Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Revolutionary American Weapons of War That Never Happened

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the pipe-dreams dept.

The Military 133

An anonymous reader writes There have been many US military machines of war that seemed to be revolutionary, but never make it out of the prototype stage. As Robert Farley explains: "Sometimes they die because they were a bad idea in the first place. For the same reasons, bad defense systems can often survive the most inept management if they fill a particular niche well enough." A weapon can seem like an amazing invention, but it still has to adapt to all sorts of conditions--budgetary, politics, and people's plain bias. Here's a look at a few of the best weapons of war that couldn't win under these "battlefield" conditions.

cancel ×

133 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Revolutionary American weapons... (5, Insightful)

CurryCamel (2265886) | about 3 months ago | (#47294141)

You mean the rifled musket?

Re:Revolutionary American weapons... (5, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 3 months ago | (#47294189)

Yeah I was hoping for some steampunk goodness as well, a la Brisco County Jr.

In other news you cannot, cannot have an article about wacky war machines without prolific pictures, it contravenes no less than six seperate articles of the Internet Convention on Clickbait Guidelines.

Re:Revolutionary American weapons... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 3 months ago | (#47294749)

I was thinking Wild Wild West sorta contraptions. Brisco County Jr. is too newfangled.

Re:Revolutionary American weapons... (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 months ago | (#47296607)

Not quite steampunk but I'm shocked they didn't have the "flying pancake" of WWII as that was impressive, a plane that could lift off almost straight up with just a gentle breeze yet could flip and turn like a dogfighter and was predicted to go crazy fast for a prop fighter. What killed it was the fact that it was designed at a time when the US thought it wouldn't have much in the way of carriers and by the time it was ready we had a ton of carriers and jets were on the way so nobody saw a use in a plane that could take off from anywhere.

Re:Revolutionary American weapons... (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 3 months ago | (#47296901)

That sounds remarkably like the Avrocar, which was a stupendous failure because it was impossible to control - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Revolutionary American weapons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294401)

Mod parent up. This was exactly what was promiesd in the headline and my quick scan of the summary.

Re:Revolutionary American weapons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47295013)

I dont know about muskets but Im sure you can add the republic to the list of failed American Revolutionary weapons

Re:Revolutionary American weapons... (1)

plopez (54068) | about 3 months ago | (#47296069)

It also failed the Romans and the Germans.

Re:Revolutionary American weapons... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 3 months ago | (#47296279)

Rifling caused soot to build up faster. Other innovations were needed to make it practical in the field.

Helicopters (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294161)

I heard that the army uses helicopters not because they want to but because they have to (Air Force having jurisdiction over planes existing since late 40s as a seperate branch) and that in many missions they use helicopters planes would actually be superior.

Is this true?

Re:Helicopters (3, Informative)

aix tom (902140) | about 3 months ago | (#47294303)

Well, having been in an (German) Army Helicopter unit the "tight interaction" between ground troops and flying units requires stuff that fixed-wing aircrafts are not really good at. They can't stand still in the air, the cant land vertically in tight spaces (without burning people with jet exhaust like a VTOL jet would) , etc...

Basically anything fast/long-range/big is usually handled by the air force planes (or helicopters), while slow/agile/close coordination with ground troops is handled by the army air corps. Usually with helicopters, although some planes are used by armies, like the Britten-Norman Defender by the British army.

Re:Helicopters (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294387)

USAF here ... yes, this. Class III UAV's are a bit of an anomoly, as they're fixed wing, but so slow that they kind of just work. However, still, the Air Force has the armed UAVs and the army has unarmed ones.

Re:Helicopters (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 3 months ago | (#47296997)

But when it comes to flying armed drones in missions where missiles are fired at targets, it's the CIA doing it !?!?

Re:Helicopters (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 3 months ago | (#47294395)

Well, having been in an (German) Army Helicopter unit the "tight interaction" between ground troops and flying units requires stuff that fixed-wing aircrafts are not really good at. They can't stand still in the air, the cant land vertically in tight spaces (without burning people with jet exhaust like a VTOL jet would) , etc...

Basically anything fast/long-range/big is usually handled by the air force planes (or helicopters), while slow/agile/close coordination with ground troops is handled by the army air corps. Usually with helicopters, although some planes are used by armies, like the Britten-Norman Defender by the British army.

Very true, and try getting the Air Force to support a JAAT (speaking late coldwar here) without 30 days notice or some BS. If you needed close air support, the Navy and the Marines needed to be nearby.

Re:Helicopters (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294323)

Kinda, the devil in the details.

Until the 1980s with the formation of JSOC, the Army and Navy (and later the Air Force and to a lesser extent, the National Guard) were intentionally divided by federal government. Cue political infighting over who gets what, fast forward to the 20th century; and you have the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, etc all arguing over who gets what kind of 'aircraft', where, when and how.

As for missions where the Army would use helicopters when planes would have been superior, it all depends on the mission. In Vietnam, helicopters were usually the better choice, despite their vulnerabilities, due to lack of guided munitions and "hard" targets. In the Korean conflict, helicopters were still early in development (most were unarmed), so yes, planes would have been superior in most (non-rescue/transport) missions.

Re:Helicopters (5, Informative)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 3 months ago | (#47294389)

I heard that the army uses helicopters not because they want to but because they have to (Air Force having jurisdiction over planes existing since late 40s as a seperate branch) and that in many missions they use helicopters planes would actually be superior.

Is this true?

The Key West Agreement that formed the Air Force had a stipulation that the Army would not have any armed aircraft. Lather that was re-interpreted as no armed FIXED-WING aircraft.

Side note on the Cheyenne, the helicopter that was to be the scout helicopter for the Cheyenne attack aircraft evolved into the AH-1 Cobra. IIRC, the original scout helicopter for the Cobra was the OH-6, later replaced by the OH-58.

Re:Helicopters (2)

Nutria (679911) | about 3 months ago | (#47294471)

I heard that the army uses helicopters not because they want to but because they have to

No... they actually want to use helicopters, because they fill important niches that fixed wing craft suck at.

(The purpose of the 1948 Key West Agreement was preventing the Army from re-forming their own air wings, under their own control.)

Re:Helicopters (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 3 months ago | (#47295407)

Helicopters operate from the treetops down. Fixed wing operates from the treetops up.

Re:Helicopters (4, Interesting)

budgenator (254554) | about 3 months ago | (#47295601)

Obviously you've never seen an A10 really working it, when they pop up above treetop level and your a badguy, your in for a world of whoop-ass.

Re:Helicopters (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 3 months ago | (#47295531)

I heard that the army uses helicopters not because they want to but because they have to (Air Force having jurisdiction over planes existing since late 40s as a seperate branch) and that in many missions they use helicopters planes would actually be superior.

Is this true?

The biggest case where this is an issue for the US Army is actually with drones. They can't operate the larger, more capable drones that they would like because they fall under the purview of the US Air Force. If its fixed wing and flies over a certain altitude, the army cannot operate it.

Re:Helicopters (3, Informative)

morethanapapercert (749527) | about 3 months ago | (#47295559)

uhm,....sort of

What you're thinking of is the result of the Key West Agreement [wikipedia.org] which basically says the Army can have air assets with a reconnaissance or medical evacuation role. If they have a need for a fixed wing aircraft, blimp, helicopter or whatever within those roles, they can have them. Combat aviation machines remain the purview of the Air Force, so the A-10 tank buster and the AC-130 gunship whose primary mission is a ground support role are NOT Army assets, but Air Force. In practical terms, this has limited the Army to "low and slow" unarmed fixed wing recon platforms and helos for medivac duties. However, after the Viet Nam War, the Army was able to expand on those roles and start using smaller turboprop and light jet fixed wing craft for cargo transport and armed helicopters such as the Apache.

The Navy (and Marines) was able to keep its own combat aircraft for several reasons. My own summary of those reasons are a) Navy often operates too far away from Airforce bases for the usual type of cross-service support and b) The navy had done an excellent job of proving in the recently ended WWII of how effective carrier based aircraft are. A capability the Navy was not going to give up without a serious fight...

*It is generally accepted in military circles that special/covert operations units are exempt from the agreement, but because of the nature and scope of their missions, they are usually limited to choppers and transport craft anyway.

Missing the Howard Hughes option... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294181)

Why no mention of the wooden transport plane Hercules?

Re:Missing the Howard Hughes option... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 3 months ago | (#47294275)

Because the H-4 was a cargo plane, I suppose.

It's all politics (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 3 months ago | (#47294183)

You can develop the most awesome weapon ever invented, but if you didn't do it in an influential Congressman's district, you can forget about the military buying it.

Re:It's all politics (1)

plover (150551) | about 3 months ago | (#47294359)

Some really clever weapons systems, like the Crusader with the Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) system that delivers an array of shells to one area simultaneously, seem to have everything going for them: congressional backing, tech, whatever. Turns out that a weapon designed for WW2 land wars isn't so useful in fighting religious nuts in the deserts. Some simply get canceled because there isn't a need for them any more.

Re:It's all politics (3, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | about 3 months ago | (#47294591)

I worked Crusader for a while. I seem to recall that it was designed for Cold War, specifically a REFORGER scenario.

The collapse of the Warsaw Pact, and specifically the fall of the Soviet Union kind of made it useless, because it was too heavy to fight anywhere else.

More Republican garbage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294199)

They really do control you people completely. They want to murder and kill everyone that isn't an old white man, and these are their tools.

Re:More Republican garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294205)

Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao.... all leftists.

Just sayin'

Re:More Republican garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294211)

Don't forget Chavez, BolivÃr, Castro, and the famous Latin American leftists. They murdered plenty of people who weren't old white men.

Re:More Republican garbage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294223)

That is true. By modern American political standards, fascists such as those, who were extremely far to the political right in their own times, are now considered to be rather left of center. None of them, with perhaps the exception of Hitler, really managed to assemble the corporate ties and the influence of the economic elite that define those on the political right these days.

Re:More Republican garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294253)

> Hitler

No. He was head of the National Socialist Party(Nazi) in Germany which, obviously, was not left wing!

Re:More Republican garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294393)

Government control over production and mass media isn't a left wing concept? You should coulda fooled me!

Re:More Republican garbage (3, Insightful)

Tapewolf (1639955) | about 3 months ago | (#47294487)

Government control over production and mass media isn't a left wing concept? You should coulda fooled me!

If you travel far enough to the left or to the right, you end up in the same place.

Re:More Republican garbage (0)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 3 months ago | (#47294637)

Tell me, is the place in the center, between left and right wing, better or worse than the place that is furthest from the left wing? Do you aim to oppose, do you aim to unite, or do you aim to transcend? How you construct your left wing depends on your answers.

Re:More Republican garbage (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 3 months ago | (#47294817)

That'd be nice if that was the case. Production, especially heavy industries, was controlled by a very profitable set of private enterprises, some of which still exist today. Krupp is just one example, BMW another. As for control over Mass Media, that's an authoritarian concept. Otherwise, what do you call Fox News?

Re:More Republican garbage (1)

plopez (54068) | about 3 months ago | (#47296079)

Actually a government-corporate-religous coallition.

Re:More Republican garbage (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 3 months ago | (#47294511)

National Socialist Party

Specifically, the National Socialist German Workers' Party, and formerly the German Workers' Party.

Both are big into government control (though the Far Right doesn't like to admit it).

The only difference between the Far Left and the Far Right is the choice as to which will solve society's ills:
(a) Collectivization, or
(b) killing Jews.

Re:More Republican garbage (2)

Artifakt (700173) | about 3 months ago | (#47294679)

The early memos where the national socialists discussed putting the word socialist into the party name so they could lure workers away from German left wing parties are on open record. The NAZIs knew from the start they fell on the right and had a natural aliance with the ownership classes, and were very cynical about getting enough votes to gain power. In Hitler's own words, his National Socialism had nothing to do with Marx, Communism, or conventional Socialism, and was totally opposed to all of those things, but workers had to be weaned away from flirting with those philosophies.

To verify what I just claimed, look for George Sylvester Viereck's interview with Hitler (1923), or for more on this idea, read
R. Hamilton, Who Voted for Hitler? (1982) There's citations, and not just internet wiki ones, if that last matters.

The real question is, when Hitler claimed to be pro something or other, why does anyone living now say, in effect, "And you can trust that because it's straight from Hitler's own public speeches?" Don't people have to start out pro-Hitler to take anything he claimed that uncritically? And why does the American Right keep complaining about people playing the Race Card, and then quoting Hitler like they uncritically believe him?

Re:More Republican garbage (3, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about 3 months ago | (#47294777)

and was totally opposed to all of those things

And yet was still big into state welfare/education/health and control of the populous. Just like the Left, but without Collectivism.

Heck, it didn't *need* collectivism, since it had power over the ownership class.

And why does the American Right keep complaining about people playing the Race Card, and then quoting Hitler like they uncritically believe him?

I don't recall the American Right (maybe the Faaaaar Right, but I don't pay attention to them) quoting Hitler on a regular basis, and when they do, it's in the vein of, Hitler said he was going to do X, and the Western Intelligentsia didn't believe him, but then he went and did it anyway. Thus, the world can't afford to ignore the rantings of crazy dictators with lots of money.

Re:More Republican garbage (0)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 3 months ago | (#47294789)

And, according to today's Republicans, Reagan, Nixon, Bush Sr, Goldwater and more are also leftists. It just means that today's republicans are so ignorant that they don't notice how close they are to Neo-nazis and how batshit insane their positions are.

Re:More Republican garbage (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 3 months ago | (#47294995)

I don't remember ever seeing anyone claiming that other than someone who is leftist or liberal or whatever the favorite term of the day is now. They all vote democrat or third party that makes democrat look conservative.

Well, Nixon was claimed to be leftist because of the EPA and a few other things but if anything, Reagan, Bush Sr. Goldwater are considered conservative which is more right than left.

The biggest complaint about politicians republicans have is that once they are in Washington, they are more worried about what happens in Washington than in the districts and states they represent.

Re:More Republican garbage (1)

plopez (54068) | about 3 months ago | (#47296085)

Don't confuse Republicans with populists

Re:More Republican garbage (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 3 months ago | (#47296291)

When a clown dresses like a business man, how do you know he is a clown?

Sometimes the confusion is intentional

Re:More Republican garbage (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 3 months ago | (#47294975)

Hitler and Mussolini were fascists... certainly not left wing.

Don't forget about the... (1)

heretic108 (454817) | about 3 months ago | (#47294243)

infamous Gay Bomb [wikipedia.org] !

Re:Don't forget about the... (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 3 months ago | (#47294263)

Huh, 1994? This is one of those old cancelled military experiments you expect to see with a date more like 1954.

Re:Don't forget about the... (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47294439)

infamous Gay Bomb [wikipedia.org] !

Well, they haven't discovered what human Pheromones are yet. But they suspect they are secreted from the areola around the nipple. I have a feeling they'll find out our feet do it to.

In any event, if they do find human pheromones, I think this is a fantastic idea if it would work. Nothing better than turning a war into a gay orgy. War would immediately regarded as "Gay" and unmanly. That would do us all some good.

Re:Don't forget about the... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 3 months ago | (#47294737)

They've found a number of human pheromones. However, the effects are not dramatic.

Re:Don't forget about the... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 3 months ago | (#47295099)

Unfortunately, it wouldn't be regarded as unmanly, just a reason to why the enemy wasn't worth much and needed to be killed- so carpet bombing and a lot of other things normally considered a war crime now would be in use.

You see, it often isn't the people fighting the wars who are all gun ho for war. Often it is people sitting safely behind desks pushing pencils and risking a paper cut of an assassination attempt from a disgruntled constituent that they haven't bothered to listen to for several years.

Re:Don't forget about the... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47295691)

What if it carries past "unmanly" and straight into "fabulous" territory? Can you imagine a fully armed pride parade? We'd need some kind of last ditch chemical weapon, like a Closeting Gas, to put the genie back in his gay bottle!

Re:Don't forget about the... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47295331)

We're at war with Islamic Fundamentalists. We need to fund the pork bomb.

Re:Don't forget about the... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 3 months ago | (#47296309)

Michele Bachmann is working on the Straight Bomb to counter it, and to drop on Frisco.

What, no pictures?! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294251)

Jeez...

Re:What, no pictures?! (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 3 months ago | (#47296629)

This x1000. The modern internet is littered with worthless articles without any text, full of useless pictures and videos out of context with some lame headline like "She was attacked by a puppy, you won't believe what she did next." We see thousands of click through articles which feature a full page picture and nothing else forcing you to reload the page over and over again, or better still pages where the text isn't actually text but pictures in the clickbaitiest way possible making me wish for text.

Now the one time I want to see a damn picture and it's an all text article.

That's a good thing. (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 3 months ago | (#47294271)

It's a good thing that some of those weapons were brought to the prototype stage, but not to production. Today, there's a strong tendency to have only one program underway for major aircraft, leading to production of marginal aircraft like the F-35.

There are many smaller weapons, such as the XM8 assault rifle, which made it to prototype but were then cancelled. Guided ammo for small arms has been demonstrated, but it's still some ways from being miitarily useful.

Laser weapons are in the same state - there are working demos, but they're not worth the trouble yet. Diode laser powered weapons are now up to 10KW (big array of 10W or so diodes), and can shoot down small rockets and artillery shells in demos. Current thinking is that, at 50KW-100KW, they'll be militarily useful.

Re:That's a good thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294449)

It's a good thing that some of those weapons were brought to the prototype stage, but not to production. Today, there's a strong tendency to have only one program underway for major aircraft, leading to production of marginal aircraft like the F-35.

Right, because Boeing didn't also design something for the joint strike fighter program.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]

Re:That's a good thing. (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 3 months ago | (#47294463)

It's a good thing that some of those weapons were brought to the prototype stage, but not to production. Today, there's a strong tendency to have only one program underway for major aircraft, leading to production of marginal aircraft like the F-35.

I have no clue what you're talking about. The F-35 program started with a competition between Lockheed and Boeing. Obviously, the Boeing X-32 craft was only brought to the prototype stage.

Re:That's a good thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294529)

For reference, a standard round from an M4 rifle has about 1.5-1.65kW of kinetic energy upon leaving the barrel.

Re:That's a good thing. (1)

careysub (976506) | about 3 months ago | (#47294687)

For reference, a standard round from an M4 rifle has about 1.5-1.65kW of kinetic energy upon leaving the barrel.

That is kJ, not kW.

Re:That's a good thing. (0)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 3 months ago | (#47294701)

t. Diode laser powered weapons are now up to 10KW (big array of 10W or so diodes), and can shoot down small rockets and artillery shells in demos. Current thinking is that, at 50KW-100KW, they'll be militarily useful.

For reference, a standard round from an M4 rifle has about 1.5-1.65kW of kinetic energy upon leaving the barrel.

And the army already uses the M4 for shooting down small rockets and artillery shells?

(The M4 is not a rifle. It's a carbine. If you want a rifle,the M16 is readily available.)

Re:That's a good thing. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294833)

And the army already uses the M4 for shooting down small rockets and artillery shells?

(The M4 is not a rifle. It's a carbine. If you want a rifle,the M16 is readily available.)

English is not a language, it is a dialect.

You are not inside, you are in a room.

You don't type on a keyboard, you type on keys.

So on and so forth.

Re:That's a good thing. (2, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 3 months ago | (#47294969)

You were the one who brought up kinetic energy-- rifle vs carbine is quite relevant.
M14: 850 m/s, 10 g bullet= 3.6 kJ
M16: 948 m/s, 4g bullet =1.8 kJ
M4: 880 m/s, 4 g bullet= 1.5 kJ

Re:That's a good thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294723)

Are you sure you weren't talking about the OICW [wikipedia.org] ?

The XM-8 is just a tweaked G-36 it would appear.. neither of which offer an appreciable advantage (as in 'enough to spend billions to switch') over the AR-15/M-16 platform in its modern incarnations.

Hell, if they want a modern 'do it all' battle rifle, just have HK do an HK 416 [wikipedia.org] in 6.8mm Remington [wikipedia.org] .

The technology is already there, but of course we have to make things harder than they need to be.

Re:That's a good thing. (2)

Sir Holo (531007) | about 3 months ago | (#47295179)

Animats: Laser weapons are in the same state - there are working demos, but they're not worth the trouble yet. Diode laser powered weapons are now up to 10KW (big array of 10W or so diodes), and can shoot down small rockets and artillery shells in demos. Current thinking is that, at 50KW-100KW, they'll be militarily useful.

Navy has (or is testing) some higher-powered ones, basically five or ten welding lasers strapped together, but the power and cooling requirements are huge.

Missing: Project Pluto (3, Interesting)

gentryx (759438) | about 3 months ago | (#47294363)

Granted, it sounds a tad like an episode from Thunderbirds [wikipedia.org] , but it's real: Project Pluto [wikipedia.org] was a nuclear powered Supersonic Low Altitude Missile (SLAM). The idea was to drive the reactor into critical state and superheat the inflowing air, efficiently creating a nuclear powered scamjet [wikipedia.org] . Downside: because the reactor was almost unshielded, all controls had to be designed to withstand extreme radiation and heat (they had to work in white heat conditions). The project was canceled in the 60s, but they actually built and powered up the engines.

Re:Missing: Project Pluto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294455)

Plus it would have spewed radioactive nucleotides out while flying, and how do you recall it, and where do you fly it in a parking pattern? Would have been terrific just to overfly it over cities, forget kicking out h-bombs.

Re:Missing: Project Pluto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294561)

That was actually one of the proposed end-games for the weapon. After it had emptied its missle loads,it was to just fly a continuous pattern over the soviet union and turn it into a radioactive wasteland. This was a monstrous weapon.

Re:Missing: Project Pluto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47296407)

Nice typo: "scamjet" - should be "scramjet", although technically it's not a scramjet because the C stands for "combusting", and there was not combustion in the Project Pluto engine.

What? No mention of the SLAM or Project Pluto? (3, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 3 months ago | (#47294479)

From the Stranger-than Strangelove dept:

http://jalopnik.com/the-flying-crowbar-the-insane-doomsday-weapon-america-1435286216/ [jalopnik.com]

Essentially a flying, unshielded nuclear reactor that flies around pissing out fission products, and crapping hydrogen warheads.

All to defend freedom and democracy,. of course...

Re:What? No mention of the SLAM or Project Pluto? (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 3 months ago | (#47294527)

All to defend freedom and democracy,. of course...

Remember, this was the 1950s and 60s: as long as it pissed over the ragheads & Russkies, no one really cared.

Canada's could have been interceptor (3, Informative)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 3 months ago | (#47294577)

AVRO CF-105 Arrow, killed by the Diefenbaker government, all blueprints and airframes destroyed... (rumors say one might have survived)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

Brings a new meaning to Black Friday :(

MACH 1.98 *official* speed, that's for the Mark1 with Pratt & Whitney J75 Turbojets, could have been even faster with Iroquois engines (that was in 1959), it tested faster than that on its first flight even with the J75s, but was lowered down to 1.98 because they wanted to sell the Iroquois engines.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O... [wikipedia.org]

Could even replace the F-35 with lower costs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

A really nice documentary was made in 1996 starring Dan Aykroyd

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

Build it at a smaller size, with modern weaponry and avionics, kinda like the Dassault Mirage...

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294739)

You do understand that an F-18 Super Hornet would spank the shit out of an 'updated Arrow', right? If Australia and Canada were to seriously approach Boeing about integrating higher technology into that airframe I'm sure they would. Hell, buy modified Super Hornets for defending the homeland, and if you need to blow the hell out of somebody offensively grab a squadron of these [wikipedia.org] .

All cheaper than the F-35, and, wait for it, with enough capability for the Canadian tendency not to get themselves into needless wars. That, was a compliment, by the way.

Now, for the not a compliment:

The Arrow was fast.. in a straight line.. that's it. Canadians like to crow about the Arrow, and how the US helped to shut the project down, and how all the Canadian engineers helped put the US on the moon. Bull.. Fucking.. Shit. The Arrow benefitted from a shit ton of UK engineers who immigrated to Canada.

If you're anti-Yank, just buy the fucking Eurofighter already.

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294897)

The Arrow was fast.. in a straight line.. that's it. Canadians like to crow about the Arrow, and how the US helped to shut the project down, and how all the Canadian engineers helped put the US on the moon. Bull.. Fucking.. Shit. The Arrow benefitted from a shit ton of UK engineers who immigrated to Canada.

You're partially right. Great interceptor against Tu-95 bears. Not a dogfighter.

But as for who benefited from whom, consider how many ex-Avro people got snapped up by Boeing, Lockheed, McDonnell-Douglas, Northrop-Grumman, and friends.

Now, with a picture of a CF-105 up on your screen, go back to TFA and take another look at the Valkyrie. Big delta wing. Big flat box for engines and weapons bay. Mach 3+ Sound familiar?

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (2)

PPH (736903) | about 3 months ago | (#47295441)

the Valkyrie. Big delta wing. Big flat box for engines and weapons bay. Mach 3+ Sound familiar?

A nice supersonic bomber. Just in time to face the Soviets high altitude, high speed SAMs. And just in time for the dawn of the ICBM era. The program was scaled back to an R&D effort, although some of the lessons learned were bypassed for the SR-71 and proposed supersonic transports (specifically, the wave rider wing configuration). The program was also valuable in that it kept the Soviets spending money on supersonic intercept technology which it turns out would never have had a use in a confrontation involving missiles. It was a con job.

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (1)

imikem (767509) | about 3 months ago | (#47297109)

Posting to undo mistaken moderation.

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (2)

PPH (736903) | about 3 months ago | (#47295409)

The Arrow was intended to intercept proposed Soviet supersonic bombers and possibly also be a platform for air launched anti ballistic missiles. It was never intended to dgfight. A better idea for covering a few million square miles than putting in fixed base misile systems like the Bomarc. Which was a joke from the start. An air breathing missile can't go exo-atmospheric and so can only reach a warhead in the last few seconds of its flight. You can re-direct a manned airborne platform as more situational data becomes available. Or recall it if you ended up with a wayward passenger plane on your scope.

The Arrow was also to be a platform for Canada to develop its titanium engine and metalurgy. Once cancelled, the USA lost an ally with significant resources in this area. Only a few years later, titanium supplies had to be procurred from the Soviet Union to build the SR-71 (we told them a few lies). Canada has never resumed development of its titanium resources and the USA lost out on what could have been cutting edge aerospace technology as a partner.

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 3 months ago | (#47296355)

The Arrow was fast.. in a straight line.. that's it. Canadians like to crow about the Arrow, and how the US helped to shut the project down, and how all the Canadian engineers helped put the US on the moon. Bull.. Fucking.. Shit. The Arrow benefitted from a shit ton of UK engineers who immigrated to Canada.

If you're going to complain about immigrants working on advanced aerospace technology and the Apollo project in essentially the same breath, it might be worth noting all of the German immigrants who worked on the Apollo project.

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294829)

A really nice documentary was made in 1996 starring Dan Aykroyd http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

I'd also recommend the 1985 documentary on the GLG-20 [imdb.com] .

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (1)

jd (1658) | about 3 months ago | (#47295003)

If you look at the fate of HOTOL, which bears a striking resemblance of the fate of the Avro Arrow, and the total lack of recent development on the Australian hypersonic engine, you get the definite impression that someone isn't keen on competition in the supersonic/hypersonic military arena.

(Yeah, I know HOTOL wasn't designed to be military, but if the engine design had been finished then those engines would have been used in military aircraft, and HOTOL would certainly have been used to put up spy satellites independently of the ESA or NASA.)

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#47296493)

and the total lack of recent development on the Australian hypersonic engine

There is still stuff going on - slowly - due to the same low levels of funding that meant that the scramjet model I saw in 1986 that went in a shock tunnel is not very different from the one that got some time on a rocket a couple of years back.
NASA funded some of it back in the 1980s but I'm not sure where the money came from since. I could be wrong but the US military only seems to have been running their experiments in the last decade.

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (1)

twosat (1414337) | about 3 months ago | (#47296503)

HOTOL technology has not been abandoned, it is now being actively developed for the Skylon unmanned space-plane by Reaction Engines Ltd.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

http://www.reactionengines.co.... [reactionengines.co.uk]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47295473)

The RCMP had information that the project was compromised from the inside - Soviet spies had access to the data and would send it back to the USSR if it continued, and that's why it was shut down, not due to any deal made with the US govt. by Diefenbaker.

Re:Canada's could have been interceptor (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 3 months ago | (#47296031)

AVRO CF-105 Arrow, killed by the Diefenbaker government, and the subject of fevered fantasies amongst the generations of aviation fanboys ever since

Seriously, if you believe everything ever written about the Arrow, it's the escort vehicle for the second coming of $DIETY. Reality however insists (as it usually does) in being somewhat messier.
 
From a more balanced view, Diefenbaker probably did the Canadian military a huge favor... Arrow's fire control system was a real mess and probably years from being combat ready. Also, the day of the big heavy high speed interceptor was already starting to draw to close, being replaced by lighter and smaller air superiority fighters. Though overseas sales were often discussed, similar aircraft of the era had a dismal sales record because they were very expensive niche aircraft - and the niche was rapidly vanishing. Odds are (assuming the Arrow ever reached full combat capability) that by 1970 Canada would have been stuck with an obsolescent and aging Arrow contingent sucking up vast amounts of the slender Canadian defense budget.

Crappy websites (4, Informative)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about 3 months ago | (#47294597)

Here's the list using the Wikipedia pages, so that you don't have to click through the tedious article and follow the links to various crappy websites that don't even have pictures:
  AH-56 Cheyenne [wikipedia.org]
  B-70 Valkyrie [wikipedia.org]
  A-12 Avenger [wikipedia.org]
  Future Combat Systems [wikipedia.org]
  Sea Control Ship [wikipedia.org]

Re:Crappy websites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294893)

At the bottom of the first page there is a "Show Full Page [nationalinterest.org] " link that will display all five on the same page.

Nuclear Artillery (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 3 months ago | (#47294769)

I saw one an M65 [wikipedia.org] up close at the Army Artillery Museum in Oklahoma. Let's see fire a nuke out of a cannon. It was tested but no fucking way would I be the guy on the firing line with one of those things.

Re:Nuclear Artillery (2)

PPH (736903) | about 3 months ago | (#47295355)

no fucking way would I be the guy on the firing line with one of those things.

That's OK. You'll be taking point with the M28 [wikipedia.org] recoilless rifle.

What about the Goblin? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 3 months ago | (#47294925)

If you're going to write an article about weapons that never made it into production, you really should mention the XF-85 Goblin, [wikipedia.org] a parasite fighter intended to be carried by the B-36 bomber. The Goblin had a combat endurance of only 30 minutes and no landing gear; it was carried in the bomb bay of a specially converted bomber and "landed" by hooking up to a trapeze.

Re:What about the Goblin? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#47296501)

It would make perfect sense in a world with less capable missiles.

Dishonourable Mentions (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | about 3 months ago | (#47294967)

The US attempted to build a version of the British "Grand Slam" bomb. Fixing some of the aerodynamic issues and making assorted other "improvements", they ended up with a 44,000 lb. conventional unguided bomb. The Tallboy/Grand Slam series of bombs worked on a very simple principle - you send a gigantic shockwave through the ground as a result of an impact very close to mach 1, and a second shockwave through the ground as a result of a shaped charge.

This type of bomb destroys pretty much anything at the boundary between two different materials. So if you dropped one of these bombs on a reinforced concrete bunker, you'd pulverize the inside of the bunker without having to actually punch a hole right the way through. They were superb at taking out dams, far better than the bouncing bomb (Barnes Wallis designed both), because you didn't have to hit the dam at all. The interface between dam and valley was a weakpoint that, if shredded, would achieve exactly the same effect the bouncing bomb did - far more reliably and without the vulnerability.

The British version worked brilliantly. If, by "brilliantly", you mean removing all the armour, defences and bomb bay doors from a Lancaster bomber. Ok, to be fair, it did exactly what was intended. It destroyed ships, dams and factories in a way that no bomb before could.

So, what did the US version do?

What it should have done is make a mess of bunkers with 22' of reinforced concrete or less, and severely disrupt heavier bunkers than that.

What it actually did was nothing. The B-52 carrying the prototype managed to get to the end of the runway before running out of fuel.

What it did next was also nothing. The US abandoned all further work on it, as tactical nuclear weapons would have had more punch at a lighter weight.

Would it have changed warfare? It might have reduced the number of survivors from Tora Bora by a small amount, but the US had gas/incindiary bombs and air pressure bombs that could reach into the deepest caves there. An earthquake bomb might have reduced the time needed, but that's it. It might also have changed the Iraq invasion. A bomb that could pulverize deep bunkers would have made it much harder for neocons to claim WMDs were being stored in such bunkers. If you can target them directly, conventionally and reliably, your obvious next question is to ask where these bunkers are. Since US intelligence knew of no such bunkers, it would have had no positions to give.

Would it change the dynamics with Iran? The Iranians have placed their nuclear technology in bunkers with walls too thick for most conventional bombs and smaller tactical nukes. The concrete also uses a recipe that was, when last demonstrated in a technology exhibition in the US, around a hundred times stronger than the reinforced concrete used by the US military. However, strength doesn't matter here. The whole idea of sending a shockwave is that a hard, consistent medium delivers the shockwave that much better to the other side. And modern explosives are rather better than torpex. Having said that, there is still no US bomber capable of carrying such a weapon and there's no guarantee such a bomb would do anything worthwhile.

The next US project was also a variant of a Barnes Wallis design. They built a variant of the bouncing bomb. Originally, the bomb was never intended to attack things like dams, it was intended to lift ships out of the water. Military ships, especially, are not self-supporting structures. Lifted, even briefly and by a small amount, would be sufficient to break the back of a ship. Even if that didn't work, placing a bomb directly under a ship would likely crack the hull anyway. It would then sink almost immediately. Sinking at that speed would also pretty much guarantee no survivors. Barnes Wallis was incredibly sensitive to human cost, but his military inventions (only a small fraction of all the work he actually did) were designed to perform a specific task extremely well.

In this case, he was off by a bit. The bouncing bomb was used against a few ships but their frailty and the defenders' capabilities meant they never did anything at sea. On land, we all know the story there. An expensive story, to be sure, but proof of the design nonetheless.

The US decided the theory was sound enough that they wanted a version to play with. They used much better construction techniques, higher revs on the barrel and a bigger explosive. They fitted up an aircraft with a prototype and tested it out. The bomb ricocheted off the water and struck the bomber, blowing it out of the sky. No further prototypes were developed.

Would it have changed the course of warfare? A bouncing bomb that worked at sea would have rendered virtually all navies obsolete. Argentinian aircraft certainly got close enough to British ships to be able to use it, for example. They regularly dropped bombs on the Royal Navy vessels there, but the bombs had timer fuses and the hulls were thin. As a result, a few of those bombs passed through the ships and exploded at a safe depth. A bouncing bomb would have changed the story completely. They'd have been able to sink far more ships, with far fewer survivors. Possibly including the Ark Royal. Without carriers, the British would not have been able to retake the islands (a big reason why Argentinian noise right now, when Britain has no carriers at all, is troubling).

There really hasn't been any other significant battle involving a navy under serious air assault, so there has been no other conflict (so far) in which the vulnerability of ships to a working version of such a weapon would have mattered.

Ships have proven themselves far more vulnerable to navigational errors (the British and US have both lost ships to captains pitting their destroyers against charted reefs) and to commando attacks (the British sent a commando team with limpet mines against the Germans, the French sent a commando team with some sort of sticky bomb against the Rainbow Warrior, and some bunch of fanatics did EXACTLY THE SAME THING against the USS Cole). Since commandos are cheap and expendable, whereas bouncing bombs are expensive and expendable, it's no great surprise that every military and paramilitary group on the planet has adopted this approach. I don't think it's acceptable outside of a declared war, but the total action taken against France (none) shows that I'm in a minority of 1.

Re:Dishonourable Mentions (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 months ago | (#47295351)

I'm not convinced that a bouncing bomb would have been all that effective against ships. The delivering aircraft still has to be close to the target, flying straight, low, and at a certain airspeed, and it's an unguided bomb so there's still a decent chance of a miss (several bombs missed the German dams, for instance). We had other planes that attacked low-and-slow; they were torpedo bombers and fell out of use after 1945 due to being excessively vulnerable to flak during their low, slow and straight attack runs.

In any case, we already had a fairly similar and effective attack method: skip bombing, which works with conventional bombs.

Re:Dishonourable Mentions (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 3 months ago | (#47296045)

The Tallboy/Grand Slam series of bombs worked on a very simple principle - you send a gigantic shockwave through the ground as a result of an impact very close to mach 1, and a second shockwave through the ground as a result of a shaped charge.

Neither Tallboy nor Grand Slam had a shaped charge.
 

What it should have done is make a mess of bunkers with 22' of reinforced concrete or less, and severely disrupt heavier bunkers than that.

What it actually did was nothing. The B-52 carrying the prototype managed to get to the end of the runway before running out of fuel.

[[Citation Needed]]
 

The US decided the theory was sound enough that they wanted a version to play with. They used much better construction techniques, higher revs on the barrel and a bigger explosive. They fitted up an aircraft with a prototype and tested it out. The bomb ricocheted off the water and struck the bomber, blowing it out of the sky. No further prototypes were developed.

[[Citation Needed]]
Not that the US needed British designs - they had already developed and perfected skip bombing [wikipedia.org] and used it throughout the Pacific War.

Back then the UK looked "weak" (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#47296533)

a big reason why Argentinian noise right now, when Britain has no carriers at all, is troubling

Not really. Thatcher's massive cuts and a rapid transition from a manufacturing economy to a financial services one was a change that gave the Argentinians that the UK was militarily finished and without the manufacturing base to sustain a prolonged war, so they thought the UK would just roll over without a fight over the islands. Argentina also had leading figures in the US government on their side so thought there was zero risk. After all, what was some shopkeeper's daughter going to do without US help to the big macho Junta?
There has been no sudden changes recently so nobody in under the impression that the UK has suddenly become "weak".

Re:Dishonourable Mentions (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 3 months ago | (#47297027)

a big reason why Argentinian noise right now, when Britain has no carriers at all, is troubling

Indeed the lack of carriers is troubling, but not in this instance. There's now an RAF airbase armed with Eurofighters, plus an antiaircraft missile destroper permanently on station. So, while one needs an aircraft carrier to project power to remote locations, in this case, they already have it there.

No Images? (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | about 3 months ago | (#47295157)

Worthless article without images.

Even some of the web-linked articles don't have images.

Bad click-bait article aside, it is typical that the USA (and other nations) develop weapons systems that they never end up "needing to use." Weapons systems can be seen as a kind of insurance policy, but it can be damned hard from keeping the hawks from wanting to go play with their toys (kill people) all the time.

XB-70 (4, Interesting)

p51d007 (656414) | about 3 months ago | (#47295383)

It's amazing, how the weapons of war, develop out of the fear from the idea, that one side has something the other does not. Take the XB-70. It wasn't a "black" project, and even if it was, soviet spies were in the USA watching as much as they could. Once Moscow got wind of the XB-70, they started on a project of their own. They needed something fast, that could intercept the XB-70. They came up with the Mig-25 Foxbat. A VERY fast plane. After the XB-70 was canceled, they kept on with the design, since it could out run, out climb anything in the west. I believe it was a Foxbat that pretty much walked away from a F-4 phantom sometime in the late 60's that spooked the USAF and they got McDonnell Douglas working on an interceptor that could match/beat the Foxbat. They came up with the F-15 Eagle (I still think it could be modded to outdo most anything today). The F-15 is a beast, beat the time to climb record too. In the mid 70's? someone defected in Japan with a Mig-25, almost crashing into a commercial jet at the Tokyo airport. Well of course the USAF pretty much went over it with a fine tooth comb before returning it. They found out the environmental system sucked, the build quality suffered greatly, and the engines were prone to needing replacement after a few missions. In other words, other than speed, it kind of sucked. But if you look back at history, the Mig-15 made the USAF develop the F-86, The Mig-21 was followed up by the F-4 phantom, the Mig-25 got the F-15 going, the F-16 got the Su-27, and on and on and on, just to one up the other guy. Lots of money, wasted, to some extent, if you look at all the rusted out hulks in the former soviet union, and the mothballed ones sitting in the dessert just outside Phoenix, AZ.

Re:XB-70 (2)

careysub (976506) | about 3 months ago | (#47296039)

...In the mid 70's? someone defected in Japan with a Mig-25, almost crashing into a commercial jet at the Tokyo airport.

Viktor Belenko and it was Hakodate Airport in northern Japan. He overshot the runway, damaging the landng gear, but he was almost out of fuerl and couldn't go around (plus, he didn't want to get shot at).

Well of course the USAF pretty much went over it with a fine tooth comb before returning it. They found out the environmental system sucked,

The pressurized flight suit worked fine, I've never read that it didn't (athough the current F-35 program seems to be having problems). Possibly you are referring to the sophisticated environmental system for electronics that the Mig-25 did not have because its vacuum tube electronics did not need them? The vacuum tube radar was far more powerful than any on any U.S. aircraft, 600 KW continuous, with tremendous ECM burn-through power (the F-4 had a 30 kw radar).

the build quality suffered greatly

Probably you are referring to the fact that the Soviets did not use blind rivets everywhere, as in a US aircraft, but only where they were needed? Or the fact that titanium was only used where its high temperature properties were needed?

and the engines were prone to needing replacement after a few missions.

Not when flown according to guidelines (they did have a shorter life than U.S. engines though, true).

In other words, other than speed, it kind of sucked.

How about extremely high operating altitude, out of the range of most other combat aircraft?

It has a very creditable (though limited) combat record. But 75% of all Mig-25s were recon versions, and there their performance and record is outstanding, remaining in service in India until recently. It remains one of the most successful combat reconnaissance planes of all time.

Someone's been playing Axis and Allies too long... (2)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 3 months ago | (#47295911)

>> A weapon can seem like an amazing invention, but it still has to adapt to all sorts of conditions--budgetary, politics, and people's plain bias

I actually read TFA, and it seems like each one of these "amazing inventions" would have let someone fight the last war...a little bit better...with an incremental weapons system that would have taken a lot of resources to develop. In retrospect, it seems the right call was made to kill ALL of these systems. In fact, if there's a lesson to be learned here, its that American superiority since WWII has depended on us jumping on the right trend at the right time (e.g., carriers instead of battleships, ICBM's instead of fast bombers, missle delivery aircraft instead of dogfighters, etc.). It will be interesting to see if we moved into robotics at the right time (or if large stealth was ever worth it) when we look back in thirty years...

XB-70 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47296487)

The XB-70 is still one of the best looking planes ever.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?