the cats tended to lose consciousness when plunging towards the earth at terminal velocity while strapped to a bomb. And that, as much as anything, is why cats will never be man's best friend.

4
Camels, Mules, Horses and Donkeys

What Were They Thinking?

Back in 1978, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. A homegrown resistance movement--the Mujahideen--soon rose up to challenge the invaders, and the CIA--reasoning that the enemy of the enemy is our friend--wasted no time in helping to train, finance and equip them. Thank God the CIA never acts without considering the long-term consequences.

Dear God, What Have We Done?

In almost any other country in the world, one of the main weapons of a small guerrilla force fighting an invading superpower would be the car bomb: the classic weapon of asymmetric warfare.


Above: "Car."

Unfortunately, we're talking about Afghanistan, a country so bereft of motor vehicles that driving a Pinto will probably get you laid. In the absence of a ready supply of cars, the CIA turned to the next best thing: camels.

The Result:

The Soviet Union was finally defeated and driven out of Afghanistan by 1989, but whether the ultimate cause was domestic politics, global economics or wave after wave of dull-eyed camel bombs, we may never know. What we do know is that the idea of strapping a bomb onto a beast of burden and sending it off to its fiery doom caught on around the world.

Of course, each culture puts its own spin on the idea. In India, they use mules; in Colombia, they use horses and in the Palestinian Territories, they use donkeys.


This little guy.

And of course, we have the Australian military, whose entire strategy depends on kangaroos bouncing along with bombs strapped to their... oh, wait. That was also a cartoon.

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3
Anti-Tank Dogs

What Were They Thinking?

If 1941 was a dark year for England, it was even darker for Russia. In June, the Germans invaded and quickly overran that babushka-loving country's meager defenses, with German armor leading the way.

The Russians, desperately short on anti-tank weapons, seemed powerless to stop the armored onslaught until they remember that (A) they had plenty of dogs, and (B) it's really easy to trick dogs.

Dear God, What Have We Done?

Anti-tank dogs were trained to seek food that had been hidden underneath tanks. When their training was complete, the dogs were starved for days on end, then fitted with harnesses that held lever-activated bombs and, finally, turned loose into the path of oncoming German armor.

When a dog ran underneath a German tank looking for a tasty treat, the lever was tripped and the bomb was triggered.

The Result:

Results were mixed. The dogs--or Hundminen, as the Germans called them--are credited with destroying 300 German tanks. Unfortunately, they also destroyed an unspecified number of Russian tanks ("Hey, I bet there's food under YOUR tank!").

But that was cold comfort for the Germans. Exasperated, they set out to solve the problem in a fashion that was familiar to them: by slaughtering every dog in Eastern Europe.

2
Anti-Mine Monkeys

What Were They Thinking?

Iraq is a dangerous place. In addition to car bombs, roadside bombs and all manner of improvised explosive devices, American troops must also watch out for old-fashioned landmines. Iraq is riddled with such mines, left over from conflicts past, and clearing them is a dangerous and time-consuming process.

If only there was a faster, cheaper, crueler way to do it. Perhaps one involving monkeys?


No. You idiot.

Dear God, What Have We Done?

Enter Morocco: the land of the Casbah and the source of Europe's best hash. While not an official member of the coalition of the willing (hey, not everyone's cool enough to hang with the likes of Estonia and Tonga), Morocco has been supportive of the US-led effort in Iraq. So supportive, in fact, that in 2003, they offered to contribute their most precious non-hash resource to the cause: monkeys.

And not just any monkeys--these monkeys were trained to detect landmines. And by "detect," we mean "run around shrieking and flinging poo until they stepped on one."


"I can't wait to blow myself up for America!"

The Result:

There wasn't one. The US military, perhaps feeling that the situation in Iraq was volatile enough without adding wave upon wave of suicidal monkeys to the mix, declined the offer. Thus, about 20,000 "MONKEY EXPLODES ON MINE LOL!" YouTube videos would never come into existence.

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1
WMDs: Whales of Mass Destruction

What Were They Thinking?

For 50 years, the world stood poised on the brink of nuclear annihilation. Both sides spent trillions of dollars searching for the ultimate deterrent, a way to strike at the enemy against which there was no defense. But there was only so much technology could do--missiles, bombers and submarines all had their shortcomings.

If only there was some other way to delivery a nuclear payload. If only...oh, fuck it: whales.

Dear God, What Have We Done?

It's well-known that the US Navy employs dolphins and sea lions for seeking out underwater mines and that sort of thing, but that's not all they're up to.

According to one former navy cetacean trainer, the Navy also runs a program to train orcas--AKA killer whales-- to deliver nuclear weapons to enemy shores, an attack that would be almost undetectable. The American government denies these claims, which, as we all know, means they're true.

The Result:

Nuclear war never broke out, and for any weapon meant to act as a deterrent, that kind of counts as a success, we're thinking. But Russia is fast becoming a renewed threat and, for all we know, they're feverishly working to close the "whale gap" at this very moment. If so, our only hope may be to suspend all those anti-whaling conventions and turn the Japanese and Norwegians loose to do what they do best. But they'd better be thorough - because all it takes is one rogue nuke-whale, swimming out for revenge.

But don't feel too bad for these "poor" animals. We all know that they're out to kill off the human race. Want proof? Check out 8 Animals With Real Superpowers and The 6 Deadliest Creatures (That Can Fit In Your Shoe).

And don't forget to stop by Cracked.com's Top Picks, or we'll send a monkey-bomb to your house.

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