"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 (source)
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.
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.
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.
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, in the summer of 1952, me being under the guardianship of my uncle all came to a screeching halt because of the decision by my father and stepmother to divorce. Our de facto family dissolved and my uncle went back to the Taos, Santa Fe area and I went to live with my grandmother. However, only one short year later, 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."
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 sank into the stuff.
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. Pretty soon he started to avoid me or just did not show up. He did tell me a few interesting things, like for example, even though he was a submariner, it was in conjuction with the sub that he heard the word "snorkle" for the first time.
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. 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. 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.
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 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. That is how the dam was going to be destroyed. What the escape plan was is not known. 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 ft 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 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.
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.
It should be brought to the attention of the reader that sometime in early to mid 1945, around the sametime as the potential Japanese and German attacks were being planned 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.
Were there German U-boats in Mexico's Sea of Cortez?
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. However, the German sub that went up the Colorado was 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 other sub found among German records or if it even was German. So too, with it's eventual fate.
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 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 aforementioned C-47 found parked on the remote Nevada airstirp in some capacity.
THE COLORADO RIVER: WAS IT NAVIGABLE?
COMMANDER JURGEN WATTENBERG
THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES: THE RADAR DILEMMA
UFO OVER L.A.: THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES
WORLD WAR II COMES TO REDONDO
ON THE RAZOR'S
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."(see)
FATE OF THE U-133
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 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)
Even though my uncle and I had flown out of the Happy Bottom Riding Club with arrangements made by my stepmother, I met Pancho Barnes only once, and then just briefly in passing when 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) Other than her knowing Hughes I had no clue who she was, her importance, or her background, and much to my dismay, almost everything I know about her 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.
AND NOW THIS: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:
Of course, directly related as well and as found in Footnote  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:
THE HAPPY BOTTOM RIDING CLUB
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.
The slot machines in the secret hidden room at my stepmother's 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 see:
ROY ROGERS AND ANDY DEVINE
Not counting the aforementioned phone call from my uncle when I was a kid 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 --- the Kingman Incident only came up once between us, and then only briefly, many, many years after 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:
JUDITH ANN WOOLCOTT
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)
The following is found in LA PALMA SECRET BASE: The Story Behind the Story and clarifies more closely the exact nature of the full weapon like character incorporated into the submarine:
The Chief Petty Officer was a 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 Air Force. It was just that the Air Force beat them to the prize. The Navy argued since it was a submarine it should fall under their jurisdiction. The Air Force insisted it was really not much more than a mobil 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 Rheinbote R1 variant, driven by a solid propellent engine rather than being exclusive V-2 related --- the Air Force still said tough, it was in their possession and they expected to keep it. Through it all the POW camp officials were left out in the cold, except for one thing, they had the actual crew that was trained to operate whatever it was, which meant they had at their fingertips intimate knowledge of the ins-and-outs and workings of the sub. That's where the Chief Petty Officer came in. As a former submariner he had been asigned to the Navy team sent to recover the craft, and while there, although they arrived too late, was ordered to consult with the Air Force team on how to remove, float, and transport the semi-damaged vessel. The POW folk, being looked down on as not really being military, didn't like how the Air Force had treated them, expecting more cooperation. Since the Navy sort of ended up losers in it all too, the POW folk, thinking they would have an ally, simply aced out the Air Force and brought in the Navy, asking the Chief, who had actually been on the scene, to join their interrogation team. Which he did.(source)
When people read the above account regarding a German submarine coming 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)
JUNKERSMOTORENWERKE (Agts: Haan)
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 ever remember seeing Kent was one day in high school on my way to an assembly. He came out of nowhere in the crowd and pounded the crap out of some totally unsuspecting smuck and slipped back into the crowd before he could be apprehended. Why he jumped the poor guy I don't know, but from then on I felt that Kent would be the kind of guy you would want to stay on the good side of.
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 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 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. There were several aviation buffs there that day milling around each trying to out talk the other, 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.
BONNIE CLAIRE AIRFIELD IS A REMOTE X-SHAPED DIRT STRIP 3 MILES WEST OF RT 267, 3 MILES FROM THE GHOST TOWN OF BONNIE CLAIRE, NEVADA
(WITH THANKS TO PAUL FREEMAN)
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.
CURTISS-WRIGHT HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
P-40B WARHAWK S/N 41-13297
BONNIE CLAIRE, NEVADA
A TWO-TRACTOR M65 ATOMIC CANNON CIRCA 1950's. TWO BACK-TO-BACK
M26's- CREATED A SIMILAR CARRIER TYPE VEHICLE FOR THE SUBMARINE
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.