In World War II, the U.S. Army experimented with firebombs carried by live bats

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I read a great and funny book that told this story. It was called Bat Bomb: World War II’s Other Secret Weapon. A great read!


The firebombs with dead bats were less impressive.


I heard the general outlines of this story years ago, but what I had not realized was how close the program came to successful deployment. I had always heard of the project described as a comical fiasco that ended in disaster and was hushed up to avoid embarrassment for all involved.

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I suspect if people keep talking about this for long enough, sooner or later someone’s going to work up the nerve to perfect it.

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Let’s not forget that after this project failed, one relevant military contractor found a private buyer for some offshoot projects, like the batarang, bat tracer, and bat suit. They eventually did develop an unrelated “bat bomb” as well, though less aptly named than this original. :wink:

Seriously though, I love stories like this. They help combat our tendency to really, really underestimate how non-obvious it is, beforehand, what ideas will work and how many off the wall ideas you have to try to find the good ones.


I suspect there’s plenty of people experimenting with substituting ‘bat’ with ‘cheap drone’…

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The first guided bombs had pigeons inside that would peck at a target.

Did this precede WWII Germany’s 'Fritz X" guided glide bomb?


The Silverwing book series by Kenneth Oppel (Darkwing, Silverwing, Sunwing, Firewing) covers the bat-bombs project entirely from the bat’s point of view. Along the lines of Secret of NIMH or Watership Down.

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