Skip to main content

10 Unusual and Bizarre Real Life Weapons

Mike is a freelance writer and researcher who enjoys exploring history, urban legends, myths, rabbit holes and old folk stories.


As sad as it may seem, there is no other field where humankind shows quite the level of ingenuity than when it comes to weaponry. From hitting each other over the head with rocks to atomic warfare, we've found all sorts of creative and disturbing ways of inflicting harm on one another. And along the way, people have invented some genuinely bizarre, unusual, and insane creations, including the following ten items you might not believe someone actually made.

10. LED Incapacitator (a.k.a. The Vomit Gun)

Sometimes referred to as a "real-life light saber" but also the "puke saber" and "vomit gun," this unusual non-lethal weapon has, as you can probably tell, gained something of a notorious reputation.

The light emitting diode (LED) incapacitator is designed much like a flashlight and works by emitting a strobe of bright, pulsing, alternating multicolored lights that are self-adjusting thanks to an in-built range finder. And when pointed at someone, the result is temporary blindness and disorientation. But it can also result in headaches, nausea, and ultimately, vomiting, hence the device's many nicknames.

In any case, it's undoubtedly one of the more unusual weapons in use by law enforcement officials today.

9. The Bob Semple Tank

During world war two, the people of New Zealand found themselves preparing for the possibility of a Japanese invasion. But with British shipments of tanks delayed due to struggles on the western front, the country found itself without the armored vehicles it would need to defend itself.

With no one else to turn to, the New Zealand government tasked the minister of public works, Bob Semple, with designing an overlay structure that could transform tractors into tanks. The result would be the Bob Semple tank, which is largely regarded by many as the worst tank ever designed.

Designed to be manned by an eight-man crew and armed with six machine guns, the Bob Semple tank had more than a few flaws. For starters, it was so overcrowded when fully manned that one of the soldiers would have to lay on a mattress to operate his machine gun because there wasn't enough room for everyone to stand and sit. The vehicle was also poorly armored, highly unstable, overly heavy, and had to stop to change gears.

To Bob Semple's credit, he had next to nothing to work with in terms of blueprints. But that didn't stop the public ridicule. In any case, though, Japan thankfully never did invade New Zealand, and the Bob Semple Tank never saw any actual combat.

8. A40 Flying Tank

One of the significant challenges any military faces is the question of how to mobilize its forces as quickly as possible. Para-trooping is one solution, but armored vehicles like tanks are generally too heavy to be parachuted into action like infantry. At least, not fully manned and operation-ready, in any case. Such was an issue that the soviet's hoped to overcome during world war two when they tasked airplane designer Oleg Antonov with finding a way to glide a fully-manned tank into battle. His solution? The ambitious but ultimately ridiculous Antonov A-40.

Essential a modified t-60 tank equipped with detachable wood and canvas wings and a twin tail, the A40 could theoretically glide into battle, lose its wings and be operational within minutes. But the setup proved to have more than a few problems.

For starters, the tank had to be stripped of most of its fuel and some of its armor to be light enough. Combined with the fact that the A40 would have been an easy target on the way down (due to its exposed underbelly), it wouldn't have made it the most formidable foe.

Also, because the A40 was a glider and not a plane, it had to be towed into battle aboard a mothership. And as pilots discovered during the vehicle's only test run, where the towing bomber had to ditch the tank, the excess drag the A40 caused meant that no aircraft was sufficient to carry this thing. To its credit, however, the A40 did land safely during its only flight and managed to drive back to base after losing its wings.

7. The Bat Bomb

The bat bomb is an idea that came from the mind of a vengeance-seeking American dentist who wanted to exact revenge on the Japanese following the pearl harbor attacks. Inspired by observing the strength of bats on holiday and knowing that Japanese cities were, at the time, mostly made out of wood, he devised the idea of attaching incendiaries to bats. These bats would then be dropped out of an aircraft, flying down to roost into the nooks and crannies of buildings. Then, after a certain amount of time, the incendiaries would detonate.

You wouldn't think the military would even entertain such an idea, but the dentist, Lytle S. Adams, had good connections. And the project was soon being tested under the watch of the US Army Airforce and later the marine corps.

Tests provided mixed results. Since it turns out that trying to control thousands of fast-moving flying creatures armed with deadly napalm is difficult. On the other, one test showed that the bat bombs produced more fires per bomb load than your standard incendiary missions. However, perhaps because the atomic bomb would soon make the whole thing look even more ridiculous, the project was eventually scrapped, much to the relief of bats everywhere.

6. The Killdozer

In 2003, a man named Marvin Heemeyer went on a one-man rampage through the town of Granby, Colorado. He destroyed buildings, knocked out gas supplies, and caused such panic that the town governor nearly called in the national guard to intervene with apache helicopters and anti-tank missiles. Marvin's motivation largely stemmed from frustrations over zoning commissions and the local council. His weapon? A modified Komatsu D355A bulldozer that has since gained the moniker 'Killdozer.'

Marvin worked on this bizarre contraption for a year and a half before his attack. He added armored plates made from steel and concrete, a video camera encased in bullet-proof plastic for visibility, a makeshift cockpit, and gun ports. Small arms fire and explosions proved to have little to no effect on Marvin's creation, meaning local law enforcement was helpless to stop him. It was only when the dozer got stuck in the foundations of a hardware store that Marvin's destruction ended.

The Killdozer's design meant that, once Marvin sealed himself within the vehicle, it would have been impossible for him to have gotten out. And he never did, inevitably killing himself to avoid capture, leaving behind a troubled, if morbidly fascinating legacy in his wake.

5. Pigeon Guided missiles

Another WW2-era animal-based weapon here, once again from the US, this time from the mind of psychologist and inventor Burrhus Frederic Skinner. The target here, however, was not Japanese buildings but German battleships, which had been causing the US all sorts of problems.

The allied forces already had the missile technology to tackle these battleships. The problem was that the guidance systems of the time weren't reliable enough for them to be effective. That's where Burrhus stepped in with the idea of using pigeons to guide the missiles by training them to peck on a screen inside the missiles nose that, in turn, would control the direction of the rockets. Or, to put it another way, he wanted to train pigeons to be kamikaze pilots.

It may sound bizarre, but the early test runs of the system proved to be quite effective. Moreover, the pigeons, overly brave and relatively easy to train by nature, were not put off from conducting their missions by either the rapid pace of the missiles or the noise. Ultimately, though, the project would not be long-lived, with the US military deciding to focus on other, seemingly more fruitful projects, such as radar.

4. Flaming Pigs

If you thought that bat bombs or pigeon-guided missiles sounded cruel, then you might rather not know about how some ancient cultures, including the Romans, used pigs in battle. Not only did they send the terrified animals into enemy lines, but they did so after setting them on fire.

According to historical writing, this strategy was typically employed as a countermeasure to tackle another animal-based weapon. That being war elephants, who, for all their might, were known to panic when faced with the squealing animals, becoming uncontrollable and disobeying orders. The countermeasure was so effective that elephant trainers began keeping their elephants with pigs so that they would learn not to fear them.

3. Urumi Whip Sword

At first glance, an Urumi might look like some variety of your typical whip. But rather than nylon or leather, the whips of an Urumi are made of flexible sheets of very sharp metal, resulting in one of the most insane and terrifying weapons ever conceived. One that is not only extremely dangerous for foes but for the wielder too.

Your basic Urumi sword consists of one curling blade around 4-5 feet long. But variations of the weapon are as long as several people. And others that consist of several blades attached together.

As you can imagine, it takes years to be able to handle, let alone master, these weapons. But a skillful user could theoretically take on multiple enemies simultaneously from a safe distance. However, they'd likely pose as much risk to any allies as foes in a classic battle situation.

2. The Davy Crockett

A portable tactical nuclear weapon designed to be used by infantry squads is another weapon that sounds like it belongs in the realm of science fiction. But during the cold war, such a weapon not only existed but was fielded by the United States. That weapon was the Davy Crockett.

The Davy Crockett was a recoilless rifle designed to fire a nuclear warhead with a yield between 0.01 and 0.02 kilotons. For reference, the bombs dropped on Japan in world war two had a yield of around 20 kilotons, so this thing couldn't create the kind of mushroom clouds that destroy cities. Still, the Davy Crockett packed a punch and only required three soldiers and a jeep to operate.

The real danger the Davy Crockett presented was not the explosion it created but the radiation it left in its wake, which would likely have killed more people than the actual explosion. The radiation would have also posed a real danger to the crew operating it, who would need to duck under cover to avoid looking at the flash and scramble away as quickly as possible.

Thankfully, the Crockett's tenure was short-lived. But who knows how quickly things could have escalated if someone had fired this thing on a real battlefield.

1. Schwerer Gustav

There's no denying that the Nazi's taste for designing enormous and overly-ambitious weapons was matched only by their evil plots. Take the 1000-ton Landkreuzer tank or the "sun gun," for instance. But while those weapons never became a reality, the world's largest railgun, the Schwere Gustav, did.

Weighing over 1,300 tonnes and measuring more than 155 ft in length, the Schwerer Gustav remains the largest-caliber rifle ever used in combat. And it was an undoubtedly powerful thing, too, with shells that weighed around 20,000 pounds each and a max range of 51,000 yards.

The problem with the railgun, as the Germans would discover, was that it was too big for its own good, requiring so much manpower and resources to operate that it had little operational use.

Just moving and assembling this thing and its tracks was a huge undertaking that required several thousand men several days to achieve. Another 250 men were needed to fire the gun, and many more to prevent it from being attacked. It wasn't exactly something you could sneak up on the enemy, either. As such, the Germans used it only once before realizing the impracticalities of such a weapon.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Mike Grindle