Some of the greatest innovations throughout the human history have been made in the military field. However, many of them were never deployed, and others soon faded into the forgotten realms of history. Here is a quick rundown of 4 strangest and most wicked war machines ever devised, both real and envisioned ones.
This gigantic cannon, designed by german artillery engineer Fritz Rausenberger, and manufactured in Essen, weighed about 256 tonnes without its special steel chassis. It was composed of 85 feet long 210 mm-caliber barrel, which was inserted in caliber 380 mm “Long Max” cannon(previously used as naval gun).
The Paris Gun firing
Cannon was so long, it had to be supported by special steel framework to prevent unwanted bending. It was designed to shoot projectiles weighing about 94 kg to the distance of more than 90 miles. During their 170-second flight, they reached speeds up to 3,600 miles a hour, and altitudes of about 25 miles. That makes them first man-made objects to enter stratosphere.
Although the Paris Gun was a masterpiece from technical point of view, it didn’t show up as really effective weapon. It’s aim was very limited, it was operated by crew of 80 men, and its barrel could withstand only about 65 separate shots. In addition, specific shell had to be used every time the gun fired. Shells were numbered, and each of them was a little bit bigger, to fit into widening barrel.
Diagram of a Paris Gun shell
Only about 350 shells were ever fired from the cannon to the city of Paris, with average daily frequency of 20. They caused around 250 deaths, and 620 injuries.
At the end of First World War, cannon was transported back to Germany and subsequently destroyed.
3.Dr.Zippermayr’s Whirlwind Cannon
During his research in aerodynamics, Austrian physicist and also member of the Austrian Nazi Party Mario Zippermayr(1899 – ?) came to a conclusion, that heavily pressurized whirlwinds have a capability of destroying or severely damaging enemy aircraft.
After he managed to break 4-inch strong piece of wood from the distance of 550 feet, he was allowed to construct a gun large enough to shoot Allied fighters down.
Prototype of the Zippermayr’s whirlwind cannon
Zippermayr’s team managed to build two anti-aircraft whirlwind cannons. Specially shaped nozzles served to direct pressurized whirlwinds, produced by explosions in cannon’s combustion chamber.
However, first tests soon showed that cannon was unusable. Whirlwinds produced didn’t reach even close to altitudes, where Allied aircrafts commonly operated.
Although Mario Zippermayr soon tried to increase the cannon’s range, war ended before it was fully operational. Allied forces managed to capture one of the cannons in Sachsen-Anhalt, and the second cannon was destroyed at the end of war during its transportation to Frankfurt.
Tsar Tank, also known as the Bat Tank(Netopyr), was an unusually-shaped armoured vehicle originally developed for the Imperial Russian Army. This three-wheeled vehicle was designed in late 1914 by Russian engineers Nikolai Lebedenko, Nikolai Zhukovsky, Boris Stechkin, and Alexander Mikulin.
Only prototype of the Tsar Tank
Tsar Tank significantly differed from modern tank design, using tricyclical design. Its two giant front spoked wheels were about 27 ft(9 m) in diameter, however, the back wheel was only 5 ft(1.5 m) high. Each of two large wheels was powered by a 190 kW(250 hp) Sunbeam engine.
The main turret of the Tsar Tank reached height of more than 24 ft(8 m), two smaller turrets were located on the sides, and other two under the main framework. The vehicle received its nickname(netopyr = bat) because with its back wheel pointing upwards, it allegedly resembled a bat hanging while asleep.
Diagrams of the Tsar Tank
The huge wheels were included to cross major obstacles. However, during the first experimental tests of the tank, its small back wheel became stuck in the muddy ground, and the front wheels were insufficient to pull it out. Tsar tank remained stuck in the same location, about 40 miles from Moscow, until year 1923, when it was finally towed away and disassembled.
During Second World War, the British planned to build a gargantuan aircraft-carrier out of pykrete (a mixture of wood pulp and ice).
Idea of building a ship from this material was first conceived in year 1942 by Allied engineer Geoffrey Pyke, and subsequently expanded by British Admiral Lord Mountbatten. Habbakuk was designed to be more than 1950 feet long and 330 feet wide, in comparison, Prelude FLNG, largest ship ever built, is 1601 ft long and 243 ft wide.
Diagram of the Project Habbakuk
Ship was planned to be composed from pykrete, a frozen mixture of 86% water and 14% wood pulp. Its 35 feet wide walls were designed to be refrigenerated from inside by strong cooling fans.
Habbakuk was designed to be propelled by 28 giant screw propellers.I ts crew was to be composed of 3590 men, including more than two hundred aircraft pilots.
Diagram of the Project Habbakuk
Although Pyke managed to build a working 60-feet long model of the ship, project was soon abandoned due to enormous expenses required for the construction of such a ship.