The 10 Most Bizarre Weapons of World War II

  • World War II led to many successful innovations in technology — including weapons.
  • Some were however considered major flops.
  • Here are some of WWII’s most bizarre weapons, from explosive rats to a gun that measures 155 feet in length,

Unfortunately, war can drive innovation. During World War II, the world’s major powers set their sights on advancing technology, medicine, and communications in order to be efficient and fearsome in battle. Some of the advancements made in WWII were fundamental to modern technology — others, not so much.

Here’s a look at some of most bizarre, useless and downright insane weapons that were created on both sides during WWII.

1. A ship-mounted aerial mine missile launcher

7 inch_UP_projectiles_HMS_King_George_V_IW_A_9451

Crewman on HMS King George V, 7-inch Unrotated Projectile Anti-Aircraft Projectiles.

Royal Navy via Wikimedia Commons

The unrotated projectile rocket launcher was a particularly inept antiaircraft measure. Created to protect ships from enemy planes, the unrotated projectile was fired from a ship, and, upon reaching 1,000 feet in elevation, it would explode and disperse mines attached to parachutes via 400 feet of cable. 

The general idea was to create an aerial minefield wherein enemy planes would become ensnared in the mess of cables, pulling the mines into their fuselages and downing the plane. The mines, cables and parachutes were easily visible so enemy pilots could fly above and below the “aerial mining field”.

Here’s how the weapon looked when it was launched:


The unrotated projectile firing, and parachuting downward.

Youtube / This Is Genius

The undetonated mines would then be at the mercy of the wind, and they would often float back down toward the British ships that fired them.

“There are no records that UPs have brought down any aircraft. It is possible that this system could have caused more harm or death to Britons than its enemies through accidents, fires, etc.” accordingThis page is dedicated to the battle cruisers which carried the weapon. 

2. Panjandrum

Great Panjandrum

Panjandrum, which was a rocket-propelled explosive car, was one of the most interesting weapons to have emerged from World War II.

British Government/Wikimedia commons

To find a way to breach the German’s concrete defenses in Normandy, the British military devised a large carriage-like contraption called the Panjandrum — a name from a nonsense term coined by an 18th-century British playwright, according to Merriam-Webster.

Rockets were attached to the wheels of the two wheels to propel this device. In the middle of the device was a drum that would be filled with explosives. According to WiredThe Panjandrum was expected to speed towards a concrete wall and create a hole large enough for a tank through.

During testing, the device frequently lost control and diverted from its intended path. Generals had to run for cover, and a cameraman nearly fell. according to “Pigeon Guided Missiles: And 49 Other Ideas that Never Took Off,” a book co-authored by James Moore and Paul Nero.

Карацупа_Н_Ф_1936 (1)

Nikita Karatsupa (the Soviet Union’s most renowned border guard) and his dog Ingus in 1936.

не указаны via Wikimedia Commons

3. Suicide bomb dogs

In 1942, Hitler’s Nazi infantry invaded Soviet Russia with German “Panzer” tanks.

The Russians, who had used military dogs since 1924The owners of the company, hoped to transform their canine soldiers into anti-tank mines by attaching explosives around their dogs’ bodies.

During training, the dogs were starved and let loose on stationary Soviet tanks that had food hidden under them.

Once the dogs had been placed under the tank, they were trained to. pull a detonator cordThey were also very protective of their teeth. However, most dogs were unable to comprehend or executeThe task was done while the sounds, sights and smells of war raged around them. 

The dogs would often turn around and run towards their Russian handlers only to be shot and killed immediately.

4. Explosive rats

Explosive dummy rat.

Bonhams sold an explosive dummy rats.

Courtesy Bonhams

Experimental war weapons did not only affect dogs.

The Special Operations Executive branch in the British military used small explosives to fill dead rats. according to Military History. The plan was to infest Germany’s coal supply with rats. Once they were unknowingly pushed into a broiler at an army base or steam engine, they would explode.

The Germans discovered that the device could be used by rats, so they didn’t use it as planned. according to The GuardianThey did cause some disruption. The Guardian reported that records from the Special Operations Executive Branch showed that the German found the device, prompting a massive search for more explosive rats.

5. The largest gun used in battle

hitler gustav railway gun

Screen grab

Adolf Hitler, a Nazi leader, wanted a new weapon to easily penetrate the concrete fortifications of France. French Maginot Line — the only major physical barrier standing between him and the rest of Western Europe.

According to the documentary, “The Building of Hitler’s Gustav Gun” was started in 1941 by Friedrich Krupp A.G., a German arms and steelmaker.Top Secret Weapons.”

The gun was four stories tall and 155 feet long. It weighed 1,350 tonnes. It shot 10,000-pound shells out of its mammoth barrel measuring 98 feet. 

The gun’s size was not just its strength, but also its downfall.

The massive gun could not be transported by rail and was therefore an easy target for Allied bombers. The project was scrapped in less than a year.

6. Dummy paratroopers

Dummy paratrooper

The back of “Rupert”, the decoy dummy.

Courtesy Air Force Museum of New Zealand

The Royal Air Force of the UK and Britain’s Special Air Service conducted a deception operation in June 1944 as part of the Normandy landings. This was to deceive the Germans from the actual drop areas of Allied troops.

About 400 stuffed burlap dolls were used to accomplish this. according to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

These figures, codenamed Rupert, were less than half a meter high and contained small explosives to destroy it. They were also attached with a noisemaker that imitated the sound of a firing gun rile, according the museum.

Actual British soldiers were told to let some German troops escape to report sightings involving a large number of paratroopers.

The operation, codenamed Titanic, appeared to have been a success, as German records showed that troops were directed towards the area of the dummy drops, according to the New Zealand Museum.

The US also had a dummy paratrooper. This video is declassified.


7. V-3 cannon


The German V-3 cannon, which is very long.

Bundesarchiv, Bild via Wikimedia Commons

The V-3 was the unnecessary younger sibling of the V-1 and V-2 rockets that pulverized London during the Blitzkrieg. 

The V-3 was created in 1944 and was intended to light. 300 nine-foot-long dart-shaped shells every hour. Secondary charges were placed along the barrel’s 416-foot length to accelerate the projectile. It was possible that the projectile could reach London from over 100 miles away in the French town Mimoyecques. The V-3 was finally operational but the velocity of the shell was only 3,280 feet per second. was estimatedIt was only half the distance it took to get to London.

Hitler had authorized the production 50 of these weapons. However, before the original plans for V-3 could be implemented by the Allies, the bombing and destruction of the gun by the Allies was possible despite Germany’s best efforts. hide the munitions under haystacks.

v3 rocket firing


The gun was eventually reduced to two miniature (or 150-foot-long miniature) versions. Only a few shots were fired. unknown effect.

8. The Krummlauf curved barrel


To solve the dilemma of shooting a rifle while under cover, the Germans designed a curved barrel attachment that would enable soldiers to shoot their guns around corners.

Krummlauf was the name given to the device. It allowed soldiers to fire weapons from within tanks. according to the Imperial War Museums.

However, the attachment proved to be extremely impractical. The bullets often split in half before reaching the barrel, and the attachment became distorted due to the tremendous pressure after a few hundred shots.

9. A mini “tank-like”, remote controlled demolition vehicle

Mini tanks goliath


Goliath was the Nazis’ Nazi tracker mine. The “Known as”DoodlebugThe joystick controlled the Goliath by a controller. It had coiled within its compartments 2,145ft of cable leading back towards the controller. The mini-tank was powered by two electric motors, later replaced by gas burners, and able to carry more than 100 pounds of high explosives.

The Goliath was intended to slide under Allied tanks to deliver its explosive payload on their undersides. However, it was susceptible to cord-cutting. Later, radio-controlled models were developed. The Germans built 7,500Goliaths during wartime, which suggests they had some success. 

However, the real success of the Goliath was that it paved the way for radio-controlled weapons, which in our modern age are becoming the new mode of warfare.

10. The “Fugo” balloon bomb

Japanese balloon bomb

Japanese balloon flying above North America

Toronto Star Archives/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Japan released thousands upon thousands of paper balloon bombs made from the bark of the mulberry trees in November 1944.

The balloons had a diameter of 33 feet and could lift approximately 1,000 lbs. according to J. David Rodgers, a Missouri University of Science and Technology professor.

“But the deadly part of their cargo was an anti-personnelfragmentation bomb 33-lb in weight, attached to a fuse measuring 64 feet long that was supposed to burn for 82 mins before detonating,” he wrote.

The bombs were dropped into the Pacific jet stream. It would silently transport the large devices from Japan to America without the need for a pilot. The trip would take several hours. NPR reported.

Despite the fact that thousands of these bombs were released, the balloon bomb proved ineffective and resource-intensive. It took between 30 and 60 minutes to prepare one balloon. This was done by 30 men. according to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.

During the war, there were only six reported casualties from the balloons, Rodgers wrote — a minister’s wife and five Sunday school students on a fishing trip who encountered one of the balloons near Bly, Oregon. Only a few hundred bombs from balloons have been discovered.

Amanda Macias was a contributor to this report.

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