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Luftwaffe Over America: the Secret Plans to Bomb the United States in World War II

14 April 2016

Luftwaffe Over America: the Secret Plans to Bomb the United States in World War II, Manfred Griehl with translation by Geoffrey Brooks, 2004, ISBN 1 85367 608 X, 256 pp.

Luftwaffe Over America: the Secret Plans to Bomb the United States in World War II by Manfred Griehl with translation by Geoffrey Brooks

Luftwaffe Over America: the Secret Plans to Bomb the United States in World War II by Manfred Griehl with translation by Geoffrey Brooks

Readers undoubtedly will be first interested in this book with its promise of the story behind Hitler’s Amerika Bomber Project during World War II—the Luftwaffe’s marching orders to bring destruction to the United States with the objective not of strategic mayhem but dilution of European war effort by deploying antiaircraft defenses on the Home Front.

Readers will be more than satisfied by the knowledge shared by Griehl—and readers will be astonished by the complete story revealed by Griehl. The breadth and depth of the Luftwaffe’s planning with enrapture readers, history students, strategic planning specialists as well as what-if-thinkers.

The German war machine did not lack for imagination and it shows in Luftwaffe Over America. Griehl has names, dates, quotes, context, drawings and photos in support of his research presented. Of course, the three Amerika Bombers are addressed completely—the Messerschmitt Me 264 (6½ ton warload), the Junkers Ju 390 (5 ton warload) and Heinkel He 277 (3 ton warload).

Though the Luftwaffe plans included so much more as solutions were chased down:

  • Silbervogel—a rocket propelled glide bomb skipping across the stratosphere
  • Increasing range of land based aircraft by towing fuel laden gliders
  • Increasing the range of long distance flying boats by refueling at sea with U-boats
  • Submarine towing of V-2 laden barges to be flooded at launch, effectively erecting the rocket
  • Many more fighter, bomber and weapon designs

Luftwaffe Over America illustrates, on one hand, the Luftwaffe’s engineering creativity as well as imagination. On the other hand, Griehl’s book demonstrates the Luftwaffe’s lack of central controlling authority over these projects, which appeared required to be successful. The Allies developed strategic bombers where the Axis powers failed and that, too, is made clear in Luftwaffe Over America.




4 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 April 2016 14:22

    I watched a TV documentary recently in which engineers built an exact full size replica of the Horten wing. They used the jet powered version as the template. They used the same radar testing facility used in developing the F-117 to evaluate the radar signature. Bottom line was, even with modern radar, if the Nazis had built them in bomber size, there would only be about fifteen minutes warning time before they were over target. Perhaps Washington or New York–or more likely, both.

    I recall reading that Hitler was furious with the Japanese for bombing Pearl Harbor, but he compounded his mistake by declaring war on the US. Had he not been so much an egocentric megalomaniac, he would have issued a mild rebuke to the Japanese and a diplomatic mission to Washington that he had no warlike intent toward the US. That would have left England twisting in the wind, and given his scientists time to develop the Bomb and improved means of delivery.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      14 April 2016 16:24

      The Horten flying wing–another German paradigm change. We were lucky they couldn’t exploit those advantages.

      Yes, the Axis Pact had Hitler committed to war with the U.S. which he did not want. We can thank Japan for that, obviously. It’s mind numbing to think of what another year’s delay would have led to.

  2. shortfinals permalink
    17 April 2016 17:59

    By the end of 1941, immediately prior to Pearl Harbor, the situation for Great Britain was dire. It was essentially stalemate, absent a German delivery system for a WMD! Churchill had tried to warn FDR about the possibilities of an atomic bomb ( see the ‘lights of perverted science’ speech). The illogical declaration of war by Hitler against the United States was a game changer.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      17 April 2016 22:27

      I’ll check that speech out, Ross. Yes, Hitler must have been nonplussed with Japan’s surprise attack being as much for him as for the U.S.–and ultimately more lethal, as well. I’m sure why he signed the Axis pact, but for Japan I see, though I suspect it had to do with keeping Russia at arm’s length. As always, be careful what one wishes for.

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