In 1921, Dr. Gustav Luchy, a Swiss scientist, and the Chevalier Pini, an inventor, collaborated on devising a machine to conquer the Antarctic. They needed a model on which to base their invention — something that sheltered its crew, but was more maneuverable than a train or car. So of course, they settled on the mosquito.
The insect had the leg height and carrying capacity the inventors were looking for. They were able to create a number of small working models and were working on a new model 40 feet tall. Within its body would be the engines as well as room for a crew of ten men. The head would contain all the tools needed for exploration: drills, cutting tools, cranes, etc.
But this was still just a scale model because Luchy and Pini thought big. They believed there was no real practical limit to the size of their exploring machine, which would be built of aluminum and steel and run by giant Diesel engines. The published drawing shows living quarters for 2500 men, an aircraft launcher and a "fully equipped ocean liner."
The inventors suggested that it would be "possible to build a mechanical mosquito big enough to walk through the shallower depths of the ocean, and to be powerful enough to cut through the earth's crust to the internal fires." Because the inventors were convinced that tremendous mineral riches lay beneath the Antarctic ice, this machine would be the ideal prospector. Several machines might be used for this, working in tandem to transport minerals and ores overland.
The giant mosquitoes could also be used to explore deserts. They'd be especially good for this since they would "do away with the necessity of erecting elaborate buildings or elaborate fortifications against hostile tribes." In tropical regions, the machines would be equipped with cutting tools to allow them to clear a path through jungles.
"It is only fair to say," concluded one reporter, "that many scientists are sceptical."