#3. Firing the Hawker Hunter's Guns Caused the Engine to Die
Developed in Britain during the 1950s, the Hawker Hunter was one of the first jet interceptors fielded by the Royal Air Force. An interceptor is designed primarily to go out, catch up to and shoot down enemy bombers. Therefore they are supposed to be fast, they are supposed to have a long range and they are supposed to be able to shoot down planes more than twice their size.
And as you can see from the photo, it sure as hell looks like it could do it.
And, in fact, the first prototype broke the world airspeed record for 1953. Unfortunately, after the designers got the "fast" and "looks cool" parts down, they decided to call it a day.
The Achilles Heel:
The Hawker Hunter could only stay airborne for about an hour, which meant that if anything went wrong with the flight plan, it resulted in an immediate emergency. But that was the least of a pilot's worries when flying one of these to intercept a bomber.
Maybe they should have spent a little more time on those blueprints and a little less time color-coordinating.
If the thing was flying high enough, firing the guns would cause the engines to surge and catch fire before crashing. Its own engines. The guns were positioned in such a way that the exhaust and shell casings would fly right the hell back into the spinning metal blades keeping the plane aloft.
As a result, 30,000 feet was about the limit at which the interceptor could safely fire its guns, and incidentally that's about 10,000 feet below the cruising altitude of nearly every bomber in the 1950s. So, like a giant steel bumble bee, the Hawker Hunter couldn't destroy anything without killing itself, too.
"That's a great height. Just keep it there for a sec."
We guess this isn't as silly as if they had, say, positioned important parts of the plane in front of the guns, because that has happened, too ...
#2. The De Ruyter Cruiser's Guns Had to Shoot Through the Ship
Built by the Netherlands just before World War II, the De Ruyter class cruiser consisted of seven gigantic guns controlled by the most expensive and accurate targeting computer money could buy. The Netherlands was so proud of it that they named the De Ruyter their flagship. Now for those of you who might be thinking, "Funny, I don't recall the Netherlands being renowned for building state of the art weaponry or military prowess," you're absolutely right. It's historically a nation of pacifists. Asking the Netherlands to build a war ship would be like asking a vegan to prepare a steak dinner: They might get the ingredients right, but you'll always have the sense that they're trying to teach a self-righteous lesson with the preparation.
"We're just here for the dinky model ships."
And even though it likely wasn't intentional, in the case of the De Ruyter, the anti-aircraft guns had to shoot the ship before it had any chance of hitting the enemy.
The Achilles Heel:
The cruiser had originally been designed to be much more powerful, but the pacifist movement in the Netherlands had greatly reduced the armament on board, to the point where the anti-air capability was all limited to one cluster of guns on one side of the ship. Here's a little diagram to help you understand exactly why that would be a problem.
We drew this diagram drunk, and it's still better than the Dutch attempt.
The anti-aircraft guns were perfectly lined up to shoot right through the bridge, or as those of you who don't watch the History Channel or Star Trek might know it, that place where senior officers and commanders hang out. It was either that, or just let the aircraft attack head on, since there was virtually no anti-aircraft armament that could protect the front of the ship.
Naturally, the De Ruyter didn't last very long in World War II. It was sunk quickly during its first major engagement in the Battle of the Java Sea, showing just how much military might a nation of pacifists contains.
"OK, just ... wait until it comes around for another pass, then toss the wrenches at it."
#1. The Mark I Tank Would Knock Out Its Own Crew
Yes, it's the tank they used in that chase scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
This tank deserves some leniency for poor design, since it was the first tank ever made. We'll ignore the fact that it was so ridiculously loud that it could be heard for miles around, and the fact that the tank would glow red at night, completely giving away its position. We're pushing all of that aside. To its credit, this tank was incredibly deadly against the outmatched Germans, but it was also incredibly deadly to the British soldiers who had to pack themselves inside of it.
They're probably still inside. Someone should really check these things.
The Achilles Heel:
The biggest problem was that there was no separation between the engine and the crew compartment. That would be the equivalent of installing a car's motor in the passenger seat, and then sealing all the windows and vents with steel. The massive amounts of carbon monoxide pumping out from the engines of the Mark I would sometimes cause entire tank crews to pass out in the middle of combat.
"Aw. All tuckered out. Seal it back up."
As the British designed newer versions of the tank, they never bothered to take care of the biggest and most dangerous problem. Instead, they upgraded the Mark I to a troop carrier by extending the length, but the troops were completely useless wherever they arrived thanks to the severe carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, the temperature could also get up to 120 degrees inside, causing some soldiers to get heatstroke in addition to huffing toxic fumes. If WWI had been against raw meats and frozen pizzas, Britain would have won the war single-handedly after inadvertently developing the most deadly and durable oven ever conceived.
"Just surrender the whole lot to the Germans and let nature take its course."
For more ridiculous weapons of war, check out 6 New Weapons That You Literally Cannot Hide From and The 6 Most Badass Weapons Ever Improvised in Battle.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to arm yourself properly against Santa Claus.
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