The Poison Dart Bomb
In January 1942, British research scientist Dr. Paul Fildes wrote to the Singer Sewing Machine company asking for needle samples. These needles were, quite unlike their usual use, intended for a weapon. Singer responded that they were quite willing to help. The British were working to develop a poison dart bomb, armed with thousands of tiny, needle-nosed darts. Each dart would weigh only .15 ounces, and be armed with a lethal poison, designed to kill quickly and efficiently. A single 500 lb. cluster bomb would contain some 30,000 darts.
The planned poison darts would each contain a small amount of poison, sealed in a hollow needle with a cotton and wax seal. When the needle, moving rapidly, struck the target, the seal or inertia plug would force the toxin into the target. Each needle would have a paper tail to keep it flying straight. Once a person was struck by the dart, if it was not removed within seconds, it would lead to collapse within just a few minutes, and death within 30 minutes. Material on the poison dart bomb has been declassified recently; while it’s been suggested these were to be armed with mustard gas, sarin seems much more likely. Mustard gas requires too large a dose for lethality, while sarin is lethal in much smaller amounts.
Field trials were attempted in Canada using sheep and goats. The poison darts were a planned replacement for weapons used in trench warfare, like mustard gas in World War I, as well as in open field combat.
While the idea was not a bad one, research into the poison dart bomb ceased for a simple reason; taking cover provided complete protection from the poison darts. In order to cause death, the darts had to reach their target. The poison dart bomb was also economically inefficient, costing far more than it was worth to produce.