The Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA, certainly put its American ingenuity to good use…
—The “Caccolube” was a simple, yet effective method that OSS agents employed to disable enemy vehicles. Filling a condom (multi-use, who knew?) with an “abrasive compound,” agents would quickly drop it into an engine crankcase before making their hasty escape. “After the engine heats up,” the OSS manual explains, “the hot oil will deteriorate the rubber sac and free the compound into the lubricating system.” The Caccolube took effect some 30 to 50 miles into a drive, with the reaction working so thoroughly that “the vehicle [was] not only thrown out of service but the engine [was] destroyed repair.
—While Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 film Inglourious Basterds is not entirely historically accurate—okay, okay, not historically accurate at all—the film does correctly feature what the National World War II Museum describes as the “obscure but very real” Sedgley OSS .38 glove pistol. Designed by the Office of Naval Intelligence and manufactured by the Sedgley Company of Philadelphia, the weapon, as demonstrated by Sergeant Donowitz and Private Omar in the film, was activated by making a fist and punching the enemy at point-blank range. Nothing like pistol punching a Nazi, eh?
—The OSS went a little medieval on the Axis powers with its invention of the “Little Joe” Crossbow. Used primarily for eliminating sentries or guard dogs, the little crossbow was, as military historian Chris McNab describes, “essentially a hand-held, vertical-profile pistol crossbow.” The Little Joe saw some action, but ultimately U.S. special forces preferred its weapons to be from the 20th century, opting for suppressed pistols to do the job.
—What tastes like pancakes but has the ability to kill? “Aunt Jemima’s” explosive powder. Invented by soldier-turned-chemist George Kistiakowsky, the powder had the consistency of flour and could be mixed with water, baked, and even eaten without harm. It was only when ignited with a fuse that Aunt Jemima would detonate. Disguised in flour bags, the powder was smuggled to Chinese soldiers and resistance fighters throughout the war in the Pacific.
—While not technically a weapon, the “Who, Me?” bomb, created by chemist and inventor Stanley Lovell, certainly packed a punch to the nostrils. According to writer Sam Kean, author of The Bastard Brigade: The True Story of the Renegade Scientists and Spies who Sabotaged the Nazi Atomic Bomb, the substance Lovell invented was essentially synthesized diarrhea, which according to Lovell “duplicated the revolting odor of a very loose bowel movement.” OSS agents hired Chinese children to dart out and “accidentally” spray the eau de diarrhea on Japanese officers. Whoever smelt it dealt it?