Anti-tank dogs: Dogs were used as suicide bombers during World War II

Anti-tank dogs: Dogs were used as suicide bombers during World War II

During the Second World War, many innovative weapons were created. One of the most unique, and wildly inhuman, were exploding anti-tank dogs. 

Anti-tank dogs were trained dogs to carry explosives to tanks, armored vehicles, and other military targets. They were intensively trained by the Soviet and Russian military forces between 1930, and 1996, and used in 1941–42 against German tanks during the Second World War.

Dogs were a part of the European army even before the Second World War. Dogs were mostly used to identify wounded soldiers, pass information, or carry small packages.

In the early 1930s, dogs were intensively trained by the Soviet military forces as an anti-tank weapons. For these purposes, a dog training school has been set up in Moscow. Soon after that, twelve other regional schools were opened, three of which trained anti-tank dogs. The army recruited people such as police dog trainers, hunters, circus trainers, and animal scientists for this program.

The original idea was complicated and was considered to be a failure. In this method, dogs were trained to take the bomb packs, and drop them below the German tanks, start the trigger and run away. In this method, dogs were confused while attacking multiple tanks, resulting in them returning to their controller with the bomb still intact. It could kill both the controllers and the dog. 

This routine was replaced by an impact-detonation procedure that killed the dog in the process. In this process, dogs were trained to be kept hungry, and then food was placed under a practice tank, training them to think that food was under all tanks. Also, battle sounds were added to their practice so that they wouldn't be frightened when they ran under the real scenario.

Each dog was fitted with a 10–12-kilogram mine carried in two canvas pouches and a wooden lever extending from the pouch to about 20 centimeters (7.9 in) in height. When the dog sank under the tank, the lever struck the bottom of the tank and detonated the charge. Because the underside of the chassis was the most vulnerable part of these vehicles, it was hoped that the explosion would disable the vehicle.

The first group of anti-tank dogs arrived at the frontline at the end of the summer of 1941 and included 30 dogs and 40 trainers. And the dogs were so ineffective that many of them started to run back to the Soviet side. The problem was that German tanks were mainly petrol-driven, but Soviet tanks were diesel-driven.

As different sounds (many of the dogs were so confused and frightened by the sound of the gunfire and tanks that they didn't run under enemy tanks) and smells produced by the tanks. The dogs returned and sat under Soviet tanks, which had a familiar smell, and often detonated the charge when they jumped in, killing Soviet soldiers. To prevent this, the controllers had no choice but to shoot the dog before it reached him. 

Out of the first group of 30 dogs, only four managed to detonate their bombs near the German tanks, causing an unknown amount of damage. Six exploded on their way back to the Soviet trenches, killing and injuring soldiers. Three dogs were shot by German soldiers, as the German began to suspect the unusual movements of dogs on the battlefield with packages.

The Soviets later reported that by the end of the war some 300 tanks were destroyed by anti-tank dogs, but many questions this number, as they think that it was probably the Soviet government that wanted to justify the program.

Whether anti-tank dogs were useful or not, they began to be used less or fewer from 1942 onwards, though there have been anti-tank dogs that continued to be trained until 1996.

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