Top 5 Explosive Facts About Super Weapons

VOICE OVER: Raphael Daigneault
Supervillains rejoice! This one's for you. Come along as we explore the real world of revolutionary and far-flung tools of war, as well as their odd and terrifying history. Our countdown includes They Aren't Always Giant Physical War Machines, They've Existed for Many Years, They Have a Tendency to NOT Work Out, and more!

Top 5 Facts About Superweapons

Supervillains rejoice! This one is for you. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Facts. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the Top 5 Facts About Superweapons. Come along as we explore the real world of revolutionary and far-flung tools of war, as well as their odd and terrifying history.

#5: They Aren't Always Giant Physical War Machines

When we think of superweapons in the modern sense, Weapons of Mass Destruction like nuclear warheads come to mind. But a superweapon isn’t defined by its size or curb appeal - all that matters is its ability to do serious damage. Now that nearly everything important is stored on computer servers, a well-coordinated cyberattack can be arguably more devastating than most physical weapons of war. The “Crash Override” malware, also known as “Industroyer” took down the entirety of Kiev’s power grid in 2016. And in 2009, a computer worm, Stuxnet, was used to seriously damage Iran’s nuclear program. It seems that the next generation of wars may be fought with keyboards.

#4: Some of the Incomplete Ones Were True Works of Science Fiction

It’s every dictator’s dream to have the ultimate superweapon - a tool so powerful that they can bring the entire world to its knees with the simple threat of its use. Over the years, this never-ending arms race has produced some rather far-flung concepts. Famed inventor Nikola Tesla’s proposed “Teleforce,” often referred to as the “Death Ray,” was a particle launcher - which by Tesla’s own estimation could “bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 200 miles”. Perhaps the most outlandish theoretical superweapon in human history however was the Nazi “Sun Gun,” a 3.5 square mile/9 square kilometre reflector launched into space that would burn humans like ants in a magnifying glass.

#3: They Have a Tendency to NOT Work Out

Some theoretical superweapons fail because of shoddy or overly optimistic science. But historically-speaking, they tend to fail more often than not because they’re simply too ambitious. Imagination is limitless, but resources... are not. The USSR worked on numerous colossal war machines over the years but most of them – from aircraft carriers, battleships, tanks and heavy bombers – failed. They would’ve ruled the air, land and sea, but they took so long and required such skilled labor, that they were often abandoned mid-project. Those that made it into the field, usually suffered mechanical failure quickly. So while they have the potential to be highly intimidating, superweapons have a high risk of being a colossal waste of money.

#2: Nazi Germany Was Notoriously Into Their "Wunderwaffes"

More so than arguably any other nation in history, Nazi Germany firmly believed that so-called “Miracle Weapons” would win them the war. No other country could keep up with the Nazi’s speed of production, imagination or diversity when it came to over-the-top war machines. The V1 and V2 long range missiles were both devastatingly effective when used in combat. But the supergun known as the V3 Cannon, with its 310lb/140kg shells and 102.5 mile/165 km range received limited use. The Nazis also developed the first radio-guided bomb, Fritz X, the Schwerer Gustav and Dora 800mm railway guns, and countless boats, planes and tanks. Among the dozens of wunderwaffes developed, the Kugelpanzer, a spherical reconnaissance tank, is arguably the strangest prototype.

#1: They’ve Existed for Many Years

We tend to think of superweapons as technological wonders, but they don’t have to be high-tech in the modern sense. Examples of superweapons can actually be found in pretty much every culture and civilization across recorded history. A superweapon is anything new, innovative and efficient in war that gives one side a substantial leg-up in combat at that time. In 4th Century B.C., the Zhuge crossbow was the first of its kind, a semi-automatic crossbow that allowed soldiers to fire multiple bolts in quick succession. The Byzantine navy employed “Greek Fire” flamethrowers to devastate their enemies at sea. As early as the 13th Century, Song Dynasty China had gunpowder-based rockets.