"On the evening of November 30, 1939, the State Department received word from the U.S. embassy in Mexico of an alleged plot to bomb the intake towers at the dam. German agents discovered in Mexico City were planning the attack in order to paralyze the aviation manufacturing industry located in Los Angeles. This would be accomplished by cutting off power transmission over the dam's high-voltage lines. Two German agents living in Las Vegas, one of them an explosives expert, had reportedly made a dozen trips to the dam to investigate the feasibility of the plan. They intended to attach bombs to the intake towers from a boat, which they would rent under the pretense of a fishing excursion."

Safeguarding Hoover Dam during World War II
Prologue Magazine, Summer 2003, Vol. 35, No. 2
By Christine Pfaff

the Wanderling

After the U.S. embassy disclosed German agents in Mexico were putting into place an actual attack against Hoover Dam that they fully intended to pull off, a whole host of government agencies went into action devising any number of ways to protect the dam from destruction. They immediately increased security patrols, locked off specific areas of the dam, implemented closer scrutiny of individuals, tour groups, packages, and vehicles entering and leaving the dam. Floodlights were installed to illuminate the channel above the intake towers. A wire net was hung from a cable stretched across the lake making it impossible for boats to get within three hundred feet of the intake towers. Other suggestions included camouflage, smoke screens, and cables across the gorge at various levels to stop incoming aircraft. Everything was considered except one thing, underwater upstream access. And late in December 1944 the Germans took advantage of it.

During World War II the Germans were obsessed with destroying Hoover Dam. One plan after the other came on the table. There is a story on the internet that shows up in a half a dozen places about a German attempt to take out the dam using a submarine. The story tells of the supposedly last mission of the German submarine U-133 that was to travel up the Colorado River from Baja, California and destroy the dam. The same story is repeated basically over-and-over, word-for-word, on all of the internet sites except for maybe one or two that leave out the so-called source. When the source is cited it is always a somewhat questionable and rather elusive publication called the USS Shaw Newsletter from the year 1996.

In a sort of epilogue to the internet story, nearly all of the articles then go on to explain why the so-called mission could not have been accomplished the way it is written. The U-133 could not have carried enough fuel to make it from Europe to it's designated target, there were a bunch of dams on the river in the way before it would have ever got to Hoover Dam, etc., etc. Of course none of them mention the fact that on March 14, 1942, barely three months into the war, the U-133 sank with all hands off the coast of Greece due to navigation error and a mine explosion --- and that the loss of the U-133 was fully substantiated in 1994 by a diving team that managed to locate and confirm the identity of the wreck. So said, there is absolutely NO way the U-133 could have been involved in any way shape or form regarding Hoover Dam or any sort of an attack against it.[1]

Not one thing regarding the alleged attack by the U-133 or any other submarine has been discovered in official German records nor has anything shown up on the American side. As for the internet source, nobody I know, including myself, has been able to run down a copy of the 1996 USS Shaw Newsletter that supposedly ran the original article. Neither have I been able to learn who the author was and where his or her original source for the story came from.

However, so said, the inability of the U-133 to have accomplished the mission because it had long been sitting on the bottom of the Mediterranean in 78 meters of water with a hole blown in it's hull, and the fact that no official records on either side have surfaced indicating any attempt on Hoover Dam by a submarine, there is actually more truth to the story than myth. It is the facts that are wrong, at least as far I know it, and it had nothing to do with the U-133 or any other known numbered German submarine. It has more to do with what the Germans call Vergeltungswaffen, or translated into English: retaliatory weapon, reprisal weapon, sometimes vengence weapon.

For me the story starts when I was 14 or 15 years old visiting my Stepmother, or actually my ex-stepmother by then, for the summer and not anywhere even remotely close to being near the Colorado River or Hoover Dam. More specifically, near Muroc Dry Lake, or as it is better known, Edwards Air Force Base, located in the Mojave Desert a 120 miles or so north of Los Angeles, California. In those days, and from years before, one of my ex-stepmother's longtime friends was a woman by the name of Pancho Barnes, famed aviatrix and stunt pilot. Just before World War II Pancho Barnes built and owned what eventually came to known throughout the war and several years afterwards as the Happy Bottom Riding Club, a dude ranch right on the edge of Edwards Air Force Base that featured a motel, an abundance of riding horses and thoroughbreds, a restaurant, three landing strips, a dance hall, gambling den and a world-famous bar which catered to military personnel from the nearby air base along with all of her Hollywood friends. The ranch became famous for it's all night parties and high-flying lifestyle of her guests.

In 1952, following a change of command at the air base, friction between Pancho and the base commander began to increase because of the number of flights in and out of the Club's landing strip and what the commander called an incroachment into the base's airspace. When the government attempted to buy her property allegedly to expand the air base runways and Pancho refused, a series of unproven allegations surfaced that the Happy Bottom Riding Club was, among other things, a brothel. The Air Force slapped an off limits on the ranch, effectively banning servicemen from going to the club. Falling on hard times and basically deserted when the government moved to appropriate the ranch, Pancho sued. Then, on November 13, 1953, shortly after she beat the government and won the lawsuit, the ranch, under very, very suspicious circumstances, burnt to the ground, some even say, although it was never proven, from a possible strike from the air.[2]

My ex-stepmother stepped into the picture when the Air Force placed the off limits decree on the Club in 1952. She had a California liquor licence and owned several bars in Los Angeles. Pancho, as a friend from their old Laguna Beach days, in a casual conversation with my ex-stepmother, who supplied hostesses for the club on and off over time, suggested she open a facility similar to Pancho's now, or soon to be, defunct Club --- only far enough from the air base that they could not mess with it, but still close enough that it was easily accessible --- AND with NO known or on the surface affliation or ties with Pancho. So she did, opening the closest bar in those days to the air base south gate, somewhat east and south of Pancho's old place, duplicating almost all of the same amenities and wide open services except for an airstrip. The airstrip at Pancho's was FAA approved. For whatever reason any plans for an airstrip at my stepmothers' ended in nothing but a long string of red tape and roadblocks. Otherwise, there was a bar, swimming pool, dance hall, rodeos and boxing matches on the weekends, at least two dozen one-armed-bandit slot machines in a secret hidden room, and a flock of ever present hostesses. Of course, anybody with any amount of horse-sense would have noticed that not only John, the Club's old manager, but also the head bartender, cook, and even the dishwasher ended up working at my stepmother's place at one time or the other.[3]

As for me, my stepmother entered my life several years following the death of my mother when my father decided to remarry. My new mother, or stepmother as the case may be, after noticing I was showing a fairly high level of artistic ability for a young boy, asked my Uncle, an artist, to come oversee me. Several years into their marriage my dad and stepmother went on an extended trip to Mexico and South America and during the two-year period they were gone their marriage deteriorated to such a point it ended. So, by their return, the summer of 1952, me being under the guardianship of my uncle had, a couple of years before, long come to a screeching halt, first because of the aformentioned decision of my father and stepmother to leave the country and secondly, by their decision to divorce sometime during their trip. Our de facto family dissolved and my uncle went back to the Taos, Santa Fe area and I went to live first with a foster couple, then after running away, with my grandmother. However, at the end of May 1953, just a week or so before my first year in high school was about to end, my uncle called. He was all excited and without even thinking about school wanted to know if I thought my dad would let me catch a Greyhound bus as soon as I could and meet him in Kingman, Arizona. He said it would be an adventure of a lifetime and that he expected all hell to break loose in a few weeks because the samething that had happened out in the flatlands near Roswell had happened in the desert near Kingman. He told me the news had filtered down to him through some Native Americans who had scouted the area. He said a couple of the Hualapai trackers who were part of the group could get us in through the back door. When I asked my dad if I could go he blew his stack. He got on the phone and started yelling at my uncle that he was filling my mind with all kinds of "weird and useless shit" and to stay away from me and keep his "cock-and-bull stories" to himself. Needless to say that was the end of it and I didn't get to go. Instead, my dad sent me to my ex-stepmother's ranch for the summer and told the hard drinking every other word was a cuss word ranch foreman Leo, who had been at one time, a World War II Pacific Fleet Navy boxing champion, to not let me "wander off."[4]

Pancho Barnes' place was a club, that is, a real club, or at least a faux-real club, where an actual dues paying membership was required to access the facilites --- and that membership, as far as service men was concerned, was limited almost exclusively to officers. My ex-stepmother's place had no such restrictions. She used to say, "Officers, enlisted men, ranchers, farmers, truck drivers, Indians, even entertainers, they're all welcome." It was under the auspices of that open umberella that I first learned of a German submarine going up the Colorado River during World War II.

Most of the military personnel that showed up at my ex-stepmother's place were Air Force. However, a number of Navy personnel showed up from China Lake on a regular basis, and a number of those were old navy buddies of the ranch foreman. There were always wide open goings-on in the bar and dance hall on Saturday nights, especially during the summer, and Sunday morning would almost always find a bunch of GIs laying around nurturing hangovers. Although I was there during the summer as the son of the owner it was not like I was a prince. My ex-stepmother had a whole series of jobs for me to do around the place to "earn my keep" as she would often tell me. One of those jobs, besides shoveling horse manure and cow dung after the once-a-month weekend rodeos, was to help the swamper that cleaned up the place following the Saturday night bashes by gathering up and rinsing tons of old beer bottles (usually stuffed with cigarette butts put out in stale beer), emptying and washing ashtrays, wiping down tables and chairs, hoeing out the restrooms and barf and sweeping the dance hall floor and stage with oiled sawdust.

Invariably on those Sunday mornings the ranch foreman Leo, the ex-sailor that he was, besides being a Pacific Fleet boxing champion, would hold court with a number of Navy guys sobering up over coffee and having a little breakfast. A few tables down along the edge of the dance hall there always seemed to be several Air Force guys doing the samething. Me cleaning up between tables made me privy to the conversations and going ons between both groups. It came up one day that there was a Japanese battleship out in the middle of the dry lake that the Air Force used for bombing practice. I asked the Navy guys about it and they told me it was a mock-up, that it looked like a battleship but was actually modeled after a Japanese Atago-class heavy cruiser and made of wood and chicken wire.

After talking about the mock-up battleship that had been given the name Muroc Maru, a Chief Petty Officer stepped into the conversation and told me that toward the end of World War II there was an actual REAL German submarine that used to be out on the dry lake. They had taken all the heavy parts like the motors and batteries out of it as well as all the secret stuff, then bombed and straffed the hull and conning tower over and over in target practice until all that was left was a few small hunks of metal and a couple of guages with German writing on them. Then he said, in September or October of 1947 there was a huge rainstorm that flooded the lake with 5 or 6 inches of water and turned the lake bed into a sloppy mess. All the pieces that were left on the surface simply sank into the mud.

The Chief said he could prove it because he was on a team that dug up some of the parts and that he had kept a few pieces back as souvenirs. He said a few years after the rainstorm some intelligence whoop-de-doo in Washington got a hair up his ass that the sub should have had a brass plate with some numbers on it screwed on some bulkhead and they wanted that plate. When they learned the sub had been blown to bits and laying all over the dry lake bottom they put together a team to see if the plate could be found, of which, again because he had been a onetime submariner, the Chief was a member. After a few days with mine detectors, digging holes all over and tip-toeing around unexploded ordinace, they gave up. The weekend after the Chief told the story he came in with a bag full of pieces of copper tubing and small brass pipes, one with a guage attached that had German writing on it and threw it on the table in front of everybody saying the stuff was part of the booty from the dig he had been on. After that I wanted to know everything about the submarine. Everytime I saw him I him asked more and more questions. He did tell me a few interesting things, like for example, even though he was a submariner, it was in conjunction with the sub that he heard the word "snorkle" for the first time. Pretty soon he started to avoid me or just did not show up. One day I had the ranch foreman talk a Navy buddy of his, in exchange for a case of beer, to take me clear across the desert to the bar the Chief had going to instead of my stepmother's just to talk to him. When he saw how serious and intense I was over the subject, he began to take me under his wing and started to tell me a lot more. The Chief, you see, as far as the facts regarding the submarine was concerned, was more that just some conspiracy-nut lifer with a bag full of brass trinkets as the below quote will show from source so cited:

"As a former submariner he had been assigned to a quickly put together Navy team sent out from close by (for the Navy) China Lake to recover the craft. Although they arrived too late to actually be in charge, he was ordered to consult with the Army team on how to remove, float, and transport the semi-damaged vessel. The POW folk, especially the spit-and-polish camp provost marshal Captain Cecil Parshall, felt they were being looked down on as not really being military enough by their Army brethren and didn't like how the fly boys had treated them. Since the Navy sort of ended up losers in it all too, the POW folk, ordered by higher ups to cooperate after the Army whined about it, thinking they would have an ally, simply aced out the Air Corps personnel and brought in the Navy, asking the Chief, who had been on the scene as well, to join their interrogation team.

La Palma Secret Base

One day just as I was about to leave the ranch for the summer the Chief came to me and said there was a man he wanted me to meet. Parked out in the shade under a row of cottonwood trees along the entrance to the main ranch facilities was a bright, shiny brand new '52 or '53 Chevrolet pick-up truck. The driver got out as the Chief and I walked up, leaving an older man wearing a drop-rim Panama style straw hat sitting alone on the passenger side. The Chief, after motioning me to see the passenger, joined the driver as they walked toward the bar. When I stepped up to the the door of the truck the man in the hat never looked at me, continuing to stare out through the windshield and over the hood all the time I was there. He asked, "Why do you want to know so much about the submarine, boy?" I told him I just thought it was weird that a submarine was out in the middle of the desert.

He told me the submarine was German. It had been towed behind another sub to an island in the Sea of Cortez, arriving sometime late in the year 1944 and hiding in a cove until it received a "go" signal. Where it started from he did not know. When the sub left the island it headed on it's own power up the mouth of the Colorado River with a skeleton crew.[5] It was when the sub reached a point on the river called Laguna Dam, 12 miles North of Yuma, that he came into the picture. He belonged to a work crew made up of predominently German men whose job it was was to pull the sub out of the river, disassemble it into five parts, load the parts onto trailers and truck it north to a designated spot beyond Parker Dam. There they were to reassemble it and disappear. Although the sub would not have been able to have traversed the river any farther north than Laguna Dam anyway, the dam was selected to be where the sub was dismantled because the whole of the facade across the dam's bridge had swastikas recessed an inch-and-a-half into the heavy concrete, and the powers that be who set the mission into motion viewed if not a sign from heaven, at least a positive omen in a Nazi Germany Occult sort of way.

His part of the mission went off without a hitch. He said whoever laid out the logistics knew exactly what they were doing. The sub, although huge, was somewhat smaller than a typical submarine and had been orginally designed by the makers to be able to be broken down into five sectionalized parts, including the conning tower, so that it could be transported overland by rail or truck.[6] The man in charge had every tool, crane, winch, lights, chains, and route figured out right down to the last nut, bolt and stopsign. What did not work was a second part of the plan. The sub came up river with a skeleton crew because a full crew, including an experienced captain was supposed to meet at the dam.

The experienced captain was Commander Jurgen Wattenberg, a German submarine officer of some notoriety that was at the time, being held in an American POW camp. Cecil Owen in an article titled The Arizona Prisoner of War Great Escape perhaps says it best:

"Wattenberg was shuffled from one camp to another, for nobody wanted to keep him. He was considered a "Super Nazi" because he caused trouble everywhere he was sent. Finally he was transferred to Papago Park prisoner of war camp, in the Arizona desert. This location was only 13 miles from the city of Phoenix, the capital of Arizona. The camp covered several thousand acres and was divided into two sections. (One section for German and Italian prisoners and one section for Japanese prisoners.)"

Wattenbergs's constant trouble-making and eventual transfer to Papago Park POW camp was all a part of a much larger master plan to get him as close as possible to the Colorado River. As soon as he arrived at the camp he set about orchestrating an escape, putting into place an elaborate scheme that included a 178 foot long tunnel reaching beyond the compound fences that ended right along a canal. When the tunnel was completed and the escapees were ready to go with false IDs, civilian clothes, etc., word was somehow passed to the submarine waiting in the Sea of Cortez. On December 23, 1944, a total of 60 men including Wattenberg and a select crew to man the submarine escaped (for more on Wattenberg see Footnote [9] below).

Wattenberg was about mid-way on the list of teams leaving the camp. That way if early members were caught the escape could be aborted. If the last members leaving were caught the ones who left early could be long gone. The intent for Wattenberg's crew, after exiting the tunnel, was to slip into the waist-deep water of the Cross Cut Canal and using canoes, float down the canal to the Salt River, then to the Gila River and on to the Colorado River where they would meet up with the submarine. Special canoes had been constructed which could be taken apart and carried through the tunnel in pieces. Whoever built them had blocked the drains in the shower and successfully tested the assembeled canoes for water-tightness sufficiently enough for Wattenberg to be willing to use them. The thing is, although three or four members of his crew did show up at the Laguna Dam where the submarine was being disassembled, Wattenberg never did.

The trucks had to travel at night to keep detection low, so, even if Wattenberg did show up at the dam, the trucks were long gone because they only had a small window of opportunity to reach the first hiding spot. The sub was eventually reassembled and launched without an official captain along the shores of the lake somewhere north of Parker Dam. According to the man in the truck, after he and the crew did their part he did as he was told, disappear. Of course, he said, the mission was never accomplished and he heard later that the seamen were found nearly freezing to death and dying of thirst wandering across the middle of the desert and eventually returned to the prisoner of war camp.

What was the mission? According to the Chief the submarine had come up the Colorado River from the Gulf of California on a secret mission to destroy Hoover Dam and got hung up on a sandbar and some rocks somewhere east and south of Nelson, Nevada, between El Dorado Canyon and an area now flooded by Lake Mojave. Apparently damaged and unable to free itself without additional men and equipment, and with no commander, the crew simply abandoned her.

Shortly thereafter, the nearly freezing to death members of the now ragtag group of German sailors began raiding shacks and approaching homes in the outlaying area around Searchlight, Nevada looking for food and water and mumbling about a submarine they abandoned on the river. Locals, thinking what they had to say was a bit farfetched and that the sailors were really no more than escapees from the Arizona POW camp, contacted camp officials. As rumors began filtering in about some sort of "iron" vessel or what today would be called a UFO crashed along the river bank and it was discovered many of the Germans were not listed on camp records, eventually it was brought to the attention of higher up U.S. military authorities. The Army got to the scene first and somehow able to free the submarine and keep it afloat long enough to get it back downstream to a spot they could get it out of the water. Not knowing it could be disassembled, after much discussion, they put two modified M26 Tank Transporters back-to-back creating an articulated hauler-carrier much like the one that was designed in later years for the M65 Atomic Cannon, then hauled the submarine to Muroc Dry Lake. The Chief knew all this he said because he was on a select team of former Navy submariners that was sent to the scene in an effort to beat the Army from getting there first.

An interesting part of the discredited U-133 story that appears over and over on the net is that it was piloted by a Captain Peter Pfau --- and that there is no record of there ever being a U-boat commander named Pfau --- hence, none of the story could be true.

Of course, how the story has been set out above the sub had been operating on a skeleton crew with the intention of picking up Wattenberg at Laguna Dam so there was no commander per se,' Pfau or otherwise. The thing is, in German the letter V is pronounced "fow," rhyming with the English word "brow." The letter V is close to being a homophone for the surname Pfau. Der Pfau = the V, i.e., the V-weapon --- in German: Vergeltungswaffen; translated into English: retaliatory weapon, reprisal weapon, sometimes vengence weapon. Somehow in the story the pronunciation of the letter V turned into word Pfau and applied to being the commander, as in commanDer Pfau, when in reality it refered to the sub itself as Der Pfau, the V-weapon.

A V-weapon may have been on schedule by powers that be to bring the dam down, that is, how it was going to be destroyed, but, what followed after that is not clear. It appears to be more of a suicide mission than anything else, especially if the sub itself was somehow the weapon. If not, it is not likely that it could have survived any amount of onrushing water from an instantly destroyed dam --- and maybe the reason Wattenberg never showed up. The Germans were just never big on suicide missions. Maybe the sub was going to be set on auto pilot or remote control after it got close to the base of the dam and the crew would scurry up the walls of the canyon to sit back and watch their handiwork.

Some have suggested maybe the crew was going to gain entrance to the dam from river level and inflict some sort of damage from the inside. However, there wasn't enough crew members to accomplish such a mission on any sort of a high level. So too, if such a mission was put into place the need for a submarine would be negligible unless the submarine itself was part of the plan for the destruction. It would have have been much easier to have put a bunch of men in rubber rafts downstream in the middle of the night and just snuck up on the dam. After all, back at Laguna Dam a whole bunch of men disassembled the sub and then reassembled it miles upstream without ever being detected or caught in the process of doing so.

The problem I have is what the Army found 'in' or about the sub that they felt was so important it had to transported clear across the desert to Muroc Dry Lake fully intact and all in one piece --- then only a short time later to not need it and allow it to become target pactice to such a point that it was blown to pieces.

The thing is, the dam is solid concrete 660 feet thick at the base narrowing to 45 feet at the top. That is a lot of thick concrete to undo. What was the sub made of or carrying that the Germans could have developed that would have accomplish such a task to such a point that the submarine itself would come to be called a vengence weapon? The mission had all probabilities of being detected prior to reaching or accomplishing its goal, so for the Germans to have incorporated some sort of non-conventional top secret and most likely non-probable weaponry such as an operational heavy water bomb or particle beam delivery system requiring something as large as the sub to power it is questionable at best. Plus, nothing has ever come forward indicating the Germans had any sort of weaponry similar to the task or at that level. The closest thing in their handbag was much more conventional and can be found in what has been given the code name Prufstand XII, which delt with V-2 rocketry and submarines. For the Hoover Dam operation there could have been a hybrid version constructed making the submarine itself the delivery system. The following quote, from the source so cited, refers to the previously mentioned Chief Petty Officer who became a member of the Papago Park Prisoner of War Camp Interrogation Team:

"He was a Chief Petty Officer and former submariner who just happened to end up being stationed at China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station when all of the submarine on the Colorado stuff was going down. The Navy had caught wind of the grounded submarine almost at the same time as the Army Air Corps. It was just that the Army beat them to the prize. The Navy argued since it was a submarine it should fall under their jurisdiction. The Army insisted it was really not much more than a mobile rocket launch pad, and, since it was V-2 related it should be theirs --- even though, as it was described later by the captured crew it seemed closer to a large-diameter short-range high impact Rheintochter R1 Variant, with detachable wooden stabilizer fins and driven by a solid propellent engine generating 165,000 pounds of thrust that accelerated the missile to Mach 1 within the first 1,000 feet of travel rather than being exclusive liquid fueled V-2 related --- the Army still said tough, it was in their possession and they expected to keep it."

La Palma Secret Base

People start jumping up and down saying how would it have been known that the rocket, especially so by regular crewmen or anybody else for that fact, that the missile was specifically a Rheintochter R 1 --- as most of the German rocketry stuff, beyond buzz bombs and V-2s, didn't come to light until well after the war.

Since such a German attempt against Hoover Dam has never been revealed officially or admitted to by any authority, high level or otherwise, it follows of course the same would be true regarding the release of the type or name designation of any sort of a missile it may or may not have transported. At the time of the interrogation circa early-mid 1945, although there had to be specialized members of the crew that were trained in how to set-up, prepare, operate, and launch the missile, and thus then known the name, there was never specifics passed on to me that the suspected weapon being transported by the submarine was in fact a Rheintochter R 1.

The fact that I report the missile as being a Rheintochter R 1 is based on research, pure and simple, primarily extrapolated from one comment told to me by the Chief Petty Officer. Now, while it is true I was only a 14 or 15 year old at the time --- which makes the Chief's comments a lot of years ago --- I remember his comment like it was yesterday, remembered clearly for the same reason most people would remember it. The Chief said during interrogation former crew members stated that the rocket had wooden fins.

Wooden fins! Give me a break. As a kid I was raised on Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon and during that same period I was witness to the flyover of the giant object of an unknown nature that crossed through the Los Angeles night sky associated with what has since come to be called the Battle of Los Angeles or the UFO Over L.A., and never once did I ever hear of an operational rocket or space related vehicle of any type that had anything close to having wooden fins. When the Chief said the rocket had wooden fins I NEVER forgot it. From there the rest was easy because the Germans just did not build many or any rockets other than the Rheintochter R 1 with Wooden Fins. In later years, once I pinpointed the rocket, finding out it's specifications, say for what I have written here, was just a matter of minor legwork.

At the period of time we are talking about, circa 1953, it is my belief and still is up to this day, that is highly unlikely the Chief, a World War II submariner, would have been privy to the fact that the Germans had a rocket with wooden fins. So too, I find it impossible as well that he could make up such a thing out of whole cloth, and even if he did, why would he. I was a 15 year old boy or so with no formal training or knowledge into rocketry in those days and I found it incredulous that such a thing would even be considered for a military missile let alone actually be put into use. The Chief's assertions are highly credible after the fact, that is when the Rheintochter R 1 came to light and that they did in fact have wooden fins. Also adding to the credibility, unlike V-2s and the vast majority of other operational German retaliatory type rocketry weapons, which used liquid fuel which inturn would make transporting and use extremely difficult, the Rheintochter R 1 was solid fueled.

Although it must be said, it is an interesting fact that the Rheintochter R 1 currently on display at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which had been on display previouly in the National Air and Space Museum from 1976 to the early 1980s --- after which it was completely restored to its original condition and paint scheme for exhibit at the Udvar-Hazy Center, had been acquired by the Smithsonian from the U.S. Navy in 1969. Now, if it was the same one the Army got their hands on when they hauled the submarine to Muroc Dry Lake and was unwilling to part with at first, but somehow later maybe made to do so, is not known. It is just interesting that the Navy had a Rheintochter R 1, a missile never officially known to be associated with sea-borne, water, or Navy type stuff, yet still fell into their hands in such a manner that in 1969 they could donate it to the Smithsonian.

The Germans were however, on the ropes and willing to try almost anything. The end of the war was closing in on them and one last major coup such as destroying the dam could have possibly turned the tide in their favor, given them a breather, extended it long enough to regroup, or to finish the development, operational reliability, and production on some of the weapons they were working on such as the V-2 rocket, Me 262 jet fighter and the massive six engine 7000 mile range Ju 390 designed to bomb the city of New York.[7]

How could a German sub get from Europe to the Colorado River in the first place?

The German sub that went up the Colorado did not reach the mouth of the river under it's own power, but, as reported previously, towed by another sub to an island in the gulf late in the year 1944. Like the towed sub there is no official documentation of the tug-sub found among German records or if it even was German. So too, with it's eventual fate. All indications up to this point lean heavily toward the submarine that did the towing as being the infamous Japanese Ghost Submarine I-12 after having rendezvoused with the German U-181 mid-Pacific and transferring the towing-task to the I-12 as reported below from the source so cited:

"The V-2 hauling U-195 and 219 transfered the major item of their quote cargo, unquote, over to the U-181 in the Indian Ocean with the U-181 then taking it toward the Pacific. There, at a point undisclosed the U-181 was met by the infamous long-range ghost-like Japanese submarine I-12. The I-12 took over eventually ending up at the La Palma Secret Base sometime around mid-December, 1944. After a minor shakedown and testing in and around the secret base and just off shore by German crew members, the cargo was taken a 1000 miles north by the powerful trans-oceanic I-12 to the mouth of the Sea of Cortez that lies between the Baja Peninsula and mainland Mexico, then another 1000 miles north to Isla Ángel de la Guarda, also called Archangel Island, off Bahia de los Angeles --- or one of the other smaller islands nearby and hidden in a cove."

La Palma Secret Base

After the mid-Pacific transfer records indicate the U-181 returned to it's base in Penang, Malaysia. As to the I-12s eventual fate, it is all over the map, having been reported as being sunk a half a dozen times in a half a dozen places. A complete rundown on the route and travels of the German sub from leaving its pens in occupied France to Archangel Island in the Sea of Cortez can be found by accessing the La Palma Secret Base link above.

Is there evidence of German U-boats in Mexico's Sea of Cortez?

Over and over on the net, almost any serious attempt researching or fact finding the possibility of a German U-boat attack against Hoover Dam during World War II something similar to the following comes up:

"The last mission of the German U-Boat U-133 was said to be a daring raid to blow up Hoover Dam during the Second World War. The U-boat reportedly traveled up the Baja Peninsula to the Colorado River, then up the river to Laughlin, Nevada. It was stopped by sandbars, and the captain, named Peter Pfau in the story, with 54 sailors, scuttled it. The truth is that a VIIC type U-boat could never have traveled from Europe around the Cape of Good Hope to California; it didn't have the fuel range. This type of U-boat had to use some of its water tank storage for extra fuel to make it to the east coast of North America from Europe. There is also no record of a U-board commander named Pfau."

With that, whoever writes the stuff let it go at that, with all the implications leaning toward not only was it not done, under any circumstance it could NOT have been done. However, if you have read what has been presented to this point, most of what is presented in the typical quote above has been discredited and supplanted with numerous viable options. First, it is made quite clear the U-133 was destroyed long before the dam attack being reported to have taken place, so the U-133 could not have been in play under any circumstances. Secondly, not only has it been made clear that the sub that WAS in play was not the U-133 but that it was transferred from Europe NOT under it's own power but towed to islands at the top of the Sea of Cortez --- and in saying so, made clear how. Third, the Commander Pfau thing that people continually go on-and-on about has been fully explained and laid to rest. Even so, similar quotes continue to show up and be used as the end all of the end alls.

Then there are those who constantly cite the length of the submarine as being a major hindrance navigating any distance up the Colorado. The following is from Footnote [6] which should redirect most queries moot on the subject and possibly even lay to rest those concerns:

"The combined length of the assembled components of a Type XXIII would make it somewhere just over 110 feet long. Critics continue to argue that such a length would prohibit a vessel to navigate the Colorado. However, according to The Colorado River: Was It Navigable during the heyday of regular riverboat transportation on the Colorado in late 1860s, the most powerful boat on the river was the Mohave I with a length of 135 feet. The Mohave I set a record of 10 days and two hours to navigate all the way to El Dorado Canyon, a distance of 365 miles. The El Dorado landing used by the steamboats in those days was located approximately 30 miles south of the present day location of Hoover Dam.

"The Mohave II was launched in 1876 as the successor to the Mohave I. The Mohave II was the longest steamboat to ever run the river at 149.5 feet, 31.5 feet at the beam and displacing 188 tons. The Mohave II was the only two stacker ever to run the river."

For a German submarine to have gone up the Colorado River it would have to be a given that at least one, if not more, German submarines had been in the Sea of Cortez at one time or the other. No official records have ever surfaced that any German submarines were anywhere near or off the Mexican Pacific coast, let alone in the Sea of Cortez --- or that such an endeavor against Hoover Dam was planned to such a point that it was actually carried out. World War II historians say no as do experts on the movements and whereabouts of U-boats. However, just regular folk, that is, people on the ground say otherwise.

Anthony C. Acevedo, a highly decorated U.S. Army medic, was captured in World War II by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge and held in a POW camp until the end of the war. Although Acevedo was born in the United States (July 31, 1924, San Bernardino, California) his mother and father were both born in Mexico. In 1937, at age 13, his father and stepmother (his mother died when he was a year-and-a-half years old) were deported to Mexico and he and his three brothers and two sisters followed. The family moved to Durango where his father, an architectural engineer, became the director of Public Works. Because his father was a civil engineer he was commissioned by the Mexican Government to construct landing strips for U.S. forces during the war as well as being involved in a PT boat project in the Gulf of California. Acevedo, at age 17 returned to the U.S. to study medicine. In that he was still a U.S. citizen, in August of 1942, just one week after he turned 18, he was drafted.

One morning early, after he had been in the prison camp only a short time, three SS guards with machine guns entered the barracks and made everybody go outside and stand at attention. A man Acevedo called a Gestapo Field Marshal went up and down the ranks. When he got infront of him the man stopped and motioned him out of the line. He was put into an interrogation room alone where the Gestapo officer began questioning him. The officer said Acevedo, as a medic, "knew things" others did not. Acevedo gave only his name, rank, and serial number. Then the officer, who spoke both English and Spanish fluently, threw a dossier on the table, opened it and began reading.

There was information on when Acevedo left Mexico to return to the U.S. and that he intended to study medicine before he was drafted into the Army. The officer cited information about two employees that worked for Acevedo's father, names and everything. He also knew that his father had his two employees arrested for being German spys. The question is, why would a Gestapo officer, clear across the world from Mexico in the middle of a war know of or even be concerned with two employees of a Mexican civil engineer --- and that Acevedo, a prisoner of war amongst hundreds of prisoners, was the son of that engineer? After the war Acevedo answered that question:

"Two friends and myself discovered that two of my father’s employees were spying for German U-Boats docked in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. One of my friends had studied Morse code and had detected the messages while we swam next to a building where the code was coming from. When my father made the discovery he had them immediately arrested." (source)

In that Acevedo was drafted one week after he turned 18 means the two German submarines were docked in the Sea of Cortez at least before August of 1942 for Acevedo and he friends to have overheard the sending of Morse code. A former Texas Ranger named Rufus Van Zandt, who was an undercover Special Services intelligence officer during the war, was assigned by the U.S. government to keep his eyes and ears open for Japanese or German activity south of the border. Using long established credentials as a guide for hunters and fishermen in Mexico as a cover and a long friendly relationship with Yaqui Indians he had developed over time, Van Zandt used a clandestine group of Yaqui raiders he had put together to investigate the existence of the German subs, all to no avail.

Joseph Curry, an American treasure hunter living in Alamos, Sonora Mexico has repeatedly stated the existence of an intact German U-boat sitting in 80 feet of water in the Sea of Cortez off the coast of Sonora. During World War II, under the cover of a heavy storm apparently a junior officer and two seamen from the submarine attempted to go ashore in a rubber raft. All three, fully dressed in uniforms of German submariners, were found on the beach drowned four miles north of suspected location of the sunken submarine. The officer was carrying official documents in a waterproof pouch that suposedly implicated a U.S. citizen as a potential German agent. According to reports Curry has received, the sub is located within sight of shore on a sandy bottom, supposedly half buried listing about 20 degrees from an upright position. The periscope is almost exposed when an unusually low tide occurs.

Curry met an agriculture pilot while doing some aerial fumigation work he became friends with that claims he was flying over the region at mid-day and saw the sub clearly, but since that sighting, has been unable to find it again (that is where the information that the sub is partially buried in the sand and listing comes from). Curry also talked to an Indian who was fishing from a small boat on a windy day in the same area when the prop from his outboard motor hit something and broke the shear pin. Since the choppy sea did not allow him to see very far in to the water he was unable to clearly make out what he hit although he was sure it was not some floating object. He replaced the pin, and noticed that the prop was bent as though it had hit something hard like a metal pole or post near the surface. A few days later when the water was calm he returned to where he thought it had happened, but found nothing.

Curry's original informant, now deceased, claims her brother, a Mexican naval officer, investigated the incident involving the dead sailors. The documents obtained from the body of the officer are the source of the story about meeting a sabotuer from the US. There is no date associated with the investigation of the dead sailors. According to Acevedo the submarines he was talking about prior to August of 1942 were docked, so there would be no need to go ashore in a rubber raft during a storm.

There are reports, or at least strong rumors to the effect, that a German U-boat stopped at the La Palma Secret Base along Mexico's southern Pacific Coast in Chiapas for refueling long after the Japanese stopped using it on a regular basis, only to show up along the Mexican northwest coast off Sonora late in the year of 1944. The U-boat, said to be the U-196, a long range Type IXD2 under the auspices of the Gruppe Monsun (Monsoon Group) operating out of Penang, Malaysia was reputed to be carrying a rather large shipment of Nazi gold intended as an inducement for certain Mexican authorities to ensure a potential post-war settlement of high ranking Germans and Nazi refugees. However, any gold associated with such a venture disappeared along with the submarine. If it was instead a submarine sent as a transport for escapees from Papago POW camp that ocurred on December 24 and/or if Wattenberg was intended to be one of the escapees along with his crew is another thing. It would present a formidable challenge to get him or any of the others safely and expediently from Hoover Dam to somewhere in the Sea of Cortez off the coast of Sonora immediately following the destruction of the dam --- unless their intention was to use the unmarked secretly parked C-47 found on a remote Nevada airstrip discussed in the next paragraph below in some capacity.[8]

Sometime in early to mid 1945 and not long after the Papago Park POW camp escapes of December 23, 1944, a fully fueled and operable C-47 with no markings and painted in the flat tan desert color of the Afrika Korps --- with a white underbelly --- was found parked under camouflage netting on a remote Nevada desert airstrip, thought to be what in recent times been given the name Bonnie Claire Airport or Scottys Airport, a basically remote forever abandoned X shaped strip with no known history about 125 miles north of Las Vegas. As if it wasn't bad enough once discovered, the unmarked C-47 was eventually traced back as being one of thirty-nine C-47s used in Operation Torch, the invasion of Vichy French North Africa in November, 1942, in of which a great number of the 47s were either destroyed, lost, or ended up unaccounted for. The plane was stripped of all except bare necessities, even the landing and anti-collision lights were gone. The only thing inside was 20 or so brand-new parachutes divided and stacked along each side of the cargo bay, double the amount in count of bailout rations and canned water. Sitting neatly in their holders near pilot and co-pilot's seats were flight charts mostly related to Mexico and Baja California along with instructional and operational manuals all written in German.[9]

Why a Submarine and Not an Attack by Air?

Except for one very desperate last ditch effort by the Nazis to attack Hoover Dam by air just at the end of the war, only to be aborted because of the German unconditional surrender, they pretty much followed the Japanese lead eliminating the use of aircraft for any attempt designed to destroy the dam.

The Germans, learning from the Japanese experiences, knew that the U.S., to ensure against a potential air attack from the Pacific side, at the beginning of the war, proposed to build a network of radar stations covering the full length of the coast from the Canadian border into Baja Mexico. Actually, a total of 72 sites were proposed, of which 65 were eventually built. However, according to The Radar Dilemma, at the start of the war not much more than ten or so were in place let alone operational, and most of those were pretty much concentrated around Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Within weeks of their attack on Pearl Harbor, and possibly even before, the Japanese began probing U.S. radar capability up and down the Pacific coast, sometimes with clandestine operatives, and had a pretty good handle on where radar coverage was effective and where it was weak or nonexistent. That is why when they did decide to attack the U.S. mainland along the Pacific coast there was such a difference in how each of the attacks were carried out.

The Japanese submarine that shelled the oilfields near Santa Barbara on February 23, 1942, was aircraft equipped. The plane was not launched because the Japanese as well as the submarine captain knew that the radar along that section of the coast was at least adequate. Those involved with the aerial bombing against Mt. Emily in Oregon on September 9, 1942 were well aware, as did their superiors higher up the chain, that a "radar gap" existed along the heavily wooded area of the Oregon coast, especially between Fort Bragg, California and Cape Perpetua, thus allowing unobstructed aircraft penetration.

As far as the southern reaches of the radar network was concerned, and unknown by most people still, there were at least three radar sites built and commanded by the U.S. Army in Mexico along the coast of Baja California to protect the southern approaches to San Diego. According to Mexican Forts known sites included Station B-92 at Punta Salispuedes, located 22 miles northwest of Ensenada (later moved to Alasitos, 36 miles south of Tiajuana); Station B-94 at Punta San Jacinto, 60 miles south of Ensenada; and Station B-97 at Punta Estrella, south of San Felipe on the Gulf of California (aka Sea of Cortez). It is not clear when all three of the radar sites were in full operation, but it is known through outside observers that the Punta Estrella site was operational and fully staffed by April of 1942.

With the extent of the operational radar coverage along the coast from Los Angeles south into Mexico and both sides of the Baja, almost any successful access to Hoover Dam by air across the 300 mile breadth of California from the Pacific or up it's underbelly via Baja was practically impossible --- hence the move by the Germans to the use of a submarine.

As to the reports of a planned aerial attack by the Germans against Hoover Dam that was aborted because of their surrender, they had coordinated the attack through a combined effort between themselves and the Japanese. During the first half of 1945 the Japanese had honed a serious set of plans to destroy a good part of the Panama Canal, specifically the Gatun Dam, with the attack emanating from the Atlantic side rather than the Pacific side. To do so they designed and built a series of giant, super long distance submarines, the I-400 Class, each capable of carrying three powerful aircraft.

According to Secret Japanese Submarine Bases on the Pacific West Coast, in July 1945 the attack flotilla was assembled for the first time, consisting of two of the newly designed I-400 Class submarines, the I-400 and I-401. They were joined by two smaller subs capable of carrying two aircraft each, the I-13 and I-14. In that the two smaller subs did not have the fuel capacity for the round trip to Panama, they were to either refuel from the two larger subs or abandoned after the attack. The Germans planned to use one of the subs and enter the Caribbean launching all three planes on a one way trip toward Hoover dam from off the coast near Brownsville, Texas, coordinating the timing of the destruction of the dam with the Japanese attack against the canal --- basically coming through the backdoor and bypassing any of the west coast radar. However, the Germans surrendered May 8, 1945 and when the submarines left their base July 23, 1945, they were under a new set of orders. Each one departed separately, with a rendezvous set at sea for August 16th off Ponape Island, the Carolines. On August 5th while at sea the I-400 suffered an electrical fire that forced her to surface to repair the damage. The I-401 set a new rendezvous point but the I-400 did not receive the message and the subs missed each other. The strike date was set for August 17th, but Japan surrendered on the 15th.(see)

In the end it is the wooden fins that cinched it all.










(please click)

As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.


In the above main text to of which this footnote is footnoted to I write:

"(O)n March 14, 1942, barely three months into the war, the U-133 sank with all hands off the coast of Greece due to navigation error and a mine explosion --- and that the loss of the U-133 was fully substantiated in 1994 by a diving team that managed to locate and confirm the identity of the wreck. So said, there is absolutely NO way the U-133 could have been involved in any way shape or form regarding Hoover Dam or any sort of an attack against it."

The following below, is found on UBOAT.NET Myth and Stories, albeit debunking it as I have. Nevertheless, the same story is presented in one form or the other over and over Ad infinitum on the net as if it is fact:

U-133's mission to destroy the Hoover Dam

According to an article from 1996 U-133's last mission was to travel up the Colorado River from Baja, California and destroy the Hoover Dam. The article is from the USS Shaw's newsletter. The article states that U-133, piloted by Captain Peter Pfau along with 54 sailors made it to as far as Laughlin, Nevada before sandbars made them abort their mission and scuttle the sub.

This is only a cute story, U-133 would never have made it that far (see map showing its approximate path from St. Nazaire, a suitable base, to the target) as its fuel supply would never have allowed this (not even close, the type VIIC could make it to the US east coast by filling up part of its water tanks with fuel but even then it was stretching it). There was also no U-boat commander named Pfau.

Had such an unusual and daring raid been attempted during the war, people would talk and we would know about it by now.

Follow up: A reader pointed out that "... would also have been impossible for the fact that they would have had to somehow bypass the Parker and Imperial Dams (both of which opened in 1938), would have to traverse the entire length of the Colorado River without being detected (I assume that they would have to be surfaced for the duration of the journey to aid in navigation), and would arrive in the Gulf of California only to discover that the Colorado River is not as traversable as one might think."



Please note the route in red of the submarine going from Europe around South America on the above graphic is from the discredited report of the attack on Hoover Dam by the U-133. The actual route, not shown, was a four-part journey leaving from Europe from the same location, but going instead around the tip of South Africa into the Pacific eventually to be picked up by the long range Japanese sub the I-12 and taken to the La Palma Secret Base for a shake down cruise prior to being towed into the Sea of Cortez.



The following quoted paragraph is from the works of USC film school graduate Nick Spark who did a ton of historical background research for a documentary on Pancho, the quote appearing at the source so cited:

"From the start, the fire seemed suspicious. Jack Leird, the ranch foreman, told a reporter that the blaze started in the dance hall "with a puff of smoke" followed by a loud explosion. Other witnesses stated that the explosion had so much force, it blew out one end of the dance hall. Pancho was convinced the blaze was arson -- perhaps even a bomb."(source)

In Pancho's personal opinion, and the one she related most to close friends, was that the then Colonel to be Major General Stanley Holtoner, the base commander of Edwards AFB at the time, was involved. As mentioned in the main text above, animosity between she and the base commander continued to grow over a number of reasons until it reached a point that Holtoner, who never liked Barnes, put her place off limits to base personnel.

In April of 1952, during one of their heated discussions that typically boiled over into the verge of an out-and-out argument, Holtoner reportedly told Pancho he could arrange to have her ranch "napalm bombed off the desert". An article appearing in the New York Times dated April 23, 1953, page 33, attested to that threat carrying the headline, "Threats to Bomb Ranch Charged to Air General."(see)

Athough my uncle and I had flown out of Pancho's Happy Bottom Riding Club under some rather hasty arrangements made by my stepmother when I was around ten years old or so, we missed each other and I didn't meet her until she showed up at my ex-stepmother's place one afternoon with my ex-stepmother. I remember she told me she knew Howard Hughes as my ex-stepmother had told her I had met Hughes.(see) At first, other than her knowing Hughes I had no clue who she was or her background. However, as the day wore on it dawned on me she was the same person whose ranch my uncle and I had flown out of four or five years earlier. During that flight the pilot, who I met a second time when he flew me to Santa Fe in an AT-6, told me Pancho had been a stunt pilot in the movies, most notedly Hughes' 1930s film on World War I Zeppelins titled Hell's Angeles. I quickly forgot about Pancho but, in that the movie had to do with Zeppelins, I didn't forget about it --- harping and harping until I figured a way to see it. The thing is, in those days it wasn't like you could just go out and get a DVD. My stepmother had to pull all kinds of strings to get a private screening. Even so, much to my dismay, to this day, almost everything I know about Pancho Barnes has primarily been brought to my attention second hand and well after the fact.

I did see her husband Mac on-and-off on occasion when I used to drive north to what I called my High Mountain Zendo. He was associated with and semi-ran a then small dump of a place he and Barnes owned called the Jawbone Cafe and Motel on Highway 14 a few miles south of where it intersects with Highway 395, the route I took to and from the Zendo. The first time I stopped to introduce myself we talked so long I lost track of time and ended up staying the night.

The Jawbone Canyon Store as it is today is nowhere near what it was like back when Pancho's husband Eugene "Mac" McKendry operated it. First of all, in those days Highway 14 was just a two-lane road and the cafe and store, added together, was like I say, a small dump of a place. Lauren Kessler in her book THE HAPPY BOTTOM RIDING CLUB: The Life and Times of Pancho Barnes (2000) describes it best:

"(The) grocery store, windowless and jammed with shelving was barely 250 square feet. The Jawbone Cafe was about as small. Whatever eating was done --- and there wasn't much, because traffic was sparse in these parts --- was done on one of two ancient picnic tables baking in the roadside dust. The gas station had two pumps that sometimes worked."

That was basically the way I remember the place when I was on my way to the Zendo. Over the next 30 years except for a few slight modifications and stuck-on makeshift expansions, that was the way it remained until it burned down December 14, 1998.


Several paragraphs back I write:

"Even though my uncle and I had flown out of the Happy Bottom Riding Club with arrangements made by my stepmother..."

There are two or three incidents that I write about elsewhere that are interwoven in my various stays in the desert with with my stepmother. The above quote refers to a time many years before she opened the dance hall bar, a time when when I was around ten years old and she bought her first ranch in the Mojave Desert. The whole of the western edge of the ranch property line ran right along the Southern Pacific mainline that came up out of Los Angeles headed toward Sacramento --- and vice versa --- and doing so by traversing over the lower end of the Sierras by using the infamous Tehachapi loop. That took the tracks and the trains that used them right by the ranch on the way to the switchyards in Mojave and then over the mountains. During the time I lived on the ranch it was still well before the introduction of diesel-electrics. Instead, Southern Pacific depended on the giant 6000 horsepower 4-8-8-2 cab forward steam locomotives to pull the 100-plus car trains up out of Los Angeles and over the Tehachapis. Just past the northwestern corner of the ranch was a major siding and watering stop the freights used to use to take on water and/or move over to let the highspeed passenger limiteds by. Basically, to cut to the quick, my older brother and cousin, the young teenagers they were, hopped one of the freights ending up 500 miles away in Sacramento. My uncle and I flew up there out of Pancho Barnes Happy Bottom Flying Club to pick them up. That story is elaborated on in:

Riding the Cab Forwards

A second big thing that happened was when her ranch house was mysteriously burnt down, and going through the rubble I found her genuine Colt Walker in the debris basically unharmed. Colt Walkers, produced in 1847, was a .44-caliber black-powder revolver, one of the heaviest most powerful pistols ever made. In 2008 a fully documented Walker Colt that was known to have been owned by a Mexican War veteran sold at auction for $920,000. Around the time of the fire the Colt she had may have been pushing a hundred thousand in value or more. For more on how the Colt fit into the scheme of things see:

Louis L'Amour

Of course, directly related as well and as found in Footnote [3] below, there is also Brenda Allen and Johnny Roselli.

To see photos of what remains of the Happy Bottom Riding Club and what it looks like today click the following:




Pancho Barnes was born into wealth and an upper class social status. In her final days she ended up in ill health living in a dirt floor stone hovel out in the middle of the desert, destitute, broke, and, except for her dogs, alone --- her high powered Hollywood types and famous aviator friends gone, as well as all of her money. As Lauren Kessler in her book THE HAPPY BOTTOM RIDING CLUB: The Life and Times of Pancho Barnes (2000) writes:

"(She, Pancho, was) a woman who cut a wide swath through life, a person who lived life as if life had no consequences. When she was young and wealthy, the darling of Los Angeles press, the confidant of exciting and powerful men, her brash ways were admired, her uniqueness was her charm. But now that she was old and living in a shack with only dogs for company, the same character traits were interpreted differently. Now she was a crazy old lady. Now some people thought she was drunk or on drugs or senile."

Except possibly for the aviation aspect of it all, my ex-stepmother's life paralleled Pancho's life nearly step by step. She was just much more mysterious and low profile. Although she was extremely wealthy when we entered each other's lives, she had not inherited the money --- it was just unclear where she got it or how she earned it. Plus, until she married my dad and took his last name she had at least three aliases and just as many passports. During the war and post war years she was a regular at heady celebritiy nightspots like Ciro's, the Tracadero, and Coconut Grove, hobnobbing on a first name basis with a slew of Hollywood bigshots. The same was true with influential California politicians as well as Los Angeles area mob figures such as Jack Dragna and Johnny Roselli as well as people providing services to the shady fringes of those circles such as the infamous Brenda Allen.

Once my ex-stepmother came to the desert and stayed for awhile, as with Pancho Barnes, things began falling apart. There were fires in which she lost buildings, businesses, homes, money, fur coats, jewelry, and antique guns. She went from a beautiful woman with class and suave to an old lady living in dump full of goats and dogs, her once perfect hair with never a strand out of place to straw, her feet once emaculately manicured and oiled to gnarly with dried heels filled with open cracks, her wealth and once powerful friends gone.

It should be noted that relative to me and my brothers in the early years in the desert, both Pancho Barnes and Johnny Roselli were responsible for the personal safety of my older brother, who was barely into his teens then, from undue harm at the hands of a freight yard railroad bull --- an episode fully chronicled unusually enough in Riding The Cab Forwards.

Probably the most infamous desert rat to have ever tread the sands of the Mojave Desert, Walt Bickel, once said, "The desert does funny things to you." Such seems to have been the case with Pancho Barnes and my ex-stepmother. For much more on my stepmother's place including a lot more specifics, please see:



The slot machines in the secret hidden room at my stepmother's ranch had been in storage in a lumber yard in Big Bear City, California, after having been removed from an upstairs room in the the Sportsman's Tavern, once owned by noted western movie sidekick Andy Devine. My stepmother's ranch foreman Leo and another man, with me tagging along, took a big old truck up the back road into Big Bear and with the help of a couple of other men already there, loaded the machines into the back of the truck. For more on the slot machines, as found on the Johnny Roselli page, click HERE. See also:



"(My dad) got on the phone and started yelling at my uncle that he was filling my mind with all kinds of 'weird and useless shit' and to stay away from me and keep his 'cock-and-bull stories' to himself. Needless to say that was the end of it and I didn't get to go. Instead, my dad sent me to spend the summer with my stepmother on her ranch in the Mojave Desert, or actually my ex-stepmother as she had become by then, and told the hard drinking every other word was a cuss word ranch foreman Leo, who had been at one time, a World War II Pacific Fleet Navy boxing champion, to not let me 'wander off.'"

Less than two months later, with my father basically out of the picture because of me staying at my stepmother's ranch for the summer, and, even though my father had told my uncle to keep his cock-and-bull stories to himself as well as the ranch foreman not to let me wander off, my uncle called again. Only this time not necessarily to me but my stepmother, talking to her specifically without anybody else's knowledge.

My uncle, as mentioned previously, lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He phoned my stepmother in July of 1953 to tell her he had been in the small community of Las Vegas, New Mexico, not far from Santa Fe, and a few hours before sunset saw a passenger train go through town headed west. He wanted my stepmother to know that the locomotive, a huge steam powered 4-8-4 pulling a special Boy Scout train on its way to Santa Ana, California, bore the Santa Fe road number 3774.

Eight years before, when I was six or seven years old, I was onboard the all Pullman car first-class-only passenger train Number 19 Santa Fe Chief out of Chicago on its way to Los Angeles --- being pulled by #3774. Between Flagstaff and Williams, Arizona, near midnight and running behind schedule, the Chief hit a 55 mph marked curve at over 90 mph, derailing with the locomotive sliding off the tracks on its side for over 500 feet. The rest of the 14 car train ended up in various stages of derailment and wreckage on and off the track, some cars remaining upright with two actually staying on the tracks undamaged. Although I escaped unharmed, the fireman and three passengers were killed. 113 fellow passengers along with 13 train employees injured, among them the severely injured engineer.(see)

My uncle didn't know if the #3774 was going to be the motive power all the way through to the Los Angeles area, but even if it wasn't, he said, it should be going at least to Barstow and possibly into the Cajon Pass sometime the next day --- roughly 15 hours or so from the time he called.

My stepmother, knowing the full story on how the #3774 had impacted my life immediately dispatched both the ranch foreman and me in a jeep out across the desert toward Barstow to try and catch it. We reached Barstow before the train, so we headed out on Route 66 to try and intercept it as far east as we could and follow it back. Which we did. Cutting across the desert in the jeep from 66 to the AT&SF mainline, then trying to parallel the locomotive using the barely discernable rock strewn and no bridges service road into Barstow is one ride I'll never forget. The locomotive, just like my uncle said, was the #3774.


The first phone call from my uncle asking me to meet him in Kingman, Arizona --- in which I was not allowed to participate by my dad, but my uncle went ahead and went anyway --- and associated with the so-called Kingman Incident, only came up once between us, and then only briefly, many, many years later following a discussion my uncle had with major UFO buff Frank Edwards. For more on the Kingman incident and how it relates to all of the above see:




It appears the Germans knew exactly what they were doing. Most people that know anything about the Colorado River Delta and where the river is suposed to dump into the Sea of Cortez would argue that any sort of navigable access would be impossible. The Germans had been playing a waiting game for just the right time and in a freak of nature, it just so happens that in 1944, things were different. The following two paragraphs are found in THE COLORADO RIVER: WAS IT NAVIGABLE?:

"The Southern Pacific Railroad reached the Colorado River in 1877. While the steamboats still had business, the railroad quickly became the transport method of choice. Johnson sold out to the railroad in 1878. Paddle-wheelers continued to feed the railroad for a period of time, but the construction of the Laguna Dam in 1909 closed the river to steamboats coming up the gulf from going any further than 14 miles north of Yuma.

"Thirty-two years later, following the advent of a series of larger dams being built upriver from Laguna Dam, except for an unusual four year period 1942-1946, any sea-going access to the river from the Sea of Cortez disappeared because the river itself stopped flowing out into the gulf before it ever even reached the end of the delta."

As well as the below third paragraph:

"Thus, because of the opening of the spillways at Hoover Dam combined with two powerful hurricanes, especially the one in 1941, for a brief several year period (1942-1946) access from the gulf to Laguna Dam was once again possible. After that things returned to closer to how it had been when the lakes were being filled. However, in 1983 flood conditions occured at Hoover Dam and the spillways were once again opened. That 1983 downstream outflow contributed significantly to flushing out the river and a new brief access period from the gulf."


There was a German submarine built to just such specifications, the Type XXIII. It was a shallow-draft vessel designed to operate in inland and coastal waters. It was also designed in four sections so not only could it be transported by rail but that the sections could easily be concealed in a standard boxcar so that its movements would not be revealed. More than likely the submarine used in the assult on the dam was, if not specifically built for the mission, was a modification of the Type XXIII.

In an extra added insight, you may remember the Chief said even though he was a submariner, it was in conjuction with the sub that he heard the word "snorkle" for the first time. The Type XXIII was one of the earliest model submarines to use a snorkle.

Type XXIII section description

Section description weight (tons) length (feet)
1 stern, steering installation, silent speed motor, gearing 11.5 30 ft 2.25 in
2 main engines and motors 14 19 ft 8.25 in
3 control room, forward living quarters (part) 18 24 ft 7.25 in
4 bows with torpedo tubes, forward living quarters (part) 16.25 32 ft 9.75 in


The combined length of the assembled components of a Type XXIII would make it somewhere just over 110 feet long. Critics continue to argue that such a length would prohibit a vessel to navigate the Colorado. However, according to The Colorado River: Was It Navigable during the heyday of regular riverboat transportation on the Colorado in late 1860s, the most powerful boat on the river was the Mohave I with a length of 135 feet. The Mohave I set a record of 10 days and two hours to navigate all the way to El Dorado Canyon, a distance of 365 miles. The El Dorado landing used by the steamboats in those days was located approximately 30 miles south of the present day location of Hoover Dam.

The Mohave II was launched in 1876 as the successor to the Mohave I. The Mohave II was the longest steamboat to ever run the river at 149.5 feet, 31.5 feet at the beam and displacing 188 tons. The Mohave II was the only two stacker ever to run the river.

Looking back over history and converstations garnered from the chief petty officer and the man in the truck, over time I have come to the opinion that any submarine used in such an attempt would not be a known or production line numbered model but a combination of specially assembled or selected parts for a specific one-time-only attack against the dam. A hybrid of sorts --- part submarine, part rocket, part rocket launcher, part bomb, based around what is called a Lafferenz Capsule, albeit, self-propelled rather than towed.

In a nuntshell, the Lafferenz Capsule was an underwater launch platform designed to be towed behind a submarine to about 100 miles off the coast of New York and fire a V-2 or similar type rocket into the city. Wherein any attack against New York the distance covered by the rocket plus the ability to carry a warhead of sufficent explosive power was important, such was not the case for Hoover Dam. What was important was short distance penetration power on impact AND the overall close-in detonation properties of the explosive, most likely designed to hit at the narrower width of concrete toward the top of the dam but below the water level. The following is found in the source so cited:

"The V-2 hauling U-195 and 219 transfered the major item of their quote cargo, unquote, over to the U-181 in the Indian Ocean with the U-181 then taking it toward the Pacific. There, at a point undisclosed the U-181 was met by the infamous long-range ghost-like Japanese submarine I-12. The I-12 took over eventually ending up at the La Palma Secret Base sometime around mid-December, 1944. After a minor shakedown and testing in and around the secret base and just off shore by German crew members, the cargo was taken a 1000 miles north by the powerful trans-oceanic I-12 to the mouth of the Sea of Cortez that lies between the Baja Peninsula and mainland Mexico, then another 1000 miles north to Isla Ángel de la Guarda, also called Archangel Island, off Bahia de los Angeles --- or one of the other smaller islands nearby and hidden in a cove. After leaving her cargo the I-12 returned to Pacific waters eventually it would seem, meeting her fate off the Farallon Islands three months later in March of 1945."(source)


When people read the above account regarding a German submarine going up the Colorado to destroy Hoover Dam a good number of them just shake their heads in disbelief. True, it is hard to belive both in it's scope and through to it's fruitation. However, like I mentioned earlier, the Germans were on the ropes. The end of the war was closing in on them and one last major coup at the level of blowing up the dam could have possibly given them the boost they needed.

If you think Hoover Dam is farfetched, try New York City. More than once New York had been in the crosshairs of the German military. First in World War I and again under a variety of methods in World War II. Except for Fate intervening they came close --- and their methods for their planned attacks were within reason.

As found in ZEPPELINS: High Altitude Warships, near the end of World War I an attack on the city of New York composed of three special type of rigid airships called Height Climbers was being put into place and advocated by Korvettenkapitan Peter Strasser. To demonstrate the successful completion of such an attack to the German High Command, Strasser had flown the L-59 nonstop from Bulgaria to the Sudan in Africa and back. The newer Height Climbers had even greater range. Before he had a chance to put the attack into motion, what was to be the lead ship, the L-70, was caught coming in over England at the low altitude --- for a Climber --- of around 17,000 feet and shot out of the sky with Stasser in command. The two other ships trailing behind immediately raised altitude beyond the range of the fighters and escaped. With Strasser dead and the L-70 gone the New York raid was shelved.

In World War II it was no longer Zeppelins but long range fixed wing bombers, most notedly the massive six-engined Ju 390, and again, just at the end of the war.

It has been reported that a Ju-390 left Europe coming in over Canada crossing into U.S. airspace to photograph defense plants in Michigan only to exit out over the Atlantic sometime after noon on August 28, 1943 by coming in behind any east-facing aircraft detection systems and passing directly over New York above the Empire State Building. The difficulty most historians have with such a claim is that the Ju-390's first flight is officially stamped into the records as happening two months later, on October 20 1943.

The date of that first flight has found to be debatable. Further in the main article above I make mention of C-47s, an American built two engined troop and transport plane allied forces used in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. A C-47 from that operations was found a few years later on a remote desert airstrip in Nevada fully fueled with pilot flight instructions written in German. As to that same invasion, Operation Torch, a person onboard a convoy ship supplying the beachhead snapped a picture of an aircraft that suggests a Ju-390 was flying as early as November 1942. The six-engined aircraft in the photograph looked exactly like a Ju-390 and clearly showed a white band around it's fuselage ahead of the tail, a marking used to designate German aircraft used in the Mediterranean and the north Africa campaign. That a plane with the unusual six engine configuration of the Ju-390 was operational enough to participate in an attack on a convoy nearly a year before the alleged overflight of the U.S. clearly shows the potential for such an overflight to have happened.

For years reports have surfaced that sometime around September 17-19, 1944 a large six engine aircraft painted very dark green and black paint crashed in the sea off Owls Head Lighthouse, Maine. A resident of Burlington, Vermont, Ruben Paul Whittemore, has reported he had relatives who witnessed the recovery of three bodies found in the Penobscot river estuary on September 28, 1944 and taken by the U.S. Coast Guard to Rockland Maine Station. One of the witnesses states he saw one body in a uniform later identified as a German Luftwaffe Signal Corps Uniform, (grey-blue with yellow/brown collar tabs).

Sometime in the mid to late 1990s a sports diver came across what appeared to be a radial aircraft engine laying on the seabed some distance off the cliffs from the Owls Head lighthouse and traced it along with other pieces of wreckage strewn across the sand back to the main body of the craft the engine and pieces apparently came from. She recovered what has been said to be a constructor's plate with raised lettering, albeit somewhat eroded but still readable, with the following:

RMZ WURKE Nb 135?34 (Allgemiene)
FWU WURKE Nb 135?34 (Gbs: Fliegeroberstkommando Rdt.)

Most people who ascribe any amount of credibility to the downed craft said to be laying in the water off the coast of Maine pretty much agree it's mission was not recon like the August 28, 1943 flight, but to bomb New York. Evidence has surfaced in some quarters the attack would not have been conventional in nature either but possibly nuclear.(see)

If you have gone to the Prufstand XII site previously cited you will recall the intention was to tow a V-2 missile across the North Atlantic in a specially designed watertight container behind a U-boat then setting it up vertically for launch against US eastern seaboard targets - particularly, New York and possibly Washington DC. The first three containers weren't contracted to be built until December 1944 --- after the disappearance of the Ju-390 off Owls Head --- and the first subs didn't show up off the coast until March of 1945. By then the U.S. was waiting.


People are constantly dogging me as to my source for the existence of a fully fueled and operable C-47 with no markings and painted in the flat tan desert color of the Afrika Korps --- with a white underbelly --- found parked under camouflage netting on a remote Nevada desert airstrip.

It goes back to my high school days and friend I knew by the name of Kent.

Years after high school Kent went on to own, or at least be the man responsible for the full restoration of a legendary World War II fighter plane known as a P-40 Warhawk, sometimes called a Tomahawk, the same type plane that became famous as a Flying Tiger.

The first time I remember seeing Kent was one day in high school on the way to an assembly. I was moving with the normal flow of students just entering a narrowing section of the concrete pathway that led into the auditorium from the outside when I heard a ruckus behind me. Turning I saw a widening circle of students open up until I was on the edge of the circle. In the center were two students in the midst of a pretty much one-sided brawl, with one student clearly having the upper hand. That student was Kent. Why the fight occurred or who the first aggressor was I really have no idea, but from then on, because of the outcome, I felt that Kent would be the kind of guy you would want to stay on the good side of. He was to tell me later he 'pounded the crap out of the guy fair and square' --- besides Kent said, he asked for it.

While still in high school Kent went on to buy and restore a 1932 Ford roadster, which inturn made him a hero amongst a wide segment of the high school population. One day in one of the classes that the two of us shared, instead of doing anything that remotely resembled anything close to school work, I was sketching in class like I aways did, only this time I was making a rather intricate drawing of a P-40 Flying Tiger, one of my favorite fighter planes. The drawing caught Kent's eye and as it was, turned out to be his favorite planes too --- that is, ever since just like me as a kid, he had seen the black and white 1940s movie Flying Tigers with John Wayne. It was odd that this guy who could go around pounding guys at will whenever he wanted and was a hero because of his 32' roadster would even talk to me let alone have an interest in P-40s, but he did, enough so that we became close enough to call each other by our first names when we passed each other in the halls. At the time a real feather in my cap.

Years later I caught wind that Kent was, of all things, restoring a P-40, actually the EXACT same P-40 I have provided a link to above, and had it in a hanger at the airport in Torrance, California. One day on a whim I went by to see what was going on. Several aviation buffs were there that day milling around each trying to out talk the other about their great expertise and knowledge in things aviation, and of which two, a high school history and geography teacher from someplace I didn't catch and a ceramics teacher from a nearby high school in Torrance, were talking about a crashed C-47 that one of them found years before in the San Bernardino Mountains. When I heard him say he was just a kid when he stumbled across the wreck of a C-47 in the mountains and it still had parachutes, clothing and other personal effects, thinking it might be a World War II wreck and possibly associated with the unmarked one found parked in the desert in early 1945 my ears perked up. Now, while I wasn't able to talk with the one guy who had found the C-47 for some reason or the other, I did to talk to the other guy in the conversation, the ceramics teacher, who filled me in on the gist of their discussion. Once he told me the plane went down in 1952 I sort of lost interest. However, what is important to us here is what else the ceramics teacher told me.

Somtime shortly after the end of the Korean War the ceramics teacher had joined the Air Force and ended up stationed at Castle Air Force Base located in the center of California's San Joaquin Valley. The ceramics teacher told me he had always considered himself an avid aviation buff and having missed being in World War II because he was too young, was constantly badgering the older airmen for war stories. One day one of the older guys told him that near the end of the war he was assigned to a small group of other airmen and a couple of officers on some sort of an organized ground search. Their search ended after several days when they eventually came across what they were looking for. According to the airman the fruit of their search endeavors turned out to be nothing less than a fully fueled and operable unmarked C-47 carefully hidden from the air under camouflage netting out in the middle of the remote Nevada desert somewhere west and south of Death Valley not far from the Sierras. Inside they found a bunch of parachutes, maps, and the operational procedures on flying a C-47 written in German. The two officers, acting as pilot and co-pilot, fired up the engines and took off leaving he and the other airmen on the ground to hike back. What ever happened to the C-47 he never learned.


The ceramics teacher told me that at the time he thought the whole thing sounded farfetched until one day the airman that told him the story came by and handed him a large envelope. The airman told him after many years in the service he would be retiring in a few days and wanted him to have what was in the envelope. When he opened he envelope he found the operational procedures on how to fly a C-47 --- written in German. The airman told him he had taken it from the C-47 the day they found it and stuffed it in his his shirt without anybody's knowledge.

Thinking I had a goldmine on my hands I asked to see it. He told me a few years before, because he had been stationed at Castle Air Base and still held a strong affinity toward the place along with many fond memories, he had sent it to the Castle Air Museum thinking they might find it a bit of interesting Air Force history. When I checked on its whereabouts with the museum, nobody I talked to knew anything about ever having, ever receiving, or ever seeing an operational procedure handbook for a C-47 written in German. Like the eventual fate of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark it is probably stashed away in some box gathering dust lost among a whole bunch of other boxes stashed away somewhere that nobody knows the whereabouts of or the contents of. For those who haven't done so please see the following heavily C-47 related footnote :


In the main text above I write:

"Invariably on those Sunday mornings the ranch foreman Leo, the ex-sailor that he was, besides being a Pacific Fleet boxing champion, would hold court with a number of Navy guys sobering up over coffee and having a little breakfast. A few tables down along the edge of the dance hall there always seemed to be several Air Force guys doing the same thing. Me cleaning up between tables made me privy to the conversations and going ons between both groups."

Going about my business on one of those Sunday mornings and virtually unseen, I overheard in passing --- and completly out of context --- one of the China Lake Navy men mention something about a "Flying Tiger lady" who worked, or had worked at one time, somewhere on the base. When I questioned him about it everything he told me seemed to lean toward the person being Olga Greenlaw, onetime of the A.V.G., or Flying Tigers, who wrote the all time definitive book on the Flying Tigers, The Lady and the Tigers (1943). Apparently, and what I didn't know at the time, she had divorced Harvey Greenlaw, the second in command of the A.V.G., remarried and moved to Inyokern (or possibly nearby Cummings Valley where her new husband owned an over 700 acre ranch) and taken a job at the China Lake facility. If she was still an employee at China Lake at the time of the conversation I either don't recall specifically or it was never made clear. So too, if she ever made it to my stepmother's establishment or Pancho Barnes' Happy Bottom Riding Club is not known either. However, knowing what I know of Olga Greenlaw now, and considering the timimg of it all, she most likely showed up at at Pancho's.






The Flying Tigers in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at

The above video is a complete start-to-finish version of the original black and white 1940s Flying Tigers movie that both Kent and I saw as kids that in turn so enamored us with P-40s.

Years later when I was just a few months short of turning 22 years of age I had the good fortune of actually meeting a World War II pilot said to have flown with the Flying Tigers. I was riding in the cab of a truck used to transport race cars around the country driven by one of the world's top sports car mechanics by the name of Joe Landaker. We were on our way to Miami, Florida to load the transporter on a boat to be shipped to Nassau for the Bahamas Speed Weeks when the engine of the transporter sucked a valve. In the close knit world of top mechanics, in that we were in Florida, Landaker contacted his friend, another world famous mechanic, NASCAR ace Smokey Yunick. The two of them repaired the broken engine post haste right along the freeway and soon we were on our way to the docks and Nassau. As it was, Yunick, a pilot in World War II, among other flying chores, was said to have flown for the Flying Tigers. For more see:



Wattenberg was infamous throughout the annals of the war for a number of reasons. In December 1939 he was an officer onboard the Admiral Graf Spee during a major battle between she and several British warships off the coast of Argentina. The battle is summed up in the quote below from the source so cited:

"(T)he battleship-like German heavy cruiser the Admiral Graf Spee, a so-called 'pocket battleship,' was heavily damaged in a heated battle with British warships off the coast of South America. She took refuge in the River Plate estuary, a river outlet that empties into the Atlantic between Buenos Aires, Argentina on the south and Montevideo, Uruguay on the north. Under the captain's orders the ship limped into Montevideo for repairs and evacuate the wounded. The captain was told it would take at least two weeks to make the ship seaworthy. Uruguay, being a neutral country and following the rules of the Hague Convention of 1907, the Graf Spee was not entitled to stay in port longer than 24 hours without risking internment. The captain, not sure he could make the run across the estuary to Buenos Aires because of damage to the ship and an increasingly larger British threat beyond the confines of the estuary, rather than risk the lives of his crew, decided to simply scuttle her. The crew was removed and thus then, interned in the 'more friendly to Germany' Argentina for the duration."(source)

During his internment Wattenberg contacted members of the local German community and through his efforts and initiative they supplied him and others with civilian clothes and paperwork. By 1941 Wattenberg and all but six of the Graf Spee's officers had crossed over the Andes into Chile, flying back to Germany by civilian airliners.


People jump up and down over and over as to why Wattenberg was the ONE specifically selected, needed, or required commander to captain the Hoover Dam attack-submarine over any other high-boot commander. Especially so such a coordinated effort by the Axis Powers to build and bring the one-off one of a kind sub-weapon from Europe --- requiring not only a trip half way around the world, via the Pacific yet, but the transference on the high seas at least twice as well as involving the cooperation of four different submarines and two different countries and in the process, go to all the trouble of manipulating the American POW system through payoffs, German sleeper agents, or sheer luck, to ensure that only one certain single individual, Wattenberg, would end up at the in the Papago Park prisoner of war camp in Arizona just at the right time.

There are two answers. The opening paragraphs above to this footnote attest to the first reasons why. Secondly, it is my opinion that someone in the German High Command had a hair in his ass.

As for why Wattenberg? There are a number of reasons. He was a loyal, trusted member of the NAZI hierarchy. He was the only person trusted enough. He knew his way through prison camps. He knew personally and had many previous crew members who served loyally under him interred at the camp. He had long been briefed as on the mission, carrying the plans for full execution of the attack in his head AFTER he was to take over when the submarine reached its position on the Colorado River at Laguna Dam. And, unlike any of his peers, according to interviewed captured internees that crewed the submarine, briefed if not trained in the functions and operation of the Rheintochter R1 Variant.

Despite all his loyalty and trust by the powers that be, in the end the WHY of Wattenberg never showing up at Laguna Dam, especially so when several lower ranking members of his crew made it, has never been made clear and one of the true mysteries and unanswered questions of the German Submarine Attack on Hoover Dam.


Operation Torch was the over-arcing name designation for the entire invasion campaign of Vichy French North Africa in November, 1942. Imbedded within the main operation were a number of smaller operations of which Operation Villain was one. It was under Operation Villain that the aforementioned 39 C-47s came into play.

The plan was to use paratroopers of the 2nd Battalion 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment to seize Tafaraoui and La Senia airfields in Algeria.

A full compliment of 2/509 PIR paratroopers left England aboard 39 C-47's with the intention of flying over Spain into North Africa. No sooner had the formation left England than it was scattered due to unforecasted bad weather and after that, never able to reform. One plane landed at Gibraltar, four were interned in Spanish Morocco, two landed at Fez in French Morocco and three were reported as flying over Le Senia and being driven off by anti-aircraft fire.

Over a dozen C-47's were clustered together after landing on the western edge of the Sebkra d'Oran' dry lake without air dropping their troops. Ten other C-47s dropped their parachutists in the same area then landed at the eastern edge of the Sebkra and inturn, taken prisoner. Some of the paratroopers under command of Major William P. Yarborough attempted to march around the Sebkra and seize Tafaraoui airfield, a distance of over 20 miles. After covering roughly ten miles, and basically stranded because the terrain was so difficult to traverse, they radioed for help. Three C-47s, after siphoning fuel from sister ships, took off to retrieve them. No sooner had they picked up the troopers than six French Dewoitine fighter planes strafed the fuselages. The pilots turned the planes around making it toward the Sebkra crash landing at 130 miles per hour. The French fighters made three more strafing runs on the grounded aircraft, killing five and wounding fifteen. In the end just 14 planes of the original 39 planes were operational enough to fly right away, with a number missing or unaccounted for. So too, only 15 paratroopers out of the whole band that filled the 39 planes were judged fit enough to return to combat on an immediate basis. An accurate count on the dead, wounded and missing unclear.

Operation Villain was a complete fiasco, for the most part a total flop from one end to the other. Its over-arcing operation, Operation Torch initially wasn't far behind although eventually through the hard work, dedication and pure perseverance, in less than six months in North Africa the tide had turned in the Allies favor with the Germans fully on the run. Re the following regarding 100 German troop transports loaded to the gills with soldiers being secretly ferried out of Africa and caught by a group of P-40 Warhawks in what has become known as the "Goose Shoot":

"On Sunday, April 18, 1943 the U.S. Army Air Force's 57th Fighter Group stationed at El Djem, Tunisia in North Africa, on a routine mission over Cape Bon had 46 P-40 Warhawks in the air along with 18 British Spitfires flying top cover. Low on fuel and basically returning to base they came across a 100 plane flotilla of German JU-52 German troop transport planes flying just above sea level over the Mediterranean, escorted by 50 Messerschmitt fighters. Catching the Germans completely off guard, while the Spitfires drew off the Messerschmitts and kept them busy, the P-40s split into pairs diving on the enemy planes tearing the transports to shreds, with an overall kill count of 77 enemy aircraft destroyed."



Even though I never heard of an operational rocket or space related vehicle of any type that had anything close to having wooden fins I did however, interestingly enough, soon afterward gain a certain high level of expertise reworking wood to an immaculate state of finish similar to that of the fins. Re the following:

"Me being a regular at the marina came about because of the woodie wagon I spent so much time re-doing. The wood on the wagon was in such an immaculate state of restoration, having arrived at such a state only after hours and hours my own personal painstaking endeavors, that it attracted attention whenever I drove it. One of the persons it attracted was the skipper of a yacht come marlin boat moored in the Marina Del Rey harbor owned by the grown son and heir of a major multimillionaire oil man. The skipper was so taken by my talents working the wood he hired me to do the brightwork on the boat he skippered."(source)

I was in the 15 year old bracket during the summer I first learned about the connection between the German submarine and Hoover Dam. A year or so after that I got my first drivers license and not long after that my Woodie Wagon. In restoring the wagon I scraped, sanded, smoothed, bleached, stained, and spar varnished the wood beyond the brightest of the brightwork on the most expensive yacht. It was because of the expertise of my endeavors that several years later I was hired by the skipper. I could not open a can of spar varnish, then or up to this day, without thinking about the finish of the wooden fins on a Rheintochter R 1.

Three years later, within a day or two of the third year anniversary of the train wreck, July 3, 1947, found me and my uncle traveling in the desert southwest having passed through Williams, Arizona on our way to Fort Sumner, New Mexico to visit the gravesite of Billy the Kid. We stopped at the crash site to pay reverence to those that died and my survival. While my uncle sat in the truck I walked the tracks where the wreck occurred. In the three short years since the derailment barely a sign of anything having happened remained, the wind along with the heavy downfall of summer monsoons nearly erasing the 500 foot groove and other marks caused by the huge Baldwin locomotive and passenger cars. If a person was unfamiliar with what happened it would have been unobservable.

As we left the crash site my uncle told me the story about me sitting in the waiting room of some train station in Arizona with the tribal spiritual elder late at night waiting for him, my uncle, to arrive and take me to California. The spiritual elder was quite obviously Native American and I was quite obviously not. A lot of people seemed concerned with me traveling with an Indian, that is, except for an older man who seemed concerned that I might be bored.

He came over and sat next to me and asked if my dad was in the war. I told him no that he worked in the shipyards. Asking if I liked comic books he opened his suitcase and pulled out one called Blue Bolt. All the while he was thumbing through the pages like he was looking for something he was telling me he had a son in the war and that his son was a pilot. After he reached a certain spot he folded open the pages and pointed to a story about a group of American pilots that shot down 77 German planes in one outing. Then, carefully reading the story page by page and pointing to the different pictures he told me that his son was one of the pilots. My uncle told me with that I took the book from the man's hands completely fascinated, so much so I read the story over and over without stopping or setting it down. The man, seeing how much I appreciated the comic and the story, said I could have it. After that my uncle said I continued to read it again and again all the way back to California and months afterwards. That story is covered extensively in:


(please click)