These spectacularly ridiculous weapons systems, vehicles, and concepts all made it at least to prototype, though whether they proved to be effective is up for debate. Most of these strange weapons are from World War II, when desperate countries threw together whatever they had to rally their people. The United States, Japan, Germany, and the Soviet Union all had their fair share of oddball ideas they each thought could help win the war. In all historical fairness, there were also no shortage of stupid weapon ideas during The Civil War. A few items on this list are modern weapons that are actually in use today.
What are the weirdest military weapons ever built? From weaponized animals to square bullets, engineers and weapons designers have come up with some crazy stuff over the years. Some of these weapons are so absurd, it’s funny to think that anyone ever thought they could work. Other weapons, while impractical, were inventive and innovative attempts to give soldiers a unique advantage. Either way, these weapons are strange. But what were the strangest weapons made? Read on to find out!
The Krummlauf was issued to tank crews for defending their vehicles against infantry, but rarely used and quickly withdrawn because of numerous design problems. Some of these included short barrel lifespans and bullets shattering as they came around the curves of the device. There were also multiple cases of friendly fire casualties among German troops who couldn’t see what they were shooting at.
Nuclear Landmines Kept Warm by Chickens
Chicken coops would be set up over the mines, and the body heat from the chickens would provide the needed warmth to prevent the mines from going off and turning half of Germany into a dead zone. But the scheme had a number of problems, the least of which is that the chickens wouldn’t live long, and it was never implemented.
Improvised Peshmerga Tanks
While the colorful and lightly armed machines have gotten ridicule from some, they represent an important element of the ground forces battling Islamic State for control of Iraq and Syria. They’re fast, well-protected and boost the morale of the soldiers fighting alongside them.
But World War II was the height of attempting to weaponize animals. The US experimented with strapping incendiary devices to bats that would be dropped over Japanese cities, and with “cat bombs” – using the maxim that cats always land on their feet to drop explosive felines onto enemy ships. Neither got past the experimental phase.
One plan that did come to fruition was the Soviet use of mined dogs – literally trained dogs with mines strapped to their backs, that would run under German tanks and explode. Reportedly these poor creatures destroyed over 300 German vehicles, though the program was stopped when it proved difficult to ensure the dogs would run in the right direction.
Antonov A-40 Flying Tank
Two such guns were built by Germany, though only one ever fired shells in combat. Both were destroyed to prevent them from falling into Allied hands.
Ushakov’s Flying Submarine
The flying submarine never actually flew.
Davy Crockett Nuclear Rifle
Despite its small yield, inaccuracy, low range (only 2.5 miles) and the extreme danger it posed to anyone who used it, the US Army manufactured over 2,000 Davy Crocketts, deploying them from 1961 to 1971. A Davy Crockett test explosion was the last above-ground nuclear test in US history.
Japanese Sucide Weapons
Each was a small craft with enough engine power to take it out to a target, no weapons, a pilot sealed inside and a nose full of high explosives. Though these weapons did sink a number of smaller US vessels, they recorded no hits on large vessels, most were destroyed before they reached their targets, and the programs took men and manufacturing capability away from other, more sustainable defense projects.
Bob Semple Tank
They were homemade, cobbled together out of spare parts and sheet metal, and armed with only a few machine guns. They were also slow, unable to fire accurately and under-armored. Absurd design aside, the project did its job in rallying the nation and showing the Kiwi DIY spirit.
The theory was flawed. The trawler was slow, an easy target that would spectacularly explode if hit and would destroy whatever was under the mines it was trying to clear.
Double Barrel Cannon
The double cannon would have been devastating in close quarters, but it never saw action, due to the difficultly of firing both barrels at the exact same moment, with test shots sending both cannonballs and the chain flying in three different directions. It survived the war and lives on as a monument in Athens, GA.
The Gun That Fired Square Bullets
One of those shots was a square bullet, designed solely to be fired at Muslim Turks. Why design a bullet just for shooting at one particular religion? Because square bullets were thought to cause more damage, and would teach the Turks the benefits of living under Christian civilization.
The bullets were impossible to aim, and, like the Puckle Gun itself, a failure written off as a historical oddity.