Weird Cold War plan: Activate nuclear mines with warm chickens

According to allthatsinteresting, with the formation of the “Iron Curtain” in Europe after World War II, the countries on both sides began to plan the countermeasures for the seriousness of the Cold War. As the nuclear arms race began, the British devised the top-secret Operation Blue Peacock to prevent what they believed to be a possible Soviet attack.

The British plan was to plant nuclear mines all over West Germany so that if the Soviets tried to send troops in, the mines would explode. The problem with nuclear mines is that cold weather prevents the mines from detonating.

The solution they came up with was to keep live chickens inside mines buried in the ground for warmth. It sounds too weird to be true, but Blue Peacock is the real campaign.

Xe tăng ở Berlin.
cold war sparked nuclear arms race
Tanks in Berlin.
Tanks in Berlin. (Photo: US Army).

World War II ended in 1945, but a new confrontation soon enveloped the world. This time, the conflict pits the nuclear powers against each other.

Nguyên mẫu của một quả mìn hạt nhân.
In the 1950s, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was pitted against the Warsaw Pact, and Germany was in Zone Zero. Split in two after World War II, the country was an easy battlefield for the Cold War to heat up.

The question is how much will each side do to win? As far as the British are concerned, they are ready to use nuclear weapons. In the early 1950s, the British Army came up with a bold idea code-named “Blue Peacock,” reports The Guardian.

Britain’s Royal Arms Research and Development Office (RARDE) researched various ways to deter the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons, but the Blue Peacock project involved something unusual: atomic landmines.

Ladd suggested planting landmines on the North German plains. If the Soviets entered western territory, the British would wait patiently for the Soviets to set up command posts and supply depots before blowing up the mines directly below.

These mines are not small either. Each mine has a yield of 10 tons and is half as powerful as the atomic bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki in 1945, leaving a crater in the ground larger than a football field when it exploded. After the explosion of a nuclear mine, large areas of Europe will be covered in dust.

In addition to destroying the Soviet army, the British also hoped that nuclear landmines would make the Soviet Union untenable, because radioactive contamination would make the Soviets leave Germany.

According to a top-secret policy document from 1955, strategically placed atomic mines would not only destroy facilities and buildings over a large area, but would also prevent the enemy from remaining in the area for a period of time. to radioactive contamination.

But while the Blue Peacock sounded like a promising weapon at first, the project also had many flaws that engineers needed to find solutions to.

Một tài liệu tối mật giải thích kế hoạch sử dụng gà trong mìn hạt nhân.

Nukes are heated with chickens
A prototype of a nuclear mine.
A prototype of a nuclear mine. (Image: Getty Images).

The first dilemma the British encountered was how to detonate the new mines. According to Popular Mechanics, if Soviet troops start moving in, one option would be to hastily bury each mine with an 8-day timer.

Officials are also considering remotely activating nuclear mines, or programming them to explode within 10 seconds on contact. Another problem is the weather. In winter, temperatures in northern Germany often drop below freezing, especially underground. Due to the complex parts, too low temperature can damage the mine.

Originally, engineers suggested wrapping each 7-ton mine in fiberglass pillows to keep them warm, but then they came up with another idea, using chicken. Live chickens will be placed in shells in each mine with just enough food to last them for 8 days. The body heat of the chicken will keep the mine warm until it explodes. Of course, if the chicken hadn’t starved to death before, the chicken would have died in the explosion.

As weird as it sounds, engineers actually built two prototypes, and the British Army even ordered 10 atomic mines in 1957. But the design was never put into use.

The Battle of the Blue Peacock is Over
A top-secret document explaining plans to use chickens in a nuclear mine.
A top-secret document explaining plans to use chickens in a nuclear mine. (Image: Getty Images).

The British worked on the Blue Peacock project for four years before giving it up. In 1958, the British Ministry of Defense canceled a project deemed politically flawed. They feared consequences and destruction in ally territory.

Researcher Leslie White said: “In today’s day and age, that weapon might seem odd, but it was a product of that time.”

Even after the plan was cancelled, Blue Peacock remained a secret for decades. In fact, the program was not declassified until 2004. The information was released on April 1 of that year, causing many people to speculate whether it was some bizarre April Fool’s Day joke.


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