The Bat Bombs of World War II


In 1942, Pennsylvania dentist Lytle S. Adams came up with an idea. We could demolish Japanese cities by strapping tiny incendiary bombs to bats, which they would carry into the all the nooks and crannies of the cities on the island. Think of thousands of fires breaking out simultaneously over a circle of 40 miles in diameter for every bomb dropped. Japan could be devastated, with small loss of life. As luck would have it, Adams happened to know Eleanor Roosevelt, and he managed to get a high-level audience. The National Research Defense Committee, which was in charge of researching war ideas, accepted the idea and it was put into motion. Unfortunately, it backfired when one of the bombs deployed on a U.S. airfield and the bats blew up fuel and ammo facilities. That’s when the government decided to focus its attention on the development of a far more powerful weapon: the atomic bomb.