My friend here is watching you…
There’s a few things that make us different from our fellow animals. You don’t find lions texting “@ plns zebs gon”, there aren’t antelope spending their Sundays in a queue at Homebase, and no swan relationship ever broke up because she found him talking to a duck on Facebook. Among the many things they don’t do is war. Yes the other members of the animal kingdom kill, often, and sometimes a lot more visciously than midweek shiny television documentries tend to show, but they don’t plan, and they don’t decimate a whole other group of animals over a concept, a piece of paper or some imaginary guns. Evidently some folk have felt the animals must have been feeling left out because a remarkable amount of weaponry has been named after them…
As anyone who has spent more than five minutes watching a nature documentary knows insects are the most numerous group of animals on the planet, and they are certainly well represented in the history of the military.
It may not be a military vehicle per se but the Volkswagen Beetle is one of the few bits of their Nazi history that isn’t illegal to discuss in Germany. An incredibly popular car which is arguably more famous than Ferdinand Porsche’s namesake vehicles. The dream of the Führer it seems was for all his blonde, blue eyed atheletic disciples to drive around in some ugly lumpy thing going on picnics. This is the kind of dream humans kill over and we think we’re the intelligent chordates?
The dreams of dictators eh? (from Bundesarchiv, Bild 146II-732 CC-BY-SA)
The Wasp III unmanned aircraft
Wasps are much better represented in military circles. Though oddly armies seem disinclined to adopt the wasp’s emo kid dress sense of yellow and black stripes. In the air, sensibly, there have been un-manned aircraft wasp, the ABC Wasp engine, the pilotless Queen wasp from WW2, and the Pratt and Whitney Wasp engines. But everyone’s least favourite flying insect has not lacked respresentation lower down with both a HMS and USS Wasp sailing it for the stripey boys. The AGM-124 Wasp may sound like the most awful meeting ever, a bunch of angry fat bottomed men in stripes discussing how to move stinging policy forward, it is in fact a missile which was developed in the early 1980s by Boeing and Hughes. Much like anything called AGM it failed to deliver its 10km promise by being cancelled after testing.
The ABC Wasp engine
Airspeed Queen Wasp
Other insects also feature prominently amongst military vehicles. The British had a class of ships used in WW1, and some lasted to WW2, known as the insect class, and they were accordingly all named after insects. A couple of posts ago we met one of the longest lasting, and the one which must have caused hysterics and embarrassment upon posting, HMS Cockchafer. The other ships included Ladybird and Cricket. Whilst HMS Bee was an Insect class ship, but was the name of three other boats, and two bases. Hopefully they did not all swarm to HMS Beehive, which was a coastal base in Felixstowe during the Second World War.
From the smallest to the largest our winged friends are also well represented. Some, quite logically are in the air: Aim-7 Sparrow missile, the Rolls Royce Eagle engine used in Handley Page bombers, the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F15 Eagle fighter jet, BAE Hawk jet, and the MIM-23 Hawk surface to air missile. Birds have made it to the seas though, including HMS, USS and HMAS Hawks, and HMS Eagle, and onto land with the MOWAG Eagle which is something like a Swiss Hummer. There is the Hawk MM-1 grenade launcher, which shows what I know I thought you just threw the things, and for Apollo 11 when they said the Eagle has landed it wasn’t just some metaphor for the USA getting to the moon, that there bit at the front was called the Eagle.
Mowag Eagle by Patrick Jonatta
Hawk missile and an F-15 Eagle
Rolls Royce Eagle engine by Imnop88a
The F-15 again but the little chap is the Sparrow missile
The Cobra Eels may well be fictional enemies of GI Joe (at least he got a name, poor old Action Man, ever just “man” or worse “substitute Ken”) but the USS Eel was a planned real submarine. Even the rather unmilitary looking sealions have got in on the act having not only HMS and USS Sealion, but a whole operation. Whether Germany’s pland to invade Britain with Operation Sea Lion included rolling around on the beaches of Bexhill-on-Sea and honking loudly at passing females is unclear.
HMS Lion is a very popular ship name in the Royal Navy, eighteen of them there have been. Not all at once mind, that would have been confusing. And the Lion of Babylon is an Iraqui version of the T-72, which last had an outing in the First Gulf War. Lady lions are somewhat less popular with only one USS Lioness, a Union shop in the civil war.
The Lion of Baghdad by ronnie TX
Left till last is of course the most popular mammal in war. Tigers. They have their stripes copied for camouflage, not terribly persuasively it has to be said. There are troops nicknamed after them, and guerilla forces too. There’s an attack helicopter (which I do hope they nickname rover), countless ships (which sort of suggests that the armed forces really don’t know cats), armoured cars and of course the most popular tiger around Arcane…tanks.
The 10th Armored Division Company B of the United States Army, known as the tigers.
F11 Grumann Tiger and one of the many HMS Tigers
The Eurocopter Tiger by David Monniaux
If you want to start assembling your own mechanised zoo, here’s a few you could start with…
The very best kind of tiger…