Weapons That Didn't Pan Out

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,585
Dispargum
I'm talking about weapons or weapon systems that were predicted to have a major impact on the battlefield but failed to meet expectations. I'll throw out one example:

Strategic bombers - Billy Mitchell, Douhet, and other advocates between the World Wars predicted that heavy bombers would render armies and navies obsolete and that bombing cities alone could force countries to surrender. Here we are almost 100 years later and it has almost never happened. I think the only war won by bombing alone was the NATO vs Serbia war in the 1990s.

Are there any other weapons that fell well short of expectations?
 
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Aug 2016
977
US&A
The Nazis invented the goliath. Think of a remote-controlled armored bomb on wheels. Unfortunately, it had crappy range and could be rendered immobile with rifle fire. There are also the V rockets.

I think the British were working on a giant aircraft carrier made of mixed sawdust and ice. Improvements in aeronautic technology quickly made that idea obsolete.

The Bismarck and Yamato were both immensely expensive battleships that ended up doing very little. This might be somewhat due to factors other than their effectiveness in combat.

The American M16 and British L85 assault rifles both gained bad reputations when first adopted.

Cavalry in the first world war.
 
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Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,480
South of the barcodes
Definitely not cavalry in the first world war.

Proved its worth in the middle east and especially Russia for scouting, raiding and so on.

Especially useful to the British, highly mobile groups would use machine guns and long range accurate rifle fire to halt German advances, delay them and then vamoose at speed. They were also useful for shock attacks with lances, swords and rifles into German scouts.

They were badly handled and sorely needed on the Somme when the initial artillery and infantry attacks cracked the German lines then there was no fast mobile reserve to attack through the gap.

came into their own again in 1918 attacking the retreating German forces.

Not very useful for holding a trench line, very useful for attacking the enemy as long as you choose the right ground and the right tactics.

Curiously French curassiers were useful in trench fighting, unlike the British who had standardised on a short universal rifle the French had stuck with long rifles for infantry and short carbines for cavalry. The Lebel was stupidly long and inconvenient in a trench, the Berthier carbine was a handy little gadget and the metal curaisse was useful against shell splinters.
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,480
South of the barcodes
Id have to suggest the multi-turret tank concept.

Utterly useless in all situations, designers had this idea they'd swan across the battlefield spraying bullets and shells into every target.

In the end the commanders ended up getting their minds warped trying to control multiple turrets, the lack of space due to so many turrets meant they couldnt carry heavy weapons but they did increase the weight and size which meant more tank to be armoured which meant more weight so they were undergunned and underpowered.

the A1e1 independent was so long that when you turned it the track had different turning radiuses, resulting in the hull splitting apart at the rear like a banana.

The Neubaufahrzeuge had decent weaponry but the armour was so awful the Boyes anti tank rifle could go through the front plate.

The T-35 at least entered serial production but you wouldnt want to be inside one and dont even ask about the SMK, the only example to see combat had its track taken off by a landmine and it was too heavy and useless to be worth recovering.

About the only country that didnt have a failed multi-turret was the USA and thats only because their military didnt have the money so they compensated by building steel boxes and poking MGs out of every available surface like it had been designed by a 10 year old.

Horrible concept!
 
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Edratman

Forum Staff
Feb 2009
6,708
Eastern PA
The tactical nuclear weapon. A small nuclear weapon that was intended to be used to attack enemy troops near friendly troops. Initially, the thought process was that the smaller weapons were preferable to the strategic, city destroying nuclear weapons.

Of course, someone pointed out that the loser in such a tactical exchange would be forced to resort to strategic weapons anyway. This led to treaties banning the tactical weapons.
 
Mar 2019
1,954
Kansas
The tactical nuclear weapon. A small nuclear weapon that was intended to be used to attack enemy troops near friendly troops. Initially, the thought process was that the smaller weapons were preferable to the strategic, city destroying nuclear weapons.

Of course, someone pointed out that the loser in such a tactical exchange would be forced to resort to strategic weapons anyway. This led to treaties banning the tactical weapons.
Davy Crockett (nuclear device) - Wikipedia
 

pikeshot1600

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,962
Two naval duds:

The torpedo ram (actual HMS Polyphemus; fictional HMS Thunder Child in War of the Worlds)

The dynamite cruiser (USS Vesuvius)

Both failures and both wound up as obscure auxiliary ships. No others were built by either the US or Royal Navies.