The Bat Bomb a secret weapon of WW2
It's official name was project X-ray. It was a US funded research project, with military personnel assigned to it, to produce a bomb which would
carry bats laded with small incendary devices attached. The bomb would open over an enemy city, the bats would fly out and find a nice building to
roost in for the day. The incendary would go off, incinerating the bat, and hopefully setting fires all over the city. "
A Choice of Bats
The largest bat found was the mastiff, which has a twenty-inch wingspan and could carry a one-pound stick of dynamite. However, the team found there
weren't sufficient numbers available. The more common mule-eared, or , bat could carry three ounces, but naturalists determined it wasn't hardy
enough for the project.
Finally, the team selected the free-tailed bat. Though it weighed but one third of an ounce, it could fly fairly well with a one-ounce bomb. The
largest colony of freetailed bats found by, some twenty to thirty million
How the bomb worked
Newly recruited bats were placed in ice cube trays and cooled to force them into hibernation. By cooling them down to this state they were very easy
to work with and transport. This is how a small incendiary bomb was attached to the bats. They were oblong, nitrocellulose cases filled with thickened
kerosene. A small time-delay igniter.
A special hollow bomb case was created to house a thousand or so chilled bats. Which would have been released from bomber aircraft above the target
city. The bomb would release a parachute and slowly glide to the warmer air below.This would bring the bats out of hibernation and at a pre set height
the bomb would open releasing waves of tiny bat bombers.
The bats would seek shelter in buildings , warehouse, factories. Then the fire bombs would go off setting fire to the city.
In May 1943, five drops with bats outfitted with dummy bombs were made from a B-25 flying at 5,000 feet. Early test had many complications, Many bats
didn't wake up in time for the drops. The surgical clips proved difficult to attach to the bats without tearing the delicate skin.
When these problems were somewhat resolved, new bats were taken up for drop tests with dummy bombs attached. These runs were alot more promising.Bats
returned in a few minutes to the building where they were working. One flew underneath, one landed on the roof, and one attached itself to the wall.
The next day an examination of the grounds around a ranch house about two miles away from the point of release disclosed two dummies inside the porch,
one beside the house, and one inside the barn.
Armed Test Problems
After some good result military brass wanted to see a armed test of the bat bomb. This lead to a chain of events that would shape the future of the
Bat Bomb. A small number of bats in hibernation were armed with live fire bombs. These bats were set up to have a photos taken of them. But the
flashes from the cameras helped awake the little bats before the were ready. This combined with a careless handler that had left a door open allowed
some bats escaped with live incendiaries.
These renegade bats set fire and burned down most of the Airbase even the general's car.Records do not reflect the general's reaction,
he was pleased.The end result an entire brand-new military airfield burned to the ground
This helped mark the end of the Army Bat Bomb. The Navy took over but the weapon was never put into use. In 1944 the Navy abruptly canceled the
operation.By that time, Project X-Ray had cost an estimated $2 million.
The funding was diverted to another project, something code named "The Manhatten Project"
Thats the story of a interesting and little known secret weapon of WW2. Even after it was cancled the head of the project maintained that fires
generated by bomber bats could have been more destructive than the atomic bombs that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ended the war. He found that
bats scattered up to twenty miles from the point where they were released. "Think of thousands of fires breaking out simultaneously over a circle of
forty miles in diameter for every bomb dropped," he said. "Japan could have been devastated, yet with small loss of life."
Bat Bomb Revisited?
Bat bomb book
[edit on 21-10-2004 by ShadowXIX]