Kitty cats: New weapons of mass destruction?
German text of over 400 years ago theorized strapping bombs to cats
The modern house cat gives pleasure and companionship to many people. With their independent nature, affectionate manner and beauty, there are a staple in many homes. It's hard to believe at one time that they were thought of being used as weapons of mass destruction - but a 400-yer-old German textbook, "Feuer Buech," which translates as "Fire Book" theorized just that.
The wacky manuscript from 16th Century Germany considered using cats -- and birds to bomb opposing forces.
The 235-page volume from 1584 contains a drawing of a feline and his feathered friend with "rocket packs" strapped to backs as they ran and fly past a castle. Whether they were actually used is anyone's guess. Animals have been used for centuries in warfare, usually to deliver messages or for transportation. They have also been used at times as weapons.
At the beginning of the Southern Song Dynasty, which ruled China between 960 and 1279, monkeys were thought to have been employed in a battle between rebels of the Yanzhou province and the Chinese Imperial Army.
Clothed with straw, the monkeys were cruelly dipped in oil and set alight before being set loose into the enemy's camp.
In the 16th Century, a German artillery officer once presented a plan to use cats to spread poisonous gas among enemy soldiers, although the plan was never followed through.
And much like miners used canaries to warn of gas leaks, the British employed around 500,000 felines to warn of lethal fumes during World War One.
The U.S. military experimented with bat bombs during World War II, which consisted of a casing that contained a Mexican Free-tailed bat attached with a timed explosive. The casings were to be dropped from an aircraft and release the bats which would then roost in eaves and attics before the timers went off.
Several tests were carried out, but the plan was scrapped in 1944 when Fleet Admiral Ernest J King realized it would not be combat-ready until mid-1945. Around $2 million had already been spent on the project.
Donkeys have been used by insurgents to detonate explosives more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The use of animals was never really that widespread if for no other reason than nature's notorious unpredictability, which is never a reassuring quality where explosives are involved. Given the cat's highly independent nature, it seems unlikely they could have been directed to go into enemy camps to detonate.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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