There wasn’t a World War III (thankfully), but after the Second World War, there was a period called the Cold War. It was the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies. The term was used because there was no large-scale fighting, and no one declared war against the other. Their conflict revolved around political, economic, and propaganda struggles for global influence. It was a difficult time for both parties because of the possibilities of a nuclear attack, and it was a mind game because they could never tell if the other side was preparing one or not. Thus, the military had to think outside the box with weapons to combat the enemies. Here are some of their rather interesting output:

Lun-class Ekranoplan

An artist’s concept of a Soviet wing-in-ground effect vehicle (hand-sketched illustration)

Designed by Rostislav Alexeyev, Russian Soviet Director and Chief of Design, this Ground Effect Vehicle is a hybrid of airplanes and ships. What’s unique about it was that it glided just over the water (around 13 ft. above) without touching it— a height of flight that was effective in avoiding detection. How it worked was the wind pushed air downwards where it is compressed between the wings and ocean surface. Its maximum cruising speed was at 550 kilometers per hour and could carry troops, cargos, as well as nuclear weapons, like the P-270 Moskit, a ramjet-powered anti-ship cruise guided missile. There was only one lun-class ekranoplan that ever made because of the cancellation of military funding and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Project Thor

Image from Kerbal Space Program Forums / LADBible

Still pumped up with the idea of nuclear weapons and (probably) inspired by the God of Thunder, Project Thor was born. The idea of the United States Air Force was a kinetic orbital strike, which was supposed to work by attacking the target through projectile impacting and making use of kinetic energy to unleash destructive powers. Although the idea was still a result of the nuclear weapon craze, this one doesn’t use one. Instead, it was a satellite containing tungsten rods 20 feet long and 1 foot in diameter that could be aimed at the target upon command. It would then release and shower down these rods to strike the target from a very high angle at a very high speed, thus its nickname “Rods from God.”

Blue Peacock

A landmine codenamed ‘Blue Peacock’ at an exhibition of secret nuclear plans from the cold war at the National Records Office on March 31, 2004, in London. Getty Images/Staff/Business Insider

In 1957, the British Army ordered ten Blue Peacocks for use in Germany. Blue Peacock was a ten-kiloton nuclear land mine that they planned to place on the North German Plain. This gigantic mine had an eight-day timer or could also be detonated through a wire. They did this because “a skilfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination.” as written by the army’s engineer in chief.

The wacky thing about this project was that the Northern German Plain could get really cold during the winter season. The cold could mess with the mine’s electronics. Their solution? A proposal to seal live chickens inside the casing, with food and water supply, of course. The chicken’s body heat would be sufficient to keep these electronics warm, and the chicken was supposed to be alive for a week or so. The Ministry of Defence canceled the project in February 1958 due to the high risks of nuclear fallout. Thankfully, no chickens was harmed.

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