Widgets Magazine

This clever advertising doomed thousands of aviators

The B-17 "Flying Fortress" was supposed to be so well-armed that formations of them could fly over enemy territory with near impunity, killing off enemy fighters as easily as bug zappers fight off flies. But the reports of B-17 immunity were drastically overstated, and aviators paid the cost by the hundreds before a solution was deployed.

In the lead up to World War II, the U.S. Army Air Force had to make tough decisions on how to spend limited defense dollars. Decades of strict budgets after World War I left capabilities across the military underdeveloped, and the Air Forces decided to spend their part of the pie focusing on strategic bombing.

And, unfortunately, when a manufacturer told them a new bomber wouldn't need a fighter escort, they bought it. Thousands of aviators would pay the price as unescorted B-17 formations faced losses of over 20 percent.

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Massive cats have invaded these photos. You're welcome

Massive cats are here, and they're taking over the training ranges, battlefields, and oceans of the world. Also, they're just so adorable with their big whiskers and their cute paws. These military men and women are now backed up by the largest felines in known history.

Man, military photographers take some great photos sometimes. Sand tables, missile launches, rifle ranges. So many great images of American might and military readiness. But they're always missing something, and the Twitter user Military Giant Cats has figured it out.

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The British re-cut Nazi propaganda to make these soldiers dance

The Lambeth Walk was a ridiculous English dance craze of the late 1930s, sort of like flossing is today, but more adults were into it. When the Nazis called it "Jewish Mischief" before starting World War II, a British Ministry of Information member got to work editing videos until it looked like Hitler and his stormtroopers were doing it.

You all know flossing, right? The sort of ridiculous little dance that became a meme with kids and then went into Fortnight and now you can't go to a ball game without seeing a bunch of people on the Jumbotron acting like they're running a towel between their legs? Well, the 1930s had their own dance craze like that called the Lambeth Walk. And after a Nazi party member decried it in 1939 as "Jewish mischief and animalistic hopping," a British video editor got to work.

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What it looks like when Marines fire their biggest guns

The Australian Army is hosting Exercise Koolendong where U.S. Marines are firing their M777 howitzers, the biggest towed artillery piece in the U.S. arsenal. These beasts can fire shells weighing over 100 pounds and, when crewed by eight great Marines, can fire five rounds of high-concentration Freedom per minute.

Right now, the Australian Army is hosting one of its largest military exercises with participants from the U.S. Marine Corps and the French military working side-by-side with Australian forces. The three militaries are practicing how to work with each other as well as how to best incorporate the strengths of each force.

And that gives us a perfect chance to watch the highly mobile, flexible, and lethal Marine artilleryman at work.

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How many MREs it takes to get a lethal dose of Tabasco

Theoretically, there is a lethal dose of Tabasco. We say theoretically because if anyone was going to run into the lethal Tabasco threshold, U.S. troops would've done it years ago and no one ever has. But it turns out, it takes a lot of MRE hot sauce packets to reach the threshold.

Now, don't panic, but there is a lethal limit of hot sauce. Well, at least there is a limit in theory. There's no record of a person ever drinking hot sauce to death, and very few cases of lethal pepper exposure. But you're not going to run into the limit just dashing hot sauce on your MRE, no matter how poorly spiced the components are out of the packaging.

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A hot YouTuber tried out the Marines' boot camp

Michelle Khare is a YouTuber and BuzzFeed.News journalist who has built her brand around trying out workouts, special training programs, and more. So it makes sense that the Marines invited her out to try boot camp for three days as one of four YouTubers who would complete challenges like a ruck march, obstacle courses, the gas chamber, and more.

The Marine Corps has to recruit a bunch of teens and young twenty-somethings in order to keep recruits flowing in. And they sponsored four YouTubers to come and spend three days in basic training. The main star of the resulting video is Michelle Khare, a BuzzFeed.News journalist whose YouTube is pretty much all videos about her trying on other people's lives like the ultimate tourist.

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This Russian missile could be the last thing you ever see

While most of modern Russia's weapon systems are laughable failures like the Su-57, its newest ballistic missile for submarines is a beast. It can hit Washington D.C. from nearly anywhere in the North Atlantic or Europe, flies in a way designed to avoid missile defenses, and can carry nuclear payloads capable of destroying six cities each.

While Russia likes to point to the "successes" of its state re-armament program, the fact is that many of the weapons have fallen well short of their touted potential. The T-14 is underfunded and probably overhyped. The Su-57 can't be stealthy and fast at the same time. The nuclear-powered cruise missile might be what killed Russian scientists last month.

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How the Army tried to explore ancient Mars with a psychic

In a secret experiment in 1984, the Army put a psychic in a chair and asked him to focus on the place and time written on a piece of paper inside an envelope and tell them what he saw. What they didn't tell him was that they were having him focus on Mars in the year 1,000,000 B.C. Here's what he saw.

In 1984, the Army was studying all sorts of paranormal phenomena, from men trying to walk through walls and move objects with their mind to killing goats from 100 feet away. One of the lesser-known experiments was in "astral projection" with soldiers trying to move their consciousness to a different time and space. And the most exotic locale they tried to reach was a million years ago on Mars.

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The legal implications of that Area 51 raid

That planned Area 51 raid is scheduled for less than three weeks from now. Local counties are preparing for an emergency, the Air Force is preparing to defend its installation by force, and potentially millions of people are preparing to break aliens out of confinement. A real lawyer takes a look at the legal problems involved.

Over 2 million people have said they're going to take part in that joke raid on Area 51 because, "They can't stop us all." (Spoiler alert: Yes, the Air Force and its co-branches of the military can absolutely stop thousands of people attempting to cross the miles of open desert to reach the main facilities at Area 51.) But a real lawyer with a prominent YouTube channel has taken a look at the legalities involved in storming a military facility and in defending it.

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