Monday, March 10, 2008

Military Experiments Gone Horribly Stupid

Lifted from

The Great Panjandrum

Getting through enemy fortifications is always tough, what with their insistence on constructing defenses out of stone and other non-meringue based substances. Sometimes conventional weapons just can't break through, and such was the case with the concrete defenses that were part of the Third Reich's Atlantic Wall that ran up and down the west coast of the European continent. So the Brits came up with the Panjandrum, insanity's answer to "what could we do to make explosives more dangerous?"

The Plan:
So how do you get a tank-sized hole in a concrete wall? Well, they created two giant, wooden wheels joined by a central drum stuffed with explosives. On each wheel they strapped rockets as a means to propel it forward at speeds of about 60 miles an hour. Life imitates art, and sometimes military life imitates Wile E. Coyote cartoons.

What went wrong:
You can probably guess. The rockets that moved the thing had a habit of flying off during tests, sending the entire structure off course, which we're thinking created a number of safety issues. After adding more rockets and another wheel, it was tested again and this time it turned right back to sea.

Finally, after many tweaks, it was ready to be tested in front of Navy officials, scientists and journalists. How could this go wrong?

The ridiculous thing started rolling off as planned, but then like a drunken hussy with vertigo on a dance floor, it started careening all over the place before making a beeline for the assembled Navy brass, discarding rockets and wobbling around before thankfully collapsing and exploding. Moments later, the Roadrunner went zipping by.

Project Habbakuk

When Winston Churchill got a hankering to smite his enemies, he aimed for the sky. Actually, he aimed for the ocean, where he wanted to build Holy Fuck That's Insane island. That was renamed Project Habbakuk. It was an aircraft carrier. It was an iceberg.

The Plan:
Wanting to make an unsinkable aircraft carrier that would be so intense as to make enemies shit themselves uncontrollably, and with good reason, the Brits came up with the Habbakuk. Constructed from ice (ever try to sink an ice cube?) the plan was to make it 2,000 feet long with a deck to keel depth of 200 feet and walls 40 feet thick. It would displace 2,000,000 tons (compared to the Navy's current Nimitz class carriers that displace 100,000 tons). So, it was like, really big.

When ice proved to be not entirely feasible a material to build an aircraft carrier out of, they switched to something called Pykrete, which was just ice and wood pulp. It was intense stuff that deflected bullets and since this idea was already probably the craziest thing anyone had ever heard of, why the fuck not?

What went wrong:
Practicality. A small version had been constructed in Canada that weighed 1,000 tons and was only 60 feet long to show that the idea could work. It took three summers to melt the damn thing. The full-scale model would take $70 million, 8,000 people and eight months to finish, the finished product could only travel at six knots and once it arrived where it was going, it would still be made of fucking ice.

The Gay Bomb

In terms of great military plans, from the first ape-man who threw a rock at some other asshole ape and likely stretching into our Jetsons-like future with lasers and nanobots that will melt the faces of those who displease us, nothing is likely to ever top the Gay Bomb. The Gay Bomb is exactly what it sounds like; a weapon that would rend our enemies asunder with gay. Actual, weaponized gay.

The Plan:
Wright Laboratory in Ohio proposed a number of non-lethal weapons to the Pentagon, as methods of crowd control are highly in demand these days and tear gas is about as cool as hippie daisies and beaded curtains. Instead, why not bathe your targets in an aphrodisiac chemical so strong that it caused all the enemy combatants to line up for mustache rides?

So maybe it's not a room full of stoners coming up with these ideas, maybe it's a house full of frat guys.

What went wrong:
In concept, it's probably true that an enemy is less effective when engaged in a massive, frenzied man-orgy. However, science has not actually perfected a way to make this happen to just any group of males.

Apparently the "how" was not the job of the idea department here, as the same lab proposed other weapons that would make bugs and rodents attack enemies, give them bad breath or mark them with a stink so they couldn't hide in general population. Again, that's all fine and good, if and when ways of doing those things actually exists.

Despite that, the Pentagon kicked this idea around for at least seven years, perhaps based on nothing more than the private fantasy of one frustrated general.

1 comment:

quatto said...

Hmmm, Ice ship, hmmmm