Hitler’s Su­per Weapons

From V2 rock­ets to Tiger tanks, dis­cover the truth about Nazi Ger­many’s cut­ting-edge wun­der­waf­fen pro­gramme

All About History - - CONTENTS - Writ­ten by Ja­son Colav­ito

On 9 De­cem­ber 9 1965, a mas­sive fire­ball streaked across the eastern United States, spark­ing re­ports of UFO sight­ings. In the tiny town of Kecks­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia, near Pitts­burgh, sev­eral res­i­dents claimed that the fire­ball had crashed in the ad­ja­cent woods. Mem­bers of the lo­cal vol­un­teer fire de­part­ment re­ported that they had found an acorn-shaped ob­ject as large as a Volk­swa­gen Beetle in­scribed with Egyp­tianstyle hi­ero­glyph­ics, an ob­ject the US mil­i­tary sup­pos­edly re­moved un­der cover of dark­ness. Many ex­pla­na­tions have been pro­posed, in­clud­ing the crash of a spy satel­lite, but most sci­en­tists con­cluded that the ob­ject was noth­ing more than a me­teor.

The leg­end of the Kecks­burg UFO might have re­mained the type of in­ter­est­ing but un­con­vinc­ing lo­cal colour that makes up Amer­i­can folk­lore, ex­cept it was cited as ev­i­dence for Adolf Hitler’s wun­der­waf­fen. Mean­ing ‘won­der weapons’, the Nazi regime hoped this arse­nal – which ranged from cut­ting-edge V2 rock­ets and the world’s first fighter jet to the more out­landish, in­clud­ing gi­ant guns built into cliff faces – would give Adolf Hitler’s forces the tac­ti­cal ad­van­tage needed to win World War II. In the hands of a small group of ob­ses­sive re­searchers into the Nazis’ sup­posed abil­ity to ma­nip­u­late time, space, and magic, the Kecks­burg UFO trans­formed into a Nazi time ma­chine, the first suc­cess­ful test of an as­ton­ish­ing tech­nol­ogy that could cat­a­pult mem­bers of the Third Reich out of their col­laps­ing regime at the war’s end to new lives in the post­war US. This tech­nol­ogy, the story goes, is now in the hands of the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary to be used for their own ne­far­i­ous pur­poses.

But to un­der­stand how a mi­nor UFO re­port grew into a mas­sive con­spir­acy for which no real ev­i­dence ex­ists, we have to pull apart the threads that have tied to­gether Hitler’s ac­tual weapons pro­grammes, a wide­spread be­lief in Himm­ler’s mas­tery of the oc­cult, and the pop­u­lar de­pic­tion of Nazis as ruth­lessly ef­fi­cient tech­nocrats for whom the line between sci­ence and sci­ence fic­tion had com­pletely blurred.

fly­ing into the fu­ture

The story of the won­der weapons ac­tu­ally be­gan be­fore World War II broke out, when the Führer be­gan mak­ing plans for world con­quest. Hitler had long fan­cied him­self an artist and a vi­sion­ary, and his war plan­ning took on a sim­i­lar air of the the­atri­cal. One on­go­ing ob­ses­sion was the de­sire to see New York City burn, turn­ing the largest Amer­i­can city into what he called “tow­ers of flame,” al­most like the great fire that strikes the set and con­sumes Val­halla and the gods them­selves at the end of Wagner’s Ring Cy­cle, which Hitler may have at­tended just days be­fore the out­break of war. Those around Hitler were only too happy to help bring his vi­sion to life – at least as long as the money was good.

“in­stead, Hitler saw a mock-up that wasn’t ca­pa­ble of leav­ing the ground”

In 1937, on a visit to the Messer­schmitt air­craft fac­tory in Augs­burg, in south-eastern Ger­many, the com­pany proudly dis­played for Hitler the pro­to­type of the Messer­schmitt Me 264, a four-en­gine long-range bomber that they said would be ca­pa­ble of reach­ing New York City from Europe. Hitler was suitably im­pressed at this so-called ‘Amerika bomber’ and ex­cit­edly fan­ta­sised about the ru­ina­tion of the United States. But the more prac­ti­cal men of the Messer­schmitt com­pany were in ac­tu­al­ity pulling the wool over the Führer’s eyes. Willy Messer­schmitt, the de­signer of the plane, did not ac­tu­ally have a work­ing pro­to­type when Hitler vis­ited. In­stead, Hitler saw a mock-up – a fake plane – that wasn’t ca­pa­ble of leav­ing the ground.

The the­atri­cal sub­terfuge was de­signed to help the com­pany win a lu­cra­tive con­tract from the Nazi govern­ment. No one at Messer­schmitt ac­tu­ally had any idea how long it would take to de­velop a work­ing pro­to­type. It would take an ad­di­tional five years, un­til 1942, be­fore the Me 264 took to the skies. The plane took its first flight in De­cem­ber of that

Tanks on pa­rade in 1935 dur­ing Nazi Ger­many’s rapid rear­ma­ment V2 rock­ets at an Army Re­search Cen­tre in Peen­emünde, north­ern Ger­many, c. 1942

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