Star Wars has taught us that every impenetrable fortress or world-annihilating superweapon can be reduced to space dust via some easily exploitable weakness, such as a space farthole. And this lesson is less far-fetched than you think, because (as we've shown you before) actual history is chock-full of terrifying superweapons that were one metaphorical "exhaust port" shy of indestructible.
6Imposing Fort Eben-Emael Could Be Taken Out By A Handful Of Soldiers In A Rickety Glider
At the time of its construction, Belgium's Fort Eben-Emael was the world's largest and strongest fortress and Belgium's main insurance policy against the Nazis.
Its walls were nearly twice as thick as its country's namesake waffles.
Looking like a castle that willed itself into existence in a mountain along the border with the Netherlands before commanding the Albert Canal to serve as its moat, Eben-Emael boasted reinforced concrete walls, a garrison of more than a thousand men, anti-tank defenses, anti-submarine defenses, and armor-reinforced bunkers. Its abundance of cannons covered all roads leading to the city of Maastricht, as well as the three bridges crossing the canal -- Hitler's only path into Belgium. By all accounts, this was Belgium's Doom Base.
"I CHALLENGE God to try breaching this fortress."
Best of all, the fort's earthen roof made artillery attacks and aerial raids damn nigh pointless. Bombing Eben-Emael was like bombing a well-armed mountain.
"Nice going, Hans. Now you've pissed off the mountain."
The Fatal Flaw:
The fort could be taken out with just a handful of troops, assuming they could arrive there alive. Which might have been OK, since the whole design should be based on keeping that from happening. But it also turned out that the fort was unintentionally designed to roll out the red carpet for troop-carrying gliders. And we're not talking some fancy, heavily armed wunderwaffe of a glider; no, we mean the unarmed, "prone to flying apart in a whimsical puff of sticks and fabric if you look at 'em funny" type.
Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-567-1519-18 / Stocker / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Seconds before direct sunlight caused it to burst into flames.
So in the wee hours of May 10, 1940, 11 German Ju 52 planes hauled eleven DFS 230 gliders stuffed with a massive invasion force of 74 paratroopers into the air and flung them toward Eben-Emael like history's deadliest paper airplanes. While the earthen roof of the fort rendered it relatively bomb-proof, it also made for a perfectly cushy landing surface for the gliders, which eschewed wheels in favor of nose skids wrapped in barbed wire to land in a space as short as 20 yards, which is the aircraft equivalent of stopping on a dime.
Once down, taking out the invincible fortress was comically easy: The invaders spilled from the gliders and used hollow charges to funnel devastating explosions down into the base like little reverse volcanoes.
via Wiki Commons
As if volcanoes weren't scary enough in the regular direction.
Yes, just like dropping photon torpedoes down an exhaust port. Once the fort's defenses were more or less taken out, the Nazis blew up the stairwells, trapping the Belgian troops inside. Fortress commander Major Jean Jottrand surrendered the very next day, as his troops poured out of Eben-Emael waving white flags.
5Armored Trains Were Terrifying ... And Laughably Easy To Derail
via Wiki Commons
Because GoldenEye is apparently based on a true story, armored trains used to totally be a thing. These hulking mobile fortresses ruled the rails from the Civil War all the way up to World War II, combining the utility of cross-country supply transportation with the practicality of a pants-shitting amount of weaponry.
By design, trains can carry a ton of weight, so it didn't take much brainstorming to realize that they could also haul artillery, anti-aircraft guns, tanks, and soldiers, all while being nearly impervious to small-arms fire. And since railways were like the circulatory system of the 19th- to early-20th-century world, there was a damn good chance you could send a death train straight into the heart of whatever city happened to be your target.
"Special delivery! Haha, but seriously, we came here to kill you."
The Fatal Flaw:
The problem with armored trains (and indeed trains in general) is that they only run on a track. And you don't exactly have to be a secret agent to sabotage one -- leaving a brick on the track is enough to derail a train and send it rocketing into the countryside like a drunk meteor.
A mobile fortress that can be destroyed by two guys with a crowbar sucks at both being mobile and being a fortress. The bombing runs of WWII served to sap armored trains of the final drops of the considerable intimidation factor they had once possessed, because it's hard to be scared of an invasion force that can travel along only one route and can be knocked completely into irrelevancy by a single airplane.
Note the lone crater.