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World War II and Nazi Germany in particular have provided me with a bounty of articles on strange military inventions. I have covered everything from enormous tanks to cute little baby tanks, usually with names that contradict the size of the vehicle. For a couple years now I have avoided the darkest side of German weapons programs out of respect to the dead. Recently I read a vintage letter from a GI to his wife back home where he insists that she exhume bodies from a local cemetery so that when he gets home he can "ride them like wet lightning." Since then I have had very little respect for the dead. With that in mind I bring you the latest and most sinister in my continuing series of wacky inventions of World War II. If you want to catch up on the previous articles you can check them out here:
My Tank is Fight
My Tank Fires Bullets That Weigh a Ton
My Tank Has Armor Plate to Save Me From Hate
My Tank Has a Great Big Gun
My Tank is AWESOME!
My Tank is Flight
My Tank is Fright
My Tank Has Hugest Treads
Alright, don't say I didn't warn you, because things are about to get really scary.
Panzerfritter Mk III "Buttereingeweide"
Type: Super Heavy Corn Fritter with Butter GravyConstruction underway on the Panzerfritter prototype at Rheinmetall-Borsig.Specific Features: The Panzerfritter Mk III was a terrible invention of staggering scale. 480 tons of cornmeal went into the forge and emerged as a crispy rolling ball of pure aggression. Structural integrity for this massive fritter was achieved by spearing eight- meter long poles of cracker bread through the core of the fritter. This added not only strength but also a degree of resistance to damage as the spears themselves could deflect small arms fire and shrapnel. When it was completed the Buttereingeweide towered above the battlefield, nearly 12 meters tall and anywhere from 14 to 18 meters across.
Armament consisted of a delicious honey and butter gravy that relied on German engineering prowess and a thick savory undercurrent described by chief designer Viktor Hamperman as "gizzardy but not too heavy." This was created by force-feeding geese various sausages, sweat meats, and toffees through a funnel while ridiculing them for racial impurity. Once the goose was near death the engineers would remove its gizzard and marinate this in an apple brandy for two to three days. These marinated gizzards would then be blended raw into a mixture of melted butter, wild honey, and a sprinkling of black pepper.
The Panzerfritter Mk III was designed to be deployed still-hot to the battlefield and a special rail car was constructed to transport it as rapidly as possible to contested sectors of the front. German strategists believed that the appearance of even a single Panzerfritter on the battlefield could prove sufficient to turn the tide of a critical battle.
History: The development of the Panzerfritter Mk III by Rheinmetall-Borsig's Special Projects Division began in 1942 following a request from OKH for a "fritter in the super-heavy category capable of serving as a keystone for combat groups." Requirements for this fritter included a 300 ton structure and up to 100 tons of sauce or gravy with a "zesty taste, but not too sweet." Hitler initially specified that the fritter must be completely vegan but relented after a fiery confrontation with Hermann Goering, who believed that the Panzerfritter might also prove useful to the Luftwaffe. The reasoning behind Goering's belief remains murky but some historians believe that he intended to develop a special glider to transport the fritter deep behind enemy lines where it would prove a disastrous distraction to enemy formations.
Designs for the "super-heavy panzer fritter" were submitted by Rheinmetall-Borsig and Porsche, but Porsche was already heavily involved in the development of a light potato streusel and the contract was awarded to Rheinmetall. Hitler was so impressed by Rheinmetall's design that he ordered a production run of 100 before work had even begun on a prototype. In February of 1943 Rheinmetall contracted dry-dock and naval refitting facilities from the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg. Initial delivery of the BMW 008 geese was delayed by Allied air-interdictions of rail shipments but by April the fryer had been constructed and the raw materials needed were on hand. The first prototype was completed in September of 1943 but because of problems with the single-dipped hull it was only two-thirds the size projected in the initial design.
A second prototype was completed in January of 1944 and this measured almost 15 meters in diameter with a slight "gum drop" shape. Unfortunately, Albert Speer cancelled the production run of the Panzerfritter Mk III in February and two uncompleted prototypes were abandoned. The single surviving prototype was captured by the Americans in March of 1945 but was too infested with mice to be of any use and was subsequently scrapped for parts. The Panzerfritter might have turned the tide of the war for the Germans if it had been developed earlier and had been produced in sufficient numbers. As it was, it turned out to be another of the bizarre pipedreams of Hitler that further strained the already overtaxed industry of the crumbling Reich.
Fleisch-Soldat "Cluck-Cluck"The only surviving photo of a deployed Fleisch-Soldat.Type: Meat Soldier
Specific Features: The Fleisch-Soldat or "Meat Soldier" consisted of a lightly crisp-fried mega chicken leg ranging between 1 and 1.5 meters in height. These chicken legs were coated in an apple glaze, lightly seasoned with salt, and some were branded with a Swastika or unit insignia. While they had very little in the way of offensive capabilities they were practically indestructible compared to a human infantryman. With no vital organs or even a rudimentary nervous system the only way to halt their advance was to blow them completely apart or shatter the central bone supporting their delicious body. Careful aim with an anti-tank rifle could achieve the latter and would reduce a Cluck-Cluck (so named by the infantry who served with them) to a spastic heap of groaning meat.
The production run of Fleisch-Soldats included a specially designed waxy coating that slowed the decay of the creature but reduced the volume of its haunting cries. With this coating the meat soldiers could remain in service for upwards of three months in all but the most warm and damp of climates, though long before then billeting with human infantry was a grotesque proposal. Generally they milled outside the barracks or encampment of the unit they were attached to, groaning and slowly rotting. In dire times the human infantry could core the Fleisch-Soldats for the slightly fresher meat at the center of their body.
History: For some reason lost to history a chicken's body parts acquire a rudimentary intelligence once they reach a certain size. By pumping normal chickens full of mysterious growth formulas German scientists were eventually able to produce 8-legged giant chickens whose limbs, when severed and cooked, moved about awkwardly and emitted a low-pitched constant wail. While many found this disturbing the Wehrmacht, in desperate need of fresh blood by 1944, ordered the formation of a new "Fleisch-Soldat" program at underground facilities in the Alps.
The result was the Fleisch-Soldat "Cluck-Cluck." Easily manufactured in mass quantities, these meaty warriors were nearly the perfect replacement for the terrible casualties the Germans had suffered on the Eastern Front. Their lack of internal organs made them highly resistant to injury, their constant moaning was dispiriting to enemy soldiers, and they required no equipment or training before being sent into battle. While they could not actually follow orders early testing showed that some salt and a shove in the direction of the latest offensive was generally all that was required.
The Fleisch-Soldat program completed roughly 100 Cluck-Clucks in a trial run for the Wehrmacht and these were rushed to the Eastern Front in November of 1944. Though their swaying gait and unearthly groans caused panic in the Soviet troops, commissars held the line and the Fleisch-Soldats proved ill-equipped to deal with tank attacks and massed artillery. Worse still, after the battle had ended the Russians moved cautiously from their positions and dragged the quivering survivors down into the trenches. The Germans had unwittingly provisioned an entire infantry company with delicious apple-glazed chicken.
The surviving prototype run of 10 Cluck-Clucks were relegated to guard duty at a concentration camp in Poland. Even here they failed miserably. All ten went AWOL and the forced-starvation of the Jews at the camp hit a snag when the population of prisoners went from emaciated to plump in the span of a week. The only legacy of the Fleisch-Soldat program are giant bones found near the abandoned Turduckzen facility in Austria.
Superkuchen KN-18 "Kissy Klaus"The prototype "Kissy Klaus" is brought in for the review of officials.Type: High Tech Cake
Specific Features: The Superkuchen KN-18, known jokingly as the "Kissy Klaus" for unknown reasons, represented the cutting edge of German technology. It was 19 layers of alternating high-tensile chocolate sponge cake and exotic ginger-accented vanilla. In between each layer was a heat resistant molybdenum-core icing and these together formed a structure capable of surviving the high speed and friction the cake was designed to withstand. The entire cake was covered in a radar-absorbent butter cream icing that was every bit as deceptive as it was delicious. Engineers predicted that the cake would have a radar signature similar to that of a small single-serving flan.
The main armament of the Superkuchen was the 14 candied apples arranged in a circular array around the outside of the cake's superstructure. By focusing fire from these apples the cake could satiate the hunger of up to 20 people at once or one high-value target. The secondary weaponry for the KN-18 consisted of anywhere from 1 to 285 candles or 1 to 18 54mm numerical candles which could signify a number up to as high as 999,999,999,999,999,999. Rumors persist of a candle developed by the Germans that could not be extinguished by any means.
The prototype Superkuchen weighed nearly 20 kilograms and a production model, had one ever been completed by engineers at Backendes Bilden, could have weighed as much as 50 kilograms. While this would have slightly decreased the overall performance the sheer volume of fire such a massive cake would have produced would have likely offset this fact.
History: A request for proposal was made in 1943 by RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) for a cake in the 10+ kilogram range capable of feeding as many as 120 guests for a birthday party. Designs were submitted by Heinkel, Gotha, and a little-known designer that referred to itself as Backendes Bilden. Surprisingly, the design from Backendes Bilden beat out the two competing designs and a contract was awarded for a production run of one cake to be completed no later than Hitler's birthday in 1945.
Wind tunnel testing of wooden mockups of the cake in the summer of 1943 revealed structural deficiencies and delayed production of prototype so that changes could be made to the design. Prototype production began using slave labor at Backendes Bilden's facility near Budapest in the winter of 1944. The prototype was completed a few days later and was transferred by rail to Berlin for review by RLM and Hoher Befehl für Überraschung Geburtstag-Parteiplanung, a committee of top Nazi officials tasked with planning Hitler's 56th birthday party. The prototype met with the satisfaction of both groups and approval was given for final production to commence.
The hull was completed for the cake in late January of 1945 and application of the internal layers was underway at the Backendes Bilden facility. The birthday turned out to be unhappy, however, when the facility was overrun by the advancing Soviets in early March. The partially-completed Superkuchen was transferred to Moscow for intensive study and was later eaten by Stalin in a fit of depression. Soviet archival notes describe that Stalin's contentment about the deliciousness of the Superkuchen was greatly overshadowed by the sickness that resulted from eating nearly 50 pounds of 3-month old cake.
I hope you enjoyed the amazing inventions this time around! Don't forget to sign up for the My Tank is Fight mailing list to learn more about the progress on my book full of inventions much like those in this article only real. If you missed the signup date for the first mailing list update you can check out the email archive.
Do you wish to know what computers will be doing in the year to come? With a sigh I shall exert the minimal effort it takes to reveal all. Feel free to print out these predictions and share them with your friends via fax.
Old mixed signals feeling a little stale? Try some new ones!
day 2: still working on the car
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