The Cold War saw numerous oddball inventions of lethal intent, but leave it to the British to slap one with a silly name. And Blue Peacock’s name wasn’t the end of its peculiarities.
Blue Peacock was supposed to be a nuclear land mine. It was designed to blow up on a time lag, days after U.K. forces had given ground to invading Russian troops. British engineers even considered using chickens as a crude (but theoretically effective) detonator timer.
During the Cold War, days NATO forces including those of the British Army were heavily outnumbered by their Soviet-aligned Warsaw Pact adversaries. In the event of real war, NATO forces, particularly on the North German Plain, were expected to come under intense pressure and probably would have to fall back several times as they attempted to wear down the advancing Soviet Army and its allies.
The Western allies built nuclear rockets and artillery shells meant to repel invading communist forces, but there was another, often-overlooked weapons category in play: mines. This was a category British engineers at the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment (RARDE) were ready to fill with an atomic land mine. In the YouTube video above, the channel Plainly Difficult describes the history of Blue Peacock.
Blue Peacock was designed to be buried on German soil along likely Soviet routes of advance. As the British were pushed back, the Soviet Army would advance, and probably would set up things like headquarters, supply depots, and other units directly above a buried Blue Peacock mine. Once the bomb went off, a ten-kiloton atomic explosion would made a significant dent in the Soviet invasion force.
The weapon could go off in one of three ways: an 8-day timer, remote control, or if someone tampered with it. One proposed arming mechanism was placing chickens in the bomb along with just enough food for the chickens to die of starvation after eight days. Seriously.