Necessity is truly the mother of invention, and there is no greater need for solutions to problems than when you’re about to get killed. Wars have always brought out the best and worst in people, including feats of ingenuity. In the ongoing quest to find better ways to kill each other, history has documented some really clever improvised weapons. Here are just a few of them that were quite good in both concept and practice.
Anti-Tank Sniper Rifle
When Hitler decided to send his Nazi armies marching towards Russia, he never expected the Russians to be so crazy and good at fighting back. Looking back into history, the Russians have been known for the defense of their motherland in multiple occasions, having done so against Napoleon way before Hitler decided to one-up the legendary French dictator.
Of course, we know what happened to that. One of the ways that Russians had fought the Nazis was with snipers. This does go with Russian thinking, since being able to kill enemies at long distances is pretty good. But when it came to the Panzer tanks, they were hard pressed to look for a solution. Then they came up with one by just making their sniper rifles bigger. The anti-tank rifle known as the PTRS is a well-known Russian weapon that came up back in World War II. It’s a good example of how the Russians think, both pragmatic and utilitarian. They needed to destroy enemy tanks, so why not a big sniper rifle to do so?
The Drip Rifle
Okay, it’s another rifle, but this one is actually more insane. World War I was a really crazy war, fought in trenches that ended up in bloody stalemates since both sides were too afraid to come out of their holes and fight like their forefathers did. Plenty of soldiers died during the entire thing, and a lot of people tried coming up with ways to end the attrition. In came the drip rifle, which was a way to set rifles up to fire by themselves. The methods they used were remarkably simple, most notably the one using water dripping between two cans.
This was the idea of ANZAC troopers William Scurry and Buntie Lawrence, who were fighting the Ottoman Turks. They called their inventions the “Ottoman Bafflers”, because that’s exactly what they did to them. For those who don’t know what the Ottoman Empire was, that’s because they were history. They were perhaps one of the last empires to have ever existed, having been dissoved during the end of World War I, along with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Now imagine the drip rifle having something to do with the toppling of a whole empire. Crazy, isn’t it?
The British are equally capable of pragmatic solutions like the Russians, and the stiff-upper-lip attitude made for one of the most inspiring call to arms performed by any nation in history. The Nazis didn’t just have good tanks, but scary aircraft as well that could tear their targets asunder. It was imperative for the British forces to take out the pesky German Messerschmidts and Junkers divebombers before they get used against them. They took the popular Willys Jeep brought in by the Americans and mounted machineguns to the back of it.
All of a sudden, they had a mobile turret that they used to charge into enemy air bases and destroy aircraft before they had a chance to take off. At first, British officer David Stirling came up with the idea to take the jeeps and use them as vehicles for infiltrating Nazi air bases with specially trained soldiers on board to take out their targets on foot. Later on, they started strapping guns to them and became even more destructive. These special mobile troops later became known as the first members of the now world-famous Special Air Services — the SAS.