Saturday, 22 May 2004

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know...

...about Saddam's Nerve Gas capability is in a recent article I wrote over at The Command Post.

Winston Churchill's words on the same subject are in another article of mine there. Remarkably prescient for 1925.

Smithers.. Release the Pidgeons!But amidst the Death, Destruction and Despair, some of the planned programmes for biological warfare were just plain Dotty.

This Report from the ABC is a case in point:
British intelligence agents secretly discussed plans to attack the Soviet Union with pigeons armed with biological weapons, documents made public by the National Archives reveal.

The bizarre Cold War scheme was hatched by Wing Commander WDL Rayner, a Royal Air Force officer who, in the aftermath of World War II, saw suicide pigeons as the future of warfare.

He was part of a top-secret "pigeon committee" set up after the war amid concerns that lessons learned from using pigeons to carry messages through Nazi German lines would be lost as the British military disbanded its flocks.

Rayner's idea called for pigeon lofts to be situated around Britain at locations with the same electro-magnetic and coriolis values as potential Soviet targets. If war broke out, the birds - whose homing instincts depend on such values - would be released, each carrying a 55-gram capsule loaded with a "bacteriological warfare agent" such as anthrax..
Though more sensibly, (and not mentioned by the ABC), an incendiary or even explosive warhead would have been preferred. To continue...
"A thousand pigeons each with a two-ounce explosive capsule landed at intervals on a specific target might be a seriously inconvenient surprise," Rayner wrote in a paper to the committee.
I can just imagine it. Thousands of instances of, er, this Pythonesque situation.
But the idea ran into turbulence from Britain's domestic intelligence agency MI5, which branded Rayner "a menace in pigeon affairs" and disputed his participation on the committee.

In the end, Rayner's plans for a full-scale experimental pigeon loft, with about 400 birds, never got off the ground, due to wrangling between the intelligence services and armed forces over who should pay for it.
Of course the Americans would never try such a hairbrained scheme. Their 'Project X-Ray' used Free-Tailed Bats instead.
Full-scale bomber-bat tests were planned for August 1944. However, when Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, found that the bats would not be combat-ready until mid-1945, he abruptly canceled the operation. By that time, Project X-Ray had cost an estimated $2 million.

Dr. Adams was disappointed. He maintained that fires generated by bomber bats could have been more destructive than the atomic bombs that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ended the war. He found that bats scattered up to twenty miles from the point where they were released. "Think of thousands of fires breaking out simultaneously over a circle of forty miles in diameter for every bomb dropped," he said. "Japan could have been devastated, yet with small loss of life."
Apart from the immolated Bats, that is.

Then there's the truthful but less than cheerful advice put out by the LP Record "If the Bomb Falls : A Recorded Guide to Survival".

After that, I think we all need something less sanguine. So here it is : Virtual Bubblewrap.

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