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[Ben]:A Reign of Terror in Gotham Discuss This [0 comments so far] View Comments
When you hear the phrase "bat bomb," chances are good that your first thought is of a masked character dressed in a dark outfit and a cape throwing an explosive device shaped like a marketing director's idea of a bat.

Sixty-five years ago, however, "bat bomb" meant something very different and far more literal. During WWII, a dental surgeon named Lytle S. Adams came up with an idea for a way to strike at Japan using hundreds of thousands (possibly more than a million) air-dropped bats (yes, the tiny flying mammal) armed with incendiary explosives. The idea is that the bats would roost somewhere and gnaw off the tiny incendiary charge. The charge - which utilized a corrosive agent acting on a piece of wire as a timer - would then go off and burn for several minutes. Given some of the places bats like to nest, a significant number of the devices would cause fires in difficult to reach places.

The idea actually made it to the testing stage, even so far as being tested on a mock-up of a Japanese city. Despite understandable issues with deployment, the actual concept of roosting bat bombs actually worked reasonably well. In an earlier test, a US military base in New Mexico was damaged by fire when a number of bats were accidentally armed and set free.

Can you imagine the incident report on that one? "Slow down, who the heck authorized arming hundreds of bats?"

The project was considered by the Army and Marines to be worthy of further development, but was eventually shut down as resources were shifted towards development of nuclear weapons.

Honestly, I think it was an interesting, if bizarre idea. A poor man's WoMD.
  2007-09-22
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