Image By Igor Normann From Shutterstock

Antitank dogs

Another use of animals in battle that would make any animal lover weep was the use of dogs to blow up German tanks, and as much as the idea of a dog throwing a grenade might be amusing, unfortunately the dog itself was the bomb.

Despite Hitler and Stalin signing non-aggression pact, on June 22, 1941, Hitler unilaterally broke his deal with Stalin and launched the largest surprise attack in the history of warfare. Taken completely off guard and fearing the full scale invasion of the Soviet Union, desperate times called for increasingly desperate measures.

To counter the advancing Nazi tanks at the Eastern Front, the original plan was to train dogs to leave a bomb in the path of the tank and retreat, so that the bomb would be detonated by a timer. The ability to train the dogs to complete this task would ultimately fail so the Soviets would try a different and more cruel technique.

The Soviets began strapping bombs to dogs that were activated by a small lever rising from an attached pouch on the dog’s side. When the dog would dive under a tank, the lever would strike the tank’s chassis and detonate.

Soviet propaganda would claim that around 300 German tanks were destroyed using their antitank dogs, however the way the dogs were trained would blow up in the Soviets face, quite literally. The dogs were trained on Soviet diesel tanks, instead of German gasoline tanks, so during deployment the dogs had a habit of running toward Soviet vehicles based on scent.

The U.S. military would also train antitank dogs in 1943, for use against fortifications, but decided not to deploy them. The use of dogs in this way might sound like the remnant of a desperate army in a brutal war, unfortunately the antitank dog program continued until 1996.

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