We don't know if you've ever tried it, but trust us when we say that building aircraft is really, really hard. It takes large teams of smart people a long time and a lot of money. Building a military aircraft is even harder -- it not only needs to fly, it needs to survive repeated attacks and make other planes dead. So you can imagine the care and expense nations put into building them.
But sometimes, they just slap something together and send the pilot off to die.
7The Royal Aircraft Factory BE9 "Pulpit"
It was a pretty simple idea. During World War I, the British Royal Aircraft Factory, or RAF, wanted a fighter plane with guns that could shoot forward. So they took an existing plane and stuck a gunner onto the front of it. Seems like a pretty straightforward solution.
The only problem ...
Their method of adding a gunner? Strapping him in front of the propeller in a plywood box that earned the nickname "the pulpit," presumably to try to remind the gunner that he was about to meet God.
Should the BE. experience even the lightest crash, the gunner was guaranteed to be crushed by the firing V8 engine mounted to his back. It honestly didn't matter, however, since the gunner was much more likely to be sucked into the whirling propeller blades like a Bond villain long before then.
Because there was no shielding used whatsoever between the gunner and the roaring vortex of death behind him, anything loose on his person, be it a scarf, wallet or goddamn arm while swinging the gun, was instantly sucked into the propeller blades. The gunner had no choice but to literally hold on for dear life until he either tired out or landed. And because the screaming engine was placed between the helpless gunner and the plane's oblivious pilot, the gunner had no way to communicate his fatigue to the pilot until the spray of his guts hit him in the face.