E14 munition

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The E14 munition was a cardboard sub-munition (air-dropped or ground-launched munitions that eject smaller submunitions) developed by the United States biological weapons program as an anti-crop weapon. In 1955 the E14 was used in a series of field tests, during the tests the munition was loaded with fleas and air-dropped.


The E14 munition was developed by the United States for use in its offensive biological warfare arsenal as an anti-crop weapon.[1] After the Korean War U.S. interest in large-scale entomological warfare increased.[1] The E14 was one of two sub-munitions used in large-scale testing aimed at learning the feasibility and result of an air-dropped insect attack.[2]

In September 1954, at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, the E14 was again used in a series of tests known as "Operation Big Itch".[2] During Big Itch, uninfected rat fleas[3] (Xenopsylla cheopis) were loaded into the E14 and air-dropped over the proving ground.[2]

The E14 used cardboard and sponge inserts to hold the fleas inside the cardboard container.[2] With the sponge inserts in place, the E14 could hold about 100,000 fleas.[1] Eighty cardboard inserts, or "loop tubes", could be carried in the E14 as well. The munition could hold 80 loop tubes, each one capable of holding 3,000 fleas.[1] The testing in Utah was ultimately successful.[1][2]

In May 1955 the U.S. utilized the E14 in field test, this time in the U.S. state of Georgia.[2] The E14 was packed with "aircomb waffles" or loop tubes, instead of fleas these tests used uninfected yellow fever mosquitoes[4] (Aedes aegypti). The successful Georgia trials were known as "Operation Big Buzz".[2]


The E14 munition was a sub-munition that can be clustered in the E86 cluster bomb.[1] It was a 9 34-inch (248 mm) long, 13-inch (330 mm) wide cardboard container.[1] Internally the bomb contained an actuator, which emitted carbon dioxide, a piston that would expel the bomb's contents, and a small parachute, to be deployed when the weapon was dropped from the E86 cluster bomb.[1] The weapons were designed to release their payload of biological agent, be it a vector or anti-crop agent, at 1,000–2,000 feet (300–610 m) above the ground, after it was released from the cluster munition.[1]

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  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kirby, Reid. "Using the flea as weapon", (Web version via findarticles.com), Army Chemical Review, July 2005, accessed December 28, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Rose, William H. "An Evaluation of Entomological Warfare as a Potential Danger to the United States and European NATO Nations", U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, Dugway Proving Ground, March 1981, via thesmokinggun.com, accessed December 28, 2008.
  3. ^ The rat flea is a known vector for bubonic plague. See: Trivedi, "Xenopsylla cheopis".
  4. ^ The yellow fever mosquito is a known vector for pathogens such as Dengue fever and yellow fever. See: Russell, "Aedes aegypti".