The Bat Bombs of World War II: History

YupLife Staff

On December 7, 1941, a Pennsylvania dentist named Lytle S. Adams was on holiday in the southwest at the famous Carlsbad Caverns, place of vast caving and about a million bats. Adams had been especially fascinated with the bats during his vacation in New Mexico. So when he turned on the radio that unfateful day and learned the report that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, he started planning an extremely distinct kind of vengeance on his World War II enemies. So that’s where the bat bombs of World War II come from.

Bat Bombs of World War II

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, less than a month, on January 12, 1942, Adams conveyed the White House his idea: We could destroy Japanese cities by attaching tiny flammable explosives to bats, which they would take into the all the holes and cracks of the cities on the island. You probably know the animals that changed the history of the world, these bat bombs almost won WW2.

Pearl Harbor attack

His plan was considered by the National Research Defense Committee, which was in command of regulating and investigating research into war-applicable plans. They sent the plan to one Donald Griffin, who had carried groundbreaking research on bats’ echolocation strategies.

Bat Bombs of World War II

The President’s officials supported Griffin’s point. “This man is not a nut. It sounds like a perfectly wild idea but is worth looking into,” a Presidential record concluded. And so, just like that, a dentist’s insane scheme about bats had become a U.S. government research project.

After the team decided to use the Mexican free-tailed bat, Adams took a few to Washington for an illustration of them carrying a model bomb. The title of the letter was, “Test of Method to Scatter Incendiaries.” The goal of the test was recorded as, “Determine the feasibility of using bats to carry small incendiary bombs into enemy targets.” The project became known as Project X-Ray.

After being given to the Army, thousands of bats were caught with nets at caves around the southwest. Tiny bombs were made for them

Project X-Ray

At the start, the project faced many challenges of carrying and deploying the little guys. And while working on these, some small accidents also happened. Finally, the Marine Corps took control of the program and carried experiments starting in December 1943. After 30 demonstrations and $2 million spent, the project was canceled. Most people think it’s because the U.S. understood that all resources should be focused on the development of a far more lethal weapon: The Atomic Bomb.

Bat Bombs of World War II
Bat Bomb

Adams, for his role, went on to a variety of insane plans. Right after, he advocated bombing the fields with seed packets and patented that project. And eventually, after moving to Washington state, he tried to earn credit in a fried chicken vending machine. Truly Adams was a man with some concepts of his own making.


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