The subject of German long-range bomber designs is covered in a forthcoming publication Luftwaffe Over America (Griehl: Greenhill Books, London). The minimum range from German occupied territory to the United States at any one time during the war was 5,300 kms from Brest to New York. Although it was possible for a couple of the designs to make the round trip with a light bomb load, it was never planned because there was no allowance for a minimum 15% fuel reserve insisted upon by Göring.
The only plan to bomb New York which received the approval of FM Milch was drawn up in 1943 with BdU assistance. Here a BV 222 flying boat would have rendezvoused with a U-boat in mid-Atlantic on two occasions to bomb-up and refuel. The docks and Jewish quarter of New York were the target. The project was no longer feasible in 1944.
America's entry into WW2 prompted a discussion among German strategists seeking ways to strike the American mainland. To send weapons from one continent to another, they needed some way to circumvent the limitations on the range of bomber aircraft and the capabilities of the German surface fleet.
Various methods were available at that time, the most practical of which was inserting saboteurs by U-Boat. While at least three groups of saboteurs were successfully landed (U-202, 13 June 1942; U-584, 16 June 1942; U-1230, 30 November 1944) the plan ultimately failed due to the unreliability and ineptitude of the German agents.
Another possibility was to fly bombers to New York City, and ditch them near a waiting U-Boat in the Atlantic before the fuel ran out. Due to an understandable lack of enthusiasm by both the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine, the project never proceeded past an alleged reconnaissance flight to New York City by a JU 390 of FAGr 5 in January 1944.
Yet another method became apparent during a conversation between Dr. Ernst Steinhoff, an engineer at the Peenemünde rocket development acility, and his brother, Korvettenkapitan Fritz Steinhoff, Kommandant of U-511. They surmised that it would be possible to fire an artillery rocket from the deck of a sumbmerged submarine.
Tests were conducted in May/June of 1942 using a standard army issue Wurfgerät 41 launcher and rockets from 21 to 30cm. The tests proved that it was not only feasable, but that the rockets could be fired from depths up to 15 meters below the surface, without affecting the normal flight path.
In principle, Admiral Dönitz approved of the idea of launching against harbors on the American mainland, specifically the sprawling facilities in New York City. However, the plan was delayed by technical concerns. The Kriegsmarine wanted to fit specialized launchers instead of using modified army equipment, but they did not pursue the idea with urgency. Eventually, steadily improving Allied ASW capability prevented U-Boats from approaching within range and the New York bombardment was cancelled.
The project was not entirely scrapped. In the summer of 1944, three U-Boats of the Black Sea 30th flotilla were secretly equipped with rocket launchers. These were mounted midships below the waterline of U-24 and U-9 and on the deck of U-19. The weapons were allegedly deployed against Soviet harbor facilities and moored ships during the German retreat. Although the records do not mention damage sustained in the attacks, this first combat use of a submarine launched missile was an historic event.
Later experiments code named "Ursel" attempted to utilize the submarine launched rocket against a pursuing surface vessel. The accuracy required by this weapon exceeded practical technological limits and efforts were concentrated on more promising sound-guided torpedoes instead. Other research included rocket powered torpedoes, several of which were tested. Despite their unnerving tendency to explode, they showed some promise. The postwar superpowers continued this research; the Soviet Navy is alleged to have developed an operational model.
To overcome the transcontinental barrier that prevented Germany from attacking the United States at home, an official of the German Labor Front, Direktor Lafferenz, suggested that a watertight container be constructed, in which a V-2 ballistic missile could be brought within range of the American coast. Discussion of this novel idea reached the highest levels of the Peenemünde research facility.
As it developed, the plan was to send three 500 ton displacement containers towed by a single snorkel equipped submarine. Each container, trimmed to neutral buoyancy, concealed a V2. Upon reaching the start location, the containers would be trimmed to a vertical position, and the rockets launched.
The idea was filed away until 1944, when it was given the code name Prüfstand XII and Vulkanwerft secretly began work on three containers. While the records indicate that at least one such submarine launch container was completed, it was never tested with a live firing. The concept was proven sound by the Soviets in the 1950s. Using captured plans and German engineering assistance they produced the Golem submarine towed missile launcher. American engineers took the next step with the Regulus and Polaris programs, placing the missile and launcher into the submarine.
The 1942 experiments may have appeared nothing more than a stunt to an observer without the foresight to recognize the potential of such a weapon. However, in much the same way that Eugene Ely's stunt foreshadowed the Aircraft Carrier when he landed his Curtiss Pusher on the U.S.S. Pennsylvania in 1911, these experiments were the genesis of the missile launching submarine.
Weapons reseach and development in the Third Reich pointed ultimately towards a devastating confluence of advanced weapons systems. Experiments with nuclear fission proceeded along with new generations of stealth submarines, intercontinental jet bombers and missiles. Destroying Eastern Seaboard cities was exactly the sort of capability the increasingly desperate Führer sought in order to win a surrender from the Allies.
The intent to do exactly that was made clear by documents found after the war, such as a Luftwaffe map of Manhattan showing blast damage anticipated by a rocket borne nuclear/atomic weapon. Fortunately, time ran out for the German rocket scientists.
Hitler's "Pineapple Bomb"
Dr. Kurt Diebner was head of the German Nuclear Research Program. To make an atomic bomb, energy is delivered from an extremely rapid nuclear chain reaction, in which heavy nucleus or uranium are broken down. (This is known as nuclear fission.) Dr. Diebner's team needed to process uranium U-238 to separate the important fissionable U-235. They decided that "heavy water" would be the best way to slow down neutrons, so they could split uranium nucleus through fission. Heavy water is composed of heavy particles of hydrogen and oxygen. It was very scarce, produced only at a hydroelectric plant in Vermork, Norway. Then it was shipped by rail to Germany. We were aware and very concerned about the progress Germany was making with their atomic bomb. As soon as the water factory in Norway was discovered, we began to bomb the plant. This kept the production of heavy water to a trickle. Finally the entire plant was completely destroyed by air raids. This was the most significant reason why Hitler did not drop his atomic bomb on New York City, before we dropped ours on Japan.
A technical drawing of the Amerikabomber, was prepared in the spring of 1944 by Fritz Nallinger, an aeronautics engineer working for Daimler-Benz, appears above. Drawings of the plane appeared in Die deutschen Flugzeuge 1933-1945, an obscure single-volume encyclopedia, long out of print, devoted to airplanes of the Nazi period. Recently brought back to light by Ulrich Albrecht, a professor of political science at the Free University in Berlin, the drawings show prototypes for a large, multi-engine mother aircraft with a smaller plane attached to its underbelly. The plans for this smaller plane, which was designed to fly almost at the speed of sound, clearly lack landing gear and weapons systems. Accompanying technical descriptions note that the plane was not expected to be "recovered"—strongly suggesting that it was intended to be used as a bomb.
The Nazis' interest in suicide bombing was no secret. In 1943 Heinrich Himmler, the leader of Hitler's SS, had enthusiastically endorsed a plan to sink Allied ships with suicide air attacks. Hitler opposed the idea at the time, but in 1944, with the war going badly, he agreed to the formation of special squadrons of suicide bombers. A hundred and four volunteers were selected as pilots of one squadron; each signed a statement saying, "I understand that I will die at the end of my mission." Wearing all their military decorations, and listening to music and women's voices on their headphones, sixteen of these pilots flew suicide missions on April 16 and 17, 1945, in a desperate effort to defend Berlin from the advancing Red Army. Hitler's desire to attack the United States was also no secret. "I have never seen him so infuriated as towards the end of the war," Albert Speer, Hitler's architect and the Nazi minister responsible for arms production, recalled in his diary in 1947: "It was almost as if he was in a delirium when he described to us how New York would go up in flames. He imagined how the skyscrapers would turn into huge burning torches. How they would crumble while the reflection of the flames would light the skyline against the dark sky."
For Hitler America was Manhattan. Apart from its people and the cosmopolitan character of the city above all it had enormous towers, Wolkenkratzer (sky-scrapers), the symbols of the financial world, like the Empire State Building. Until his last days, he dreamed about the deadly long range bomber attack on Manhattan.
There were few Kamikaze attacks in Germany - only some along the front line. They never came to America.
MYSTERY OF THE LONG RUNWAY:
During the close of WWII, General Patton's army came upon a very unusual find at a captured German facility in France (near the V1 and V2 launch sites).
This finding was described in Patton's biography, which included specific data and photos, and also in an official document known as the "Patton memo". In fact, General Patton specifically warned the U.S. military of unbelievable facilities being found.
General Patton described coming upon a huge runway that was 200 feet wide, 11,300 feet long, and was made of concrete which was 14 feet thick. The memo stated that the runway was built by the Germans using thousands of slave laborers, and took several years to complete. It was his written opinion that the construction materials and labor force "surpassed that of the great pyramids" (his words). The runway incorporated a unique feature at the far end. An upward turned "ski slope" was built into the runway to allow larger aircraft with heavy cargo loads to take off more easily. This "ski slope" feature was later incorporated into the designs of British and Russian aircraft carriers.
The U.S. constructed such a runway in 1972 for our incoming and outgoing SECRET horizontal take off and landing spacecraft at Hunter Army Airfield (Savannah GA.), which was never officially closed.