Americana: Bomber Bats over Tokyo

Some Americans may think the MX missile is a batty idea, but it is the height of orthodoxy compared with a weapons scheme described in this month's American Heritage magazine. Just after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, a Pennsylvania dental surgeon named Lytle S. Adams hit upon the idea of arming bats with tiny incendiary bombs and letting them loose over Japan. The bomber bats would supposedly seek refuge in the eaves of Japanese houses, where their deadly cargoes—equipped with a 15-hr, timer—would explode and set off fires.

The Adams plan caught the attention of the National Defense Research Committee,...

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