Crazy Inventions Emerge from WWII

Inflatable Decoy Tank

The desire to outwit the enemy and achieve military success can lead to unplanned military inventions during periods of war. Among these many developments and inventions, one can often see how a creative approach led to interesting results. The following is a list of unusual inventions from the Second World War, though of course it is by no means a complete list.

Inflatable tanks

World-renowned fashion designer Bill Blass fought during the Second World War in the U.S. Army’s 603rd Camouflage Battalion. This special unit had the goal and means for misinforming the enemy about the location of Allied forces.

One of the means for misinformation was Sherman inflatable tanks which were used as dummies, particularly on D-Day, to deceive the enemy.

Garlic Chocolate

When sending spies and secret agents overseas, Great Britain had to make sure that they could blend into the local crowd by any means. Agents had to act, look, speak, and even smell appropriate.

According to Peter Taylor, author of the book Weird War Two, the story goes that agents who were sent to Spain did not have the appropriate smell because they did not eat garlic. In Britain, the attitude towards garlic at the time was not favorable. This problem was solved by adding garlic to chocolates in a bid to make it more enjoyable to eat.

It is not known whether this project was successful or not.

Itchy powder

A powder that acted as a strong skin irritant was disguised as talc and smuggled into Europe. Resistance members in occupied countries distributed this powder in clothing factories and laundry facilities where they could secretly apply it to German uniforms.

It seemed to have worked. Apparently, at least one German U-boat was forced to return to port because the sailors thought they had a strange skin condition.

The scheme was also successful in Norway, where local resistance members began putting the powder in condoms intended for German troops. The treated condoms were sent to the Trondheim Region, where the local hospital was soon filled with German soldiers.

Fake Feet

Fake feet were a good tool for masking a trail, saving time that would otherwise be spent sweeping traces. They was used by agents who landed on beaches in the Pacific theater.

“The idea was that you’d put these fake bare feet over your actual shoes and it would look as if a native was walking over the beach rather than you,” Taylor said.

Stink bombs

The British spent large sums on the development of a super smelly bomb called the S-capsule. Placed in the pocket of a German soldier, once crushed the capsule released a terrible stench which remained even after numerous cleanings.

Since winter clothes in the German army were in short supply, the soldier had to either freeze or suffer a terrible smell. The idea was that a badly smelling officer might lose credibility in the eyes of his subordinates.

The Americans also worked on a similar invention. Taylor said that in the end, “I think in both cases they had to kind give up using it because people that administered it ended up smelling as bad as the people they were aiming it at.”

Exploding poop

There are cases in which the British sent members of the Resistance members throughout Europe imitation manure filled with explosives. The idea was to leave it on the road where it would not be suspected by the drivers of vehicles that would inevitably run over it.

“The actual dung was copied from the real thing supplied by the London Zoo. And there were different kinds of dung depending on which kind of part of Europe” it was going to, Taylor said.

Exploding rats

The British proposed this idea in 1941 after a series of medical experiments. The idea was to fill rat corpses with explosives and toss them into German factories. It was assumed that eventually, one of the German employees, finding a dead rat near the furnace, would throw it into the fire. This, in turn, should have led to an explosion.

The British planned to plant booby-trapped rats in the boiler rooms of German trains, factories, factories, and power plants. In reality, this information fell into the hands of the Germans. The Germans overestimated the importance of the British project and began to spend a large amount of time guarding against it.

In turn, the British considered the project a distracting maneuver: the leakage of information caused a greater panic than the possible use of exploding rats in practice.

Laxatives

The coastline of Norway had an economy based mainly on salted fish. Thus, when the Germans announced that they were requisitioning Norway’s entire catch of sardines, people were outraged. In the ranks of the Resistance was an informant at Nazi headquarters who said that the sardines would be used to feed German troops. Canned food was supplied to U-boat crews.

At the request of Resistance members, the British sent large reserves of croton oil. This oil has a fishy taste and a strong laxative effect. Norwegians secretly delivered it to canneries, where it was mixed with vegetable oil and added to sardines. Soon after, the sardines were sent to German submarines.

In one case, this operation was a great success. However, a large-scale operation based on a laxative was never realized, since the war ended before it could be implemented.

Pink planes

Some fighters during the Second World War were so specialized that they flew only at certain times of the day. To make the aircraft less noticeable both at sunset and at sunrise, they were painted pink.

“That seems [to be] something that’s very very strange and did work surprisingly well,” Taylor said. Although camouflage on aircraft was hardly a novelty, it was a clever tactic at the time to make “invisible” airplanes thanks to pink paint.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Weapons Humor –

Well here’s the problem. Part # AB5 is a Nuclear Missile. Part # AB6 is an ink cartridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth Bellin – Lidgerwood, ND; US Navy, WWII, PTO, gunner’s mate

Travis Brannon – Nashville, TN; USMC, Viper pilot, Captain, KIA

John DePace – Houston, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Joseph Gallagher Sr. – Philadelphia, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Robert Hitson – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Howard Lee – NYC, NY; USMC, Vietnam, Captain, 2/4/3rd Marine Division, Medal of Honor

Samuel Malucci Jr.  – Northford, CT; US Army, Vietnam, 75/82nd Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Edward Sttewart – St. Paul, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/127 Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Risdon Westen – Boulder, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Matthew Wiegand – Ambler, PA; USMC, Viper pilot, Major, KIA

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on April 4, 2019, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 183 Comments.

  1. Haha! Hysterical! I wonder if the ‘itchy powder’ that they used was the same as the ‘itching powder’ that was available to most school kids in the 1950s (usuallymail order via the back page of comics).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That was fun. I have a unit on Inventions that I teach in 4th grade. I was scratching my head over which of these best fit the children. Pink planes maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Who thinks of these things?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great minds with much imagination gp, remember seeing an episode of Dad’s Army with inflatable tanks in it that got away from their moorings.
    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A great catalogue of ideas! In the novel that I am never likely to finish now, I had planned that one of my characters, a young American, had been a member of the ‘Ghost Army’ (603rd Camouflage Battalion) in France during the war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Hilary, you should try to finish it. One thing that generation was – was creative in time of need! I think they even invented the line, “Necessity is the Mother of invention.” (It would be apropo if they did). Even my own father always said that there was an answer to any problem, if you thought about it enough.
      Thank you for coming by. I miss seeing you and your website!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Those guys were really thinking to come up with these strange but clever wartime devices. Found them all interesting but smiled at the fake feet, the itching powder, and laxatives. Little things that really caused problems.

    Like

  7. Thanks for your like of my article on, “Palm Sunday – Passion Week;” I appreciate your kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Howard Lee was actually a Lt Col; when he retired,he was a captain when he earned the Medal of Honor

    Liked by 1 person

  9. An entire WW2 submarine crew with diarrhea — I reckon they’d be surfacing fairly often.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great post. Hilarious! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Just amazing how inventive those backroom boys could be! BTW, I think I may have eaten some of those Norwegian fish…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Very interesting this stuff and I’d never heard about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Poop…. and the rest as well that I didn´t know. As I told you before I´m a history buff and have seen and read about that era. I knew about the fake tanks but not the rest. I found it very interesting.

    It also made me think that war is a constant in humanity, we like it or not. Easy ( not the 101st airborne company ) is to say we hate wars, who wouldn´t be FOR wars? But is the reality and someone ( not most of the politicians nor I care if they served) has to get their hands dirty. I did, willingly. This post also made me think ( which is strange at 5.56 a.m) that great inventions have come through war into civilian life. For example the plane. We take it as granted, but even though those Bright in the flight, brothers did experiment with that machine before WW!, the military adopted it and improved it.

    I know is bad to say, but I can I think sinceI have lived it, war is maybe a necessary evil.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love these sneaky inventions, especially the pink plane, I best never buy a pink car if they’re invisible at dusk.
    Best wishes
    Charlotte

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Those are some interesting inventions!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post, it is incredible the very innovative things that come from war… This was one of those great articles that had me smiling throughout, well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. WOW?! I’m speechless.

    Liked by 1 person

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