Skip to comments.Bat Bomb
Posted on 01/15/2018 4:41:43 PM PST by keat
Bat bombs were an experimental World War II weapon developed by the United States. The bomb consisted of a bomb-shaped casing with over a thousand compartments, each containing a hibernating Mexican free-tailed bat with a small, timed incendiary bomb attached. Dropped from a bomber at dawn, the casings would deploy a parachute in mid-flight and open to release the bats, which would then roost in eaves and attics in a 2040 mile radius. The incendiaries would start fires in inaccessible places in the largely wood and paper constructions of the Japanese cities that were the weapon's intended target.
The bat bomb was conceived by a Pennsylvania dentist named Lytle S. Adams, a friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Adams submitted it to the White House in January 1942, where it was subsequently approved by President Roosevelt on the advice of Donald Griffin.
Adams observed that Japanese structures were especially susceptible to incendiary devices as many of the buildings were made of paper, bamboo, and other highly flammable material. The plan was to release bat bombs over Japanese cities having widely dispersed industrial targets. The bats would spread far from the point of release due to the relatively high altitude of their release, and would then hide in buildings across the city at dawn. Shortly thereafter, built-in timers would ignite the bombs, causing widespread fires and chaos.
The United States decided to develop the bat bomb during World War II as four biological factors gave promise to this plan. First, bats occur in large numbers (for example, four caves in New Mexico are each occupied by several million bats). Second, bats can carry more than their own weight in flight (females carry their youngsometimes twins). Load-carrying tests were conducted in the dirigible hangar at Naval Air Station, Moffett Field, Sunnyvale, California. Third, bats hibernate, and while dormant they do not require food or maintenance. Fourth, bats fly in darkness, then find secluded places (often in buildings) to hide during daylight.
Bomb canister used to hold the hibernating bats
By March 1943, a suitable species had been selected. The project was considered serious enough that Louis Fieser, the inventor of military napalm, designed 0.6 ounce (17 g) and one ounce (28 g) incendiary devices to be carried by the bats. A bat carrier similar to a bomb casing was designed that included 26 stacked trays, each containing compartments for 40 bats. The carriers would be dropped from 5,000 feet (1,525 m). Then the trays would separate but remain connected to a parachute that would deploy at 1,000 feet (305 m). It was envisioned that ten B-24 bombers flying from Alaska, each carrying a hundred shells packed with bomb-carrying bats, could release 1,040,000 bat bombs over the target of the industrial cities of Osaka Bay.
Mexican Free-Tailed Bat Tadarida brasiliensis
A series of tests to answer various operational questions were conducted. In one incident, the Carlsbad Army Airfield Auxiliary Air Base.
32°15′39″N 104°13′45″W) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, was set on fire on May 15, 1943, when armed bats were accidentally released. The bats incinerated the test range and roosted under a fuel tank.
Errant bats from the experimental bat bomb set fire to the Carlsbad Army Airfield Auxiliary Air Base in New Mexico
Following this setback, the project was relegated to the Navy in August 1943, who renamed it Project X-Ray, and then passed it to the Marine Corps that December. The Marine Corps moved operations to the Marine Corps Air Station at El Centro, California. After several experiments and operational adjustments, the definitive test was carried out on the "Japanese Village", a mockup of a Japanese city built by the Chemical Warfare Service at their Dugway Proving Grounds test site in Utah.
Observers at this test produced optimistic accounts. The chief of incendiary testing at Dugway wrote:
A reasonable number of destructive fires can be started in spite of the extremely small size of the units. The main advantage of the units would seem to be their placement within the enemy structures without the knowledge of the householder or fire watchers, thus allowing the fire to establish itself before being discovered.
The National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) observer stated: "It was concluded that X-Ray is an effective weapon." The Chief Chemist's report stated that, on a weight basis, X-Ray was more effective than the standard incendiary bombs in use at the time: "Expressed in another way, the regular bombs would give probably 167 to 400 fires per bomb load where X-Ray would give 3,625 to 4,748 fires."
More tests were scheduled for mid-1944 but the program was cancelled by Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King when he heard that it would likely not be combat ready until mid-1945. By that time, it was estimated that $2 million had been spent on the project. It is thought that development of the bat bomb was moving too slowly, and was overtaken in the race for a quick end to the war by the atomic bomb project. Adams maintained that the bat bombs would have been effective without the devastating effects of the atomic bomb. He is quoted as having said: "Think of thousands of fires breaking out simultaneously over a circle of forty miles in diameter for every bomb dropped. Japan could have been devastated, yet with small loss of life."
The infamous "Invasion by Bats" project was afterwards referred to by Stanley P. Lovell, director of research and development for Office of Strategic Services (OSS), whom General Donovan ordered to review the idea, as "Die Fledermaus Farce". Lovell also mentioned that bats during testing were dropping to the ground like stones.
LOL, that’s funny. ;)
Some Days, You Just Cant Get Rid of a Bomb.
I though Genghis Khan invented this, but used sparrows.
Imperial Japan had their own rodent army they plan to use against the US. They wanted to release plague infected insects into the population where they would first attack rodents stateside. They would be released via clay pots carried by balloons. It was to be an attack on the West Coast of the continental US
“I’ll take ‘What If Wile E. Coyote Were The Secretary of Defense’ for $200, Alex”
There was a TV program about this several years ago. I guess it was on “The History Channel”.
I think the gist of it was that it worked but was not that much better than just dropping incendiary bombs plus it was a whole lot more trouble.
They also had these, which some people have thought may have been what came down at Roswell; the remains of one was found as recently as 2014:
so a deliberate war crime ?
Arms race of fire balloons and rodent troops
Hey; the fire balloon was the first ‘intercontinental weapon’.
You win the thread.
Would have loved to have been in the room when that bomb idea was first proposed. Those generals must have fallen out of their chairs laughing.
Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned the foxes tail to tail and put one torch in the middle between two tails. 5 When he had set fire to the torches, he released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning up both the shocks and the standing grain, along with the vineyards and groves...
This is the oldest use of animal-borne incendiaries I know of, but someone may come up with an earlier one...