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The weirdest declassified cold war projects – A Stargate for real?

Posted by mandyf on January 10, 2012

At this point in history, most people are aware of the fact that governments sometimes do some really stupid things – or at least they spend a load of money exploring the viability of doing some really stupid things. Government stupidity in many regards was at its height during the cold war era when some of the most bizarre programs you can imagine were launched. Some actually got put into action on some level while others were scrapped because someone that had some stones and common sense spoke up. For your amusement and the sheer pleasure of letting you know how some of your tax dollars – or your parents tax dollars – were spent, have fun with these insane cold war era projects.

Star Gating across the universe?

Project Stargate was a program that lasted 20 years and cost millions of dollars – unfortunately it wasn’t as good as the Stargate movie or even TV show. Project Stargate employed 22 psychics – all intel indicates Miss Cleo was not on the payroll but who really knows – to act as intelligence gatherers. If this all sounds a bit too “The Men Who Stare at Goats” for you, well guess what – it was just that. These psychics were supposed to “remote view” whatever they were tasked to in order to be the ultimate covert intelligence gathering unit in the world.

How tough was it to land the gig? According to former member, Pat Price, he said he could see a military base with a crane on it and they decided that was psychic enough. Never mind there are always military bases with cranes in pretty much every country in the world. Eventually the program was killed – so far as the public knows at least – and the whole thing was written off as a failure. Chalk one up for the U.S. military, as great as they are, this was just nuts.

Not that blue peacock!

To be fair, let’s pick on our friends across the pond, the British. Operation Blue Peacock was…poorly thought out would be a gentle term. Stupid would be more accurate. The idea behind Blue Peacock was that should the Soviets eve invade friendly territory they would need to be neutralized – read as killed. What else would a 10 kiloton nuclear explosion be for? Instead of dropping the nuke or using a missile delivery system they had a novel idea – why not bury nukes in the ground and make them really super badass landmines?

If you think it sounds pretty stupid already it gets worse. The nukes were to be set with a 10 second delay timer so assuming there was a mistake of some sort there was no way there was enough time to manually disarm it so an oops(!) moment was a near guarantee. That didn’t stop them from pressing forward though. The problem as they saw it was that  was that thing buried in the ground during the winter tend to freeze and so far as electronics go that is a bad thing.

Some of the “solutions” – and yes these are real – were to wrap the nukes in blankets, insulate them with fiberglass, or the all too rational install a heater idea. Those all had some rational merit, but instead the R&D team decided chicken was the answer. Let that sink in. The idea was that they would drop some chickens in the nuke hole with enough food and water for about a week and they would throw off enough body heat to keep the nukes warm and cozy so their electronics would work properly.

Nobody seemed to consider it may look suspicious to keep dropping chickens and feed down holes in the middle of nowhere. Or that if someone happened to be in the middle of nowhere the sound of subterranean clucking might draw attention. Then there was the whole what if it doesn’t work thing and how to explain a few 10 kiloton nuclear explosions on allied territory thing. Needless to say, this was scrapped.

Boom goes the Moon!

NASA was party to project A119 which in simple terms was designed to blow up the moon – or at least make it hurt really bad. As everyone knows when the space race began the Soviets were kicking much butt and were way ahead of the rest of the world. The U.S wasn’t so sure they could catch up, so they had to devise another plan to flex some muscle and show a little space domination – hence Project A119.

Thankfully the U.S decided that Neil Armstrong landing on the moon might be better than a nuke – and look less hostile – and they went that route. All things considered, launching enough nukes at the moon to raise a mushroom cloud big enough to blot out the sun wasn’t really as cool as it sounds in all probability.

Operation Northwood was designed to address the “Cuba problem” in the early 1960’s. Keep in mind that this was a plan approved by the joint Chiefs of Staff and maybe have a drink or four – unless you have a problem with that kind of thing. The JCS really wanted to go into Cuba and just kick the crap out of Castro – no big secret then or now – but they needed a reason to do it and Castro wasn’t being good enough to comply on their timetable. The idea behind Northwood was to fabricate a reason to go to war. They floated ideas like blowing up one of our own ships at Guantanamo, sinking some Cuban exiles floating to freedom in Florida, or this idea.

What would tick off Americans more than one of our NASA rockets exploding and proving that Cuba did it and posed a real threat to every man, woman, child, and head of livestock in the country? Pretty much nothing else which is why they approved a plan to blow up one of our own rockets and blame it on Cuba. Obviously it didn’t happen, Castro was left alone, and we saved a perfectly good rocket in the process. If you’re curious to know more, the majority of the operation was declassified in 1997 so have fun with that!

Let’s give one more nod to NASA and the U.S. government for providing us with the tasty bit that is Project Horizon. This was basically nothing more than a plan to put a military base on the moon – something we still talk about, but this was way back in 1959 – nobody had been to the moon yet. That in itself isn’t what makes this crazy, it is the actual plan that is just asinine.

Under the framework laid out, 2 –   yeah you read that right – 2 men would assemble a functioning moon base by themselves and man it. At the time they figured it would cost all of $6 million bucks to pull off just so you see the minds behind this project. Yeah $6 million was big money then, but seriously, a whole freaking moon base for $6 million? It shouldn’t be too hard, it was only a 220 ton package of materials to build the moon base. What is weird though was the plan to arm it with nukes. Why nukes? Even weirder was the landmine perimeter. Who else was coming? Was an attack a real threat? Were demands phoned in? Why, how, who, and again – why? Anyone have an answer?

Actually no one did have any answers, and that played a part in the project being scrapped. That and the fact that nobody had been to the moon, that did factor into the mix a little bit. It may be funny now, but in 1959 they were really serious about this.

Weird government projects are a fact life, and while this highlights weird U.S projects primarily, every government has them. The U.S. just has all that declassified stuff and FOIA that let’s regular folks see what was going on years after the fact for a lot of things so they’re an east target. Just keep in mind – your tax dollars at work.

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10 Responses to “The weirdest declassified cold war projects – A Stargate for real?”

  1. Nice post. There are many, many more out. In fact, the History Channel made a 2 hour documentary on it. Anyone interested in this stuff hop on over there and read about it as well. Some is funny, some ironic, one or two will tick you off !

    One was a surveillance cat, yes a cat. The CIA implanted a microphone in a cat and placed the antenna in it’s tail. The hope was that the cat could wander on over to the Kremlin and never be given a second look so as to grab all the juicy info! Problem was, the cat saw a bird on the way to park bench and guess what happened? It chased the bird.

    One thing I would like to add, and wished History Channel would’ve also mentioned this. We all have one HUGE advantage when looking at all of this now, hindsight . . . .it’s always 20/20 !

    I mean, those Wright Brothers are nuts! Flying machines with men in them . . that will never work! 😉

  2. mandyf said

    Very true and thanks for the tip. The one about using chickens to keep nuclear landmines warm though… That never could have been a reasonable idea I would think. You are right though, time changes perception. Thanks for the great input – I will check this out and take a shot at part 2!

  3. spainfootball said

    It’s pleasing to see that we British are as stupid as the Americans – The ‘Special Relationship’ makes sense after all!

  4. mandyf said

    We do both make some doozies. I haven’t even gotten into what the Soviets had going on.

  5. LOL, that was an entertaining read, Amanda. Thanks. Chicken to warm nukes? Wow, those 1950s people were crazy. But here’s the thing — those were the geeks in their time, I wonder what million dollar projects our current geeks are cooking up these days.

  6. mandyf said

    That is very true. In 50 years a lot of what we think of now as cutting edge is going to seem silly. 30 years ago I though Atari was the greatest gaming console there would ever be – now, I know even my Xbox is just something until the next better thing.

  7. Reblogged this on lastbabyboomer and commented:
    You hear about these thing but sometime truth is stranger the fiction.

  8. mandyf said

    Thank you very much – and yes, in these cases it really was. The saying “You just can’t make this stuff up” really applies.

  9. sallykwitt said

    I enjoy hearing about the weirder stuff!

  10. mandyf said

    Me too!

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