We’ve already covered various supervillain plots by governments and individuals, but many of those entries were merely proposals, with some of them rejected proposals at that. This list covers 10 supervillain plots by governments which were actually attempted.
10. Japan Tried To Set The US Ablaze Using Intercontinental Fire Balloons
Since Japan was soon fighting for its life against the US, the Japanese tried to weaponize this discovery. Launching balloons filled with incendiary devices, the Japanese hoped that the “Fu Go” balloons would start huge forest fires in the western US and hinder the American war effort.
Beginning in late 1944, the Japanese started launching thousands of these balloons from eastern Japan. Hundreds of them did reach America. Considering what the Japanese hoped to achieve, the damage was minimal. But it was still tragic—a pregnant woman and five of her children died.
US leaders worried that knowledge of the balloons among the civilian population would cause mass panic. So the government suppressed information about the existence of the balloons. The project ended when the Americans bombed Japan’s hydrogen plants—which made the element required to float the balloons—and the Japanese decided to direct their resources to other projects.
9. The Nazis Tried To Build A Superweapon Fortress
Constructed between 1943 and 1944 by Organization Todt, the premier Nazi engineering group, La Coupole was to be a gigantic underground base from which the Nazis would constantly bombard London with V-2 rockets. Fortunately, the base was bombed and rendered unusable before it could become operational. But the outside structure still stands in an intimidating fashion, with a concrete dome poking out from the side of a hill.
The facility was to be a final assembly plant for V-2 components and a rocket fuel factory. Finished components would be shipped via railroad to La Coupole, where they would be integrated into the final rocket. Then the rockets would be fueled and rolled out onto one of two launchpads. Nazi engineers would oversee the launch of the rockets from an armored tower.
The Allies were aware of the base and attacked it during construction. They systematically bombed it to the ground via air strikes until the Nazis abandoned the project.
8. The Israelis Stole Their Own Navy Ships From Under The Noses Of The French
As the French were a major arms supplier to Israel at that time, a lot of the military equipment that Israel desperately needed was stuck in France. This included five missile boats—the first in the world—which were critical for Israel because their navy was operating outdated equipment.
So Israel decided to steal the missile boats from the French port of Cherbourg. Mossad contacted a Norwegian oil magnate who set up a dummy corporation to buy the boats. In the interest of time, Israel set the date of the heist for Christmas Eve 1969 when harbor security would be home celebrating Christmas. Israeli sailors secretly made their way to Cherbourg, where they joined other crews and hid below decks until Christmas.
The Israelis weren’t going to sail the boats straight home without stopping. They had set up refueling ships along the 3,000-kilometer (2,000 mi) route. Since it was Christmas Eve when they left, it took a full two days before anyone noticed that the boats were missing. By that time, they were far away.
7. The US Tried To Use Nukes To Frack Oil Wells
With all the major issues about fracking nowadays, it seems hard to imagine that the US once tried to frack for oil and gas using nuclear explosions. But there were a few actual tests. This was back in the 1960s, when everything atomic was in vogue. But only a supervillain could come up with that scheme today.
The nuclear fracking was done under the auspices of the Plowshare Program, an attempt to determine whether nukes could be used for industrial purposes. In 1967, the first test, code-named “Gasbuggy,” was detonated in New Mexico more than 1,200 meters (4,000 ft) underground.
The project immediately saw an increase in natural gas production, which prompted further tests. In 1969, Project Rulison detonated a nuke 2,500 meters (8,500 ft) underground. Four years later, Project Rio Blanco was another test.
However, by the early 1970s, public opinion had turned against nuclear weapons. Also, even if the oil or gas well was fully used for 25 years, the revenues generated wouldn’t come close to covering the cost of the nuke. So these crazy schemes were abandoned.
6. The US Tried To Expose Vietnamese Hiding In The Jungle With Herbicides
Called Operation Ranch Hand, the project ran from 1962 to 1971 and extended into parts of neighboring Laos, where the Vietnamese sometimes went to escape the Americans.
While the vast majority of the 20 million tons of herbicides sprayed over Vietnam was Agent Orange, the US also used other herbicides, including Agents Pink, Purple, Blue, and White. The official motto of the operation was “only we can prevent the forests,” which was what they were trying to do.
They only partially succeeded. Despite its audacious scope and aims, the operation failed to reveal the North Vietnamese tormenting the Americans in the jungle.