7 Insane Military Attempts To Weaponize Animals

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.

#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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