"This Man is Not a Nut"

On December 15, 1943, a single B-25 Mitchell approached an isolated Japanese village carrying a special payload, one that could strike terror in the hearts of every man, woman, and child; a payload that could potentially save a hundred thousand American lives; a payload that could eventually end the war.

The bomber kept at a cruising speed of 230 mph, flying at 5,000’. This particular plane was not made for the low and terrible strafing runs that her sisters in the Solomon’s were to become famous for. She had no guns or rockets and carried no torpedoes but just below its twin 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engines were a pair of odd looking bombs. Each was about 5’ long and punctuated with dozens of little vents.
When the plane reached its target, the navigator released the bombs. They fell like any other bomb until they reached an altitude of 1000’. And then they opened, and ten little crates popped out of the shell, each crate releasing a small parachute that slowed their descent.  As they floated gently downward, a thousand Mexican free-tail bats escaped from them and flew off towards the Japanese village, tucking themselves into hard to reach corners and eaves of the highly-flammable paper and wood structures. Thirty minutes later, the timers went off and the kerosene incendiaries they carried around their necks ignited. The entire village was engulfed in flames within minutes.

This secret project, which took place at a replica Japanese village in a Utah army base, had all begun at the suggestion of Eleanor Roosevelt’s dentist, Lytle Adams. Her husband, the President, gave it the go-ahead in a memo to the Army with a qualifier describing the dentist: “This man is NOT a nut.
The Bat Bomb was eventually scrapped in favor of the nuclear option.


Enbrethiliel said...


It's official. The man was not a nut.

There's still something horrible about setting a civilian village on fire in the middle of the night, but this method doesn't carry the sense of absolute power and absolute ego that the nuclear bomb does.

cyurkanin said...

For accuracy's sake, the bat releases had to be done in the morning so that the bats would immediately seek shelter, thus ensuring that the incendiaries would be properly placed out of sight. At night, they would have likely just flown around looking for bugs to eat and then popping off like fireworks.

There's an argument that if the bat method was used, the loss of life from the fires would have been infinitely less than from the a-bomb (not to mention the ongoing effects that last even until today) but the damage to the infrastructure would have caused surrender just the same. It's an argument anyway.

All sorts of animals have been/are (still) being used in war games, including dolphins, pigeons, and cats. I wonder if they reconsidered using bats during this Afghanistan fiasco, sending them into caves.

Hmmm. Now that I consider it. On principle alone, I have no moral objection to cat bombs... stupid cats... :)