NEW YORK IN FLAMES

Silbervogel (“silver bird”), was a rocket-powered suborbital bomber aircraft slated…

Silbervogel (“silver bird”), was a rocket-powered suborbital bomber aircraft slated to launch from Germany, bomb New York, then land in Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. Ahead of its time, the design was not favored, but later influenced designs such as the space shuttle.

Hitler’s dream of New York aflame intensified at the same time that the fortunes of war lessened his ability to make it happen. With no staging and demarcation point, like we had in the UK, and lagging behind the Allies and even Japan in deployment of long-range troop carriers, Germany had no realistic plans to launch a land invasion on American shores. But there were noteworthy and specific plans afoot, backed by fast-track funding and weapons development, aimed at targeting our governmental, financial and industrial centers from afar with long-range missiles and strategic bombers—New York City in flames was always Hitler’s fondest maniacal fantasy.

As it happened, the only German ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) to reach American shores arrived after the War, and came on transport ships along with German technicians we grabbed at Peenemünde. Dr. Werner Von Braun and V2 rockets would be hustled to White Sands, New Mexico, and inspire our Redstone missiles, and ultimately, our early space program.

Although the Japanese had token successes bombing America’s mainland, the only Nazi planes to reach North American shores came for post-war museum exhibits and technical gleaning. Although numerous Nazi spies were at work here, they were homegrown, and the only Nazi personnel to invade the U.S. from Germany were a few comically ineffectual submarine-launched saboteurs. There were actually more air attacks on America from the Germans in WWI than in WWII.

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The proposed He 277 America Bomber, which never flew, was based on the He 177 shown here, upgraded with four engines. More than a thousand 177s were built.

Amerika Bomber
Hitler’s Amerika fantasy was an open secret among Nazi hierarchy. Military officials, even those who had rank only because of political affiliations, did not encourage him in this regard. Early on, when there were Reich marks to be lavishly spread around, however, the Nazi version of a military-industrial complex was more than happy to work on a long-range “Amerika Bomber.” Later, as the tides of battle and economics turned against the Nazis, the Amerika Bomber began looking less attractive. But by then German developments in missiles, particularly ballistic missiles, seemed to promise a way for Hitler to count coup with America, with a practical military effect of disrupting the unfettered, efficient war production made possible by “Island America’s” isolation. Considering the technical progress made on these fronts, and parallel German developments in jet aircraft and other technical arenas, in the final analysis North America may have only been spared the pain of war by the calendar.

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  • AJ

    great article