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Bat Issues | Bat bomb Bats in war

Bat Issues | Bat bomb Bats in war

Animals have been a part of military organisations for about as long as human history. Horses revolutionized combat. Carrier pigeons provided a cheap and effective way to communicate during combat. Bomb-sniffing dogs continue to save lives. There are a few instances of attack animals, such as Hannibal’s use of war elephants and police attack dogs, but fortunately for the critters of the world, technology has progressed to a point that attack animals are essentially unnecessary.

But did you know that the US military poured money into an actual ‘bat bomb’? Not bombs shaped like a bat, or a bomb that just had “bat” as part of a secret code name — actual bats carrying around incendiary devices. As bizarre as it may sound, it’s true. Not only was this top secret weapon on the verge of being deployed in combat, but initial testing suggested that the bat bomb would have been one of the most destructive weapons in the US military’s arsenal.

Bat Issues | Bat bomb Bats in war

My dentist is always busy.

Shortly after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the military was inundated with ideas for new, ingenious, and often quirky weapon ideas. One such idea came from Dr. Lytle S. Adams, a dentist and inventor. Adams happened to be friends with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, which allowed him to submit a proposal to President Roosevelt.

“Thanks, our reputation for being dark and evil has been helped no end.”

His idea was to attach incendiary devices to bats and drop them over Japan to create a widely effective firebomb. Four facts made this a tempting idea:

1. Bats can be induced to hibernate, which makes them easy to transport.

2. Millions upon millions of bats can be found in caves across the US, which means that they would be cheap to acquire.

3. Bats seek out dark areas during daylight, so there is a good chance that they would roost in the attics and cubbyholes of buildings.

4. Bats can carry several of their young at a time, so they can probably carry a bomb.

The project received funding, amazingly, and the US military set about experimenting with ways to equip bats with incendiary devices. After a few bungled prototypes, they eventually developed a napalm device that weighed less than an ounce and operated on a 30 minute timer.

Bat Issues | Bat bomb Bats in war
The bat bomb- the perfect weapon for biblical apocalypses.

Testing the bomb proved to be incredibly effective — even moreso than anybody had ever predicted. Several bats escaped from captivity at the Carlsbrad auxiliary airfield, and within a few minutes the entire base was up in flames. The military later performed another test in a mock Japanese village; the fake town was completely obliterated. The military wrote, “It is concluded that the bat bomb is an effective weapon.”

Bat Issues | Bat bomb Bats in war

“Several bats escaped from captivity at the Carlsbrad auxiliary airfield, and within a few minutes the entire base was up in flames.”

At that point, the only tricky part was figuring out how to deploy the bats. Bats cannot be dropped out of a plane like bombs, because they would simply crash into the ground. That’s where the bat bomb came in. The military created a bomb-shaped device that held hundreds of bats in stacked layers. The bomb would release a parachute after it was deployed and then open its stacks to give the bats a chance to wake up and take to the skies.

Unfortunately for the bat bomb project, another famous program, the Manhattan Project, had secretly rendered the bat bomb obsolete. Everything that the bat bomb could do, Fat Man and Little Boy could do a thousand times better. The nuclear era had just begun, and the age of the bat bomb was over before it even got started.

Bat Issues | Bat bomb Bats in war

Bat Bomb: World War Ii's Other Secret Weapon Couffer, Jack


It was a crazy way to win World War II in the Pacific- All the United States had to do was to attach small incendiary bombs to millions of bats and release them over Japan's major cities. As the bats went to roost, a million fires would flare up in remote crannies of the wood and paper buildings common throughout Japan. When their cities were reduced to ashes, the Japanese would surely capitulate...The plan made sense to a handful of eccentric promoters and researchers, who convinced top military brass and even President Roosevelt to back the scheme. It might have worked, except that ather secret weapon-something to do with atoms-was chosen to end the war. Told here by the youngest member of the team, this is the story of the bat bomb project, or Project X-Ray, as it was officially kwn. In scenes worthy of a Capra or Hawks comedy, Jack Couffer recounts the urthodox experiments carried out in the secrecy of Bandera, Texas; Carlsbad, New Mexico; and El Centro, California, in 1942-1943 by Doc Adams' private army. This oddball cast of characters included an eccentric inventor, a distinguished Harvard scientist, a biologist with a chip on his shoulder, a movie star, a Texas gua collector, a crusty Marine Corps colonel, a Maine lobster fisherman, an ex-mobster, and a tiger. Not to be defeated by mir logistical hurdles, the bat bomb researchers risked life and limb to explore uncharted bat caves and recruit thousands of bats to serve their country. Through months of personality conflicts, military snafus, and technical failures the team pressed on, certain that bats could end the war with Japan. And they might have-in their first airborne test, the bat bombers burned an entire brand-new military airfield to the ground. For everyone who relishes true tales of action and adventure, Bat Bomb is a must-read. Bat enthusiasts will also discover the beginnings of the scientific study of bats.

Author(s) Jack Couffer
Publisher University of Texas Press
Date of Publication 01/06/1992
Language English
Format Paperback
ISBN-10 0292718721
ISBN-13 9780292718722
Subject Military History
Publication Data
Place of Publication Austin, TX
Country of Publication United States
Imprint University of Texas Press



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BatsRule!: Bat Issues | Bat bomb Bats in war
Bat Issues | Bat bomb Bats in war
Bat Issues | Bat bomb Bats in war
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