#6. The Guns Straight Out of Looney Tunes
Nooo, that's not -- that's a cartoon, right? If you panned out on this image, you'd find a smug rabbit standing there about to put his finger in the barrel. This just isn't how guns work, is it? The bullet would hit the curve and just explode inside the barrel, right?
"Every time we try to fire, it just apologizes for drinking too much and makes some excuse about work in the morning."
During WWII, the biggest problem a tank driver had was enemy infantry getting close enough to the vehicle to enter a blind zone -- the area immediately surrounding the tank that any soldiers inside simply couldn't angle to shoot at. And so the Germans developed a rifle with a curved barrel so that riflemen inside the tank could just stick the gun out of the tank hatch and fire at potential enemies.
And if you rotate the image 90 degrees to the right, it's how you put gas in your car.
Not only did the bullet fail to hilariously explode on its way out of the floppy dong rifle, but it would neatly fragment in the curve, creating a devastating shotgun-like effect. Later prototypes, complete with periscopes, were developed for other infantry units to shoot at Allied soldiers from behind cover (and presumably to teach any loitering smartass ducks a lesson in manners).
#5. Grumman TBF Avenger
This is an Avenger torpedo bomber off the USS Bennington, piloted by Bob King during the battle of Chichi Jima. He was gravely missed by his friends and family ... because after pulling his plane out of a spin, he flew this wingless bastard -- in this exact condition -- all the way back to the fleet to be picked up safely, and nobody has stopped buying him drinks since.
#4. Listening to the Skies: X-Treme Edition
That can't be what it looks like. It's a guy goofing around in a radar station; it's a man piloting two giant, automatic cereal spoons. Anything would be more believable than what it actually looks to be -- an old-timey sky-listening device. But that's exactly what it is, and even crazier: It totally worked. Here's another:
"... ... ... ... WHAT?"
Before radar, bombing fleets could only be detected visually, or via acoustic location devices. And no, we're not skipping over anything high-tech here: You just plugged a giant cone into your ear and listened really hard for the German pilots whistling inconspicuously. Elegantly simple, really. The only tricky part was trying to make sure the rest of the army didn't look over and see you while you were doing it; they'd never let you live it down.
Especially in France, where you not only had to hold a giant metal hand up to your ear to listen for distant planes, but also had to play a mechanized game of seesaw while doing it:
"I just heard a fart. That must mean Goering's on his way."
#3. Kamikaze Attacks
We're certain you know about kamikaze attacks -- when zealous Japanese pilots suicide-bombed their own planes into high-value targets. They were more common than one might think: 2,800 kamikaze planes sunk around 40 Navy ships and damaged 350 others. And of course, the images are incredibly dramatic:
That's a Zero trying, and ultimately failing, to crash into the deck of the USS White Plains. Man, just looking at those photos is kind of humbling, isn't it? They're perhaps the most striking visual depiction of the somber desperation of warfare.
Now, here's the aftermath:
USS Hinsdale showing kamikaze damage inflicted on April 1, 1945.
This now paints kamikaze pilots as less "honor-bound soldiers willing to sacrifice anything" and more like "aerial Wile E. Coyotes." Presumably right after this impact, the pilot stumbled out, unharmed save for a comically blackened face, to look at the camera and dejectedly mutter something like "It's a living."
#2. But They Really, Really Liked That Ship
We hear the phrase "go down with the ship," and we have a few different impressions: First, that it's kind of an anachronistic practice. Nobody's actually done it for centuries, right? And second, that it only applies to the captain. For the record, both impressions are wrong. That image above is the whole damn crew of the battleship Zuikaku, right after it sacrificed itself as a diversion in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
You can see them dumping all the explosives before the ship dumps them on top of the dumped explosives. And you can't quite make it out, because they're all facing away from the camera, but every single one of them is giving the Pacific the finger.
It required a full battleship to haul around all those massive balls.
After the last-minute unpacking was done, the crew all lined up neatly, gave a cheer and went down saluting. We're not even going to look up a death toll. We're positive the ocean just ran away right after this picture was taken and they all walked home safely.
#1. We Liked WWII Before It Became All About the Special Effects
What is that, a screenshot of that new Battleship movie? The sequel to Independence Day? You can practically taste the Roland Emmerich smeared all over this image; it's way too excessive to be real. Look at all those gargantuan battleships parked so close together, on and on into infinity. Look at the ceaseless stream of military vehicles and soldiers. What is this, the new Call of Duty game?
No, this is Omaha Beach, June 1944, when American ships took advantage of low tide to unload huge amounts of war material for the front. That photo is not embellished, retouched or dishonestly angled in any way: That's just how goddamn ridiculously over the top a battle in WWII actually was. They even brought all their battle zeppelins, proving that, once again, the only difference between steampunk fans and history buffs is the stupid goggles and blue hair dye.
For more hard-to-believe real photos, check out 18 Old-Timey Photos You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped. Or check out 8 Movie Special Effects You Won't Believe Aren't CGI.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see DOB's very real abs.
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