In the previous article we explored the most stupid applications the world’s militaries have found for animals. In this second instalment it is the turn of the army’s insane uses for technology which will come under the microscope.

Point it and run… Fast!
In the dark days of the Cold War the US military was fearful of a Soviet attack and came up with multiple ways of defending their borders. However none are quite as stupid and downright dangerous as the Davy Crocket mortar bomb… The devise was essentially a gun that fired a small nuclear bomb across the battlefield; the only trouble was that it couldn’t fire further than the bomb’s blast radius!

Bigger isn’t always better
As Nazi Germany marched across Europe they suddenly found themselves blocked by the English Channel. To try and cross it they came up with several odd ideas however one of them stands out from all the rest and not in a good way. The Gigant was the largest glider ever made; in fact it was almost as big as a jumbo jet and required eight rockets and at least three other aircraft to pull it into the air. However bigger isn’t always better and it suffered from a range of problems including the day the towing planes went one side of a telegraph pole and the glider went the other side…

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It was almost as big as a jumbo jet and required eight rockets and at least three other aircraft to pull it into the air.

The Great Catherine Wheel
In the days before the allied invasion of France; British inventors sat themselves down to come up with a range of new devices to make the invasion a success. However not all their devises worked quite as they intended. The Great Panjandrum was essentially a rocket propelled wheel which was supposed to tear across the beaches of Normandy and blow up enemy positions. However, during testing it proved to be equally good at terrorising its own side. As rockets broke away from the frame it became impossible to steer and managed to rack up a list of achievements including chasing a dog, nearly blowing up a camera man and nearly sinking a ship full of admirals. Its greatest accomplishment though was ending up in an episode of Dad’s Army!

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A list of achievements including chasing a dog, nearly blowing up a camera man and nearly sinking a ship full of admirals.

The Tricycle of Death
When you think of a tank, tracks are one of the first things that spring to mind. However in Imperial Russia they had other ideas… Imagine a reverse tricycle with three story high front wheels and bristling in gun turrets; this is the Tsar Tank. The idea was that it would be able to cross boggy ground with its huge wheels; the problem was it couldn’t cross boggy ground because of its huge wheels. The vehicle became stuck after only a few hundred metres and never moved again…

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It’s not the enemy you’ve got to watch out for…
In the later years of World War Two German scientists were asked to come up with a plane faster than anything else on Earth. To perform this feat they were forced to throw away the conventional airplane propeller and come up with something new; a strange type of rocket engine. Thanks to its new power source the Komet was so fast that upon spotting a target the pilot would only have 2 seconds before they had flown past it. So what was the problem then? The Komet used two dangerous chemicals to power its engine which when combined had the nasty side effect of completely disintegrating organic matter. It wasn’t uncommon for planes to land and every trace of the pilot had gone!

Tim Winstanley

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