5 Insane New Uses for Old School Military Weapons
Having a war is a little like having a baby; it requires massive stockpiles of all the best tools, toys and clothes to ensure the greatest chance of success, all the while knowing that the kid will outgrow everything within a year. War outpaces its own technology constantly and while the parents of a child can just carry the clothes and cribs to Goodwill after its all over, war leaves heaps of deadly equipment and weapons littered all over the world. Sadly, not even the Salvation Army will accept landmines.
The buckets just aren't big enough.Even though the military can use some of its old advancements as hand-me-downs to the general public , more often than not it's stuck with massive amounts of rusting technology made obsolete by peace, or more likely, better technology. So what is everyone supposed to do with all the leftovers?The solution could be as simple as finding other questions that this technology can still answer. Granted, the new uses for old technology are not always benign. These were, after all, weapons originally designed to tear, poke or melt people to death, so some of the solutions are equal parts evil and ingenuity. Still, it's nice to see people recycle.
Coming Home to a Nazi BunkerAfter all the bodies and bullet casings were picked up from WWII and the reconstruction of small towns had started, Western Europe still had the problem of dealing with massive Nazi bunkers swelling out of the ground in cities and coastlines across the continent like concrete warts. The worst inflammation was, of course, in the heart of Germany and destroying something that was intended to withstand bomb attacks is understandably difficult and expensive. So for the most part, everyone just learned to tolerate them. But within the last few years, Germany has started repurposing the old bunkers as houses and even as apartment complexes. Logically, it makes perfect sense: The bunkers are generally at the heart of most cities, and the design requires little upkeep because they are built to last longer than even pyramids. Aesthetically, however, there aren't a lot of options for giving towers of death a warm touch. Architects have come up with creative ways to carve out windows, build around the ugliness and generally dress up a blister as something other than a blister. To their credit, some of the designs are really ingenious combinations of modern architecture and disaster-preparedness. In a few cases, it is nearly impossible to tell that it was ever a military bunker at all.
Chinese Police Carry CrossbowsThe crossbow revolutionized warfare in the 4th century, but it became obsolete when militaries around the world discovered that gunpowder could do the same job a lot better. As a result, the crossbow became a novelty item, purchased only by weapons enthusiasts or hunters who ran out of exciting ways kill stuff. But after collecting dust for centuries, China recently picked up the crossbow once again and handed it to their police officers.
"Your tags are expired."In cities around China, every level of law enforcement is rediscovering the advantages of a crossbow, from traffic cops to special units. In Xinjiang, riot police carry crossbows instead of beanbag guns and smoke bombs because China has no interest in messing around with nonlethal crowd deterrents when terrifying, medieval battle weapons are just as effective.
"What's up now?"Before anyone tsk-tsks the Chinese government for shooting at crowds with crossbows, you should know that these aren't the usual burning-cars-and-looting riots we're used to seeing. Granted, China has a bad history with breaking up mobs, but in this case the use of violence is warranted; China has a pretty significant terror problem on the borders of Pakistan. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement is spilling across the border and introducing China to suicide bombing and improvised explosives. The primary advantage of using crossbows instead of guns against these attacks is that they allow police to shoot and kill anyone carrying an explosive while
Military-Grade Metal in Your BonesThe Cold War was a little like a 55-year-long game of
A whole thesis could be written on how much more gratifying it was to watch the Reds get slimed.One of those challenges was stockpiling metal. Specifically, both sides hoarded as much titanium as they could find so the other side couldn't have any. It was the super metal of the '50s and '60s for its high strength-to-weight ratio made it intrinsic to the experimental design of submarines, high-performance jets and even warheads. While the military is still dependent on titanium today for jets and ships, it's interesting to see that science is now spending less time thinking about how the metal can be used to tear people apart, and more time thinking about how it can put people back together.American and Russian scientists are working together turning weapons-grade titanium to into
Let's not kid ourselves.
Crop Dusting the Amazon with Agent OrangeDuring the Vietnam War, the U.S. military spit toxic chemicals all over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the form of "Rainbow Herbicides," thus dethroning Enola Gay and Little Boy as the most friendly sounding weapon every to kill and maim nearly a million people. Of all the Rainbow Herbicides, Agent Orange ended up being the most detrimental, killing all the plants it was designed to kill and then overachieving and killing around 400,000 people as well. It wasn't a one-time killer either. Agent Orange had a way of sticking around like radioactivity, hurting over 500,000 kids in generations following the war. Despite its benign name, Agent Orange remains one of the saddest glossary terms in American History text books.
But there are still a lot.And now it's back in use. Ranchers in the Amazon have illegally acquired vats of Agent Orange and are using it to level sections of the rainforest for cattle grazing. The old "slash and burn" technique is much harder now because of laws and regulations designed to protect thousands of species of flora and fauna. But dropping Agent Orange from a plane is harder to detect and it requires less time to decimate entire swaths of land. Plus, the ranchers don't have to hire tree-cutters or pay for machinery; they only have to hire a pilot with loose morals. What's worse, the chemical doesn't just kill the pesky trees and vegetation; it also kills all the birds and insects and mammals and everything else that happens to be in the drop zone. It's a shortsighted and brutal repurposing of one of the most devastating weapons ever used in war. With any luck, we'll at least get to see some surprising animal mutations that- ugh, I can't even finish that joke. I warned you that some of these would be all-around awful.
Making Music with WeaponsSince the first war-issued assault rifle was invented in
Solos will never be the same.Since then, he's made several guitars out of inoperative guns and they have quickly become symbols of peace around the world. UN headquarters in New York, Vienna and Paris all have their own gun guitars
No, Kofi! Not Sweet "Child O Mine," you'll kill everyone!