1. Blue Peacock Mine, 2. Novgorod, 3. Apache Revolver, 4. Sticky Bombs, 5. Schwerer Gustav, 6. Double Barrel Cannon, 7. Duck’s Foot Pistol, 8. Flamethrowers, 9. Urumi, 10. Davy Crockett Portable Nuke. A lot of brainpower goes into designing weapons of war. Unfortunately, brainpower is a horrible replacement for testing in complex circumstances. There were many ingenious weapons of war that were great on paper but terrible in practice. Here are a few of the most impractical weapons in history.
- Blue Peacock Mine
- Apache Revolver
- Sticky Bombs
- Schwerer Gustav
- Double Barrel Cannon
- Duck’s Foot Pistol
- Davy Crockett Portable Nuke
Blue Peacock Mine
It’s hard to overstate just how silly the blue peacock mine was. You only need to be aware that this weapon relies on chickens to keep it warm to truly understand what a ridiculous notion it was, actual chickens. A 10-kiloton nuclear weapon was meant to be buried on the North German plain in order for a blue peacock mine to function. Until the Soviet Army invaded, they would remain there, underground. A tripwire or an eight-day timer would set off the mines’ explosion. The goal was to eliminate all military infrastructure in the region and stop the Soviet Union from settling there as a result of nuclear contamination and damage.
The cold temperatures the mines would be subjected to could pose a risk because of the region of the world this was in. If the electronics were buried underground, they might get too cold to operate correctly. Therefore, the way to stop this was to put live chickens within the mine. With enough food and drink to last them for roughly a week, they would also have enough body heat to keep the mine operating. Since it was April 1, 2004, many individuals believed the initial declassification of this information was an April Fool’s hoax. But it wasn’t a joke. The concept of the chicken mine seemed all too real.
Country of origin: the United Kingdom
Scottish shipbuilder John Elder believed that you could create a ship with a shallower draft and a broader beam so it could carry more cannons without requiring a lot more power to move. This concept was well received by the Imperial Russian Navy, which led to the construction of a warship that was almost exactly circular.
The circular shape was supposed to provide the highest water displacement and the least amount of armor due to the short hull. With so little exposed side, you could place enormous weapons on the deck and not have to worry about heavy armaments. In addition, since it was a circle, there was a good chance that the shell would deflect if it did strike the side. Additionally, since it had no keel, it could patrol very shallow waters.
Nobody anticipated the significant issue that would cause the ship’s 100-foot diameter to be delayed when it was finally constructed. The steering was essentially nonexistent because it was a circle. It took around 45 minutes to completely turn the ship around. And those were calm seas. The ship would have been completely unusable in a storm or during a battle. Additionally, the hull caused a tremendous amount of drag. So the end result was a ship that was incredibly slow and hard to steer.
History is filled with weapons that are best characterized as novelty weapons, such as the Blue Peacock Mine. However, the Apache revolver was arguably the most useless of all the firearms of this type. With a knife blade, a gun, and a pair of brass knuckles, it was obviously intended to be three weapons in one, but it was potentially worthless when used as any of those things, let alone trying to use all three at once.
The revolver had no trigger guard, so there was always a chance that it might accidentally fire. For some reason, the brass knuckle portion of the handle was made so small that only someone with very little hands could possibly hope to slip their fingers through the holes. The blade was attached very shakily and ran the risk of breaking off.
The gun was practically without a barrel and had no sight. Only at extremely close range would it have been successful. For safety concerns, you would need to store it unloaded due to the trigger guard’s absence. And to load it required taking out the complete cylinder. Therefore, if you needed to use it quickly or from a distance, it was truly one of the most impractical weapons in history.
Nearly a quarter of a million sticky bombs were used by British soldiers during the Second World War. The device consisted primarily of a glass bottle containing a container of extremely sticky birdlime solution and nitroglycerin. Despite never having received official approval for military usage, they undoubtedly saw a lot of action on the field. The original idea was to throw them far away in hopes that the glass would shatter and the bomb would stick to a target, but that strategy turned out to be quite ineffective and made it one of the most impractical weapons in history. It was easier and more effective to approach your target and explode the sticky bomb attached to its side. There was actually enough explosive to penetrate the armor and a few smaller tanks.
The sticky bomb’s greatest flaw was its extreme stickiness. More than one soldier has reportedly struggled mightily to remove a sticky explosive that became attached to them during training while holding to the handle to prevent an explosion. There is at least one account of a soldier who got it stuck to his pants and had to be taken out by another soldier, bomb and all.
Country of origin: The United Kingdom
There is no doubt that the Schwerer Gustav was a powerful weapon. Adolf Hitler was seeking a way to get through the Maginot Line’s defenses in order to invade France. They devised a never-before-seen type of railway-mounted cannon as a remedy. The gun measured 47 meters in length, stood 12 meters high, and was 1,350 tons heavy. It had a barrel that was 30 meters long and could fire ten-ton shells. They called it the Great Gustav.
Even though the Gustav was potentially catastrophic, it proved totally impracticable to employ it frequently. In addition to being too large and visible from the air, which made it a target, it was also too heavy to move along regular railroad rails. Everywhere they wanted it to travel, the Germans had to construct reinforced rails in advance, which would have been impossible even in peacetime.
Each shot required several hours of adjustment before the cannon was ready to fire. That implies that they could only fire a total of 14 rounds per day. The cannon’s final assembly required four days once it was installed.
Country of origin: Nazi Germany
Double Barrel Cannon
Even though modern firearms have come a long way, the double barrel shotgun is still regarded as a powerful and serious weapon. If you want a character to look badass in a movie, give him a double barrel shotgun. Additionally, the double barrel cannon’s development at the time likely reflected some of the same ideas. A double barrel cannon would have been impressive if a regular cannon is dreadful.
A Double Barrel Cannon seems advantageous on paper. However, the truth was not quite the same. A destructive Scythe-like weapon was intended to be created by firing two cannonballs connected by a chain in the first test, but it failed miserably since it spun and sliced through everything in its path. Unfortunately, if neither cannonball fires at precisely the same time, you wind up destroying the cannon and everyone nearby.
The Civil War is said to have seen one test firing of such a cannon. Before the chain broke, the cannonballs destroyed an acre of cornfields, with one of them launching into a field and killing a cow. The cannon was never used again because it was too difficult to operate. You can still see it today at the Athens-Clarke County City Hall in Georgia.
Country of origin: Georgia
Duck’s Foot Pistol
The term “volley weapon” applied to a Duck’s Foot Pistol. The ability to fire several shots while in use would allow you to possibly hit many targets at once. It sounds extremely wonderful if you don’t give it a second thought and don’t look at the picture of it. However, the design was incredibly unworkable, making it essentially worthless as a weapon unless you were able to get four people to stand in front of you with their bodies pointing directly in the direction the barrels were aimed.
This is not to suggest that there haven’t been situations in which such a weapon would be useless. You could possibly kill four of them if they were clustered together if you were somehow alone facing a rush of foes coming at you from the same direction. When you had one of these absurd guns nearby, what were the chances that something like that would ever occur? Forget about holstering the item in any way.
These days, no one really has to be told what a flamethrower is; they have already appeared in so many different types of media that you are likely already familiar with their fundamental functionality. A soldier has a tank of fuel strapped to his back, and a spraying mechanism is attached to it that will pump the fuel out of the tank and ignite it, resulting in a never-ending shower of terrible Hellfire.
A flamethrower poses a terrible risk to the person using it in addition to being an extremely effective weapon and technique of terrifying your adversaries. A soldier essentially points a light at themself that any opponent can see and target the instant they step foot on the battlefield and light up a flamethrower. Aside from putting you at risk for enemy fire, the fuel tank itself was also at risk of being struck by errant fire and exploding.
Country of origin: Germany
It would be worthwhile for you to look at the Urumi, an Indian weapon if you’ve never seen one. The basic idea is rather straightforward; it works similarly to a whip, except that you hold a flexible bit of extremely sharp metal in your hand rather than a long leather strap. Furthermore, similar to a whip, if you don’t know how to use it, it may snap back and seriously hurt you instead of the object you’re trying to hit.
Simple variants of this hybrid weapon consist of a single flexible piece of metal that is 4 or 5 feet long, supported by a handle with a knuckle guard and a thumb guard. The metal can cut through human flesh. There are more intricate variations with blades that have numerous blades joined and much longer. According to rumors, one type even featured 32 distinct blades. The risk of using it increased due to the additional blades.
Country of origin: India
Davy Crockett Portable Nuke
It’s difficult to see how you could make a nuclear bomb any more destructive than it already is. However, some attempt was made to make them more portable, which in turn made them horribly unusable.
The smallest portable nuclear weapon that could be built and yet be able to trigger a fission reaction was the Davy Crockett device. The tiny warhead, which resembled a watermelon with fins on one side, could not be fired from conventional artillery like mortars or other similar weapons. It had to be fired from a recoilless gun instead. To employ it on the battlefield, a group of three men had to be sent out. They were also dangerously near to the location of the warhead’s explosion because of their range of less than three miles. Being exposed to radiation carried a very high risk.
The Davy Crockett was found to be so incredibly inaccurate that there was no practical way for it to be employed in battle after it was test fired in Nevada, thus fortunately soldiers never had to experience the risk of radiation exposure.
Country of origin: the United States