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Secret Weapons

Secret Weapons

Field test of explosives developed by Britain's Special Operations Executive during WWII
An archival image of an SOE weapons lab
Explosives engineer Sidney Alford recreates a bomb detonation timer the size of a pencil
A recreation of a bomb that nearly killed Hitler
Assembling a "rat bomb" according to original SOE designs
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Why did the museum become a weapons lab in WWII?

How did one of the lab's bombs nearly kill Hitler?

In the darkest days of World War Two, British High Command formed a top secret unit to infiltrate Nazi-occupied Europe. This Special Operations Executive (SOE) was tasked to outfit spies and resistance fighters with innovative weapons, concealable explosives, and other tools of the trade.

Once this spy stuff was constructed, the SOE needed a place where they could show spies and resistance fighters how to use it. They chose a suite of rooms in the Natural History Museum as their secret demonstration facility.

One SOE spy – the author Ian Fleming – used this spy emporium's supremo as the inspiration for gadget-master "Q" in his James Bond adventures.

What top secret weapons were invented here? And how did one of these weapons come within a hair's breadth of killing Adolph Hitler?

These secrets are revealed in Museum Secrets: Inside The Natural History Museum.

The Museum in World War II

We won't reveal the weapon that nearly killed Hitler here. You'll have to watch the broadcast episode. But in the meantime, we will reveal how the museum became a secret spy facility in our Web Exclusive Video: Room for Spies.

Anatomy of a Secret Weapon

If you'd like to view the blueprint of one of the strangest weapons of World War II, we invite you to check out our Interactive Feature: Rat Bomb.

Believe It Or Not

Think the Rat Bomb is strange?  Check out this illustrated list of 5 Weird Weapons of World War II.

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