As we've discussed before, military weapons seem to be the product of designers who are equal parts brilliant and insane. When their brilliance shines through, entire wars can be swung in one nation's favor. When the insanity wins, their designs wind up in a Cracked article.
#8. The Neger, aka The Human Torpedo
If that picture looks like a torpedo glued to another torpedo, with a human riding in one of them, then you are actually giving too much credit to the Nazi-designed Neger. It would be one thing if it were just a tiny one-man submarine meant to stealthily deliver a torpedo -- that seems like it could almost work. But the Neger couldn't submerge, so the little thing was forced to float along like a dead manatee while the pilot stuck inside struggled to breathe.
"I've seen some drowned Germans in my time, but this is the drownedest German I've ever seen."
Lacking any form of navigational equipment whatsoever, the Neger's pilots were instructed to wear watches with compasses in them and peer through the vehicle's bubble dome to gradually steer toward enemy ships. Because of the Neger's unfortunate position slightly below the surface of the water, waves constantly washed over the dome, making it basically impossible to see through.
"You mean they have to be able to see, too? Fritz, you impossible bastard, I'm only one man!"
Upon reaching a target, the pilots had to pull a lever to launch the Neger's lone torpedo, except the release mechanism had a habit of jamming pretty much all the time, thus dragging its surprised pilot into the inevitable explosion with it. Over the course of its short career, the Neger sunk a total of four ships but killed an estimated 80 percent of its pilots.
Though that was still less suicidal than ...
#7. The Japanese Yokosuka MXY7 Okha Was a Suicide Bomber
The Ohka was the kind of plane a teenage boy would design if he wanted to make the most badass plane imaginable, but also didn't know anything about planes. And had no regard for human life.
"If we cut out the seat belts we can fit in another 2 lbs. of explosives."
It was powered entirely by not one, not two, but three rockets, and was capable of diving at speeds of over 650 mph, all while equipped with a 2,646-lb. explosive warhead. So it was a huge, piloted cruise missile, in other words. Which sounds awesome, unless you're the guy flying it.
Its wings were made of plywood covered with fabric, it had no ejector seat or landing gear and there was no way to fire the aforementioned giant warhead. The plane's entire method of attack was to dive toward enemies and blow itself to pieces, hopefully destroying its target in the process.
"Wait, what? Where's the landing gear again?"
After having its pilot literally welded inside its cockpit, the Ohka would be carried into battle by another plane and then released in its triple-rocket-powered insanity to rain down guesstimative destruction. It was estimated that the total 852 Ohkas that were built caused serious damage to only three enemy ships, which surely had a chilling effect on pilot recruitment for the program.
"They're bound to run out of boats before we run out of people."
#6. The XP-79B Flying Ram Did in Fact Ram Into Things
The XP-79B was an (almost) revolutionary American aircraft built at the end of World War II. It was the first American rocket-powered aircraft to ever achieve flight and was capable of climbing over 4,000 feet per minute. American engineers saw the potential in this aerial marvel and decided to reinforce it with magnesium plates ...
... in order to intentionally collide it in mid-air with other planes.
Yes, somebody decided that the only thing cooler than planes shooting is planes wrestling.
"Jets could do this!"
Since making a 9,000-lb. jet specifically designed to ram the shit out of other planes didn't quite reach the level of jackshit insane America was looking for, they chose to power the XP-79B with rockets containing nitric acid, which, in case you skipped that day in chemistry class, is ludicrously toxic and corrosive. Plans were even put in motion to outfit the XP-79B with actual guns before the project was scrapped entirely.
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Apparently a poisonous, armed berserker plane was just too crazy to greenlight.
#5. The Blackburn TB Threw Darts
The Blackburn TB was designed as an anti-zeppelin fighter and touted as "one of the most specialized aircraft ever built," presumably because it was the first one developed to combat a vehicle that would totally explode on its own if you just sat around and waited.
The Blackburn TB was considered a fighter in the same way that Taco Bell can be considered Mexican food -- it only looked like it from a distance. Then you realize it had huge, fuel-filled pontoons on it for no apparent reason, which by the way had a habit of leaking fuel and liked to catch on fire during startup. Then, if the overweight, gasoline-dripping Blackburn TB actually managed to make it into the sky, it would rain terror on its unsuspecting targets with ... a basket of darts.
Two cockpits mean twice as many lives at risk.
See, the plan was to fly above enemy zeppelins and drop the darts on them, thereby puncturing the zeppelin's gas envelopes and causing a fatal explosion, which as we pointed out above could be accomplished with nothing more than patience. But the Blackburn TB's tiny engines meant its maximum altitude was 8,000 feet, whereas zeppelins at the time could go as high as 21,000 feet. So we're picturing sad pilots buzzing around 10,000 feet below the target, ineffectually flipping darts up at it until it was time to go home.
Blackburn Historic Aviation Photos
In other words, the Blackburn TB is the Charlie Brown of aircraft.