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Weird Weapons and Other Surprising Objects – 15 Strange Inventions from WWI

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.

Weird Weapons

2. Not So Shining Armour

Unwieldy and cumbersome, but the Brewster Body Shield could still stop a machine gun bullet.

Weird Weapons

3. Man Over-Bed

US sailors were trained to strap on bed mattresses in the absence of lifejackets.

Weird Weapons

4. Pedal Power

German soldiers generating electricity for communications and light.

Weird Weapons

5. Now Hear This

Recruits at a US Navy training camp in Seattle receive an earful.

Weird Weapons

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.

Weird Weapons

7. Dummy Tank

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

Weird Weapons

8. Bird’s Eye View

A German spy pigeon wearing a time-delay camera on an aluminum breast harness.

Weird Weapons

9. Bush Fire

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

Weird Weapons

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.

Weird Weapons

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.

Weird Weapons

12. Zebra-Painted Pony

Ponies camouflaged as zebras although the reason is unclear.

Weird Weapons

13. Cutout Soldiers

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

Weird Weapons

14. Paper Mâché Heads

First made by the French in the winter of 1915, were used to flush out German snipers.

Weird Weapons

15. Para-tweeter

British homing pigeons were parachuted into 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.

Weird Weapons