Animals have been used in warfare for centuries. Sometimes it makes perfect sense -- horses have pulled chariots, and mules have carried equipment. Other times, it's more like Mickey Rourke unleashing a tiger on Jean-Claude Van Damme, as witnessed in the war documentary Double Team.
And sometimes, it's crazier than that. That's how we wound up with ...
#6. Flaming Camels
The Mongolian chieftain Timur invaded India in 1398, because when you're Mongolian that's just kind of what you do. He marched on Delhi and was met by the army of Sultan Mahmud Khan, who had 120 war elephants at his command, covered in armor and with giant scimitars attached to their tusks.
"That's OK, guys. I don't want to play anymore."
But that's not the insane use of animals we want to talk about here.
Because do you know what Timur used to counter these unstoppable killing machines? Camels. Flammable, flammable camels.
Confident of victory, Khan ordered his army to advance. Timur needed to do something, and fast. His army was starting to panic, and some of his soldiers were running away. Timur had heard elephants were easily startled, and figuring he had nothing to lose, he uttered the Mongolian equivalent of "Fuck it," ordered all his camels to the front lines, then covered them in straw and oil and set them on fire.
They don't give out crowns like that to the guys who don't light hundreds of camels on fire.
The flaming camels charged forward, probably as a result of being set on fire, and scared the shit out of the elephants. Desperate to get away from the camels, the elephants turned and ran, which was unfortunate for the Indian infantry because they were standing right behind the elephants. Unable to control the stampede, Kahn could only watch helplessly as the elephants tore through his infantry, smashing their heads to atoms. The Indian army was routed in minutes.
Good times were had by all.
Timur went on to sack, pillage and rape the shitnoodles out of Delhi, but he wasn't done there. He had all 120 war elephants rounded up and forced to kneel in front of him, a ceremony during which even the elephants wondered what the hell was going on. Confident that nobody else would think to set their own units on fire, he added the elephants to his army and used them to take Ankara.
#5. Killer Dolphins
Yes, "killer" dolphins -- we're not talking about using dolphins to find underwater mines or rescue soldiers or some shit.
As we have said before, dolphins are assholes. They are also very good guards. The U.S. Navy figured this out and started a marine mammal program in 1960, with the Soviets soon following suit. Yes, the Americans were training their dolphins to perform tasks such as delivering equipment and performing surveillance, but the Soviets wanted their dolphins to get their fins bloody.
You can't see it, but they're all juicing on Kremlin-issued dolphin-roids.
Details of the Soviet Dolphin Division were shrouded in secrecy, and rumors that the dolphins were trained to kill were dismissed for years ... until 2000, when the Ukrainian Navy sold the remaining dolphins to Iran. As it turns out, the dolphins had been trained to perform kamikaze attacks on enemy submarines and impale enemy swimmers with harpoons.
It gets better:
Other Soviet dolphins were trained to jab swimmers with shark darts -- syringes full of pressurized CO2. When the CO2 was injected, pressure of 3,000 psi would enter the swimmer's body, forcing his guts out of his mouth like a tube of toothpaste.
Take that, puny capitalist organs.
Now, this raises the question whether the Americans had secretly trained their own killer dolphins. Rumors exist to this day of a "swimmer nullification program" involving just that. For instance, one European official said he spoke to American dolphin trainers who confirmed they worked with killer dolphins.
The U.S. Navy denies any such program, but in 1977, a Navy dolphin trainer, claimed American dolphins were armed with shark darts. A few years later, the former head of the Navy's marine mammal program sued Penthouse over an article claiming he attempted to sell torpedo dolphins to Latin American countries. The suit was dismissed from court, not because it was absurd but because the Navy felt that the case would release state secrets.
"The U.S. government neither confirms nor denies the existence of genetically engineered super-dolphins. But we are going to need another $40 million in tuna for 'migration pattern studies.' "
Secrets involving dolphin assassins? We can only assume yes.
#4. Turkey Parachutes
The Spanish Civil War began in 1936, an event so important it isn't mentioned in a single American history class. During the war, anarchists took control of parts of southern Spain, driving the Nationalists out of their garrisons and into the hills. One group, led by Capt. Cortes, retreated into the monastery of Santa Maria de la Cabeza (translated literally, "Saint Maria of the Head").
Seen here saving the Earth.
And that's where the turkeys come in.
The Nationalists' defense of the monastery was an impressive feat that quickly turned ridiculous. You see, they were being resupplied via air drops, and somewhere along the line somebody decided that just using parachutes wasn't good enough for the future leaders of Spain. After some intense strategizing, pilots began attaching the supplies to live turkeys and dropping them out of their planes over the monastery.
The turkeys would flap their wings as they fell, slowing their descent while still managing to make their eventual pulverizing landing no less hilarious. Once the feathers cleared, the soldiers on the ground would have their supplies and a fresh turkey to eat.
"Be careful how you cut that turkey. It's filled with enough hand grenades to vaporize an Escalade."
Laugh all you want. It worked.
Sadly, the era of the edible parachute came to an end a year later when the monastery was overrun, something which apparently no amount of ornithological parachuting could prevent. Turkey parachutes faded into obscurity, joined by other, lesser-known animal-based countermeasures such as the crocodile drag chute and the hamster fallout shield.