Be Part of a Documentary!
Military.com | September 13, 2005
Lou Reda Productions is currently producing an upcoming program. The title of the program is 'Target America' and it is about World War II attacks and attempts to attack US soil. They are looking to interview veterans who defended against these attacks. Do you fit the criteria? Here is a list of events Lou Reda Productions is interested in documenting. If you 'fit the criteria' email or call Liz Wambold at Lou Reda Productions, 610-258-2957.
As soon as the sudden and devastating attack on Pearl Harbor thrust America into the Second World War, waves of paranoid hysteria began spreading through the public. People became convinced that German and Japanese spies and saboteurs were lurking behind every corner - and they werenıt afraid to act. All across the country cities and towns were hastily called into states of emergency. Nerves were on edge as regular citizens with absolutely no military training suddenly armed themselves against the threats they perceived to be everywhere. In Gavelston, Texas, a housewife was nearly killed when a civilian guard fired on her after he spotted her testing a lamp and assumed it was a signal for unseen enemy ships offshore.
But one of the strangest incidents occurred when an oddly worded advertisement for a dice game called ³The Deadly Double² ran in the New Yorker on November 22,1941. After the Pearl Harbor attack, hundreds of civilians rethought the ad and determined it to be a means of communication between Japanese and German spies. Interpreting ³The Deadly Double² to mean Germany and Japan, and the numbers shown on the dice to indicate the date of the Pearl Harbor attack, hundreds of nervous citizens flooded the FBIıs Manhatten offices demanding that it be investigated. The agents determined that ad had been placed by unnamed white man from a dummy corporation, but were unable to get any farther.
German Saboteurs Unmasked
Shortly after Americaıs entrance into WW II, Adolf Hitler ordered an extensive sabotage campaign to disrupt the production of tanks and airplanes and blow up bridges and railroads in the US mainland. In June of 1942 eight German saboteurs were dispatched across the Atlantic in U-boats. Four landed at Amagansett, Long Island, and four landed at Pointe Vedra Beach near Jacksonville, Florida. Each was equipped with enough money, explosives and detonators suitable for two years of operations. All spoke perfect English and most had ties to a network of Nazi sympathizes in the United States.
After a harrowing manhunt by the FBI, six were caught and the remaining two turned themselves in. What followed forever made its mark on history - an incredible military tribunal, a historic Supreme Court session, and one of the largest mass executions ever to take place in America.
The Japanese Balloon Offensive
Western US was the target of Japanıs hydrogen-filled balloon campaign. Equipped with 1,000 pounds of explosives, the balloons were fitted with sophisticated navigation devices that guided them approximately 5,000 miles in three days. Over 9,000 balloons rained down in the United States and Canada in 1944 and 1945.
Known as project Fugo, or Wind Ship, balloon bombs were responsible for starting forest fires as far east as Michigan. Six people (one woman and five children) were killed in Oregon, and others injured elsewhere. Near the end of the war, destruction of power lines forced a delay in the production of plutonium for the atomic bomb that would later be dropped on Japan.
The incendiary bombs were considered enough of a threat that their existence was kept from the general public until well after the war. Aware that the Japanese were already experimenting with chemical and biological weapons on the Chinese and Koreans, the American Army knew that balloon bombs provided an ideal way to transport the deadly weapons to US soil, where tens of thousands of American civilians could be instantly infected.
German U-Boats Off the Eastern Coast
Germany's U-boat fleet under Admiral Karl Doenitz devised a devastating offensive against American oil tankers. In January 1942, Operation Panukenschlag (Roll of the Drums) sank 25 ships without the loss of a single sub. Many of the attacks were carried out within clear sight of East Coast beaches and harbors. Mines were laid and attacks were staged in the waters off Boston, Charleston, South Carolina, Cape Henry, Virginia, Jacksonville, Florida, and the Delaware Bay among others. Had this early success rate been sustained, the American tanker fleet would have lost half its capacity in one year.
But aside from targeting American ships, the German U-Boats also posed a very real threat to American cities, such as New York. Two German weapon projects targeted the city. One was directed by Admiral Karl Doenitz, who tested a four foot long Wurfgerat 41 artillery rocket, capable of being launched from 15 meters below the surface.
An even more ambitious submarine launched missile system was drawn up at Germany's renowned Penemunde missile research facility. The plan was to use a submarine to tow the powerful V2 guided missile into striking distance, approximately 200 miles. A rocket attack would have set off widespread terror and financial panic in American cities, but the war ended before the system was perfected.
Japanese Subs Attack
On February 23, 1942, the first Japanese attack on US soil took place at an oil refinery near Goleta in Southern California, when an I-17 submarine fired 13 shells. In June of the same year a Japanese submarine surfaced near the Columbia River in Oregon, and fired 17 shells at nearby Fort Stevens.
Additional Japanese subs were outfitted to carry seaplanes with bombing capabilities. On the morning of September 9, 1942, I-25 surfaced near Cape Blanco, Oregon, and launched a small seaplane. The plane then flew southeast over the Oregon coast, dropping incendiary bombs on Mount Emily.
New York City in the Cross Hairs
Hitler was utterly fascinated with the idea of staging air and missile attacks on New York City. Both the V-1 buzz bombs and the V-2 rockets were considered for the job, but neither had the necessary range. To sidestep this problem, teams of engineers were employed in designing a way to launch the V-1 from a ramp on the deck of a U-boat.
Bomber planes were also considered, and in 1937 a prototype German airliner, the four-engine Focker-Wulf 200 Condor, flew from Berlin to New York in only 20 hours. In 1944, a large six-engine bomber, the Junkers Ju-390, was unveiled. Many believe this giant warplane came within 12 miles of New York City while flying a reconnaissance mission from occupied France.
But perhaps the most amazing design of all was the Silverbird bomber, or ³atmosphere skipper,² a 100-ton winged rocket launched from a two-mile long sled track. Once launched it would shoot up to an altitude of 130,000 feet, slightly above the 25-mile level of denser atmosphere. From there its flight would consist of diving down into the thicker air and ³bouncing² off of it. The process would repeat until the craft had reached an altitude of 175 miles. Although a bomb dropped from such an altitude would have accuracy problems, it would also have fantastic destructive power.
While none of these methods were perfected in time for use, it is amazing to think that virtually every one of them became reality only a few years after the war concluded. In most every instance Hitler was frightfully close to making his dream a reality.
A spectacularly close, but little known incident occurred when US Naval intelligence officers discovered that pilots working for a major Columbian airline were nearly all Luftwaffe reserve officers. Because Columbia was so close to the militarily vital Panama Canal, General George Marshall persuaded the airline's owners to take preventive action. Eighty-four stunned German pilots and mechanics were handed their dismissal papers. The next morning, American crews and mechanics found the planes had been modified to handle bomb racks and machineguns - an ominous discovery, and evidence that Germany planned to attack.
The Italian 10th Light Flotilla had detailed plans to attack New York City with midget submarines. Only the signing of the armistice kept the plan from being executed. Other midget submarines and frog teams are credited with devastating US shipping in the Hudson River.
Sound Off...What do you think? Join the discussion.
Copyright 2014 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.