During World War II, everything from aircraft to small arms evolved and changed. Some of these new discoveries were dangerously effective, such as the atomic bomb, whereas others were not so much, such as the Japanese fire balloons. Actually, the Japanese had a large number of secret weapons and projects during the war that either weren’t very effective, didn’t see the light of day, or weren’t completed before the war’s end. Near the end of the war, Japan was becoming desperate, and some of the creations they came up with were truly astonishing.
Secret Japanese Planes and Project Z
Japan came up with a wide variety of secret aircraft from jet and rocket fighters to the world’s first combat helicopter. Some of these planes were not put into action for various reasons, but others, like the Oscar, became legends of the battlefield.
And then there was Project Z. Project Z (also called the Z Bombers Project) was a military project of the Empire of Japan, similar to the Nazi German Amerika Bomber project, to design an intercontinental bomber capable of reaching North America. For more information about Project Z and these crazy planes, you can check out the Wikipedia article here.
Balloon Bombs and Other Crafty Schemes
The fire balloon or Fu-Go, was a weapon launched by Japan during World War II. It was a hydrogen balloon loaded with incendiary bombs, antipersonnel bombs, and various incendiary devices. They were designed as a cheap weapon intended to make use of the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and wreak havoc on Canadian and American cities, forests, and farmland.
The balloons were relatively ineffective as weapons mainly due to wind not being all that reliable, but they were one of the only actual attacks on North America during World War II.
Between November 1944 and April 1945, Japan launched over 9,300 fire balloons but only 300 or so found or observed in North America. All told, the balloons killed six people and caused a very small amount of damage. For more info, you can check out the Wikipedia article here.
The Japanese Super Sub
The Japanese super subs look more like Cold War submarines than World War II subs. They were built for high speed underwater travel and were three times the size of modern submarines. Japan wanted to use these ships for carrying airplanes and launching aerial attacks on the continental United States.
They also had another trick up their sleeves. They were planning to use the submarines to drop big cans full of rats infected with the plague and insects loaded with cholera, dengue, and typhus. Fortunately for the United States, they never had the chance to implement this plan.
These two submarines were so advanced that, after being captured and inspected by the United States, they were sunk so the Soviets couldn’t learn from them. The Japanese were the pioneers in developing advanced aerial attack technology for submarines, but nobody knew about it until later.
The Short Lived Yamato
Yamato, named after the ancient Japanese Yamato Province, was the lead ship of the Yamato class of battleships that served in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. It was the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleship ever constructed, but it didn’t survive the war. The Yamato hardly did anything in battle, and was easily sunk, before her secrets could be discovered by the Allies.
Japan’s Atomic Bomb and the Mighty Death Ray
Back in the 1930s all the industrialized nations, Japan included, started playing around with the idea of weaponizing atomic energy. Even in the beginning, it was clear that such a feat would take a lot of time and a lot of money.
Japan’s atomic experts determined early on that the Americans would probably be the first to achieve this goal, but they considered it unlikely they’d be able to do so before the war’s end. Even so, the Japanese had their own nuclear war program. But instead of concentrating all their efforts here, they also worked extensively on another project. Building a death ray.
A bunch of articles from Nikola Tesla about the potential military applications of these so-called “death rays” that could be fired from a country’s borders starting popping up in America. Japan took notice. This was a very attractive prospect for an island nation such as Japan.
By the end of the war, the Japanese Ku-go death ray could kill a rabbit after five minutes at a distance of 1,000 yards. Pretty impressive (if you’re fighting stationary rabbits, that is).
For more about the death ray, you can check out this article here, and you can read more about Japan’s nuclear program over here on Wikipedia. Wikipedia even has a full list of all the secret and special weapons Japan came up with during the war for you to check out as well.
So tell me, what do you think of these secret Japanese weapons? Any others I forgot to mention? How do you think the world would be different today if Japan had made use of its super subs, completed its atomic bomb project, or actually made a practical death ray? Let us know in the comments!