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American Raiders: the Race to Capture the Luftwaffe’s Secrets

1 April 2016

American Raiders: the Race to Capture the Luftwaffe’s Secrets, Wolfgang W.E. Samuel, 2004, ISBN 1-57806-649-2, 493 pp.

American Raiders: the Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets by Wolfgang W.E. Samuel

American Raiders: the Race to Capture the Luftwaffe’s Secrets by Wolfgang W.E. Samuel

This is the story of the greatest acquisition of aeronautical and aerospace technology of all time. The adventurous tale—under the name of Operation Lusty—begins for the United States forces at the closing of World War II in formerly Axis Europe. Colonel Watson led the team (nicknamed “Watson’s Whizzers) charged with acquiring Luftwaffe aircraft and this is what most aviation history authors have detailed. Watson was astute, sharing extra aircraft with Britain as well as France, but also getting examples vital to the United States in whatever territory they may reside within. Obtaining the Me 262s were easy compared to the polite thievery of the Ar 234 aircraft from the British in Denmark. Watson’s staff criss-crossed Europe chasing down leads and flying aircraft to USAAF bases as expeditiously as possible using C-47s, B-17s and P-47s (as liaison aircraft no less). The description of the Do 335 ferry fight leaving the escorting P-51 Mustangs in the dust brings a vicarious smirk to the reader as well as humble relief this aircraft as well as the Me 262 were not produced in great numbers a year earlier.

The description of German and Japanese cargo submarine hazarding dangerous crossings is chilling as they transferred strategic ores and industrial products as well as technicians and aircraft. The mission of escort carrrier USS Bogue to hunt and destroy the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-52 is another hardly recalled but amazing World War II story. Its mission was accomplished with then revolutionary acoustic homing torpedoes dropped from Avenger aircraft and was war shortening.

It is the results of the other team, results largely unheralded elsewhere, which likely made more historical impact to the aviation industry and military strategy of the United States.

The 1894 ton trove returned to the U.S. amazingly was:

Me 262 Ar 234
Horton 8 Horton 9
Ju 290 Do 335
V-1 V-2
Ta 152 Natter
Viper Fritz X
He 293 + thousands of pages of revolutionary research

Boeing, with the B-47, and North American, with the F-86, greatly benefited from the research garnered by Operation Lusty. The Luftwaffe research was paradigm changing and brought both companies into the Cold War military-industrial complex as major players. Oddly, though Republic’s chief designer flew in an Me 262 the company continued its F-84 design development as straight-winged—which initiated a downslide into once a once major player rating.

This book explains the story of how and why the U.S. obtained some of the Luftwaffe’s best aviation and aerospace assets. It doesn’t delve into the efforts of France, England or Russia as this is an American story but those countries have their own tales to tell. This book is also the story of the people, both large and small, who worked to bring these important technologies into the hands of the U.S. and not a moment to soon with the Korean War soon to break out.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick V. permalink
    1 April 2016 01:11

    Great review and I agree with your take on the book. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Samuel by chance at the NASM Udvar-Hazy Center a few years ago. He had a great career and flew some outstanding aircraft. I really enjoyed this book and thanks for shining a light on this little known piece of aviation history. –Nick

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      3 April 2016 00:03

      Thanks Nick. Small world stories are great. I liked how he got into the people’s thinking and who they made their decisions. A lot more work to do that I’m sure and you would know since you do the same in your books.

  2. 1 April 2016 13:57

    Reblogged this on dpiskov.

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