For many reasons, cargo has been transported back and forth across the world for centuries. Much of the items carried are crucial or at the very least useful for everyday life. In our modern world, we’ve grown accustomed to using and consuming many items not native to our own country.
The same goes for countries around the world. In a single day, you might wear clothing from one country, eat food from another, and use electronics built in yet another nation. We don’t really think twice about this anymore.
Among these many items, however, we have discovered some that are bizarre, strange, highly valuable, or just plain weird. Read on to discover a list of the 25 strangest cargo ever carried by plane, train, automobile (or wagon train).
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1. The Holy Grail
If the legend is true, the most sacred and most priceless cargo of all time would have been when the Knights Templar supposedly transported the Holy Grail to England by sea in the 12th century.
The Holy Grail was said to be the cup that Jesus Christ drank from at the last supper and was later to have been used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch Christ’s blood at his crucifixion. Some say the cup is hidden somewhere in Glastonbury in England. The legend goes that if you drink from it, it will grant you eternal youth!
2. Transporting Hitler to a new life?
What if you found yourself transporting someone who had supposedly died a few days earlier? It is alleged that the commander of the German submarine U-530 found himself in that exact position just after World War II. Some say that he secretly transported Adolf Hitler and his new wife to South America!
Though this may seem a little fantastic, there are some strange facts to consider. First, Hitler’s and his wife’s bodies were never found. Also, why did the captain and his crew travel thousands of miles to surrender in Argentina, when neutral Spanish was less than a day away from their original position? Why did take them twice as long to get to Argentina than it should have?
It was later proven that some notorious Nazis did make it to South America at the end of the war, such as Captain Josef Mengele, known as the “Angel of Death.”
Was Hitler that secret cargo, who then lived out the rest of his days in South America?
3. The deadliest cargo ever?
Some cargo is not only strange and unwanted … but deadly. In the 14th century, trading ships from the Far East started to arrive in Europe with black rats onboard carrying fleas infected with the Bubonic plague.
It soon swept across the whole of Europe with devastating effect. It was to become known as the Black Death. By the time it had finished, it had killed an estimated 50% of the European population and reduced the world population by around 125 million people.
Bubonic plague still haunts the world today. In October 2017, in Madagascar, it killed about 170 people and infected thousands of others.
4. Let’s throw a tank off a moving plane!
Military cargo planes carrying vehicles is not an unusual thing, but to have the ability to carry a tank is. Even a light one, like the M22 Locust from WWII, weighed over seven tons and was over 12 feet long. But it was so lightly armored and had such a small gun that it was nearly useless in combat.
The Americans revisited the problem in the late 1960s with the M551 Sheridan Airborne Assault Vehicle. Despite having light aluminum armor and a compact main gun that could fire either standard rounds or missiles, the tank was three times the weight of an M22 Locust (15 tons) and nearly twice the length (20 feet).
To make it more easily deployable, it was designed to be dropped out the back of transport aircraft flying at low speed at a height of under 10 feet. The tank was on a specially-designed pallet and skidded to a stop with the aid of a chute.
The tank crew was parachuted in from another transport plane. Once on the ground, they had to make their way to their tank.
The system proved clumsy. Often, the tank could not be used because of the impact of the landing. The tank itself was ineffective as its gun was over-complicated and unreliable. It was quickly phased out of front-line service.
5. Carrying around a spaceship
For 40 years, NASA strapped 165,000-pound space shuttles on top of heavily converted Boeing 747 jetliners. Initially, it was to carry out aerodynamic tests by releasing a test space shuttle from them at high altitudes and letting it glide back to earth.
After these tests were concluded, for the rest of their career, these giant 747’s were used to ferry the five operational space shuttles back and forth between the several launch sites NASA uses and its landing facility on Merritt Island in Florida.