November 15, 2007

Exploding Dog Bombs
Lima, Peru

You have to love the USSR's creativity…

I recently came across an entertaining Wikipedia article about how a World War II Soviet Union used hungry dogs with explosives harnessed to their backs to damage or destroy military vehicles. Anti-tank dogs, also known as dog bombs or dog mines, were trained to seek food under tanks and armored vehicles. The dogs quickly learned that once released from their pens, food could be found under tracked vehicles. Once trained, the dogs were fitted with an explosive charge and set loose into a field of oncoming German tanks and other tracked vehicles. When the dog went underneath the tank—where there was less armor—the charge would detonate and damage the enemy vehicle.

According to Soviet sources, the anti-tank dogs were successful at disabling a reported three hundred German tanks. They were enough of a problem to the Nazi advance that the Germans were compelled to take measures against them. An armoured vehicle's top-mounted machine gun proved ineffective, and eventually the Germans began using tank-mounted flame-throwers to ward off the dogs.

Amazing.

Also of note: Project Orcon was a WWII-era effort to find a non-jammable guidance system for missiles; pigeons were one of the things they tried. Loaded into a missile, the pigeons were to tap on the image of the target to correct the missile's trajectory.

Trainee pigeons were started out in the primary trainer pecking at slowly moving targets. They were rewarded with corn for each hit and quickly learned that good pecking meant more food. Eventually pigeons were able to track a target jumping back and forth at five inches per second for 80 seconds, without a break. Peck frequency turned out to be four per second, and more than 80 percent of the pecks were within a quarter inch of the target. The training conditions simulated missile-flight speeds of about 400 miles per hour.

Although the Project Orcon didn't last long, the electrically conducting glass created was later used in many radar displays. Fascinating.

Oh, and I've also got to mention a WWII-era news reel that shows the disposal of 20,000 pounds of Sodium in lake. Sound boring? Well, I assure you it the video, the classic announcer's voice, the science, and the comments on the page are far from it. I really do love the U.S. military. (thumbs-up)

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