today's episode of Uncle Fuzzy's Weird War II is about yet more nifty German toys. Specifically, about the Schallkanone, an experimental anti-personnel weapon designed to kill infantry with waves of sound. Which reminds me of my college dorm neighbor's girlfriend, but that's another story.
The Schallkanone, designed by Dr. Richard Wallauschek, consisted of two parabolic dishes, which amplified sound waves in order to scramble the innards of anyone caught in its way. This isn't such a silly idea; you may have seen/heard the news about the "Weapon of Sound" used to drive Somali pirates away from the MV Seaborn Spirit on November 5? Same concept. From a Chinese bulletin board I found a reference which meshes with my reading: Designed by Dr. Richard Wallauschek, the cannon consisted of large parabaloid reflectors, the final version of which had a diameter over ten feet. The "dishes" were connected to a chamber composed of several sub-units firing tubes. The function of these tubes was to allow an admixture of methane and oxygen into the combustion chamber, where the two gases were ignited in a cyclical, continuous explosion. The length of the firing chamber itself was exactly a quarter of the wavelength of the sound waves produced by the on-going explosions. Each explosion initiated the next by producing a reflected, high-intensity shockwave, and so creating a very high amplitude sound beam. This high and strong note of unbearable intensity was emitted at pressures in excess of 1,000 milibars about fifty yard away. This level of pressure is above the limits that man can endure. At such a range, half a minute of exposure would be enough to be lethal. At longer ranges (about 250 yards), the effect would be excruciating and a soldier would be incapacitated for some considerable time afterwards. No operational or physiological tests were ever carried out. It was suggested, however, that laboratory animals were used to prove the basic soundness of the concept. The cannon was never deployed for its intended purpose.
The next weapon was meant to bring down Allied planes with high-velocity "plugs" of wind created by a chemical reaction (ignition of Hydrogen & Oxygen). According to various accounts, it was capable of breaking wooden boards at a few hundred yards' range--supposedly test at Hillersleben broke a 25mm wooden board at 200m (no word on bombers flying at 13,000 feet, and as you can see from the picture, the thing's a bit unwieldy to deal with fighters.) Another source claims it was installed on a bridge over the Elbe, but never effective.
From the same Chinese board (damn, those Chinese are smart--and I really don't feel like re-typing everything as this says it):
The Vortex Gun was designed and built by Dr. Zimmermeyer, an Austrian scientist, at an experimental institute in the Tyrol at Lofer. It basically was a mortar barrel of a large caliber sunk in the ground, and the shells contained coal-dust and a slow-burning explosive in the center. The first experiments with compressed air were a failure. The shells, once fired, were intended to have the function of creating an artificial whirlwind or tornado which would hopefully make enemy airplanes lose control and thus knock them out of the sky. If all circumstances were perfect and favorable, the strange device seemed to work fairly well. Numerous high-speed films were taken and processed for analysis and study, which concluded that the rotation and forward-moving explosion of the coal dust was in fact able to start the formation of a fairly large vortex. Although it was unknown whether the pressure changes of the tornado would be strong enough to cause frame failure in enemy aircraft caught in the air current, it was known that the pressure on wing loading might be excessive. In the years before this invention, it was known that clear-air tubulence had brought down large airliners and broken them into pieces. It seemed possible and feasible that Dr. Zimmermeyer's unlikely-sounding cannon could have the same effects too. In fact it would the gun would be cheaper but as effective as shells filled with trinitrotoluene (TNT). The range of the prototype was estimated to be about a hundred yards, even though the gun was never used in practice. But similarly designed guns using artificial firedamp explosions and shells were deployed against Polish freedom fighters in Warsaw towards the end of the war.
Couldn't find any photos of the vortex gun on short notice, sorry.
Sometime in the future, as I really need to get moving to work, I'll continue with the Hochdruckpumpe, the electric gun and the sun gun project. For now, this should be enough to get those two of you bored enough to care on your way googling.
Dead rather than Red!
25th April 2004
FuzzyBunnyHi kids, today's episode of Uncle Fuzzy's [...]
You just want our bodies, right...?
But anyway, this was a realy interesting read!
Hehe, that picture is in one of the Tintin books (The Calculus Affair/L'affaire Tournesol)... Accompanying text (apologies for lack of translation): Les illustrations contenues dans le livre ["German Research in World War II" by Leslie E. Simon] rappellent les appareillages vus dans le laboratoire de Tournesol à Moulinsart.
Caption to actual photo: Le Schallkanone (canon à ondes sonores) développé pour le compte de la Wehrmacht comme arme antipersonnel était capable de tuer à 50 m. http://membres.lycos.fr/wings2/tintin/affaire/affaire.htm
Write heavy; write hard.
11th April 2005
Mr_Cheese Hehe, that picture is in one of the Tintin books (The Calculus Affair/L'affaire Tournesol)...
Sacre' Bleu! Monsieur Fromage, you have my heartiest congratulations! I'm amazed anyone would know Tintin, much less remember having seen a picture of a sound cannon in one of his adventures! But, then, I'm in the US.
I discovered a huge Tintin book as a 9-year-old, and was just mesmerized. It was like a comic strip in that it was colorfuly drawn, but it was literate and mature, and told a real story that seemed to go on forever. What magic! Thanks for the memory; I'm off to Google Tintin!
Hehe - I've found myself doing that several times too... ;) I agree - they're a kid's comic strip but they're mature and literate, as you say. They're also full of small details - just looking through that website above - it shows where planes used in the books were actual planes irl. Something I've noticed with the cars too... Go read them everyone!
Mr_CheeseHehe - I've found myself doing that several times too... ;) I agree - they're a kid's comic strip but they're mature and literate, as you say. They're also full of small details - just looking through that website above - it shows where planes used in the books were actual planes irl. Something I've noticed with the cars too... Go read them everyone!
There's a great book about "the making of Tintin" or somesuch. I've only seen it in French, but the upshot of it is that pretty much every single vehicle, many buildings, weapons, technologies, whatever, were based on thorough research of Herge's. Tintin au Pays des Soviets is about the only one that's sort of plump, but then it was essentially a propaganda work.
Glad to see people are still into it--I own all of them somewhere or other, most in 2-3 different languages. Tintin is just awesome.
for Mr_Cheese, there's a great book of Capt. Haddock's curses (in French, but still great.) It explains that etymology of all of his epithets and is utterly hilarious. I don't have the title on me, as I've packed it away, but I can look it up if you remind me.
As for the parabolic cannon, I actually originally got the idea to post it from the "Leslie E. Simon" book". There's a real title called "German Secret Weapons of the Second World War", by Ian Hogg (ISBN 1853673250) which contains info on some of the toys I've posted or intend to post. As I've mentioned repeatedly, I don't really aim to give people "all the info", but rather a basis for googling and further discussion about this weird stuff :-)
Yeah, i think I've seen that "making of" book in English. There was also an exhibition called Tintin at Sea or something which was on at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich (London) that had all about the sailors, ships and ports in the books. I missed it though. The Capt. Haddock book sounds amusing, although I guess his curses lost something when they were translated from French to English... (Sorry to hi-jack your thread btw!) That photo of the wind cannon looks like it's resting on half of the chassis of one of those German railway guns...
Mr_CheeseYeah, i think I've seen that "making of" book in English. There was also an exhibition called Tintin at Sea or something which was on at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich (London) that had all about the sailors, ships and ports in the books. I missed it though. The Capt. Haddock book sounds amusing, although I guess his curses lost something when they were translated from French to English... (Sorry to hi-jack your thread btw!)
(a) you can hijack anything of mine anytime you like *bows* (b) anything with Tintin isn't hijacking.
One of the things I really love about the curses is that they don't lose anything in any of the languages I've read the books in (German, French, English.) They're equally literary and eloquent no matter, and I think a fair amount of effort went into ensuring this (the same way some of the recurring gags like Thompson & Thomson/Dupont & Dupond's mistakes or Calculus' name are always somehow clever in all translated languages.)
6th July 2005
Man, Fuzzy you have to keep finding stuff like this. This was a real interesting one to read about.
Wanna go Double Dutch?
9th December 2003
Intresting read (though I must have heard about it before somewhere, dont ask me where exactly though). The idea bhind the sound cannon is not bad at all, hell up to these day they are still experimentating with it to us it as a non-lethal weapon!