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November 29, 2015

Weird Weapons and Other Surprising Objects: 15 Strange Inventions From World War II

During the First World War, the Allies and the Central Powers employed modern weaponry and firepower on an unprecedented scale. Both sides also developed new protective equipment in response to changes in military tactics and technologies. These vintage photos from the Imperial War Museum offer a rare glimpse of very unique inventions from the First World War...

1. Heil, Mickey Mouse: This German audio-visual apparatus was designed to enhance the boom and flash of enemy artillery and, thus, help pinpoint gun positions.

2. Not so shining armour: Unwieldy and cumbersome, but the Brewster Body Shield could still stop a machine gun bullet.

3. Man over-bed: US sailors were trained to strap on bed mattresses in the absence of lifejackets.

4. Pedal power: German soldiers generating electricity for communications and light.

5. Now Hear This: Recruits at a US Navy training camp in Seattle receive an earful.

6. Homemade tree stump: Both sides would remove shell-damaged trees under cover of darkness and plant fakes – like this one installed at Souchez in May 1918 - to house snipers and lookouts. Made of canvas and chicken wire, it tested the nerve of the bravest occupant.

7. Dummy tank: Australian engineers from from 4th Field Company manoeuvre a dummy tank, made of wood and canvas, ahead of an assault on the Hindenberg Line in 1918.

8. Bird’s eye view: A German spy pigeon wearing a time-delay camera on an aluminium breast harness.

9. Bush fire: Camouflage became increasingly elaborate as war progressed. Here, Allied trips show off a captured Turkish sniper near Gallipoli in 1915.

10. Hide and seek: This 1917 US experimental camouflage suit was not deemed a success. The wearer might as well have been carrying a sign on his head.

11. In the saddle – 1915: The Kent Cyclist Battalion on parade. Touted as the new form of cavalry before the war, the bicycle was of limited use in trench warfare.

12. Zebra-painted pony: ponies camouflaged as zebras athough the reason is unclear.

13. Cutout soldiers: The British Army Camouflage School in Kensington, where cutout soldiers were designed to mislead the enemy during attacks.

14. Papier mâché heads: First made by the French in the winter of 1915, were used to flush out German snipers.

15. Para-tweeter: British homing pigeons were parachuted in to occupied territory with a request for local civilians to write down local troop positions, attach it to the bird and then release it. The Germans soon rumbled the plan and replaced Tommy pigeons with their own birds which would fly back to Germany.


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