History 15 Maniacal World War II Plans That Never Came to Fruition  

Phil Gibbons
26.2k views 15 items

World War II precipitated many amazing military operations and feats, yet also gave birth a number of totally hair brained and completely insane schemes you've probably never heard of before. Some truly amazing WWII operations that never happened were dreamed up by the (perhaps demented?) minds of the upper echelon of Allied and Axis military powers. These strange WW2 operations that didn't happen involved everything from pigeon-guided missiles to bombs designed to release bats, which sounds like Bruce Wayne's worst nightmare, but in the grand scheme of the tremendous chaos and tragedy of World War Two, ultimately seems a little tame (if not batsh*t f*cking insane). 

The number of stories shoved every-which-way in the annals of World War 2 history is frankly staggering. You could study the conflict for a lifetime and still not know everything there is to know. If you're curious about some of the lesser-known and never-realized plans of the Second World War, read on. A number of weird WWII missions lay ahead. 

Operation Bernhard: The Nazi Plan to Counterfeit Millions in British Banknotes

Operation Bernhard: The Nazi P... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 15 Maniacal World War II Plans That Never Came to Fruition
Photo: British Military/Public Domain

Operation Bernhard was the Nazi mission to flood wartime Britain with hundreds of millions of counterfeit pound notes. The initiative was orchestrated by SS Major Bernhard Kruger (pictured), who led the SS department falsifying passports and other legal diplomatic documents. Kruger organized a top secret printing operation in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, made up of specially recruited Jewish prisoners with printing and engraving skills. 

During the war, on a monthly basis, Operation Bernhard successfully forged more than a million pounds in bank notes described as "the most dangerous ever seen."  Though the Germans never managed to get enough of their fake money into Britain to effect the economy, they used it in a variety of schemes. Fake notes were used to pay spies around the world, and in transactions with foreign governments, such as Italy. Turkish spy Elyesa Bazna, aka Cicero, even (unsuccessfully) sued the German government for fraudulent payments.  

At the close of the war, most of the counterfeit currency was dumped into Austria's Lake Toplitz, where it was discovered in 1959. Still, occasional fake British pounds showed up in Britain, prompting the government to redesign all currency with a value of five pounds or more. Some of the currency was smuggled to Palestine, to finance Zionist activity in the early days of Israel. 

Operation Tannenbaum: A Nazi Invasion of Switzerland

Operation Tannenbaum: A Nazi I... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 15 Maniacal World War II Plans That Never Came to Fruition
Photo:  Unsplash/Pixabay/CC0 1.0

Adolf Hitler clearly disliked Switzerland. In 1941, he told Mussolini: "Switzerland possessed the most disgusting and miserable people and political system. The Swiss were the mortal enemies of the new Germany."  

In fact, the Wehrmacht began preparations for an invasion of Switzerland after France surrendered in 1940, in what would have been called Operation Tannenbaum. Despite the creation of plans for such an invasion (plans revisited and revised several times), Hitler never ordered the attack.  

A specific reason for his decision is still unclear, but Swiss financial concessions that allowed the Germans to obtain hard currencies and military equipment, Swiss prevention of the emigration of Jews and other refugees from Germany to Switzerland, continued Nazi access to Swiss railroad routes to Italy and other countries, and the realization that an invasion through the rugged Alpine region defended by a fully mobilized citizenry that was well equipped all were probably factors, especially the latter point. According to PBS, the Swiss armed 435,000 citizens with weapons equal to those the Nazis had, and told them never surrender. 

Even though he despised Switzerland, Hitler understood the military reality of any invasion, and a two-front war from 1941 made a Swiss invasion an impossibility.

Project Habakkuk: A British Aircraft Carrier Made of Ice

Project Habakkuk: A British Ai... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 15 Maniacal World War II Plans That Never Came to Fruition
Photo: Jerzy Strzelecki/Creative Commons

Geoffrey Pyke was a British inventor who conceived the idea of a floating island the size of an aircraft carrier, to be constructed in the Atlantic Ocean. Theoretically, this island, known as Project Habakkuk, would serve as a refueling location for airplanes stalking and sinking German U-Boats. Initially, tests on icebergs indicated they could be shattered by explosives and were unstable, occasionally rolling over, making them an implausible medium. Undeterred, Pyke invented a new substance made ice and wood pulp called "Pykrete," which could be manipulated like wood.   

Lord Mountbatten and Winston Churchill became interested in the project, and a small, 60-by-30 foot block of pykrete was constructed in Lake Louise, Alberta. It weighed 1,000 tons. The estimated weight of a full scale version, as well as the cost, doomed the project, though its creators kept this information concealed to keep Habakkuk viable. The US Navy officially discontinued the project in December of 1943   

The Bat Bomb: American's Plan to Burn Down Japan with the Help of Winged Beasts

The Bat Bomb: American's P... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 15 Maniacal World War II Plans That Never Came to Fruition
Photo: US Government/Public Domain

The bat bomb was a four foot long, bomb-shaped weapon designed to release hundreds of bats fitted with tiny incendiary devices over Japan. Upon release, these bats would spread out over a radius of 20 to 40 miles and roost in the highly flammable wood-and-paper buildings of Japanese cities. Their incendiary devices would then ignite, with the aim of creating widespread chaos and destruction. 

The inventor of napalm, Louis Fieser, created a tiny explosive, and the Mexican Free-Tailed Bat was selected for implementation. The first tests involving bats and explosives resulted in an accidental fire at an Air Force air base in Carlsbad, NM. Another test was conducted on a mock-up of a Japanese village in Utah. This attempt was deemed more successful, but research on the atomic bomb curtailed this and other far-fetched weapons systems which were ultimately deemed unrealistic.