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The most inhumane weapon ever

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Joe, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Many weapons throughout history have been called inhumane. That is until the next generation comes up.
     
  2. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    I'll play devil's advocate here.
    As a kid, I read a British comic book about World War I. In that story, the main character was an officer who preferred that his troops not kill the enemy. He wanted his soldiers to find ways to wound the enemy efficiently because he believed that the enemy's logistics would be further strained by the increasing the number of wounded they had to care for. Also, the horribly wounded would be telling their tale to undermine enemy morale. The British officer came up with a lot of devious ways to do this. Today, I see it as inhumane, but as a kid who read that comic book, there is a certain logic to it.
    He did this by instructing snipers to hit the enemy in the gut and using booby traps and mines.
     
  3. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    With every new war we create new ways of killing each other.

    Don't remember who did that quote but there you go:)
     
  4. krieg

    krieg Ace

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  5. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    The politician with an open mouth, Winston and FDR excepted.
     
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    FJ, it's pretty conventional military thinking that a wounded enemy is in many ways preferable to a dead one. You'll find it considered in doctrinal thinking across most armies. I can't remember the specific figures, but a wounded man places far more strain on the enemy logistics, tying up much materiel & personnel in extracting and dealing with him. Not that inhumane, more bound up with the inherent inhumanity involved in the business of war.

    Cheers,
    Adam
     
  7. skunk works

    skunk works Ace

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    FJ
    Have heard the same from soldiers, quoting the (famous/infamous) numbers of it takes 4 enemy personnel to care for 1 wounded (during the altercation), and none for the dead. (no relation to the Sherman/Tiger numbers)
    Using up resources (of the enemies ideology)(doesn't work with Kamikaze's), enables you to get more (bang) for your "buck".
    Hence the worldwide problems of terrorism by suicide? From "tiny" groups?
     
  8. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Yes. Taking care of the wounded could be considered as added burden to one's resources. What I was trying to point out was that I read this in a (British or was it Australian) war comic book as a kid. Today as an adult, I don't think reading such a thing should be encouraged.
     
  9. skunk works

    skunk works Ace

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    Yes Sir, a squishy, fluffy, pastel world today (except for the war zones).

    A different day, a short while back. Mauve & teal didn't exist, pink & green did, and women were the weaker sex.

    Now with their bureaucratic backing they can smash any man to bits, ten times over & for the rest of his life.

    More of everything is available, if you can afford it. Otherwise, not a lot has changed.

    Improvement? (in anything/everything) You tell me? :confused:
     
  10. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    Well there are some comics and graphic novels out here today that IMO may be even worse for youths to read.
     
  11. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    I think I know who you're talking about, Tomcat:

    "You can't say that civilization don't advance, for in every war, they kill you in a different way."
    - Will Rogers

    Is this who you're referring to?
     
  12. ww2dude

    ww2dude Member

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    In killing people in masses, I'd say napalm and mustard gas go up there. However, I feel obligated to mention the Bouncing Betty as well.
     
  13. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    I would have to say..an officer with a map.

    But apart from that any home made bombs of the shrapnel type. Designed to cause the most indiscriminate damage to all. The golf ball with nails is a nasty little ballast.
     
  14. Phantom of the Ruhr

    Phantom of the Ruhr Member

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    Poison gas
    Nerve agents
    Anti personnel devices
    Napalm
    Homemade hand to hand weapons
     
  15. Lippert

    Lippert Member

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    I resent that :) Those maps can be confusing.. all those lines and whatnot.

    Most inhumane I think would be flame thrower. Followed closely by nuclear bombs and nerve agents.
     
  16. WotNoChad?

    WotNoChad? Member

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    Fire and Gas weapons.

    Although I wouldn't include napalm in that, due to the occasions when napalm has been dropped blue on blue and seen to be quite ineffective.
     
  17. Kommando

    Kommando Dishonorably Discharged

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    I think it would be most painful to burn to death. In the 1900s- we have flamethrowers for that, and before that there was burning oil. Also, as a sidenote: I think flamethrowers were infact invented hundreds of years ago (probably by the Chinese).

    I will not call any weapon inhumane, though, for the reason I have mentioned below.

    If weapons are so inhuman, why have they been made and used by humans through the ages? It is in human -and in most other animals- nature to kill each other.

    I realize this is an old post I responded to, but I wanted to illustrate my point.

    /Kommando
     
  18. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Humane?

    What is humane when it comes to weapons or war? The one that kills without the victim’s knowledge like the blast effect of an atomic, or the un-smelled un-suspected effect of a nerve agent?

    Death by fire seems the least humane on the surface, but this must also be put into consideration; Napalm itself was developed at Harvard University in 1942-43 by a team of chemists led by chemistry professor Louis F. Fieser, who was best known for his research at Harvard University in organic chemistry which led to the synthesis of the hormone cortisone.

    Napalm was formulated for use in bombs and flame throwers by mixing a powdered aluminium soap of naphthalene with palmitate (a 16-carbon saturated fatty acid), also known as napthenic and palmitic acids, hence napalm [another story suggests that the term napalm derives from a recipe of Naptha and palm oil]. Naphthenic acids are corrosives found in crude oil; palmitic acids are fatty acids that occur naturally in coconut oil. On their own, naphthalene and palmitate are relatively harmless substances.

    Oddly enough death-burn victims of napalm do not experience as much pain as 1st degree (sunburn) victims due to the adhesive properties of napalm that stick to the skin. That is because the substance reduces the oxygen in the area of its introduction and produces very rapid loss of blood pressure, unconsciousness, and death in a short time. A large amount of carbon monoxide is produced once a napalm weapon is used and this makes it impossible for people to breathe, which causes them to pass out long before they burn.

    When Napalm ignites, it rapidly deoxygenates the available air. Oxygen is replaced with carbon monoxide (CO) as a result of its own incomplete combustion. Napalm creates a localized atmosphere of at least 20 percent carbon monoxide, in which most victims pass out long before they suffer from; or even feel the burns. This is reported from those few who did survive Napalm weapons.

    It is the 2nd degree burns such as likely to be suffered by someone hit with a small splash of napalm are the severely painful ones, and also the only ones most likely to have survived. But that said those wounds are also likely to produce hideous scars called keloids and diminished motor skills.

    Extreme 3rd degree burns are typically not painful at the time of their infliction, since only the cutaneous (skin) nerves respond to heat and full-thickness (third-degree) burns, kill all the nerves before the napalm has replaced the oxygen with carbon monoxide. This is reported and documented by fire-fighters who survive 3rd degree burns long enough to be interviewed. They (sadly) usually succumb to infection rather than original burn damage.

    American modern day "napalm" uses no Napalm (naphthalene or palmitate) at all. It instead uses a mixture of polystyrene (plastic), gasoline and benzene. This modern napalm is a mixture of benzene (21%), gasoline (33%), and polystyrene (46%). Benzene is a normal component of gasoline (about 2%), while the gasoline used in the "new" napalm is the same unleaded gas that is used in automobiles. Napalm-B had one great advantage over the original napalm of WW2. The ignition can be readily controlled. Napalm-B is less flammable than even gasoline and therefore less hazardous for both handling and deploying. The more polystyrene in the mixture, the harder it is to ignite. A match or even a road flare will not ignite it. Timed initiators made of Thermite is typically used to ignite Napalm-B these days.

    Then one must put starvation right up there as well, and that puts "blockade" into the query of least humane weapon of war. It will drive people to cannibalism, which is certainly not "humane" but understandable in the circumstance of war. And an accepted "tactic" of warfare since the times of the Greek inter city-state wars between Athens, Sparta, and Corinth.

    In nerve agents during the WW2 years, there were only a couple really done up, and none were used so they really cannot count. Under the Nazi ten years of control of production at IG Farben about "only" 12,000 tons of tabun were actually produced for Germany, but DuPont knew the "formula", and had vastly superior production abilities if called upon. Even though their internal records seem to indicate only a "few thousand tons" of the tabun agent were produced and stockpiled by DuPont during WW2. The nerve agent sarin was developed while the two companies were "separated by war"; but chemists on both sides knew how good the others were.

    The Nazi's I.G. Farben chemists couldn’t risk that the DuPont chemists hadn’t already discovered sarin and with their massive production capabilities, also produced and stored sarin as well as tabun. And let’s not forget that the Nazis really only managed to manufacture several hundred pounds of sarin before the Allies ran them to ground and put the whole system to an end.

    We (America) had our own "new and improved" mustard gas, not the same as the WW1 version, but a better and quicker version (nitrogen rather than sulfur based), so now the victim smelled something like roasted garlic rather than rotten eggs. It would still burn the skin, and attack the lungs. That is what escaped when the Liberty Ship John Harvey was bombed by the Luftwaffe in the Bari Italy harbor.

    Then there is the American developed Lewisite; it smells like fresh cut geraniums, it slowly burns the skin, and also attacks the lungs.

    Phosgene smells like new mown hay, and attacks the Lungs.

    Chlorpicrin, smells sweet, sort of like fly-paper or honey. It attacks the lungs, and is heavier than air so when inhaled one must hang upside down to expel it (don’t ask me how I know this!).

    The original Chloracetophenone (Tear Gas) smells much like apple-blossoms, but only causes eyes to water if it is used alone. It is also used as a "warning agent" in many lethal insecticide products.

    So, how does one define "humane". A nano-second between life and death? (atomic blast and some nerve agents). Or the false belief you are smelling a pleasant aroma (some CWs) before you die?

    Is it the radioactive death after an old "dirty" bomb, or the thought of a later cancer? Or is it the fear of burning which makes us so repulsed by fire weapons themselves, which are apparently only extremely painful in one non-lethal circumstance?

    I personally would go for slow starvation by blockade as the least humane, then put death by radiation poisoning next. Followed by the "sneaky" chemical weapons which don’t announce themselves as dangerous initially, but kill you anyway.

    At the end of the list I should include "infection" from wounds, since until the widespread use of penicillin and other anti-biotic "wonder medicines" wounds and disease killed more soldiers than combat, and amputation was the only attempt to save a soldier’s life.
     

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