Blue Peacock Nuclear Mine: Warning, may contain chicken. The Brits are well known for thinking outside of the box in all sort of engineering fields, including weapon design and manufacturing. But with the Blue Peacock, the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment (RARDE) might have strayed a little too far from said box!
The Blue Peacock was a 1950’s 10 kilotons tactical nuke designed in response to the perceived threat of overwhelming Soviet superiority in conventional weapons at the time. The Blue Peacock design was based on the Blue Danube freefall bomb: A plutonium core surrounded by a shere of high-explosives. The core and high-explosives would then be encased in steel. To this were added batteries and detonators. The complete assembly being self-contained in a giant container.
What made it special is that 10 Blue Peacock were supposed to be buried in Germany in case of a Soviet push into Western Europe. Placed in the path of Soviet armies in the North German plain and armed with an 8 days fuse, the 7 tons bomb was also equipped with an anti-tampering device that would detonate it if the bomb was moved or the casing opened once the device was armed. The whole point of those mines would have been to cover the retreat of allied armies, as well as vaporising several thousand Soviet troops and create a dirty no-man’s land unfit for occupation… A radioactive buffer zone, if you like.
One of the problems encountered was that the Blue Peacock’s batteries and electronics might not last 8 days buried underground when subjected to the cold German winter… Several insulation solutions were tried but failed. At one point, somebody suggested putting several live chickens inside the bomb casing, alongside enough food and water to sustain them for 8 days. The chicken would produce heat that would have been sufficient to keep the bomb at operating temperature… The only modification needed was to install chicken wire around the bomb components in order to avoid the critters pecking at stuff that should not be pecked at… The project was abandoned in 1958 when the political dimension of detonating bombs large enough to create craters several hundred feet deep, 375 feet in diameter as well as potentially contaminating an ally’s country with nuclear fallout was finally taken into account. Especially considering that the Germans themselves had not been told about this plan: They had been told those big containers were nuclear powered electric generators!!