Using bats to carry bombs


Jan 28, 2006
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I watched this on tv last night, and yes it is real :LOL:

In the United States, there was a World War II proposal to drop bats carrying tiny incendiary bombs over Japan, hence creating bat bombs. Four biological factors gave promise to the crazy-sounding plan. First, bats occur in large numbers (each of four caves in Texas are occupied by several million bats.) Second, bats can carry their own weight in flight (females carry their young-sometimes twins.) Third, bats hibernate, and while dormant they do not require food or complicated maintenance. Fourth, bats fly in darkness, then find secretive places (such as flammable buildings) to hide in daylight.

The plan was to release bomb-laden bats at night over Japanese industrial targets. The flying bats would disperse widely, then at dawn they would hide in buildings and shortly thereafter built-in timers would ignite the bombs, causing widespread fires and chaos. The bat bomb idea was conceived by dental surgeon Lytle S. Adams, who submitted it to the White House in January, 1942, where it was subsequently approved by President Roosevelt. Adams was recruited to research and obtain a suitable supply of bats.

By March of 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 looking like a bomb casing was designed that included 26 stacked trays each containing compartments for 40 bats. The carriers would be dropped from 5000 feet (1525 m). Then the trays would separate but remain connected to a parachute that would deploy at 1000 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 a million bat bombs over the targetthe industrial cities of Osaka Bay. A series of tests to answer various operational questions were conducted. In one incident the Auxiliary Army Air Base in Carlsbad, New Mexico was set on fire when armed bats were accidentally released. Following this setback, the project was relegated to the Navy in August 1943, who renamed it Project X-Ray, and then passed it off 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 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 NDRC (National Defense Research Committee) observer stated: It was concluded that X-Ray is an effective weapon. The Chief Chemists 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[er] load where X-Ray would give 3625 to 4748 fires.

More tests were scheduled for the summer of 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 beaten out of the race for a quick end to the war by the Atomic Bomb project.

Too bad PETA would never let that "fly" nowdays....