M-388 Davy Crockett In the 1950s and 60s there was a very real fear of a massive Soviet ground attack in Western Europe. One answer to that threat was the American army's M-388 Davy Crockett, essentially a bazooka that fired an atomic bomb. What the M-388 did was to put atomic weapons with the capacity to render vast areas uninhabitable for years in the hands of a few young jumpy front line GI's with itchy trigger fingers. The M-388 had a range of just 3km and was woefully inaccurate even at that distance. Crude, stupid and possibly the worst single idea in history. FP-45 Liberator The FP-45 was a one-shot pistol produced by the US army in the second world war, designed to be dropped en masse in the occupied territories of Europe for use by members of the resistance movements. The FP-45 Liberator was so crudely made that it could be manufactured quicker than it could be reloaded The pistol was extremely cheap to produce but also crude, simple and only effective over a very short distance. And the one-shot barrel didn't instil much confidence either. If you missed first time you more than likely died. In fact, the FP-45 was so crude that it was actually quicker to manufacture than to reload (seven seconds against 10), and few were ever used in combat. Blue Peacock This British-designed nuclear mine was very wrong, for a number of reasons. First, it weighed in at 7.2 tonnes, making it difficult to produce, transport and bury in secret. Second, it was designed for use in West Germany, to be detonated in the event of Soviet invasion, but nobody thought to ask the West Germans which particular outcome they would actually prefer - the imposition of a competing economic ideology or the complete destruction and contamination of huge swathes of their country. But the third reason is the most bizarre. When buried in winter, the electronics that controlled the mines froze. To keep them warm enough to work, the inventors proposed encasing live chickens in the shell with enough food and water to last 10 days. The press labelled the Blue Peacock the chicken-powered nuclear bomb, and the project was abandoned. Chauchat submachine gun The Chauchat was a good idea, badly implemented. The French weapon was one of the first mass produced, high-powered sub-machine guns and was used extensively in the first world war. When it worked, it was a powerful asset but it was totally unsuited to the demands of the first world war for one simple reason. The open magazine meant that it would quickly jam when mud entered the chamber. The battlefields of Flanders were among the muddiest places in which men have ever waged war, making the Chauchat one of the most misconceived weapons of all time. The rat bomb For some reason, second world war military inventors became obsessed with the idea of animal-based armaments. The rat bomb was a British initiative that involved stuffing rat carcasses with explosives and having secret agents bury them in enemy coalbunkers. In theory, unsuspecting workers would shovel the rats into industrial boilers, the explosives would ignite, and the German war effort would be dealt a mortal blow. In reality, the Germans intercepted the first consignment of dead explosive rats and the project was abandoned. The anti-tank dog When the German army attacked Russia in 1941, the Soviet army was woefully ill-equipped to defend the motherland. In a bid to buy some time until proper armaments could be imported or produced, the Russians came up with a brilliant plan: strap explosives to dogs, and teach them to run under German tanks. Russia's anti-tank dog strategy in the second world war backfired in spectacular fashion. To say the plan failed is a bit of an understatement. The dogs had been trained on tanks that didn't move and didn't fire back. When confronted with real German Panzers, the confused and terrified dogs either stopped still and were shot, or ran back in the direction they'd come and exploded among their own troops. But that's not all. The dogs had been trained on Russian tanks with diesel engines, and used their keen sense of smell to accurately identify a target. German tanks had gasoline engines. You can guess which 'target' they usually chose. The cat bomb Our American allies were no brighter. Bizarrely, one idea was to parachute live cats - strapped with explosives - onto enemy shipping. The cats' natural fear of water would ensure they steered themselves and their deadly payload towards the decks of ships rather than the open ocean. The plan ran into trouble when it was discovered that the cats tended to pass out during the drop. Balloon bombs In the second world war, the Japanese had high hopes for the balloon bomb (or Fu-Go). The elements rendered Japan's 9,000 balloon bombs virtually useless Quite simply, the idea was to strap incendiary explosives to hydrogen balloons and let them float over the Pacific Ocean on the winds of the jet stream. American cities, forests and farmland would be set ablaze, wreaking economic havoc and inciting panic among the populace. Over 9,000 balloon bombs were launched, some of which caught the wrong breeze and floated back towards Japan. Only 300 made it anywhere near their target. Japanese propaganda stated that the balloons had killed 100,000 US citizens. The real figure was six. The bat bomb After the failure of the cat bomb, the American military turned its attention to bats. Millions of bats carrying incendiary charges would be packed into bomb cases and dropped over enemy territory. When the cases opened the animals would fly off and find nice, dark places to hide, like the basements of munitions factories and the cellars of office blocks. A timer would set off the charges and, bingo, Germany would burn. Tests were encouraging, but the bat bomb was abandoned when the atomic bomb came along, which had the twin advantages of increased destructive power and no time wasted attaching tiny bombs to the legs of a million bats.