rockets of 1946
U.S. and Soviet troops meet at the Elbe River in April 25, 1945. Less than two weeks later Germany would unconditionally surrender.
A FULL SIX MONTHS BEFORE THE FALL of Nazi Germany, the first battle of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Russia was already well underway.
Four years earlier, despite a mutual non-aggression pact, Hitler had invaded Russia -- which soon became first Britain's then America's ally in the war. But the US-USSR alliance had always been an uneasy one, rife with intrigue and suspicion. Soviet arch-dictator Josef Stalin was anything but a friend to democracy, and his 'non-aggression' pact with Hitler had included plenty of aggression against neighboring countries -- allowing Stalin to brutally annex the Baltic states while Hitler savaged Poland.
And though throughout the next three years of the U.S.-Soviet alliance both countries followed the dictum that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend', both also knew it was a friendship not meant to last.
Now, with the defeat of Germany just weeks away, the battle for future dominance -- planned in the months before at desks and chalkboards in Washington and Moscow -- was reaching fruition on the front lines.
The grand prize being the capture of the German scientists... and their cutting edge technological secrets.
Cover and interior page of a field report of an Allied intelligence investigative team in Germany.
AMERICAN PLANNING FOR THIS had occurred months before the war's end. In November 1944 the U.S. had set up the 'Technical Industrial Intelligence Committee' to identify anything of economic, industrial or technological value to be acquired as Germany fell -- including patent registrations and accompanying documentation. Thousands of personnel were involved in the massive effort. For instance, just a single sub-group within the organization employed nearly 400 people solely to represent the potential interests of over a dozen strategic U.S. manufacturers in acquiring German advances in design and manufacturing.
Similarly, the Soviets --on the personal orders Josef Stalin -- carried out the eastern offensive across a broad front with the same goal in mind. Stalin's first priority was to capture as much of Germany's research, equipment and experts on its nuclear program as possible.
But equally important -- and to the U.S. as well -- was to capture the German rocket secrets.
Left: Preparing the launch of a German V-1. Above: A V-1 dives into London.
NAZI ADVANCES in missile technology were the envy -- and the terror -- of the world.
The V-1 ("V" was short for Vergeltungswaffen, aka 'Vengeance Weapon') was the forerunner of the modern cruise missile. Known as the 'flying bomb' or 'buzz bomb', it could be launched from ramps or planes. Powered by a ramjet engine, it carried its warhead of one ton of high explosives at a speed of nearly 400 mph, and at impact caused massive destruction.
Fortunately for the Allies, the V-1 had no precise targeting control and so could only be generally aimed towards its destination. But what it lacked in accuracy it partially made up in volume -- over 12,000 V-1s were launched, first against England and later against Allied positions in Antwerp.
German science had also led the way in other weaponry across the missile and rocket spectrum. Its Rheintochter ground-to-air missile was developed to intercept bomber formations at high altitudes. Its X4 air-to-air missile was the predecessor to wire-guided missiles. Its HS 293 air-to-ground missile was the forerunner of the 'smart bomb'. And Germany had mass-produced the first rocket-powered fighter plane, the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet.
But it was the V-2 ground-to-ground missile which was the most coveted of all aerial weapons.
IT WAS THE FIRST BALLISTIC missile, and the first to obtain sub-orbital space flight. It's design would be the basis for ICBMs and moon rockets. Standing nearly 5 stories high, it launched at a weight of 27,000 pounds.
Lifting off with a thrust of 69,000 pounds, the V-2 would began to rise slowly. Four seconds later, the gyroscopic guidance system would pitch the behemoth to its pre-programmed flight angle. A minute or so later the engine would shut down, the missile having already achieved a speed of more than one mile per second as it climbed to an altitude of 50 miles. Within 5 minutes, it's trajectory would arc down to deliver it's 2000-pound high-explosive payload.
Moving at such speed, and falling from such height, there was no defense. More than 4,000 would be launched with devastating effect.
And next up on the drawing boards was a ballistic missile that would eclipse even the V-2: a multi-stage rocket nearly 7 stories high with an initial thrust of over 400,000 pounds, known as the 'A10'. And though it was still on the drawing boards, the German's vision included later using the A10 as the second stage of a rocket with over 2 million pounds thrust that could carry a 60,000 pound payload into space.
Also on the drawing boards: a vehicle known as the 'Antipodal Bomber' -- 92 feet long and 220,000 pounds in weight -- which would fly into space to a height of 160 miles, capable of dropping a 12,000 pound payload over New York or Washington just 80 minutes after launch from Germany.
Above: Peenemunde's location is indicated by the black square above Berlin.
THE DEVELOPMENT AND manufacture of these 'Wunderwaffen' (aka 'Wonder Weapons') had mostly taken place at a site on the German island of Usedom, near the village of Peenemunde (pronounced 'pee-en-eh-moon-day'). Peenemunde was located in the far northeast of Germany, near the Polish border. It was a once and future resort, verdant and lush, its pine forests dotted with lakes, and at its feet platinum beaches and the white-capped sea stretching out to meet the sky.
But since 1936 it had undergone radical changes. The year before, 22-year old rocket genius Werner von Braun and 39-year old artillery captain Walter Dornberger had teamed to design and manufacture -- and in fact, invent -- the world's first long-range ballistic missiles at an artillery range outside of Berlin, with the first two prototypes designated as the A-1 and the A-2. These prototypes involved experiments with engine thrust and propellant types and were followed by the A-3 prototype which focused on missile guidance systems. Moving out of Berlin, the A-3 was tested at Greifswalder Oie, a small island in the Baltic sea. Unsuccessful in its guidance tests, it nevertheless represented the first successful launch of a ballistic missile from a vertical platform.
Buoyed by their successes -- and the military possibilities of a staggering advantage in war -- priority work began in 1936 on a vast testing complex on Usedom Island, near Peenemunde. Dornberger was named head of the entire test range, which was figuratively and geographically split into two competing factions, the Wehrmacht (army) and the Luftwaffe (air force). At Peenemunde Westen (Peenemunde West) was the work contracted by the Luftwaffe, including the V-1 flying bomb. At Peenemunde Ost (Peenemunde East) was the work of the Wehrmacht, focusing on the ballistic missile, with Werner von Braun as its technical director.
By the formal beginning of World War II in September, 1939, Peenemunde had become a vast complex of laboratories and manufacturing facilities with more than 3,000 personnel directly involved in its work, operating on a scale in its missile and rocketry research and development that would only be matched much later at White Sands, Cape Canaveral and Star City. The cream of scientists had been commandeered from Germany's tech industries and universities, laboring day and night at both Peenemunde Westen and Peenemunde Ost to solve all the technical complexities of building the world's first flying rocket bomb as well as the world's first true ballistic missile. Both would come into reality in 1944, with the V-1 and the especially the V-2 -- technically called the A-4 -- placing Germany a decade or more ahead in missile development and research.
And it would all be in Soviet hands by the end of the war.
Above: August 12, 1946 news report in the U.S. Left: May 25, 1946 Swedish news report.
ALMOST A YEAR TO THE DAY after Germany's formal surrender an unwelcome intruder was reported to have appeared in the skies over Sweden. The newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported that two night watchmen had spotted a "wingless, cigar-shaped body of dimensions of a small airplane, which at regular intervals spurted bunches of sparks from its tail."
In the following days more reports would flow in. From the May 26, 1946 edition of the Dagens Nyheter:
Even if reports of a wingless aircraft spurting fire over Landscrona are to be treated with a certain reserve, it is very possible that what people saw were V-1 bombs fired by the Russians from some experimental station on the Baltic Coast. This statement was made by an air expert, to whom Dagens Nyheter submitted the reports in yesterday's telegrams.
The experts state that the whole of Germany has been fine-combed by the occupying powers for robot bomb material and experiments are being carried out zealously. Just as with the Germans, a number of projectiles went on courses not intended. Bombs from the Continent can naturally now land in or make short-cuts over Sweden. The observations made by the inhabitants of Landscrona, namely that the sparks from the tail come at intervals, agrees with the V-1 bomb's manner of operation.
It is true that the witnesses have given the length of the projectiles now seen as considerably less than the V-1 bomb's 6-7 metres but it is easy to err on such points.
Of all parties interested in robot bombs, the Americans appear to have come farthest. While the war was still on, they began examining an example of the V-1 which fell in London without exploding. Whilst the German V-1s had a radius of about 240km. and a speed of 550 km. per hour, the Americans have attained a speed of more than 700 km. for the projectile and a considerably longer range than the Germans.
Finally, it remains to report that a chauffeur in Huddinge saw a shining projectile at 12 o'clock at night on Friday/Saturday and he considered that it could not have been either an aircraft or a meteor. When he spoke of the matter, he had not heard of what happened in Landscrona so he could not have been influenced by it
And two days later, from the May 28, 1946 edition of the Morgon-Tidningen:
It is not only in Landskrona and Gavle that fireballs and lighted [word missing] without wings are seen. Also from Karlskrona and Halsingborg are similar observations reported, and many persons in the Stockholm area stated to the MT that they saw the same phenomenon in Huddings and Hagalund. No one really knows what is going on. One guess is of experiments with secret weapons, but aviation experts think that in such a case it is curious that no sound is reported in connection with the observations - long range bombing practice gives off noise.
And four days after that, from the June 1, 1946 edition of the Morgon-Tidningen:
It seems as if the mysterious flier, which was observed in Osternarks at the beginning of the week, was not altogether an illusion. Yesterday the same thing was reported in fact in Katrineholm. An object which can be compared to a silver-glistening rocket, in the shape of a giant cigar, was noticed in the east on the horizon. The time was 11:43 a.m. in the morning. The 'ghost airplane' had no hint of wings, but on the other hand some thought it that had the semblance of a stabilizer or the like. It traveled very rapidly through the air and many observers pointed out that not even the fastest fighter plane would be able to keep pace. A light rumble was heard, near the object after it had made a turn toward the west, in a diving continued trip toward the south... The projectile, or whatever it might be, was as long as an ordinary training plane and went at 300 meters altitude.
And on the same day, from the June 1, 1946 edition of Aftonbladet:
Helsingfors, Saturday. -- Mysterious objects, considered to be some kind of peculiar 'meteors' or some new V-bomb being tested, have flown over Helsingfors. The mysterious wingless projectiles, which fly on a north-east--south-west course, appear to have their 'bases' somewhere north of Lake Ladoga. The objects flew over Helsingfors last week, on Friday night.
Taking note, and on that same day, the British Air Attache in Sweden on June 1, 1946 notified the Air Ministry in London of the new situation. Under the subject Flying missiles observed over Sweden the memo referenced the recent news articles and stated...
Both myself and members of my staff have discussed the above reports with representatives of the Swedish Air Force, who, although interested, are as yet unable to confirm the observations officially, but they have agreed to pass on to us any information that may be of interest.
And thus began the phenomenon which came to be known as the 'Ghost Rockets' of 1946.
Above: A Svenska Aero Jaktfalken, which entered use in the Swedish air force as a fighter plane in the early 1930s. Source: Karl Kossler.
THE STRANGE NAME given the reported rockets harkened back to the 1930s, when sightings of seemingly mysterious airplanes over Scandinavia -- called 'ghost fliers' in the Swedish press -- gripped public attention between 1933 and 1934. The 'ghost fliers' caused considerable consternation because they were unmarked, flew at night -- at that time a very rare occurrence in aviation -- and often were said to project beams of light.
One such report, from the January 28, 1934 edition of Haparanda....
The personnel of the Haparanda newspaper watched for several minutes, around midnight Saturday, as an aeroplane flew back and forth several times over the city. Because of the foggy weather no light could be seen, but the sound of a very powerful engine was heard by everyone on the editorial staff. The aeroplane looked like a giant shadow in the air. One hour earlier, ten persons observed a plane over Haparanda, flying back and forth.
And another, from the February 8, 1934 edition of Norlands-Nytt....
It was approximately 500 metres high and projected a very powerful searchlight on both sides of the nearby hilltops. Observers noted a red lantern on the machine before it vanished in a south-westerly direction.
The ghost fliers soon became international news. From the February 16, 1934 edition of the Lubbock, Texas Morning Avalanche...
Europe's 'Ghost' Planes
It is easy for the imagination to give reality to excessive fears.
In this fact may lie explanation of the mysterious "ghost" planes reported to be making flights over parts of northern Europe.
From Northern Finland, Sweden and Norway come reports of airplanes cutting across the star-lit sky apparently on reconnoitering trips. One of these mysterious planes is said to have made its appearance over London.
The accepted explanation by the population of the countries visited, of course, is that the flyers represent foreign nations preparing for war and that they are sent out to further such preparations. One Swedish aviation expert expressed the view that those sighted over Swedish territory were Japanese flyers scouting the Arctic regions in connection with a possible conflict between Japan and Russia. Others of the "ghost" planes are believed to have been Russian.
Spy scares in Europe are of such routine occurrence that they have come to hold little popular interest. Heretofore, though, they have involved chiefly spies who moved about on land. Now that these secret agents have taken to the air stories dealing with their activities should prove a little more thrilling to the readers.
Reports would continue to pour in, sometimes of seemingly ordinary aircraft making ordinary noise and sometimes of weird aircraft -- such as one with eight propellers reported seen circling over water in the dead of night -- for the remainder of 1934 and even occasionally into the next few years.
What cause lay behind the reports was never definitively answered. But with the ascendancy of Nazi Germany and Hitler's drumbeat of racial war echoing ever louder in the late 1930s, the eyes of the world turned elsewhere... leaving all tales of 'ghost fliers' receding into memory.
At least until the time came when Europe's cataclysmic and genocidal upheaval of nations had seemingly ended, that is.
Above: British prime minister Winston Churchill, American president Harry Truman, and Soviet premier Josef Stalin at the Potsdam Conference in July, 1945.
WHAT RESPITE THERE WAS from the worries of war following the Allied victory in 1945 was brief, if not totally illusory. Conferences between the leaders of Britain, the U.S., and the U.S.S.R. had reached seeming agreement on the nature of the post-war world. The countries of war-ravaged Europe were to create "democratic institutions of their own choice" through "the earliest possible establishment" of "free elections". Further, the three had pledged to dismantle Germany's armaments and munitions factories within their zone of control.
But the promised free elections in Soviet-held territories were not to be forthcoming. And so in March, 1946, British prime minister Winston Churchill made his historic proclamation...
The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future...
It is my duty, however, to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe.
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow...
I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines...
Last time I saw it all coming and I cried aloud to my own fellow countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention...
We must not let it happen again.
Churchill's speech had included pledges of admiration and friendship towards the Soviets, and an appeal for nations to work together. But the implicit warning of the possibility of World War III underlay it all, for both sides to see.
And it was during this period of renewed and heightened world tension that the 'ghost rockets' came flying over Scandinavia. And to many they would become not only an aerial phenomena, but just one of many harbingers of far worse things to come.
From the August 26, 1946 edition of the San Antonio, Texas Light:
Signs All Point To Threat of War
By KARL H. VON WIEGAND
Dean or American Foreign Correspondents
Written Expressly for the Hearst Newspaper
PARIS, Aug. 26. -- The danger of war is great.
The worst war-mongers are those who deliberately seek to keep the truth from the people as was the case at Pearl Harbor, where exploding bombs scattering death and destruction told them war had begun.
Both sides are saying one word about peace for every four words they say about preparation for defense, for security and for war, as did Stalin in a statement attributed to him last week.
What are these signs out of which war may come?
1. A full scale civil war in China. Chinese Communist headquarters at Yenan announced it expected to mobilize 10 million fighting men. That would make it the greatest civil war in history.
2. The Soviet Russian formal demand upon Turkey for joint control and defense of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles.
3. Soviet pressure on the northern frontier of Iran and the concentration, reported from Tehran, of Red troops there, as if in preparation to move southward on British positions on the Persian gulf. The British, it is reported without confirmation, have assembled two or three divisions in that region.
4. Mobilization of large Soviet forces on the northern frontier of Turkey, close by the lower Caspian sea, around the Baku and Kars region. The alleged concentration, according to intelligence reports, of about 17 Red army divisions of parachute and air-borne troops in Odessa, Batum and other Black sea areas, ready for air operations against Turkey.
5. Mobilization of Turkey's army on a war footing.
6. More than two and a half million men in the Red armies in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, in addition to more than 300,000 Red Yugoslav troops as allies near the Adriatic.
7. Rapid sovietization of the Russian zone in Germany and the Soviet's employment of German army, navy, air and submarine officers, including specialists in all branches of warfare, engineers and skilled workmen. Experimental V-rockets over Sweden, presumably fired from the Soviet zone in Germany and Poland, are repeatedly reported from Stockholm.
8. Announcement of the seizure of German Ruhr industrial plants by the British to be operated under British control and direction. This is interpreted, especially in Soviet circles, as a precautionary war measure.
9. Reported full capacity operation of numerous aircraft works, munition plants, arsenals and other war essential plants in the Soviet zone for the benefit of Soviet Russia, and that the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia, third largest war material plant in Europe, is operating for Russia. The armaments and equipment of the Soviet Red army and the Czech army have been coordinated.
10. The "war conference" at Camberly, England, of the British Field Marshal Montgomery and a majority of the leading generals, constituting the brains of the British imperial general staff and army.
11. The announced visit of Montgomery, chief of the British general staff, to Washington as "private guest" of Eisenhower It is pointed out "Monty" and "Ike" are not very warm personal friends.
12. Strengthening of the American air forces in Europe. Enormous military supplies are being maintained in England and France.
13. The extraordinary and provocative actions of the Yugoslavs toward America and Britain in the Trieste sector, as if testing out the Americans and British.
14. Concentration of American and British naval forces in the Mediterranean.
15. The Soviet Russian attitude in the Paris conference.
Every one of these is indicative, no one of them is conclusive of war. All must be taken together to present the underlying picture. Cicero, the Roman, declared 2000 years ago:
"Sure signs precede sure events."
And so from it's humble beginnings in May, 1946 stretching on into the intense barrage of reports that would come that summer, the 'ghost rockets' were seen by many as the Soviet's first salvo in a 'cold war' gone hot, a sure sign preceding a sure event.
Above: July 25, 1946 test at Bikini Atoll, the world's fifth detonation of an atomic bomb by its sole nuclear power. The test occurred four days before the beginning of a "peace conference" in Paris by the U.S., Britain, France and the U.S.S.R to determine reparations from and other issues concerning the fate of the Axis nations of Italy, Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. Relations between the western countries and the Soviets became so acrimonious that by the end of August predictions of a coming world war began to appear in the press.
THE OVER-ARCHING CONUNDRUM of the 'ghost rockets' of 1946 -- both then and now -- is that the puzzle pieces never quite fit into a single coherent picture. The 'ghost rockets' were reported as flying very high or as low as tree-top level. They were sometimes said to explode in mid-air, at other times to crash into lakes, and at still other times to fly out of sight, sometimes changing course as they flew. They were said to be as large as 100 feet long, and as small as a private plane, flying at speeds ranging from very slow to faster than a jet. Some were reported as extremely loud, and others as silent. Some, but not all, trailed smoke or sparks. Some were said to have wings, others to be wingless cigar-shaped projectiles.
Compounding the problem, the overwhelming majority of reports came from untrained observers, undoubtedly including many who had been swept up in the fervor of the moment -- having been told there was something extraordinary to see in the skies, they saw extraordinary things. Exacerbating the difficulties of discerning the situation was the unfortunate fact that witness reports were primarily filtered through the ears of the press -- rarely did a verbatim witness account of what had occurred make it into print.
All of which can only be illustrated through the following six-dozen news reports -- interspersed with official communiques within or between governments. Indeed, it is the only way to accurately relate the story. That said, the initial few reports have already been given above. What follows is what happened after that...
By June 4th Stockholm's Aftonbladet newspaper reported sightings over Denmark:
The mysterious rockets, which during the past few days have been seen over Sweden, have now even appeared over Denmark. The other day, a similar phenomenon was observed at Sonderjylland and a farmer in the Ringsted neighborhood on Sjalland reported that one day at 3:30 a.m. he saw a shining object in the sky. He called his wife and both of them were able to follow it with their eyes for a long time. At first they thought it was a comet but explained that it moved too slowly to be that. On two occasions a tail of sparks was observed behind the object.
And a week later, came reports of sightings over Finland as well. From the June 11, 1946 edition of the Winnipeg, Canada Free Press:
From Helsinki, witnesses said yesterday they had seen a light-emitting "ghost rocket" pass over the Finnish capital in a south-westerly direction Sunday night. The rocket was flying at 900 to 1,200 feet, followed by a smoke trail. Several have been reported lately crossing southern Sweden and Denmark in approximately the same direction.
The events by this time had captured the attention not only of the British, but of the Americans as well. From a June 26, 1946 Memorandum for Commanding General, Army Air Forces with the subject Reports of Rocket Sightings Over the Scandinavian Countries...
Report from Finland, dated 26 June 1946, bearing an F-3 evaluation, states that a V-bomb was observed recently over Helsinki. The bomb was believed to have been launched from the Porkkala area which is located 20 miles southwest of Helsinki on the Baltic seacoast. Recent maps indicate that this area is territory which belongs to Russia although it is a portion of the Finnish mainland.
But the majority of reports would continue to come from Sweden. From the June 12, 1946 edition of the Morgon-Tidningen:
A sky phenomenon of the same sort as was observed yesterday has occurred over Eskilstuna. The observation is reported by an engineer who flies daily and must be thought of as a reliable observer. "I had just put out the light and stood by my window when in the half-darkness I was able to see something come out of a cloud," related the engineer. The bomb, if it really was such, passed west of the city in a northward direction. It seemed as if it was on a descending course at close to a 30-degree angle...and in such a case ought to have fallen down somewhere in the area, probably going out north over Hugelata. It could not have been any of our new jet planes, which have a continuous exhaust and thereby look like true rockets. The later V-weapons did the same, but the first had intermittent exhaust.
On July 10, 1946, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Attache in Stockholm forwarded a tip to Britain's air ministry...
Subject: Flying Missiles Observed over Sweden
This may or may not be more "chaff for the wheat" but the following was obtained from a Finnish news correspondent working for Associated Press. This man has been very helpful in the past and spent much of the war in London. For the past few months he has been in Finland where he was following up the "Flying Missiles" reports from a news angle. He states that he considers the probable experimental base to be near Riga, in Latvia. He has sources recently arrived from Estonia and they all confirm that the general direction is from this part of the world. For what it is worth, I believe the above to be his genuine opinion after many enquiries. He will let me know if he obtains anything further.
Simpson, Group Captain, Air Attache.
The next day, Thursday, July 11, 1946, a cable from Stockholm by U.S. Consul General Christian Ravndal was sent to the State Department in Washington:
For some weeks there have been numerous reports of strange rocket like missiles being seen in Swedish and Finnish skies. During past few days reports of such subjects being seen have greatly increased. Member of Legation saw one Tuesday afternoon. One landed on beach near Stockholm same afternoon without causing any damage and according to press fragments are now being studied by military authorities. Local scientist on first inspection stated it contained organic substance resembling carbide. Defense staff last night issued communique listing various places where missiles had been observed and urging public to report all mysterious sound and light phenomena. Press this afternoon announces one such missile fell in Stockholm suburb 2:30 this afternoon. Missile observed by member Legation made no sound and seemed to be falling rapidly to earth when observed. No sound of explosion followed however. Military Attache is investigating through Swedish channels and has been promised results Swedish observations. Swedes profess ignorance as to origin, character or purpose of missiles but state definitely they are not launched by Swedes. Eyewitness reports state missiles come in from southerly direction proceeding to northwest. Six units Atlantic fleet under Admiral Hewitt arrived Stockholm this morning. If missiles are of Soviet origin as generally believed (some reports say they are launched from Estonia), purpose might be political to intimidate Swedes in connection with Soviet pressure on Sweden being built up in connection with current loan negotiations or to offset supposed increase in our military prestige in Sweden resulting from the naval visit and recent Bikini tests or both. Soviet political pressure on Sweden in connection with Baltic refugees here has, as recently reported to Dept, been considerably stepped up.
Around this same time the 'ghost rockets' had become international news. From the July 11, 1946 edition of the Amarillo, Texas Daily News:
Something In The Air
STOCKHOLM, July 10 (AP) -- Shining missiles seen in the last 24 hours traveling at great altitude with high speed caused speculation today by the newspaper Aftonbladet that Russians are conducting rocket experiments on Baltic bases.
The recent missiles were described by witnesses as "a greenish blue shining ball giving off a tail of light of the same color."
Similar sights two months ago were reported from about 10 places in Sweden and several places in Finland.
The Aftonbladet quoted a Swedish bomb technical expert as saying the sights occurred too frequently to be celestial phenomena. The paper said the Russians likely are trying out giant rockets directed by remote control, making them return to the starting point. Instead of explosives, the newspaper said they would contain radio transmitters registering altitude, speed, direction and amount of fuel.
From the July 12, 1946 edition of the London, England Daily Telegraph:
For some weeks a fair number of 'ghost rockets' going from south-east to north-west have been reported from various parts of the eastern coast of Sweden. Eye witnesses say that they look like glowing balls and are followed by a tail of smoke more or less visible. So many reports cannot be put down to pure imagination in the matter. As there is no definite evidence that the phenomena are of meteoric origin, there is growing suspicion that they are a new kind of radio-controlled V-weapon on which experiments are carried out.
Three days later, the "suspicion" became a certainty in some eyes. From the July 15, 1946 edition of the San Antonio, Texas Light...
Reds Test Rocket Bombs
LONDON, July 15. (INS) -- Dispatches from the continent reported today that the Soviets are busily engaged in manufacturing and experimenting with rocket bombs.
Geneva reported strange objects have been seen over the Rhone valley and suggested they may be flying bombs.
The newspaper Empire News said the Russians have reconstructed former Nazi rocket stations in northern Europe and plan to isolate a large sector of the Baltic for experiments.
The Empire News said a station at Peenemunde, on the Baltic coast, was employing German technicians under Soviet supervision. They were reported to have built a V-2 rocket capable of longer ranges than the missiles the Nazis exploded on Britain during the war.
Swedish dispatches said fragments of the bombs have recently been found along Sweden's coast.
Because of the publicity accorded these experiments it was said the Russians may move the stations and scientific staffs to uninhabited areas within the U.S.S.R.
As to the actual sighting(s), the above was a singular report and impossibly vague. The "Rhone Valley" is primarily in the south of France, although the river Rhone originates in Switzerland. But the precise country is not named in the report, and the sourcing is equally vague as well as giving precious little detail.
But more-detailed reports soon came in that the 'ghost rockets' had now been seen over Sweden's neighbor, Norway. From the July 15, 1946 edition of the Oslo, Norway Aftenposten....
"Ghost plane" over Oslo area?
Many people observe a lighted object with high speed northward.
This morning the Aftenposten has received inquiries from many persons who think they saw a "ghost plane" over the Oslo area last night at 23 o'clock. A man who together with three friends were at Bjerkebukta in Jeloy says that at five minutes till 23 a large luminous star was noticed. The "star" had a yellow-white dazzling color and became visible on the horizon in a southerly direction. However it was clearly out of the question that any astronomical phenomenon was involved, since the luminous object held a completely straight course at a great height and had such great speed that it did not take much over a minute from its appearance on the horizon in the south till it disappeared in the north-northwest over toward Oslo.
According to another communication from a man who observed the luminous phenomenon in Son at ca. 22.50 o'clock, it must be concluded that one and the same thing was involved. The person concerned thought the height was ca. 1,000 meters.
We have made inquiries to the Meteorological Institute, which does not have any knowledge of the phenomenon. Neither has the Air Defense weather service received reports about the "ghost plane" or luminous phenomena. People who noticed such a thing or who found remains of a possible crashed object, should report it without delay to the Air Defense High Command weather station, telephone 34870.
Those reports seemed dashed the next day. From the July 16, 1946 edition of the Oslo, Norway Aftenposten...
"Ghost flier" over Oslofjorden was a Norwegian airliner testing its landing lights
The plane's pilot talks to the Aftenposten.
As mentioned in the evening number yesterday many persons called up the Aftenposten Friday morning and told that late Sunday evening they had seen a "ghost flier" over the Oslofjorden. Both from Son and Jeloya at 23 o'clock was sighted a large bright star which came from the south and disappeared northward, and which changed color to a bluish light before it went away. The speed was very great and the height was about 1000 meters.
The mystery has now received a natural explanation, however. A flier with one of the airline companies in Oslo called the Aftenposten yesterday and declared that he was the one who piloted the "ghost flier." Sunday evening he was on his way from Copenhagen to Oslo with a Beechcraft plane on a taxi flight. At 23 o'clock he landed at Fornebu, and ca. 22:50 -- the moment when the mysterious plane was observed -- he was over Jeloya.
When he was over the fjord at Jeloya, he tested the landing lights -- the mysterious shining light which was observed. At the same time he descended from 3000 to 1000 ft. in order to come to a low height in plenty of time before landing at Fornebu, such that he in the course of a short time came across the spectators' field of vision. This is sufficient explanation for the light disappearing so abruptly and inexplicably.
The next day, however, the situation again became murky. From the July 17, 1946 edition of the Oslo, Norway Aftenposten...
"Ghost flier" over Norwegian territory still?
STAVANGER, 16 July (NTB). From information Stavanger people have given, it seems as if "ghost rockets" have now reached Rogaland, too. Last Saturday evening around 23 o'clock some Stavanger folk who holidaying at Usken, suddenly noticed a luminous object which came in over the Usken River from a southeasterly direction. It looked like a projectile, had a great speed and went at a fairly great height. The projectile sent out a very bright, yellow-red light, and its course could be followed till at last it disappeared in a southwesterly direction. It kept the same height all the time, and the witnesses -- there were in all four persons -- say that there is no possibility that it could have been a meteor. The course was horizontal at all times.
In the coming days, more reports followed, this time definitely describing the rockets as resembling V-1s. From the July 19, 1946 edition of the Oslo, Norway Aftenposten...
Did two rocket bombs go down in Mjosa?
Seen by many people when they passed Feiring at a low height last night.
From a man in Feiring we received this morning a sensational report that two rocket bombs crashed into Mjosa last night. They were shaped like ordinary planes, but quite small with only a 2-1/2 meter wing-span and came between 24 and 0:30 this morning from the west at low height over the southerly part of Feiring, where they were observed by many persons, among them (those) at the Hasselbaken Inn and at the Arnes (courtyard). The forward one was not lighted. People noticed them because they heard a loud whistle and directly after (the objects) came flying into sight at terrific speed. They went so low that trees were left swaying after they passed. Nearly midway out in Mjosa, nearer the Feiring side, the water took a big splash and the spray stood many meters high in the air where the objects disappeared.
Right after we received this report we talked with the sheriff in Feiring and Hurdal, who had heard nothing, however. He immediately got into telephone contact with people between Hurdal and Feiring, and was able to report to us some time later that he had gotten confirming reports from many reliable quarters. The place where the planes went down lies ca. 1 mile north from Hinnesund and Mjosa is rather deep here, so it may well be difficult to find them. But the sheriff will notify the Defense High Command immediately so that an investigation can be set in motion.
And the next day, from the July 20, 1946 edition of the Oslo, Norway Aftenposten:
Are experiments with Flier X underway over Norway?
Came from the west at a low height over Feiringspogene in the middle of the day.
Up till now it has not been possible to get any certain corroboration for all the reports which have arrived that rocket planes or rocket projectiles have been observed both in this country and in Sweden. Meanwhile reports recently have been so numerous and definite that they can no longer be rejected as products of people's lively imaginations. It is far from impossible that one or more foreign powers is conducting secret experiments with new weapons of the V-like type.
As reported in one part of our evening number's edition yesterday, there were two such "Flier X's," as we well can call them, seen going down in Mjosa. It happened Thursday midday between 12 and 12:30 o'clock, and they were seen by many persons in Feiring. The acting sheriff of Feiring and Hurdal first got reports yesterday morning and set about at once to collect evidence from eyewitnesses. He received from many quarters confirmation that the two "Flier X's" were seen as they came at a low height over the Feiring woods from the west and fell down in Mjosa ca. two kilometers from the western shore and ca. seven kilometers from Minnesund, whereafter he notified the Haerena Overkommando.
Yesterday afternoon one of our co-workers was up in Feiring and talked with a couple of those who had the remarkable experience. The "Flier X" passed directly over Balsrud farm where they were seen by farmer Sigvart Skaug, his wife and grown son and daughter. Balsrud lies around [ILLEGIBLE] in the south end of Feiring. It was Mrs. Skaug and daughter who saw them first. They were right at the top of the ridge at a place which is called Badstuakeren, and high. They (the people) suddenly heard a loud noise in the air and believed at first there was a plane coming. But the sound did not resemble plane noise. It was rather like a powerful whistle. Right afterwards they caught sight of two plane-like objects which came from over the edge of the woods at a tremendous speed and so low that the two women involuntarily threw themselves down on the ground. The air current was so strong that the treetops swayed.
Down at the farm Sigvart Skaug and his son stood and saw the "Flier X's" from the side, but at a rather greater height, probably ca. 50 meters. Skaug said that they were like pictures of V-1s he had seen in newspapers. In any case they could not have been ordinary planes. They were cigar-shaped, ca. 2 ½ meters long, with ca. 1 meter long wings. The wings were set ca. 1 meter from the nose, and the fore and after parts had a metallic gleam, but the midsection with the wings was black. It looked as if there was attached an apparatus, perhaps a steering device, in the rear. The wings flapped a little as if they were of cloth. No fire or light was seen. The projectiles went a short distance from each other, the one a little ahead of the other. They described a slight arc, about the way a stone is cast, and fell together into Mjosa, so the water plumes rose many meters high in the air. No explosion was heard. They sky was completely clear, and Mjosa lay still again in a moment.
I took the bearings of the place where they fell, said Mr. Skaug, and I well believe I can point it out. But the depth here is 3-400 meters, so there is hardly any possibility to bring the two mysterious objects to daylight again.
At Tosterud farm, which lies nearer Mjosa directly down from Balsrud, "Flier X's" were seen by Nils and Gustav Tosterud, who gave the description of them. The daughter of the farm was in her room, but came hurrying out when she heard the noise, and asked: "But what in the world was it." She did not get to see the "Flier X's," which had already disappeared into Mjosa when she came out.
Yesterday afternoon the sheriff took up the search for others who might have seen the "Flier X." It is a very closely-settled area both south and north of Balsrud, but because of woods (the view) is not very clear, and since the projectiles went so low, it is understandable that no one noticed anything in, for example, the Hasselbakke inn, which lies (scarcely) a kilometer north of Balsrud, and where there were many people out at this time. Unfortunately there was a line break in the telephone above Hamar yesterday, so it was not possible to find out if anyone on the (east side) of Mjosa saw anything.
Yesterday evening we submitted this information to Capt. Jorstad of the Air Defense High Command, who was very interested in the matter. The descriptions agree very well with the V-1, he said. If such a projectile is involved and it came from the west, it can well be thought that it was fired from a plane or a ship at sea. Today closer investigations will be made and if there are others who made sightings they ought to be reported straight (away) to the Air Defense High Command, telephone 34870.
Four days earlier, on July 16, 1946, a cable marked "Urgent" to the War Department from "USMA Stockholm" revealed the extent of 'ghost rocket' sightings...
Swedish Army Staff studying 300 to 400 rocket incidents Ref your WAR 94001 of 12 July. They advise: 50 points of impact observed. No evidence of radio control and Army Staff believes phenomena not radio controlled. Defense Research Institute studying fragments but key personnel on leave and report being delayed therefore. No large fragments yet found and small fragments appear to be nonferrous. Afton Bladet states Russians have established base with Staff of German scientists on Dago Island off Estonia. (Staff checking basis of this report) Staff has rather tenuous hypothesis to support this as follows: Two circular rocket courses both with radius of approximately 300 kilometers and centres respectively in the 56-57 N latitude, and 19-20 E longitude quadrangle and the 61-62 N latitude, 21-22 E longitude quadrangle with rockets launched from Dago clockwise on both courses. This theory accounts for only portion of the incidents. Staff has not yet processed all reports. Some highly placed officials believe the phenomena are Russian rocket experiments either purely for research or for War of Nerves. Staff very nervous about release of info to United States and United Kingdom for fear Russians will cry 'West Bloc'. This office urges greatest protection this information. Detailed report by next pouch also later followup on ultimate findings. End.
ACTION: Gen Chamberlin
INFO: Gen Spaatz, Gen Norstad, Gen Aurand
The cable leaves no doubt about the level of concern in the United States -- General Stephen J. Chamberlin was head of G-2, the Army's intelligence branch. General Carl Spaatz was Commanding General of the Army Air Forces. General Lauris Norstad was director of the Plans and Operations Division of the War Department. And General Henry Aurand was the War Department's Director of Research and Development.
The information in the cable itself about Swedish skittishness -- i.e., "staff very nervous about release of info to United States and United Kingdom for fear Russians will cry 'West Bloc'" -- reveals a fascinating sidelight to the events. Sweden had been an officially neutral county for almost 150 years, and during the tumult of the late 1930s up until the end of the war had deftly navigated treacherous international relations to avoid being dragged into the war. Now with the possibility of a third world war at hand, it was extremely anxious to avoid being drawn into the fray, and particularly sensitive to the possibility of a Russian invasion -- to the point that they were in the midst of negotiating a 250-million dollar 'credit' to the Russians as part of a 'trade agreement'.
So though the Swedes had been secretly negotiating with the British to bring over missile and rocketry experts since early July, 1946, they had gone to great lengths to keep it all a closely-held secret -- even from the Americans. From a July 27, 1946 message from the British Air Attache in Stockholm...
I have been asked by the Swedish Air Staff to take all possible measures to prevent the Americans finding out about Swedish full cooperation with us in investigating mysterious missiles... Leakage of information about our co-operation would seriously embarrass Swedish authorities.
The missile experts from London had arrived on July 18. The first result of meetings was reflected in a message from the British Air Attache to the Air Ministry...
Following is position on missiles over Sweden as seen by Heath and Malone after discussion at Swedish Air Ministry to-day.
1. Too many missiles have been observed and described to allow of explanation as meteorites. Full list of observations being sent separately.
2. Sole remains so far recovered in Sweden are pieces no longer than an egg of porous yellow combustible material, porous black carboniferous material, porous grey ash or slag material and black slate like material. Representative samples of each are being sent separately.
3. Meagre remains so far recovered permit no definite conclusions by Swedes or ourselves.
4. All investigations now co-ordinated by Kjellson of Swedish Air Ministry. Both he and we believe that present evidence suggests athodyd propulsion with yellow and black materials being used as main fuel or to maintain combustion. Kjellson does not exclude electronic propulsion as outlined by Austrian deserter Peters during the war or even atomic propulsion. We see no reason for these latter suggestions.
5. Geiger counter was requested to ask the Swedes to test for radioactivity at point of incident. They will have portable Geiger counter weighing 12 kilogrammes so will only require one from us if ours is lighter and more easily handled.
What else was going on behind the scenes can only be conjectured. It is known that the Swedish military had by that time set up a 'ghost rocket committee' to investigate the matter. It was later indicated in a memo from the British Air Attache to the Air Ministry that Sweden had reactivated their war-time radar at just this point, and it was said that the radar had almost immediately picked up tracks -- which is probably the source of the American July 16 message noting "two circular rocket courses both with radius of approximately 300 kilometers". And perhaps it was as a part of all this frenetic activity that a clamp-down on information was ordered. From the July 25, 1946 edition of the Berkshire Evening Eagle:
Sweden Places Censorship on Sky Missiles
Russia or Britain Believed Involved In Tests
STOCKHOLM (UP) -- The Swedish Army imposed a rigid censorship today on details of strange missiles streaking at fantastic speeds over this country at irregular intervals for several weeks.
The mounting scale rocket activity over scattered parts of Scandinavia produced a state of jitters and a crop of rumors approaching those of wartime.
Military authorities were reported to have received a flood of new reports on the rockets or flying bombs or whatever the darting objects may actually be. The original theory that they were meteorites long since has gone by the board.
Barrage Moves South
Most of the latest accounts of things shuttling comet-like through the skies came from southern Sweden. They indicated that the "bombardment" was moving southward after being concentrated over north Sweden for the last two weeks.
The Army issued instructions not to publish the exact location and time of the appearance of the missiles. While it gave no official explanation, the order was taken to be aimed at avoiding contributing to the information of any "foreign power" suspected of carrying out rocket experiments in the Baltic.
The process of elimination narrows the field of experiments pretty well to the Russians or the British or both. The Baltic was the favorite testing ground of the German V-weapons, and the Anglo-Soviet forces now occupy the same regions.
One of the latest manifestations was described as a "fire bullet zooming over soundlessly and terribly fast at an altitude of 6OO feet, and visible for only a few seconds."
A skyrocket-like "giant, flying torpedo" was seen Tuesday night over Norrland, 500 miles north of Stockholm. Similar objects were seen in the same area on three successive nights last week.
Helsinki dispatches said now rocket bombs were seen in many places over Finland last week. A typical account by a witness said the "big rockets, emitting a dazzling light and buzzing sound, move fast at high altitude."
That morning, the July 25, 1946 edition of the Morgon-Tidningen published a report which mirrored the talk of 'circular courses'...
It is possible that the flying bombs which are seen crossing Sweden both with a western direction and in a directly opposite direction, are taking a round trip over the country in order then to return to their place of origin... That they are meteors in every case is a theory which has been rejected without further ado by the defense staff.
And though censorship had been ordered by Sweden -- and according to the London, England Daily Telegraph was now also being enforced in Norway -- reports continued to leak out. From the July 26, 1946 edition of the Troy, New York Record:
More Rockets Reported In Sky Over Sweden
Stockholm (AP) -- The Swedish defense staff has received more than 500 reports so far this month from observers who said they saw flying "fire balls" skimming through the sky. Swedish newspapers said "Sweden is a testing range for rocket missiles."
Some of the reports said the missiles looked like "swans without a head," "seagulls" and "jet-planes but with a sound weaker than usual."
Many Swedes are convinced the launching grounds are somewhere on the southeastern side of the Baltic Sea. Others say they believe the missiles come from the area of Petsamo or Karelia. (All these areas are Russian-controlled.)
Military searchers, however, have been unable to recover any of the missiles to determine their origin because they landed in lakes or other inaccessible places.
All reported missiles and their course are being recorded on a map.
From the August 2, 1946 edition of the Indiana, Pennsylvania Gazette:
New Rockets Over Sweden
STOCKHOLM, Aug. 2 (AP)— Eyewitness descriptions of a soundless rocket projectile of silvery hue, slowly skimming the tree tops over northern Sweden, appeared today in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. The paper added that seven or eight persons had seen the object, which they said resembled an aircraft.
The paper also contained an account of two other missiles seen
moving toward the Baltic. One was flying at a higher altitude than the other. It said that when the projectiles got out over the sea first one then the other exploded, creating a glaring yellow-white light.
A number of such projectiles have been seen recently over Sweden and there has been considerable speculation as to whether they may have come from Russia-held areas.
A military censorship has been imposed, forbidding the mention of names of places where the projectiles were reported seen in order to prevent the persons who fired them from drawing conclusions as to velocity and direction.
A singular report also came in from Denmark. From the August 4, 1946 edition of the Lima, Ohio News:
Denmark Reports Mystery Rockets
COPENHAGEN Aug. 3 (INS) -- The mystery rockets said to have been seen recently over Sweden and Norway were reported today to have put in an appearance over Denmark.
The newest report of a rocket-propelled projectile was made by a young farmer living near Roskilde, 25 miles west of Copenhagen. He said that during the early morning he had heard and saw a fire-spouting oblong object traversing the sky with great speed and at high altitude.
On August 8, 1946 national columnist Marquis Childs would sum up events so far, and their implications. From the Madison, Wisconsin State Journal:
Someone Makes Sweden Laboratory
Mysterious Projectiles Fall from Unknown Experiments
by Marquis Childs
WASHINGTON -- TO BE A SMALL nation in this big power world is a precarious business at best. To be a small nation which was neutral during the war and is still intact today is a piece of good fortune that is breath-taking.
For six long years, the Swedes walked the tight rope of neutrality. They suffered provocation and humiliation again and again. For one thing, German projectiles were fired into Sweden.
At least two such projectiles fell intact and were flown to England, where analysis of their secrets contributed to the defense of Britain. What the Nazis were doing, of course, was to try out a new secret weapon.
For the last three weeks, projectiles from an unknown source have again been falling in Sweden. Two or three have fallen across the border in Norway. It makes it seem as though this were indeed no more than a brief pause between wars.
THE PROJECTILES FALLING IN Sweden have no explosive warhead. Most of them have fallen in the forest areas of the north and, therefore, they have done little damage.
But here, in miniature, is the pattern of the war of the future. If those same projectiles had a warhead of atomic explosive and if they had been directed, in a war, at the industrial centers instead of the wilderness, Sweden would today be devastated and the war would be over. That is the grim reality while the gentlemen around the conference table in Paris talk of peace.
No one in Sweden has ventured to speculate officially on where these projectiles come from. The nervous Swedes are saying to one another, "Don't look now but there's that rocket again." The general direction from which they come is the southeast, which indicates an origin either in Russian-occupied Germany or perhaps farther to the east, in Latvia or Lithuania, now incorporated into the Soviet Union.
SOME SPECULATION PUTS THE source on the island Peenemunde off the German coast, in the Baltic. On this island the Nazi concentrated
all their experiments on rockets and radio-directed missiles. A dramatic and little-known chapter of the war took place there which may have had far more effect on the outcome than is generally realized.
On Peenemunde, German scientists perfected a new kind of rocket gun. The scientists, with members of the German High Command, were celebrating the event in a riotous party, when the R.A.F. came over and wiped out almost everything on the Island. Winston Churchill once said that, if the rocket gun had operated from the Calais area in France, all Britain's cities would have been destroyed.
So far as is known, no one except the Russians have been on Peenemunde since the war ended. It is part of their zone of occupation.
WHEN THE ROCKETS FIRST STARTED dropping in Sweden, the Swedish defense staff asked citizens to report them. There were frequent reports in the press of where they had fallen. One fell in a lake in Lapland, and defense experts are digging it up and will analyze it in an effort to determine the source. Now, however, the Swedish military have requested secrecy on where the rockets land. Obviously, such information would greatly aid whoever is firing the projectiles.
What makes this all the more mysterious is that the Swedes are just now about to conclude a long-term trade agreement with the Soviets. This calls for advances up to $250,000,000, over a period of five years, to enable the Russians to buy electrical machinery. While it must be approved by the Parliament, Sweden's Labor Government is in favor of it.
Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice in her own simple little wonderland.
OUR OWN MILITARY ARE experimenting with German V-2 rockets, but the difference is that they are using the desert of New Mexico instead of the backyard of a small neutral.
Perhaps the difference is more important than it seems. if the competition in armaments brings on a new and more terrible war, then Sweden's high civilization will be smashed along with almost everything else that survived World War II. That is the truly sinister thing about this use of Sweden as a convenient military laboratory.
The sentiment that the rockets were Russian was being widely echoed. From the August 10, 1946 edition of the Oxnard, California Press-Courier:
Russian Experiments Suspected --
Swedes Investigate Mysterious Rockets
STOCKHOLM (UP) -- The Swedish Army sent investigators today to Central Sweden where rockets were reported to have crashed last night during a veritable shower of the mysterious missiles.
The first reports seeping through a military blackout indicated the Army investigators found nothing at the scene of the reported explosions. They gave rise to a theory that the rockets are made of material of which little or nothing is left when they explode in the air.
The strange rockets zoomed through the Swedish skies in greater number than ever before.
Most unconfirmed theories were that the Russians were experimenting with rockets or flying bombs and German scientists were helping them with their work. The baltic was the favorite testing zone for the Nazi V-weapons during the war. Peenemunde village in Pomerania near the Baltic was one of the Nazis' biggest bases for secret weapons.
Rockets were reported to have crashed at three points or more in Central Sweden last night. In dispatching investigators, military authorities hinted that they were seeking information upon which to base protests against firing of the missiles over this country which has been going on for weeks.
Witnesses said that one of last night's rockets passed directly over Stockholm and exploded north of the city. An editor of the newspaper Aftontidningon, one of the many persons who reported seeing it, related:
"A brilliant light suddenly appeared on the southern horizon, on a straight course at an altitude of some 600 feet. Although it could be seen sharply against the dark night sky, a determination of its size and construction was impossible because of its blinding, sparkling tail of blue fire."
A Swedish air force lieutenant, after seeing one of the rockets in central Sweden, estimated the length of the body at some 60 feet. He said it was shaped like a cigar, with the forepart green and the sides white. It moved "terribly fast" at a low altitude, he said.
Many experts think the things which crashed in Sweden were not bombs, but the accumulation of what is left of propulsion material, with the rockets themselves being radio-directed back to base after a tour of Sweden.
The resurgence of rocket activity stirred up a new wave of talk which had been going on in varying degrees since the missiles first appeared May 24.
In most cases the course was from southeast to northwest. But there were stories of missiles coming straight from the north.
The missiles seemed to be flying soundlessly, giving rise to stories that they were launched or powered by some new means. The speeds were estimated in some cases as high as 600 miles an hour.
And from the August 12, 1946 edition of the New York Times:
Sweden Believed Target
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 11 (AP) -- "Ghost rockets" - mysterious spool-shaped speeding objects with fiery tails - have become a common sight in Sweden, and military officials no longer doubt that the country is in a target area for experimentation with remotely controlled missiles.
Since July 1, newspapers have published reports of the flying fireballs nearly every day. In the beginning many believed excited witnesses had seen nothing more ominous than meteors. However, between July 9 and July 12 military authorities received 300 reports of the missiles and since that time added reports have poured in daily.
Fragments examined by scientists gave little in the way of clues, except to indicate the presence of coke and other common materials.
Authorities, promising a statement on the results of the investigation within a few days, have cautioned Swedish newspapers not to publish the names of places where the rockets appear, so the senders would not obtain important data. Official quarters declined to speculate on the source of the missiles, but it was believed elsewhere that the rockets come from some place along the Baltic coast of Germany.
Nobody seems to think these rockets indicate any military preparations against Sweden, but the people here are puzzled at Sweden's being in a target area when an unlimited amount of uninhabited area must be available for experimentation.
The newspaper Stockholms Tidmingen labeled a recent editorial "Ghost rockets and future war," and said the appearance of the missiles stressed the need for preparedness.
The rocket is described as a small object with a flaming tail which speeds at great height and vanishes within a few seconds. Witnesses say the rockets make no appreciable sound.
Newspapers recently carried a picture of the rocket, obtained accidentally by a cameraman who was photographing a landscape. It showed a streak of light trailing from a small dark body, looking much like a comet.
Only in a few cases is it known that the missiles actually landed in Sweden. Military personnel have been busily dredging a small lake in Lapland.
Military authorities said the missiles evidently passed over Sweden in a huge curve. Some reports indicated the objects carried a device for self-destruction, and military experts said some apparently had exploded in the air. The longest flight of any of the missiles, so far as military experts could determine, was about 600 miles, compared with the range of thirty-five to forty-five miles for the first German V-2 rocket bombs.
There is no comparison, however, with the rocket bombs. The mystery missiles are small, and at low altitudes seem almost square. The bottom of the object appeared to have been painted red, witnesses said. Some observed these missiles flying extremely low.
These reports have been substantiated by a Swedish officer, a flier, who saw one of the rockets during a recent flight.
Also from the August 12, 1946 edition of the New York Times, breaking news of 'swarms' of rockets being sighted:
Swarm of Mysterious Rockets Is Seen Over Capital of Sweden
By Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 11 - A swarm of rocket bombs passed over Stockholm at 10 o'clock tonight. The course, as usual, was from the southeast toward the northwest.
(It was reported from Washington that missiles seen over Sweden were thought to have been launched from a former German rocket experiment area at Peenemunde, now in the Soviet zone of Germany.)
Reports flowing to the Swedish general staff stress that the bombs are like fireballs, with long luminous tails, but some observers have seen a cigar-shaped bomb, traveling at an altitude of 1,500 feet rather slowly.
Some reported that they had seen bombs crash. The general staff is working at high pressure tonight, investigating all reports, but nothing has been found.
The strangest report came from central Sweden, where a newly built barn collapsed this afternoon without visible cause. Shortly before the collapse flying bombs had been seen. Then there was a sharp crack and the barn fell. There was no fire.
Witnesses said the barn could not have collapsed because of bad construction. The general staff is sending experts to interview them.
Swedes are seriously worried by the many bomb reports. A few days ago the General Staff received 300 reports in twenty-four hours. The General Staff ordered that the places of crashes be not revealed, as was done during the war with German V-weapons.
It is rumored here that officers in the Russian Air Force have been dismissed because they were far behind the Western Powers in atomic bomb work. Their successors are believed to be trying new experiments with unloaded shells.
And another report of the 'swarm', from the August 12, 1946 edition of the Tipton, Indiana Tribune:
Rockets Cross Sweden
Stockholm, Aug. 12. (INS) Several hundred projectiles -- similar in many ways to rockets used during the war by Germany -- passed over Sweden during the night but Swedish military authorities declined to comment on their origin or effect. They crossed the southern coast flying toward the northwest.
That same day, reports came of an intensified investigation and warnings of a diplomatic 'showdown'. From the August 12, 1946 edition of the Twin Falls, Idaho Times News:
Swedish Army Probing Flights Of Mysterious Rocket Missiles
STOCKHOLM Aug. 12 (UP) -- The Swedish Army sent investigators today to Central Sweden where rockets were reported to have crashed last night during a veritable shower of the mysterious missiles.
The first reports seeping through a military blackout indicated the Army investigators found nothing at the scene of the reported explosions. They gave rise to a theory that the rockets are made of material of which little or nothing is left when they explode in the air.
The strange rockets zoomed through the Swedish skies in greater number than ever before. An army source said the visitation was regarded as "most serious." He said the time had come for an all-out effort to establish origin of the rockets.
Most unconfirmed theories were that the Russians were experimenting with rockets or flying bombs and German scientists were helping them with their work. The baltic was the favorite testing zone for the Nazi V-weapons during the war. Peenemunde village in Pomerania near the Baltic was one of the Nazis' biggest bases for secret weapons.
Rockets were reported to have crashed at three points or more in Central Sweden last night. In dispatching investigators, military authorities hinted that they were seeking information upon which to base protests against firing of the missiles over this country which has been going on for weeks. They refused to go into detail.
The rockets streaked in over Sweden beginning about 9 o'clock last night. Newspapers in south and central Sweden were besieged with calls from alarmed and curious citizens. Hundreds of callers reported the passage of the comet-like objects within an hour's time.
The army was maintaining a blackout over exactly what happened. But spokesmen who declined to be identified made it plain that high authorities were coming around to the view that a showdown might as well be sought in the rocket firing which has been going on for weeks.
A Swedish air force lieutenant, after seeing one of the rockets in central Sweden, estimated the length of the body at some 60 feet. He said it was shaped like a cigar, with the forepart green and the sides white. It moved "terribly fast" at a low altitude, he said.
Many experts think the things which crashed in Sweden were not bombs, but the accumulation of what is left of propulsion material, with the rockets themselves being radio-directed back to base after a tour of Sweden.
And from the August 12, 1946 edition of the Council Bluffs, Iowa Nonpareil, rumors of a coming public report:
To Issue Report on Ghost Rockets
Sweden to Give Result of Study
STOCKHOLM, AP -- Swedish military authorities plan to publish within the next few days a communique on an investigation they have been making of the "ghost rockets" that have been streaking daily over Sweden since early July, leaving little doubt that the country has become an experimental target range.
Official sources have declined to speculate on the source of the mysterious spool shaped missiles, but it is generally believed that the rocket-propelled objects come from some place along the Baltic coast of Germany. Only in a few cases is it known that the missiles actually landed in Sweden.
Between July 9-12 authorities received 300 reports of the missiles and since then reports have poured in daily. Fragments examined by scientists gave little in the way of clues.
In general the rocket is described as a small object with a flaming tail, which speeds at great height, making little sound. The longest flight of any of the missiles, so far as military experts could determine, was about 600 miles, as compared with the range of 35 to 45 miles for the first German V-2 bombs.
Swedish newspapers have been cautioned not to publish the names of places where the rockets appear, so that the senders would not be provided with important data.
Meanwhile, in an editorial from the August 12, 1946 edition of the Syracuse, New York Herald Journal, the first of many demands for an answer:
Something for the Army To Investigate
American Army experts should waste not a single moment in investigating the "phantom rockets" that some foreign power, probably Soviet Russia, has been shooting over Sweden almost daily since June.
The theory in Stockholm is that the rocket missiles are being sent into the air at Peenemuende, Germany, which is held by the Red Army. According to Swedish reports, the missiles travel at the terrific speed of 875 miles per hour. More than 500 reports on the rockets have been made to the Swedish defense staff since May when the first missile was observed. But although Swedish engineers have examined burst fragments, evidently not much has been learned with respect to their construction.
All that seems to be definitely known is that the rockets travel much faster and farther than the German V-bombs that played havoc in London during the latter days of the last World War.
The urgent necessity of American experts conducting a prompt investigation will be evident to all those who have studied the recent remarks of Brig. Gen. Richardson of the Army Air Forces guided missiles division. Following the flight of unmanned B-17 drones from Hawaii to California under wireless control, he said that the Air Forces could strike at a target 3,900 miles distant with an unmanned bomber and that some day we should have even larger "guided missiles" with atomic warheads.
On the basis of authenticated stories from Sweden, it now appears that the foreign power experimenting with the "phantom rockets" is even now in a position to send missiles with high explosives over very long distances, perhaps with some degree of control. Obviously, we must if possible learn more about this work and the nature of these new weapons.
Meanwhile, it may be pertinent to point out that at a moment when Soviet Russia is urging that our stockpile of atomic bombs be destroyed and that we forego any advantage atomic energy secrets might give us, nothing is said about Soviet Russia destroying its stockpiles of secret weapons, whatever they may be.
In view of the scale on which the "phantom rocket" experiments obviously are being conducted and the fact that the missiles shooting over Sweden evidently have far more dangerous potentialities than the German V-bombs, Russia clearly ought to do some foregoing herself before talking to us about atomic bombs.
But in all things pertaining to war and national defense, Soviet Russia operates in a hush-hush atmosphere that is more secretive and dark than a midnight session of the Georgia Ku Klux Klan.
Meanwhile, she calls on others to reveal their secrets in behalf of international understanding.
And still the 'ghost rockets' were reported flying. From the August 13, 1946 edition of the Traverse City, Michigan Record Eagle:
Ghost Rockets Give Sweden The Jitters
STOCKHOLM, AUG. 13. (UP)-- Another "mystery rocket" reportedly zoomed over southern Sweden last night and anxious citizens urged the government to determine immediately what country is responsible for lining Swedish skies with the man-made meteors.
A spokesman for the Swedish defense staff said people throughout the nation apparently had been "seized by a real ghost-bomb psychosis" and that preliminary investigations had proved useless.
The newspaper Dagens-Nyheter said the latest missile was observed moving across southern Sweden from the northwest last night.
"Shaped like a giant torpedo and emitting a blinding light from its foremost part, it moved soundlessly with great speed and at a high altitude," the newspaper said.
Similar "cigar-shaped" missiles were sighted Sunday over central Sweden. Still another rocket was reported at two different points along the east coast of southern Norrland Sunday night.
Informed sources said government officials, were watching all developments closely and were waiting for "supplementary" evidence upon which to base possible diplomatic protests. Press comment indicated the government might be forced lo take "resolute steps" to clear up the situation.
Rumors circulated that the Russians were experimenting with rockets and flying bombs, possibly in Estonia on the Baltic, but there was no confirmation from Swedish army officials who have been conducting secret investigations.
Two fishermen on the southeastern coast said they saw a large rocket come out of the northern sky Sunday night and disappear southward over the Baltic sea. Other reports said the rocket observed Sunday night moved from south to north.
In middle Norrland, a farmer reported seeing a rocket explode at a low altitude just over a river. He said the rocket "disappeared." Searchers could find none of the remains.
Defense staff officials said many of the "reports" may be "pure flights of the imagination." Some witnesses of rocket crashes have been unable to designate the exact spot. Others, however, have removed all doubt that the missiles were rockets, officials said.
A veritable shower of the "mystery rockets" was reported Sunday night. Officials said It was still impossible to determine just how many were sighted. Some observers said the total probably was no greater than on other occasions, but that the display came later in the day and could be seen more clearly against the sunless sky.
And from the August 13, 1946 edition of the Manitowoc, Wisconsin Herald-Times:
100 Foot Ghost Rockets Explode Over Sweden
STOCKHOLM (AP) -- An eyewitness account published in the Stockholm Aftonbladet yesterday told how a 100-foot "ghost rocket" exploded in a blinding flash over Sweden lending support to previous reports that the mystery missiles are equipped with destruction devices which make it impossible to find trace of them.
The rockets have been observed over this country at frequent intervals of late, and military officials believe Sweden is in a target area for experiments with remotely-controled missiles, launched perhaps from the German Baltic coast.
The public account was given by a trained observer of meteorological and astronomical phenomena who was gazing at clouds through field glasses when a nightmarish torpedo-like object, with a tapered tail that spewed glowing blue and green smoke and a series of fire balls, streaked across his line of vision.
"I was completely dazzled and had visions of doomsday," he said.
And as the sightings increased, so did American and British response. From the August 13, 1946 edition of the New York Times:
Swedes Use Radar In Fight On Missiles
Doolittle Believed Called In as Aide - Stockholm Studies Steps to End Violations
Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 12 - Sweden now is using radar in the fight against the mysterious missiles that have been flying over the country, it was made known today. The atmosphere here after last night's swarm of projectiles over Central Sweden was almost at the boiling point and there were persistent rumors that Sweden was going to, or already had, borrowed several complete radar outfits from Great Britain to obtain the quickest results.
It also is believed that the United States' foremost long-distance bombing expert, Lieut. Gen. James H. Doolittle, who now is retired, is coming to Sweden to inspect the radar equipment, although the official explanation is that he is coming as a business man for the Shell Company.
The Swedish General Staff today described the situation as "extremely serious," and it is obvious Sweden no longer is going to tolerate such violation of her integrity. Everything possible is being done to put an end to it.
The General Staff received more than 1,000 reports on the rocket bombs last night and this morning. It is a tremendous task to check on all the reports, but it will be done and experts already are scattered all over the country to investigate each little bit found.
Sighted by Astronomer
The reports give detailed and interesting descriptions of the bombs. A Swedish astronomer and meteorologist said, "I was studying some clouds through a telescope when suddenly I observed a luminous point on the horizon.
"I first believed it to be an airplane," he said, "but soon I noticed it was traveling much too fast for that, and within ten seconds I got a full view of the projectile. I managed to get a clear view of the bomb's body and estimate that it was at least 90 feet long. The body was torpedo-shaped and shining like metal. No sound could be heard, although the bomb was only two kilometers away. At the explosion, a terrific light flashed up that for a moment completely blinded me. No fire, smoke or sparks were noticeable."
The description of the shape varies, for some observers say they have seen a big fire ball instead of a torpedo-shaped projectile, but all agree on the small fire balls shot out from the afterpart.
The Swedish public named the missile the "phantom bomb," but now frequently is using the term "Russian V-4."
The Swedes notified their legation at Helsinki to be on the sharpest lookout and to notify Finnish authorities immediately if the bombs appeared again.
One Falls Near Stockholm
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 12 (U.P.) - The Swedish Army today rushed experts to three points in Central Sweden where unidentified rockets, rumored to be the results of Russian experiments, crashed last night.
The barrage was the heaviest since the mysterious aerial missiles first were seen flashing through Swedish skies on May 24.
The Swedish Army clamped a tight censorship on the results of its investigation. But reports from hundreds of Swedes who sighted the fiery missiles indicated a whole barrage might have been fired. One rocket passed directly over Stockholm at 8:45 P.M. and crashed north of the city.
One eyewitness to an explosion in Central Sweden said fragments rained down after a great blast in the air above him. Previous explosions have left hard, black metal objects similar to coal clinkers.
The movement of the missiles varied. Some flew a straight course and others veered. In most cases the course was reported from southeast to northwest. Other reports said some missiles came straight from the north.
Then -- as if the tension weren't already near the breaking point -- came reports of fatalities. From the August 14, 1946 edition of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Berkshire County Eagle:
Sweden Alerts Forces As Rocket Kills Trio
STOCKHOLM (UP)—Sweden declared an open season on unidentified rockets today as three airmen were reported killed in a head-on crash with one of the missiles.
Government authorities prepared a nationwide "rocket-hunting" program and alerted all military units, air bases and radar stations to be on the lookout for the cigar-shaped "ghost bombs."
The newspaper Aftonbladet quoted "investigators" as reporting that three fliers were killed yesterday when their military reconnaissance plane crashed into a rocket near Vaggeryd, in southern Sweden. The dispatch said radio contact with the plane was broken just before the crash and that the front of the ship was "completely crushed" by the impact.
Missiles Turn Corners
Witnesses have reported seeing the rockets change their course in mid-air and one informed source said it was known that they were radio-controlled.
One reliable source said the Swedish Defense Staff had learned that some of the rockets cruised in a wide semi-circle over southern Sweden. He said it was believed the missiles probably proceeded over northern Finland, towards the Russian Kola Peninsula.
Earlier reports said most of the bombs went from south to north, but one "witness" reported sighting an opposite flight.
Investigators have indicated that the rockets destroy themselves after falling. No fragments have been found, despite the large number of missiles reported seen in flight.
But whatever was happening behind the scenes, publicly the Americans claimed they were not involved in the investigation. From the August 14, 1946 edition of the Amarillo, Texas Daily News:
Sweden Snubs American Help In Solving Big Rocket Riddle
WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (AP) -- Under-Secretary of State Acheson said today he personally is very much interested in reports of rockets flying over Sweden but that the Swedes had not sought any American advice on the subject. Unofficial but widely published speculation has been that the rockets were experimental missiles fired from Russian-controlled territory.
Meanwhile, the situation only became more tense. From the August 14, 1946 edition of the Carroll, Iowa Daily Times:
'Ghost Rocket' Blast Reported Over Denmark
Swedish Paper Criticizes Military Heads For Lack of Action
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN (AP) -- The newspaper, Aftonbladet, said yesterday that a "ghost bomb", bursting over a Swedish lake, had nearly caused casualties and criticized military authorities for their failure to explain the nature of the missiles, which have been reported almost daily by observers for the past two months.
The paper said that two persons boating on the lake, located in central Sweden, were nearly hit by the bomb, which burst into many parts.
The paper also reported that a rocket had been observed near Goeteberg by a group of Boy Scouts, who saw the flying missile turn and then return to its original course.
(From Copenhagen came the first report of a "ghost rocket" explosion over Denmark. A night watchman in Struer, West Jutland, said he saw a speeding missile, approaching from the northeast explode with a blinding flash.)
Swedish military authorities said yesterday that they had received no tangible proof that the frequent celestial phenomena observed over the country resulted from foreign experiments with aerial missiles.
In retort, Aftonbladet said "it ought to be possible to state whether they are meteors or not, and if they are rockets, one should be caught."
The paper added that if they were rockets and of Russian origin, as has been suggested, there were two possible explanations for their appearance over Sweden:
(1) "Sweden is systematically being dotted in on a Russian artillery map."
(2) Sweden is being used as an object at demonstration, directed not at us, but to the big world."
Military authorities said little attention was paid to a rumor that a bomber which crashed Monday had been hit by a rocket bomb.
And at long last, perhaps a clue. From the August 15, 1946 edition of the New York Times:
SWEDES FIND ROCKET CLUE
Lettered Metal Fragment Is Now Under Close Study
Stockholm, Sweden, Aug 14 (U.P.) - Swedish Army investigators have recovered a fragment of metal containing imprinted letters that may solve the mystery of rockets that have been flashing over Sweden and other Scandinavian countries since last May, it was announced today. The fragment was reported to be a 2.75-inch section of metal. It has been placed in the hands of the Defense Research Institute for investigation. Three additional rockets were reported sighted in southern Sweden last night, flying silently in a southwesterly direction at a high altitude. These reports said the rockets, bright as stars, passed overhead at intervals of five minutes. Premier Per Albin Hansson announced today that the Swedish Government has not yet made any representations to any foreign Government in connection with the rockets, not having yet defined their nature and origin.
But many had already assumed the answer without the need for physical remnants. From an editorial from the August 15, 1946 edition of the Waterloo, Iowa Daily Courier:
Swedish Rocket Scare
The mysterious objects like comets which have appeared recently over the skies of Sweden indicate that the Soviet government is attempting a game of scientific bluff. Since the objects, which are too small to carry explosives, come from the Baltic coast of Germany controlled by the Russians, it is easy to guess that the Red army is using this method in attempting to build up fear that the Russians have developed some secret weapon not possessed by other powers.
This whole field of rockets is shrouded in secrecy throughout the world, although American scientists do not doubt that the Russians are well advanced in their experiments.
The Russians are sensitive on the relationship between new weapons and politics. They have accused the United States of attempting to use the atomic bomb for political purposes, although the mere fact that this country possesses exclusive know-how on the atomic bomb would be sufficient to provoke such a complaint from Soviet spokesmen. And, in view of the Russian emphasis on power politics, no sensible person will doubt that if the Soviet government possessed some highly important secret weapon it would use it for political purposes.
The sending of the mysterious rockets over Sweden proves that point. The USSR includes 9,619,791 square miles of territory including vast uninhabited places. This provides, of course, adequate territory in which to conduct long-range rocket tests in the Russians desired to conduct them in secret. The fact that the rockets are being sent over a foreign land, therefore, indicates they are being sent for publicity purposes.
And from columnist Drew Pearson's national Washington Merry Go Round column in the August 16, 1946 edition of the Chester, Pennsylvania Times, the beginning of an especially ominous tone to the events...
WASHINGTON -- Back in 1919, right after the last war, the Philadelphia Public Ledger hired a special correspondent named E.J. Dillon to cover the peace conference. Mr. Dillon was a good newspaper man. He told the truth.
But as a youngster living near Philadelphia and reading Mr. Dillon every morning, I vividly recall
how I and others who had built up high hopes for permanent peace did not like the truth. Eventually the Ledger got so many reader protests against Mr. Dillon's frank and pessimistic reporting that it had to run a special editorial defending him.
The trouble with Mr. Dillon was that he was telling his readers that the 1919 Paris peace conference was going to lead to another war and his readers at that time didn't want to think about war.
Having returned to the U.S.A. a few days ago from the present Paris peace conference, I suspect that some of my own readers also have been cussing me out as a pessimist, a kill-joy, and a belittler of modern diplomacy.
If so, I don't particularly blame them. The weather is hot, the vacation season beckons, the headlines are playing up the intriguing question of whether Mrs. Lottie Lockman did or did not poison her neighbors in DuPont, Ind., and whether a Fairfield, Ill., grandmother poisoned her 3-year-old grandson with a sandwich. Congress has gone home, government workers sweat out the humid August sunshine, we have just finished celebrating the first anniversary of our great victory over Japan, and on the surface there seems no apparent reason for worry about more war.
Beneath the surface, however, certain ominous developments are seething in the near east which could plunge us into a war more horrible than anything ever envisaged by the mind of man. Behind the scenes, the top military men of Russia and England and, to some extent, the United States, are now maneuvering for positions for a war which some of them think could come in a matter of months -- even weeks.
Here are some of the secret moves which, only one year after a war to end war, make the world so laden with dynamite:
1. Intelligence agencies have learned that Stalin now has three giant airborne armies, totaling 120,000 men each, poised along the Black sea. They are alerted and prepared for action -- presumably against Turkey.
2. The soviet politburo has decided on a showdown with Turkey over the Dardanelles -- at once. Last week all the Russian field marshals met with members of the politburo for three days in Odessa. Afterward, Russia sent Turkey a demand that the Montreux treaty covering the Dardanelles be revised at once -- and be revised only by the soviet satellites.
3. The Russian navy is now concentrated in the Black sea ports of Sevastopol and Feodosiya.
4. The British foreign office and the British general staff have decided that the time for a showdown with Russia is at hand. Their intelligence reports indicate feverish soviet experiments with the atomic bomb and the cosmic ray. The presence of rocket bombs over Sweden is known to be Russian experimentation with radio-controlled rockets eventually calculated to hit England or perhaps cross the Arctic circle.
British scientists know that the Russians may wind up with the atomic bomb or even the more deadly cosmic ray if the soviet is given another year to experiment. The British also know that the United States is not ready to wage a joint Anglo-American war against Russia, but they are convinced that, if Russia and England should clash, the U.S.A. would soon come in on the British side.
5. The British general staff has moved three crack divisions into Iraq for a showdown with Moscow over Iran. The British fleet is poised in Mediterranean waters. At least nine other British divisions and the entire royal air force are ready to support Britain's determination to dominate Iran. Baghdad, capital of Iraq, is being heavily reinforced by the British.
6. The U. S. army is now spending increased amounts to fortify Alaska and is working in close cooperation with Canada on defense of the entire Arctic northwest. The Russian spy trials in Canada revealed that Moscow was collecting all possible information regarding northwest Canada and Alaska; also that all details of U.S. troops were reported back to Moscow, even including the movements of regiments in the southern United States.
7. The Russians are heavily fortifying the coast of Albania This gives them partial control of the entrance of the Adriatic and might keep an allied fleet from rescuing U.S.-British troops at Trieste. Moscow also has been shifting the red army in Europe, has replaced war veterans with fresh men. In Germany the Red army is 750,000 strong. In Romania 90,000 Red soldiers have been increased to 350,000 men. Four Russian divisions are in the Czech Sudetenland. A total of 6000 Russian planes are in Poland and Romania.
8. Twelve factories in Russian-occupied Germany are pouring out munitions of war. The old Skoda works in Czechoslovakia once used by Hitler, is turning out quantities of arms of an interchangeable type for use in either the Czech or red army. Poland and Yugoslavia also are manufacturing standardized Russian arms The armament race once more is on.
That same day, still another report. From the August 16, 1946 edition of the Winnipeg, Canada Free Press:
STOCKHOLM, Aug. 16 (Reuters) -- Window panes were broken Friday in Malmoe, Sweden when a projectile exploded over the town. This was the latest in a series of reports of mysterious projectiles, giving rise to the theory that Sweden may be the testing-ground for rockets.
And by this time, Americans were publicly on the scene. From the August 20, 1946 edition of the New York Times:
Two United States experts on aerial warfare, General James Doolittle and David Sarnoff, arrived in Stockholm today, apparently independent of each other. The official explanation is that General Doolittle, who is now vice-president of the Shell Oil Company, is inspecting Shell branch offices in Europe and selling oil and gasoline, while General Sarnoff, who is president of the Radio Corporation of America and a former member of General Dwight D. Eisenhower's London staff, is studying the market for radio equipment. The two men arrive here as reports on 'phantom bombs' are more numerous than ever. The Chief of the Swedish Defense Staff, Col. C.R.S. Kempt, said tonight he was extremely interested in asking the two generals advice and, if possible, would place all available reports before them.
The next day, a seemingly definitive proclamation about the Soviet activities in Germany. From the August 20, 1946 edition of the New York Times:
Russia Said To Make V-Weapons In Zone
Berlin, Aug 21 (Reuter) - Russian and German technicians are manufacturing new V weapons in a number of former German arms plants that are working at the full level of their present capacity, well documented and extremely reliable information reaching Berlin from the Soviet occupation zone said today. Evidence has been provided that the Russians are engaged in the production of heavy armaments, special jet aircraft, rocket fuels for V weapons and U-boat and torpedo components in at least ten special factories in several parts of Russian-occupied Germany. Although the Russians do not at present permit Allied investigation of activity inside the closed guarded arms factories in the Russian occupied areas it has been learned that production of components of advanced V weapons is going ahead in such factories as Siemens and Telefunken in Berlin, Nieder-Sachsenwerke at Wolfsleben and the Klein-Bodungen factory, all of which are subsidiaries of the big Bleich-Roeder concern. In the Magdeburg plant of the Krupps combine the Russians are producing heavy armament equipment that is being shipped into Soviet Russia, it was stated. Special aircraft fuels for jet engines are being produced in the giant Leuna oil plant near Merseburg in Saxony, but production is believed to be on a comparatively small scale, it was added.
And from the Washington Post, via the August 20, 1946 edition of the Lock Haven, Pennsylvania Express, a more prosaic explanation of Soviet motivation:
(From The Washington Post)
For the past six weeks or more mysterious objects have been seen hurtling through the skies over Sweden; they have also been observed over the neighboring countries of Norway, Finland and Denmark. Now and then a noise, as of a great explosion in mid-air, has been heard, after which fragments of some hard, black, metallic substance have been discovered on the ground. It seemed altogether improbable that these fragments could be meteorites or that so many of them would fall at one time in one particular part of the world. Anyway, the Swedish population, angry and apprehensive, was very soon convinced that the missiles were radio-controlled explosive rockets on the principle of the German V-2 bomb and that they were being launched from Soviet Russia as part of a calculated plan of intimidation or aggression. Both the anger and the anxiety have been considerably increased since last Monday, when one of the rockets crashed into a Swedish military reconnaissance plane, blowing it up and killing its crew of three.
The Russian motive for these eerie demonstrations is not altogether clear. Not unnaturally, many Swedes fear it may be preliminary
to an invasion. There is small doubt that Russia would be pleased if, in the interest of her "security," she could add a Communist Sweden to her defensive ring of puppet states. There is even less doubt that Russia would like to have control of Swedish industry. By contrast with all the rest of Europe, of course, Sweden is highly prosperous; at the same time, a concentrated attack from the skies might soon destroy her power of resisting an invasion from the east through Finland.
However, the demonstration does not appear to be so much a prelude to actual invasion as a piece of high pressure salesmanship in the Russian manner. Russia is trying to negotiate a trade agreement with Sweden on terms of credit which the Swedes consider highly disadvantageous to themselves. Thus the purpose of the rockets may be to persuade the Swedish Government to take a more favorable attitude in the commercial negotiations with Moscow.
The next day came reports that the phenomenon had taken a Gallic turn. From the August 21, 1946 edition of the Frederick, Maryland News-Post:
France Sees Rockets
Paris, Aug. 20 (AP) -- Residents of Chatillon-Sur-Seine in Burgundy said today they bad seen "enormous long projectiles" racing across the sky, trailing orange-red lights and emitting piercing whistles every night for the last week.
Paris newspapers speculated whether these were flying bomb experiments similar to those reported in Sweden, or meteors.
Chatillon-Sur-Seine is northwest of Dijon. (The direction of flight was not indicated in this dispatch.)
Meanwhile, the American and British presence in the investigation became more publicly prominent. From the August 22, 1946 edition of the New Castle, Pennsylvania News:
General Doolittle Is Being Consulted On Mystery Bombs
LONDON, Aug. 22. (INS) -- The diplomatic writer of the London Evening Standard said today that Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, wartime commander of American air forces in Europe, who presently is in Stockholm, is being consulted about mysterious rocket bombs which have been reported over Sweden.
The Swedish general staff reportedly believes the rockets were fired from Peenemunde, former Nazi experimental station on the Baltic coast which is within the Soviet occupation zone of Germany.
The writer said also that Sweden had asked Britain for a loan of radar equipment for true location of the source of rockets which have been falling on Swedish territory for three months.
And from the August 22, 1946 edition of the Morgon-Tidningen:
The space projectiles over Denmark, according to Nationaltidende, appear to be a reality, and since now military experts have gotten hold of metal parts from one or more projectiles and are carrying on investigations of them, they have entered into collaboration with Swedish military technicians to try to clarify the matter. On the side of the Swedish military it was stated on TT's inquiry [that] nothing was known about the collaboration referred to in the above telegram.
That same day, Denmark joined Sweden and Norway in censoring reports. From the August 22, 1946 edition of the Galveston, Texas Daily News:
Copenhagen, Aug. 21. (AP) -- The Danish war ministry today clamped a news censorship on mention of the exact locations where any "ghost rockets" are seen. At least a dozen of the mysterious projectiles have been reported sighted over Sweden in the past week, coming from the general direction of the Russian-occupied North German Baltic coast.
And from the August 23, 1946 edition of the Winnipeg, Canada Free Press:
LONDON, Aug. 23 (Reuters) -- The Daily Express said Thursday that, "British Radar experts have been to Sweden investigating the source of rockets which have landed there, with increasing frequency in recent weeks."
"They have reported to Whitehall on what they discovered and will probably go back with apparatus to work with representatives of the Swedish government," the newspaper said.
While back in the U.S., attention became even more focused. From the August 26, 1946 edition of Time Magazine:
A Swedish astronomer, gazing through his telescope one quiet night last week, saw a luminous something -- no bigger than a glowworm -- appear on the horizon. Within ten seconds it had grown into a 90-ft.-long, torpedolike missile whose fiery tail spewed blue and green smoke. Said the astronomer: "I had visions of doomsday."
All of Sweden was having similar visions (TIME, Aug. 19). Individual missiles had been streaking over the country since May, but now they were coming in swarms. Last week, Stockholm's Aftonbladet reported that an Army plane collided with one of the "things." Three flyers were killed. Two Swedes boating on a lake barely missed being sunk by one "thing."
Officially, military authorities declared that there was no conclusive proof that the "frequent celestial phenomena" were caused by a foreign power; they suggested tactfully that most of the missiles, after cruising in a wide semicircle over Sweden, proceeded toward Russia. Unofficial Swedes simply called the mystery missiles "Russian V-4s."
What were the Russians up to? Observers ventured three guesses: 1) the Russians were testing rocket equipment left by the Germans at Peenemunde, the now Russian-occupied V-bomb launching site (110 miles from Sweden); 2) they were trying to impress the world; 3) they were underlining, perhaps coincidentally, their suggestion that Stockholm give Moscow a one billion kronor ($278,500,000) credit, more than Sweden can afford without disrupting her economy.
And from the August 26, 1946 edition of Newsweek:
Russia: A Warning in the Rocket's Glare?" - "This was the Russian reply to Bikini. Such was the conclusion drawn by many from the continued flight of self-propelled missiles over Sweden...
Local papers were just as focused. From the August 27, 1946 edition of the Benton Harbor, Michigan News-Palladium:
Where Nazi Scientists Lurk
If any of us wondered what the Russians have done with eastern Germany's scientists and mechanical geniuses, the answer must be apparent after news which broke a few days back. We mean the rockets which appeared over Sweden and which caused the death of three airmen whose plane collided with a rocket bomb.
There could be no other source of rocket bombs than some of the Baltic sea bases now controlled by the Russians. It is apparent that the Soviet leadership is utilizing these scientists to perfect robot bombs which were well along in the development stage when the Germans lost the war.
Well we remember when Anglo-American forces halted their drive toward Berlin after a decision had been made by higher-ups, including the late President Roosevelt, to permit the Reds to take the Nazi capital. The upshot was seizure of rocket and jet propulsion experimental stations in the Russ orbit.
The Russians have never shown engineering technique of the sort required for rocket bomb construction. German brains and skills will make up for that deficit and today we face the payoff.
It is time Americans woke up to the fact that Russia is rapidly making up for our control of atomic bomb secrets -- if indeed we alone still possess the "secret".
The whole issue spells an eventual showdown which events of Paris, of Yugoslavia and northern China seem to be speeding.
But for all the reported crashes, retrieval of material, pieces of lettered metal, as well as the involvement of the British and Americans, the events remained definitively unexplained. From the August 27, 1946 edition of the Mansfield, Ohio News Journal:
Source of Rockets Remains Mystery
LONDON (INS) -- The Stockholm correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph reported today that almost complete lack of material evidence has blocked all efforts to determine the origin of mysterious "rockets" seen over Scandinavia.
The writer said protests "would have been made instantly through the proper diplomatic channels" if the power responsible for launching the missiles could be identified. But he pointed out that no single fragment of the projectiles has been found, "except for pieces of jettisoned fuel tanks."
Still, the fingers were pointed. From the August 27, 1946 edition of the Yuma, Arizona Daily Sun:
Believe Sweden's Mystery Rockets From Russ Zone
LONDON, Aug. 27 -- Swedish radar installations at Vaxholm have determined that a number of the recent "mystery rockets" came from the general direction of Peenemunde, an experimental base in the Russian zone of Germany, a Stockholm dispatch to the Daily Telegraph said today.
The Telegraph said a Swedish Communist had admitted to its Stockholm correspondent that "he and fellow members were under orders to report through official party channels all available details of rocket flights.
(A United Press dispatch from Oslo said several eyewitnesses had reported seeing a rocket zoom over the city Saturday night "moving fast as a fighter plane and followed by a trail of smoke and fire.")
The Telegraph said Swedish military authorities had received 800 reports of rockets over Sweden, but that no fragments of the missiles had been found by searchers.
And from the August 29, 1946 edition of the Dunkirk, New York Evening Observer:
British To Protest Arms Violations Of Potsdam Agreement
London, Aug. 29 (UP) -- Informed sources predicted today that Britain would make a vigorous and blunt approach to Russia in the near future in connection with the alleged manufacture of armaments in the Soviet zone of Germany in violation of the Potsdam agreement.
These sources said the issue was expected to come up in the Allied control council in Berlin in the next few days.
Both Britain and the United States have indicated increasing concern over reports that German factories in the Soviet zone are turning out rockets and other weapons.
Strong American support for any further British move is expected.
The subject of the reported armament manufacture was last raised at the July foreign ministers council by British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin.
Russia's Foreign Minister V.M. Molotov turned down Bevin's suggestion for a four-power investigation of demilitarization in all zones.
The Anglo-American concern undoubtedly has been heightened by the pyrotechnic display of rockets over Sweden.
British military experts believe that the Soviets have succeeded in developing the German long-range rocket to the point where it is a far more effective weapon than the missile the Germans used against London.
The British foreign office said "There is no question" but that the directing of rockets over Sweden was a violation of international law.
However, that "would be a matter for diplomatic exchanges between Sweden and the responsible government -- in this case presumably the Soviet union," the source said.
In line with this came reports of additional technology to aid the investigation, from the August 30, 1946 edition of the San Antonio, Texas Light:
Sweden Hunts Source of Rockets
LONDON, Aug. 30. (INS) -- The Evening News said today that Sweden has asked Britain for sound photography to find the launching sites of the rocket projectiles which have been flying over Swedish territory.
Reports have said the rockets presumably originate in the vicinity of the Russian-occupied German base at Peenemunde.
And another summation of suspicions, in an editorial from the August 30, 1946 edition of the Joplin, Missouri Globe:
What We Don't Know
There is an old saying to the effect that "what you don't know won't hurt you," but there are things to which it won't apply with any reasonable accuracy. Such, for example, is the problem of what is going on beyond the Soviet curtain.
Here, for example, is the substance of a rumor or rumors are current in Washington and several European capitals:
The Russians have never quit manufacturing V-l and V-2 rockets at German plants, despite the agreement at Potsdam that all munition plants would be removed from Germany. Moreover, they are carrying on significant experiments with long-range rockets from the Peenemunde plant, firing rockets at the Baltic sea. When the Germans were tinkering with these rockets they weren't doing much belter than 250 miles, but recently the rockets that have been sailing over Sweden indicate the Russians have at least doubled this mileage.
Incidentally, the Russians aren't giving out anything about their experiments along this line -- no more than about anything else -- but with proper radar equipment it is possible to plot the course of an aerial missile. The Swedes don't have this necessary equipment but the British have and they are sending it to Sweden so if the Russians don't change the course of their rockets the "decadent democracies" as the Soviet leaders denominate them, will get the lowdown on just how much the Russians have accomplished.
Here, however, is the disturbing conclusion that reports from Berlin, London and other capitals authenticate: weapons guided by remote control are far more powerful, more accurate and deadlier than they were when the war ended a year ago. Such, at least, is the declaration of the foreign correspondents of World Report, who have been studying the matter.
The program for the next war, if it comes, will be about like this: Opened with an assault by long-range rockets fitted with atomic warheads. Some may carry germ bombs. Followed with an assault by pilotless air fleets carrying atomic bombs. Air armies will come next, to destroy enemy rocket sites and factories. After that -- nothing will matter much.
And from the September 3, 1946 edition of the London, England Daily Mail:
Daily Mail has sent its most famous war correspondent, Alexander Clifford, to investigate these reports. In his dispatch...he examines all the evidence and concludes that the missiles have been fired by the Russians 'beyond reasonable doubt'. They are, in his opinion, not merely super V-2s but something quite new - maybe developments of the mysterious 'butterfly' [Schmetterling] or the 'waterfall' [Wasserfall] which were two of the more fantastic German projects... That is the eeriness of it all. The Russians, with tightly sealed lips, are experimenting publicly with a machine that leaves no trace whatever and apparently defies several scientific laws....So the Swedes look uneasily into their skies and guess. But all the time the Russians know. The mystery is no mystery to them. And how they must laugh when they read articles like this.
And in a new twist, the first Hellenic report, as found in the September 5, 1946 edition of the Marysville, Ohio Tribune:
Rockets Seen Passing Over Greek Areas
Premier Says Rockets Observed Last Few Days
British Will Reduce Their Forces
LONDON, Sept. 5. -- Greek Premier Constantine Tsaldaris charged today that strange rockets have been observed passing over Greece during the past few days.
He told newsmen one of the mysterious missiles was seen over Salonika, another over Macedonian areas. Tsaldaris said:
"We do not know where they were from, or from which direction they came."
Reuters in a dispatch from Athens said British Ambassador Sir Clifford Norton has stated that British troops will be evacuated from the Greek capital and its environs by Sept. 15.
The ambassador to Greece, according to the report, said the evacuation will begin next week.
The London News Chronicle quoted authoritative sources as saying British forces in Greece will be reduced some 30 percent within the next six weeks. The Daily Express reported from Athens that 15 thousand troops will leave that area.
An Athens dispatch to the News Chronicle, meanwhile, said eleven persons were killed and eight others wounded today near Sparta when "Communists" attacked a group of Royalists celebrating victory in Sunday's plebiscite.
And then, as suddenly as it started, the barrage of reports seemed to come to an abrupt end in the early days of September, with two final news reports providing a fittingly confusing finale...
From the September 6, 1946 edition of the London, England Daily Telegraph:
MYSTERY 'ROCKET' OVER SWEDEN.
A remarkable photograph, exclusive to THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, of one of the projectiles which have been causing acute speculation during recent weeks. In the large picture the missile is indicated by an arrow, and an enlarged view of it is inset, left. The snapshot was secured by chance by an amateur, Eric Reuterswaerd, in the islands just outside Stockholm. He had photographed the view, and when he developed the negative he saw across it a streak of light which led him to suspect it was one of the 'ghost rockets.' He reported the matter to the Swedish General Staff, who took possession of the negative, which has now come into the hands of THE DAILY TELEGRAPH. Super-sensitive processing, which cannot be reproduced in a newspaper, has revealed both to the Swedish General Staff and other Allied experts the presence of a projectile in the midst of the flame track instead of being in front of it. This supports the theory, mentioned in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH a week ago, that a new method of propulsion is being used in these weapons."
And from the September 6, 1946 edition of the Indiana, Pennsylvania Evening Gazette:
Reds Strike At Slander
MOSCOW Sept. 6 -- The fortnightly Soviet magazine New Times has added a new department dealing with "misinformation and slanders" against the Soviet Union.
First to draw the fire of the column were the Swedish Aftonbladet and Dagspoten on the subject of ghost rockets over Sweden.
New Times said the newspapers described the ghost rockets as radiocontrolled shells released by the Russians and added, "no one thought of verifying the truth' of this statement... but soon the bubble burst as it had to and the Swedish defense staff found that the objects discovered and examined have no connection with shells."
The column also took to task Indian National Herald and New York Post correspondents to task for reporting that the Soviet Union had designs on the northern province of Afghanistan.
An editorial foreword said "international reaction is trying with the dirty weapons of lies and frauds to undermine the growing prestige and authority of the Soviet Union" and that the column would "systematically expose" such misinformation.
After that, reports were few and far-between, including a November report over Siberia and a December report from Portugal, and the international crisis receded into memory, even as it emerged into legend.
Above: Headline in the September 1, 1946 edition of the Syracuse Herald-American.
UNDOUBTEDLY, THE EYEWITNESS REPORTS REPRESENTED a broad spectrum of experiences, at least some of which were undoubtedly meteors, fireballs or bolides. For instance, on August 24th, Norway's Aftenposten published the personal account of a student named William Solberg...
On a walking tour through Sweden in the first half of August I met with some acquaintances who took me with them on an evening tour in a motorboat up one of Sweden's rivers. Suddenly out of the evening stillness I saw a bright light which neared us from the southeast with colossal speed. As it came nearer it took the shape of a full moon, perhaps a little more elliptical, but in size like when seen on the horizon. The light was very bright and reminded me of the results when a magnesium bomb explodes. On the edges the light was more blue-green and the tail shimmered. As it came closer there could be seen a thick, almost glowing smoke tail.
As the phenomenon was right over us it lighted everything up strongly, so that you could see as on the brightest day. The fireball or "fiery mass" as the Swedes call it, had till then described a slight arc downward toward us. Now four stars broke off, which with a luminous stripe behind them sank down toward the ground, to be extinguished. The fireball was extinguished momentarily as these stars broke away, and then perhaps for a second, I having accustomed my eyes to the dark, I saw a black elongated projectile go forward through the air in a apparently horizontal course 300 meters up. It was pointed in front, but astern it looked broken off. The length was something I only guess at around 3 meters. On the back third the whole tail glowed, and this faint glow was the last we saw of the projectile which disappeared in a direction toward a small village nearby. It did not look like it had either wings or guide fins. The course was directly northwest the whole time.
The owner of the motorboat, a Swedish engineer, looked at his watch when he first saw the phenomenon. It appeared at 20.45 and its whole duration, he thinks, was only 6-8 seconds. Since he is experienced in tracking, moreover, he thinks he could estimate the projectile's speed at between 1500 and 200 kilometers an hour.
Not a sound was heard from the ghost bomb...
But there are other reports which are decidedly un-meteorish. From an official Swedish military report dated August 14, 1946.
TO THE AIR DEFENCE DEPT. AT THE DEFENCE STAFF, STOCKHOLM
FROM LIEUTENANT [NAME DELETED]
Re: A flying missile
I have the honour of reporting an observation while flying on August 14, 1946, at 10.02-10.04 a.m.. I saw a flying missile of the kind that is mentioned in order nr 7:49 of June 12, 1946 from the Defence Staff. The circumstances were as follows.
I was the pilot, on a navigational training flight with a B18 A, at an altitude of 100 m, on the route F1 – Krylbo – F1. Sergeant [NAME DELETED] was the signaller/observer.
On the route Malingsbo - Krylbo we noticed, after about 2 minutes, an aircraft-shaped object, on the left front, abt 60 degrees, on a south-easterly course, slightly over the horizon. I estimated the altitude over terrain of the object to be abt 250 m. My own altitude was abt 200 m above the ground. The distance to the object was abt 2000 m. Weather conditions were as follows:
Cloud altitude abt 800 m
Amount of clouds 6-8/10
Horizontal visibility 30-40 km
With the latest newspaper reports, regarding overflights of Swedish territory by the above-mentioned missiles on my mind, I immediately got suspicious. Furthermore I could not identify the object as any Swedish aeroplane.
Therefore, I decided to keep eye contact with the object and attempt to overtake it at a suitable opportunity. After about 10 seconds (I had to look down at the instruments to switch over to maximum cruising speed) the object was gone.
I suspected it had disappeared under the horizon, therefore I reduced our own cruising altitude. It appeared that both the object and I had come over a relatively low countryside, and we had both reduced the cruising altitude thus maintaining a constant altitude above the ground.
After about 20 seconds my observer sergeant [NAME DELETED] discovered the object again, 30 degrees to our right. We had, meanwhile, kept our own course all the time. Immediately, I made a turn ending up on a parallel course with the object, and switched to maximum speed.
The shortest distance between us was abt 1000 m. It immediately appeared that I would not be able to keep pace with the object, whose speed I estimated to be at least 600-700 km/h. After about 2 minutes the object had vanished in a south-easterly direction. A storm with heavy rain and a cloud height of 100-300 m lay straight ahead of the object's course, and the object disappeared into it.
My observations in summary:
The object kept a constant cruising altitude of 250 m. Thus (on the whole) it followed the topography of the ground.
Speed was considerably higher than the speed of an aeroplane. Estimated speed of the object at least 600-700 km/h. Own speed 380 km/h.
Appearance of the object: reminding me of the fuselage of a B18. No wings, rudder or protruding parts visible at observation distance, colour: dark.
Length estimated at approximately 15 m, cross-section abt 1 m, shaped like a cigar. No light visible. I had noticed, however, lights emitted from a missile passing over Vasteras on August 11 at 8.48 p.m.
Propeller-driven Swedish fighters cannot be expected to keep pace with this kind of missile.
The observation was made at 10.02 - 10.04. Air routes as per enclosed sketch.
A mix-up with fighter Vampire is out of the question, as no such plane was in the area at the time of observation as per information received from F13.
Vasteras August 14, 1946
/signed/ [NAME DELETED], lieutenant
Staff sergeant [NAME DELETED]. had nothing further to add to the above report.
Vasteras August 14, 1946
/signed/ [NAME DELETED], sergeant
Such a variance of reports left the situation unclear as always, as was perfectly summed after events died down by Marquis Childs in his national Washington Calling column...
STOCKHOLM -- The most extraordinary phenomenon of post-war Europe is the report of flying bombs or rockets that are now beginning to come from widely separated areas. If they are real, then we have a small taste of what the next conflict will be like. If they are a mere illusion, then we have an example of the uneasy state of mind of the people who live on this troubled continent.
The rockets were first reported in numbers from Sweden, where you would assume that the cautious and even-tempered population, untouched by the direct tragedy of war would not be subject to random nightmares. Next were vague reports of fire-bombs over Athens at the time of the visit of the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt. More recently, rockets have been reported over Italian cities and the Italian government has ordered an investigation.
I have talked to many people about the flying bombs. Some put the whole thing down to postwar hysteria. Others take a serious view of what they call, half in jest, "Russian hail."
One thoroughly reliable American observer with whom I talked saw flying bombs in broad daylight over this city. It was a cigar-shaped object which streaked across the sky with great speed and seemed on the point of shooting eastward. Careful Swedish observers have seen what they believed to be rockets.
Official opinion is that nothing is really known about the phenomenon, which has now more or less subsided. Recently, at any rate, very few reports of the bombs have been received. If the government has found any fragments, that fact is being kept a careful secret. The soundest opinion seems to me to be this: The Russians on the island of Peenemunde, off the German Coast in the Baltic, are probably experimenting with televised rockets. They must send them over a fairly long distance in order to make an adequate test. The United States strategic bombing survey determined that very little damage was done at Peenemunde.
From other sources I have learned that the Russians took Peenemunde almost intact. They also captured a number of German scientists who were active in promoting guided missile and rocket research.
The U.S. got its share of these scientists, many of whom are now in America. But the Soviets also shared in this strange spoil of war and their captured scientists are now said to be working for them. These experts may be teaching the Russians what they know and that may be the explanation for the mysterious fireworks.
Psychologists do not, of course, discount the remarkable suggestibility of the human mind in periods of great stress. Before the rise of Nazism with its sinister accompaniment of mass hypnosis, we like to think we were living in an age of reason and could not be touched by spells and hysteria that formerly swept whole populations. In the year 1000, large numbers of Europeans became convinced that the world was ending and strange forms of mass hysteria occurred throughout the continent.
Perhaps the "Russian hail" was only a stray meteor or two magnified by tragic fears that feed on the mysteries of science. How many years must pass before we can hope to see the peoples of the world back to anything like normal?
And although it was a concise summation of contemporary understanding of the situation as of autumn, 1946, the boundaries of such understanding endure to this day.
Above: Book cover for Volume 1 of "Rockets and People", a four-volume work considered the definitive source of information about the history of the Soviet space rocket program.
THE PASSAGE OF TIME can be a two-edge sword when peering back into events many decades past. On the one side, the immediacy of events is lost, sources recede and knowledge becomes merely archival. But on the other side -- as in the case of the "ghost rockets" -- new information may emerge which enhance understanding, even if at the same time it leaves the picture more clouded than ever. And such is the case with what is now known about the Russian missile and rocketry program of those times.
Over the course of the 1990s, Boris Chertok produced Rockets and People, a four-volume memoir of the Soviet missile and space program. In 2005 the office of the NASA Historian began a mammoth project translating the work into English, and posted it at the NASA site. The Office of the Historian would write:
For those interested in the history of Russian space exploration, and more broadly in the history of space exploration during the Cold War, the memoirs of Boris Chertok provide a striking and unique perspective. Chertok is one of those rare actors in history who not only played a critical role in the program but has been able to convey with grace and eloquence his experiences to the broader public. For over 40 years, Chertok worked at the senior-most levels of the famous "OKB-1" design bureau, which in its present incarnation as the Energiya Rocket-Space Corporation continues to play a leading role in the Russian human spaceflight program.
But it is Chertok's detailed description of his and others' activities in post-war Germany which provide important clues about the possibility of Soviet involvement in the "ghost rocket" phenomenon.
Chertok's first exposure to German advances in rocketry came as the result of a 1944 message from Churchill to Stalin regarding a German test range located in Debica, Poland, which had been established after heavy Allied bombing of the Peenemunde site. Chertok writes...
In many respects for our future activities, Churchill's appeals to Stalin were truly decisive. If not for his letters, our victorious army would have moved right past these Polish marshlands and forests without investigating what the Germans had been doing there. With the help of the Brits, we were able to recover A-4 missile parts for the first time.
But though the finding of A-4 (aka V-2) missile parts was to have profound implications for the future, the Russians were still not aware of the enormity of the discovery...
Within days after the captured missiles were delivered from Poland to NII-1 in Moscow, some wise person commanded that they be kept secret from Soviet rocket specialists. It was sometimes impossible to understand the logic of our intelligence services.
All of the missile parts were placed in a large assembly hall at the institute. Only the chief of the institute (General Fedorov), his science unit deputy (our "patron" General Bolkhovitinov), and an information security officer were granted access.
Even Pobedonostsev and Tikhonravov, who had seen everything in Poland, loaded everything into the airplane, and brought it with them, were initially barred from entering. But gradually common sense began to prevail. Isayev, and then I, Pilyugin, Mishin, and several other specialists were allowed to inspect the German secret weapon. Entering the hall, I immediately saw a dirty, black, funnel-shaped opening from which Isayev's lower torso protruded. He had crawled head first through the nozzle into the combustion chamber and, with the aid of a flashlight, was examining the details. A gloomy Bolkhovitinov sat nearby.
I asked, "What is this, Viktor Fedorovich?"
"This is something that can't exist!" he answered.
We had simply never imagined a liquid-propellant rocket engine of such
proportions at that time!
And thus, succinctly summed, was the technological state of Soviet rocket knowledge some 21 months before the first "ghost rocket" was reported over Sweden.
Left: Boris Chertok from an inset in his book, Rockets and People
ALTHOUGH ONLY FRAGMENTS had been recovered from the site in Poland, Chertok was part of a small number that attempted to reconstruct the missile. They were able to discern some of its secrets, particularly " "the general form of the missile, its methods of control, and primary specifications."
But the picture was, as yet, far from complete.
In late April, 1945, the 33-year old Chertok was part of an elite technical group flown into captured German territory (the end of the war in Europe was just a few weeks away). Landing in Strausberg, the group interest wasn't in rocketry, but in conventional aircraft and particularly Germany's advances in jet aircraft...
We formed a troika that was given the special assignment of studying German aircraft instruments, autopilots, special equipment, weaponry, radar, radio navigation, and communications. The range of issues was very broad, but it was exceptionally interesting for each of us...
Our first task was to perform a thorough inspection of "DVL," the German Luftwaffe research center in Adlershof...
Back then, we did not know that just a stone's throw away, a group of specialists from Kurchatov's team was already preparing to search for German atomic secrets. This team had the highest authority, for at that time the main chief of our atomic operations was Lavrentiy Beriya himself, and other related special committees were being directed by powerful organizers such as Vannikov and Malyshev.
But also amongst the things Chertok and his group did not know, was the American-British efforts to capture German rocket secrets...
We did not know that in addition to the allied armies heading toward our troops from the west, there were also special missions being sent out to seize German rocket technology and rocket specialists, search for nuclear physicists, and seize everything that had been done in Germany on the new scientific frontiers -- first and foremost in the fields of guided missiles, nuclear fission, and radar.
Meanwhile, the task at hand for Chertok's group was nearly overwhelming. From his contemporaneous diary entries of the time...
We are inspecting DVL. Administrative building. Archives, papers, personal documents... The safes are full of reports with a red stripe, "Geheim!" (Secret) or "Streng Geheim!" (Top Secret). We leaf through the pages -- reports, reports about all kinds of tests...
There is neither the time, nor the physical capability to read and study them...
The general has ordered us to list everything, load it into boxes, and send it by plane to Moscow. But where are we going to get as many boxes as we need? It turns out that the rear services and BAO do have them, and can organize everything! But there isn't even time to make a list of the reports...
Laboratory building. The aeronavigation laboratory is filled with benches for testing onboard instruments. The photochemical laboratory, the laboratory where materials are tested for strength and fatigue, vibration benches. A bombing and firing sights laboratory, accelerometer calibration units. And what magnificent drafting and designing equipment! I am envious of the German designers' workstations. Aside from the nice Kuhlman drafting unit, the swivel chair, and comfortable desk with lots of drawers, it is full of details, and everything has its place. Oh, this German love for details and this exactness, which has engrained such top-notch work into the culture.
The thing that every laboratory needs the most and that is in the shortest supply is the Siemens four-mirror oscillograph. There we found various models: two-, four-, and six-mirror models. Without them, conducting research on rapidly occurring dynamic processes is impossible. This is a new epoch in the technology of measurements and engineering research. In Moscow, at NII-1 we had only one six-mirror oscillograph for the entire institute. And these Germans had so many! No, we no longer felt the hatred or the thirst for vengeance that had boiled in each of us earlier. Now it was even a pity to break open these high quality steel laboratory doors and to entrust these diligent but not very careful soldiers with packing priceless precision instruments into boxes.
But faster, faster -- all of Berlin is waiting for us...
The electric instrument laboratory was fantastic! There were so many unique instruments of all types and ranges from the world-renowned German firms Siemens, Siemens und Halske, Rohde and Schwarz, and the Dutch firms Philips, Hartmann-Braun, and Lorentz! And again --
photographic enlargers, slide projectors, movie projectors, chemicals, bulky stationary cameras, cine-theodolites, phototheodolites, and optics of incomprehensible purpose...
We christened a separate building the electrophysics building because of its contents. Electronic low- and high-frequency frequency meters, wave meters, precision noise meters, octave filters, harmonic analyzers, nonlinear distortion factor meters, motor generators and dynamotors for various voltages, even the scarce cathode ray oscillographs. The richest building of all was the one containing radio and acoustical measurement equipment.
We are writing the addresses of our firms on the boxes: "P.O. Box" so-and-so. But what will really happen to this stuff? Who will meet the airplanes in Moscow?
From there it was on to Berlin for Chertok's group, where they inspected a small avionics factory and picked up this interesting tidbit...
It manufactured altitude gyros and heading gyro assemblies for the V-1, and had also begun to master the new remote-controlled gyromagnetic compasses based on American models.
"What is this -- an exact copy of the Sperry?" we asked.
"Yes, we're studying American technology we gather from airplanes that have been shot down. We have to admit that they are far ahead of us when it comes to remote-controlled instruments."
The coming months involved inspection of many more factories where significant -- albeit piecemeal -- discoveries were made concerning auto-gyro systems for the V-2, radar advances (the Soviets were very much neophytes at the time), and other such technologies with applications in both conventional aircraft and rocketry.
Still, though the piecemeal discoveries enabled advances in technological understanding, it did not equate to the ability to take practical advantage any time in the near future. Chertok describes a conversation he had with a leading engineer while still on the hunt in Berlin...
At that time in Berlin he said bitterly that, in spite of serious scientific achievements, our radio engineering and electronics industry was undoubtedly poorly developed compared with what we were seeing here. On this visit, as during all of our visits to German factories and laboratories, we were stunned by the abundance of instruments -- both universal and special-purpose, especially in comparison to their scarcity at home. Vacuum-tube voltmeters, oscillographs, audio-signal generators, filters of all kinds, standard amplifiers, wave meters, frequency meters, etc., etc. -- and all of it was high quality. Instrument models that we had considered precious before the war were continually showing up here. Not one of our institutes, factories, or laboratories could even imagine such abundance.
But indeed the war of the laboratories was not only a war of pure intellects. Each "intellect" had to be armed with the most advanced instruments for scientific research. This required a well-developed instrumentation industry...
These garish indicators got through to the dullest bureaucrats at the highest levels of the Party-State hierarchy, but for the longest time they did not comprehend why it was necessary to lead or at least be on the level of an average capitalistic country in terms of providing measurement technology...
But it was not only "measurement technology" but the minutia of other advances which kept Chertok's group spell-bound, and which gives further insight into the possible role of Soviet responsibility for the "ghost rocket" phenomenon...
For us it was a novelty that the company List, which specialized only in the development and mass-production of multi-pin plug connectors, existed and flourished among the Germans. They had produced hundreds of thousands of connectors for German aircraft and rockets. The concept was very simple, but the engineering and production involved were fundamentally new to us. This innovation
developed in response to the extreme complexity of the electrical circuits used in flying vehicles. The connectors enhanced rapid assembly and allowed electrical components to be connected and disconnected reliably during the repair and testing of individual compartments.
The very term shteker, or plug connector, made its way into the Russian
language from the Germans after the war. Throughout history much has been transferred to the victors from the vanquished. Only after the war did we come to appreciate what a tremendous technical role such a seemingly simple device as the plug and socket connector was destined to play in aircraft and rocket technology!
The Germans spent years developing reliable connectors, and introduced into aircraft and rocket technology the standard List shteker, which had from two to thirty pins. We needed three years to reproduce connectors that were as reliable. However, during our first years of mastering rocket technology they gave us a lot of trouble.
And referring to the then-current state of Soviet technological production in May, 1945...
Our general-purpose electrical instrument industry, our aircraft industry, and also our nautical instrumentation industry were all housed in just a few buildings in Moscow and Leningrad (Elektropribor, Teplopribor, and Svetlana in Leningrad; Aviapribor, the Lepse Factory, Elektrozavod, and Manometr in Moscow). It is revealing that when we began to reproduce technology for the V-2 rocket after the war and develop our own new rockets, we found out that in our country there was only one factory, Krasnaya Zarya in Leningrad, that was able to manufacture such a mundane device as the multi-contact electrical relay.
In June of 1945, Chertok's group moved on to Peenemunde -- the site so often mentioned in news reports as the source of the "ghost rockets". Already there, having arrived a week before, was Major General Andrey Illarionovich Sokolov, future head of the most influential ballistic missile research institute within the Soviet military. But at the time he was there for safeguarding and researching the site...
Virtually no competent German specialists remained on Usedom Island. General Sokolov's group had gathered several ill-informed specialists from among the local residents. With their help and with the speculations of Soviet engineers, they compiled a report on Peenemunde's former state before our army arrived -- "former" being the key word. Allied aviation had damaged most of the buildings and laboratories, but they had not been totally destroyed. The firing rigs were bigger than anything we could have imagined.
Near the rigs, the Germans had built bunkers which had remained in good condition. From the bunkers they controlled and observed the testing of engines and rockets. The facilities in total occupied several tens of hectares which were connected by excellent roads. Tens of kilometers of power, measurement, and signal cables had been run in cable ducts that the Germans had not had time to dismantle.
All of the equipment down to the last instrument -- even the machine tools in the large factory whose building was almost untouched -- had been dismantled and removed. What they did not manage to evacuate before the arrival of Marshal Rokossovskiy's troops had been rendered useless by SS Sonderkommandos.
This was the state of things at Peenemunde, 11 months before the "ghost rockets" were first reported. But there was more yet to be done...
The inspection of Peenemunde in May and June 1945 showed that the actual scope of work on rocket technology in Germany was far superior to what we had imagined. We Soviet specialists needed to investigate the entire volume of work that had been done in Germany in the field of rocket technology. But it was just as important to obtain information on the history of these developments and the methods used by German scientists and engineers to solve many difficult problems, such as those involved with the development of long-range guided ballistic missiles.
Before 1945, neither we, the Americans, nor the Brits had been able to develop liquid-propellant rocket engines with a thrust greater than 1.5 metric tons. Those that had been developed were not very reliable, had not gone into series production, and were not used to develop any new type of weapon. By that time, however, the Germans had successfully developed and mastered a liquid-propellant rocket engine with a thrust of up to 27 metric tons -- more than eighteen times greater! What is more, they had produced these engines in large-scale series production by the thousands! And the automatic guidance system! It was one thing to fundamentally and theoretically show that for the given level of technology it was possible to control a missile's flight and consequently the engine mode in flight at a range of 300 kilometers; it was quite another thing to put this into practice and bring the entire system up to a level suitable for acceptance as an operational armament...
What role did German scientists and Germany's military-industrial complex during World War II play in the future development of cosmonautics? We obtained much of the information needed to answer that question during our first months of postwar work in Germany. Our sources were the facilities that we inspected, the onsite study of examples of rocket technology, the accounts of German specialists, and the historical reports that they drew up at our tasking.
By happenstance, extremely sensitive top-secret documents were found, including German plans for a horizontal-takeoff space plane bomber. It's nearest imitator would be the first space shuttles decades later. These and other documents would be forwarded to Moscow.
But the months leading to the first "ghost rockets" were ticking by, and there was as much yet missing as there was to be found, now widely scattered across Germany...
On 14 February 1945, the last A-4 missile was launched from Peenemunde. The Eastern Front of Hitler's Reich was collapsing. After their decorations were conferred, the Peenemunde directors received no more orders and began to prepare for evacuation on their own initiative. All of the equipment and documentation was packed into cases marked "EW." The accompanying documents noted that this was the property of an elektrotechnisches werk (electrical factory). Convoys of automobiles and special trains carrying specialists, archives, and equipment, headed by Dornberger and von Braun, left Usedom Island on 17 February 1945. They evacuated to the areas of Nordhausen, Bleicherode, Sonderhausen, Lehesten, Witzenhausen, Worbis, and Bad Sachsa. The primary archives with the results of thirteen years of research and work were hidden in the tunnels of Mittelwerk and nearby potassium mines. The main group of Peenemunde directors was sent to the Bavarian Alps. On 4 May, the troops of the Second Byelorussian Army Group entered the area of Peenemunde. On 2 May 1945, the Peenemunde directors
went out toward the Americans and surrendered willingly. On the blindingly sunny day of 2 May 1945, when my comrades and I were jubilantly signing our names on the still-smoldering Reichstag walls, the Americans captured some of the most valuable spoils of the war: more than four hundred of the main scientific-technical employees of Peenemunde; documentation and reports; more than one hundred missiles ready to be shipped to the front that had been stored at Mittelwerk and on spur tracks; and combat launchers, along with the military personnel who were trained to operate the missiles!
In mid-July, 1945, Chertok arrived in the German city of Nordhausen. And it is in his months there that the last clues as to the likelihood of Soviet involvement in the "ghost rockets" are to be found.
Above: American troops at entrance to the Mittelwerk facilities, 1945.
THE ORIGINAL GERMAN PLANS had called for production of the V-2 rocket at the Peenemunde site, and in line with this a production facility had been established. But it was soon realized that production on the scale called for by Hitler couldn't be had at Peenemunde, and so an alternate site was set up near Nordhausen, while the production facilities at Peenemunde were converted to produce only research vehicles.
The site near Nordhausen -- known as the Mittelwerk -- was designed and executed as an enormous subterranean mass-production facility capable of producing 30 V-2s per day. Divided into enormous "galleries", production at Mittelwerk also included facilities for V-1s and jet engines. The skilled workers consisted of 9,000 Germans. But the primary production was carried out by 30,000 inmates from various concentration camps who had been brought to the nearby Dora concentration camp. The conditions they labored under were savage, and few made it out alive.
Nordhausen had originally been occupied by American troops, who over the course of months had secured for the United States many of Nordhausen's secrets and personnel before the arrival of Chertok's group that July.
But some Russian prisoners had stayed behind, and had managed to hide from the Americans some technology. There were also skilled Germans who had evacuated from Peenemunde along with von Braun and the others. Though the Americans had forcibly relocated Peenemunde staff whose names appeared on lists the Americans carried, others who were not on the list and who wished to stay behind still remained.
After speaking with the Germans and former inmates about the production processes at Mittelwerk, Chertok's group went on to inspect the facilities themselves...
Our inspection of the galleries and drifts was hampered by the fact that the lighting had been partially damaged, from what we were told, by order of the Americans. Only "duty" lighting was on. We had to be very careful while walking around the factory to not fall into some processing pit or hurt ourselves on the remains of missile parts that hadn't been cleared away. We noted the large number of missile components scattered around in disarray. It was easy to count dozens of "tails," side panels, middle sections, and tanks.
A German who was introduced as an assembly engineer-tester said that the factory had worked at full power until May. During the "best" months, its productivity was as high as thirty-five missiles per day! At the factory the Americans had seized only fully assembled missiles, taking more than 100 which had been piled up at the factory. They had even set up electrical horizontal tests. The assembled missiles had been loaded into special railroad cars before the arrival of the Russians and hauled to the west -- to their zone. "But it's still possible to gather assemblies for ten and maybe even twenty missiles here."
The Germans told us that the special equipment used purely for missile testing had been hauled away. But the ordinary machine tools and standard, general-purpose equipment in the shops had remained untouched. Even the most state-of-the-art metal-cutting machine tools had been passed over by the wealthy missile-secret hunters from across the Atlantic.
Chertok and his group, needing accommodations, found themselves assigned to a property in nearby Bleicherode, known as the Villa Franka, which had just recently been the home of Werner von Braun after evacuating Peenemunde...
The villa was magnificent. The first floor had a large drawing room. It was a library with bookcases made of dark wood. There were deep armchairs in front of an elaborate fireplace and a separate smoking room with ashtrays of varying sizes. Passing from the drawing room through heavy doors, we entered a fragrant garden. There were magnolias, roses, and a pool with a fountain...
A marble staircase led from the vestibule to the second floor. Here there were four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and two half-baths equipped with various lavatory sanitary facilities -- four toilets in all! The floors were covered with large carpets, and the walls were decorated with ornamental rugs and paintings of local landscapes and scenes of nature. Heavy red velvet curtains hung at the wide windows. We entered the largest bedroom. The bed was mahogany and designed to accommodate, as we determined, four. It had snow-white featherbeds instead of blankets.
And from those beginnings, the Villa Franka became home to a major research center...
For almost a year, Villa Franka in Bleicherode was converted into an officer's club and headquarters where we summed things up, developed plans of action, broke bread together, and celebrated holidays. It is difficult to remember who came up with the idea of calling our breakaway group -- which for the time being consisted of twelve Germans under the command of Lieutenant Colonel
Isayev and Major Chertok -- an institute. The Germans were delighted with this idea and announced that they could quickly put together specialists and an entire staff. But what should we call this new invention? After a brief "Soviet-German" discussion, we came up with a name: the Institute RABE. The precise translation of the German word Rabe is "raven." Our acronym stood for Raketenbau und Entwicklung Bleicherode (missile construction and development in Bleicherode). Our "cover" had emerged -- we became a place where German specialists scattered by the war could take refuge.
But Chertok and his group were still under the command of Soviet military authorities in charge of the occupation, and needed to do some convincing before "Institute Rabe" could commence. Their first approach was to give a lecture to nearly 100 officers of the local division command, where the idea was received very warmly. But further approval was needed from even higher authorities, and so Chertok's group found themselves in Weimar, presenting their idea to the local commander as well as a the chief of the Soviet Military Authority in Germany (SVAG) for Thuringia (the German federal state which included Nordhausen)...
Colonel General V.I. Chuykov was in command at Weimar, and Ivan Sazonovich Kolesnichenko had just been assigned as chief of the SVAG Directorate for the Federal Land of Thuringia. He cordially received us and listened to us attentively. Then, in spite of the long line of visitors waiting in the reception room, he summoned several officers and explained to them who we were and began to consult with them. "Here we must set up a peaceful life based on new democratic principles in an alliance with all the anti-Nazi forces. We must uproot vestiges of Nazism in the ethos of the German people and redirect the entire economy onto a peacetime footing. And what do you propose? To restore Hitler's military technology! And where? Here, in Thuringia! And what will we tell the Allies as soon as they find out about the creation of a missile institute?"
We were totally crestfallen. But one of the officers subordinate to Kolesnichenko was on our side. He expressed an idea that for some reason had not occurred to me. "The institute needs to be registered as a new scientific institution. Under the military administration's supervision, scientists will be gathered whom we do not want to be left unemployed. In addition, they will help us reveal the mysteries of Hitler's secret weapon so that we will have evidence of war crimes. We not only should not object, but we should support such an initiative at all costs!"
These arguments and Isayev's and my eloquence overcame Kolesnichenko's
wavering. He took on the responsibility and gave us permission to set up an institution according to all the rules -- with an official stamp, letterhead stationery, telephones, and a German staff. The Military Administration of Thuringia took on the responsibility for the provisions and monetary support for the Germans in the initial stages.
Having established communications in Weimar, we wandered around the town musing about everything that we had undertaken. All of a sudden, after such an administrative coup, Isayev said that now he wanted to leave for Lehesten to have a look at the engine technology there and then return to Moscow. "It's time to start a revolution in our patron's way of thinking at NII-1. To this day there in Moscow they do not want to understand the scale of German work on rocket technology. We admit that during the war we were not up to that. But the Americans were farther behind the Germans than we were! We need to take advantage of this. I must reeducate our patron. If not he, then who else in Moscow is capable of open-minded thinking?"
The months ahead would consist of frenetic activity, but that activity was almost exclusively geared to organizing and setting up. A telling example...
From Nordhausen they transported the priceless windfall that had been stored there -- the gyro-stabilized platform. But our staff still did not have anyone who would dare start studying it. Therefore, they placed it in the future gyroscopic instruments laboratory, which they locked and sealed.
The focus in those months became almost exclusively the recruitment of German specialists in various fields, with few of them having any experience in rocketry. The biggest success in this regard was the arrival of Helmut Grottrup...
Helmut Grottrup was von Braun's deputy for missile radio-control and for electrical systems as a whole...
Grottrup was clearly better informed than the others about the operations at Peenemunde. He had been close to von Braun, and he spoke very skeptically about the German contingent at our Institute RABE, except for Kurt Magnus and Hans Hoch. The others he simply did not know. To avoid stirring up passions, we agreed that we would create a special "Grottrup Bureau" at the institute. Its first task was
to compile a detailed report on the development of A-4 missiles and other projects at Peenemunde.
It would take until mid-1946 for Grottrup to write his report on Peenemunde, by which time the "ghost rockets" were already reported flying.
Meanwhile, the Institute Rabe found itself in a struggle for its existence. In November, 1945 -- six months before the first "ghost rocket" reports, Chertok received the following in a letter from Isayev in Moscow...
Horrible, horrible, horrible! We don't have anything sensible to work on! Our patron is no longer interested in our research. He wants to go back to work at the Academy.
The months ahead were consumed by bureaucratic struggles over which "commissariat" would be in charge of missile research. Those in charge of aviation were uninterested. Others wanted to divide and spread the research amongst several organizations. Finally, a higher-up with faith in the work of Chertok and the Institute Rabe made a personal appeal to Stalin, who gave his approval to the work continuing as is. But it was a long and difficult endeavor, eating up time.
And then there were the practical difficulties of the research work itself.
Above: A downed V-1 in American hands during the war. Note the guard at the door and that the photo itself is stamped "Secret".
THE DESIGN, TESTING AND PRODUCTION of missiles requires an enormous amount of cooperative ventures across a multitude of disciplines. The entire range is too complex to be discussed herein, but two "divisions" which are pertinent to the possibility of Soviet responsibility for the "ghost rockets" are first, the engines, and second, the control systems.
But even within those two simplistic divisions are a multitude of other divisions, including the engine and control system performance during the separate activities of pre-launch, launch and flight dynamics. And finally there is the coordinated and integrated interaction that must occur amongst them all throughout a successful flight.
And by September, 1945, the Soviets had achieved only a "test firing" of a V-2 engine during pre-launch in a test-rig which contained the engine only. The research work on the engines had been conducted by a group separate from Chertok and the Institute RABE....
Our engine specialists spent the entire period from July through September studying and mastering the technology for testing and adjusting the engines. They conducted over forty firing launches in various modes. To the Germans' surprise, our testers proved to be more daring and went far beyond the limits of the thrust regulation modes that had been permitted. In doing so, they discovered that the A-4 engine could be substantially boosted—to a thrust as high as 35 metric tons. They worked out new processes for the firing tests. These included processes to measure thrust parameters, calculate and select blends, flow-test oxygen and alcohol injectors, and perform quick analyses of the chemical and physical properties of both the fuel for the combustion chamber and the propellant components for the steam-gas generator.
That autumn, world events intervened in the work of both Chertok's and the engine groups...
In the autumn of 1945, the Brits held V-2 demonstration launches for the Allies in Cuxhaven. How could we respond to show that we too understood this secret weapon, and furthermore, that we were already mastering this technology without the assistance of the Germans...
We were not ready for missile launches from German territory even with German assistance. We certainly weren't capable of doing that on our own territory in 1945. The Brits and Americans had managed to get their hands on fully tested missiles, an oxygen plant, and filling and launch equipment, along with a whole set of launchers and a troop detachment that had a great deal of experience firing against Britain.
It was decided that in reply two V-2 missiles would be assembled and displayed in Moscow...
We naturally assumed that for the purposes of the
exhibition it would be sufficient to assemble missiles without their internal instrumentation or electric devices, especially since the size of the propulsion system nozzle alone would make an impression.
But soon thereafter we received an absolutely staggering command from
Moscow. The missiles had to be ready for firing tests on a rig that would be set up on the Lenin Hills. The fire plume would come crashing down with a horrific roar from a height of 80 meters along the bank of the Moscow River, to the delight of all the Muscovite spectators and numerous foreign guests who would be coming to the capital to celebrate the twenty-eighth anniversary of the October Revolution. This festive fireworks display would be quite an addition to the already customary victory salutes!
Presumably Stalin himself would want to feast his eyes on such an unusual firing performance. And after that decisions regarding the development of missile technology, despite all the postwar difficulties, would pass quickly through the Politburo. They would of course be interested in who organized all of this, and the organizers of the firing spectacle would be commissioned to head the development
of this new type of weaponry.
Fortunately for Chertok's and the engine group, the plan was nixed by Stalin himself. They were simply not ready to put on even a demonstration, amounting to little more than a fire and light show.
The year 1945 was ending, with five months left before the first of the "ghost rocket" reports, and such was the state of Soviet rocket research at the time.
Above: A V-2 launch at White Sands in 1946. Though the missiles arrived at White Sands in August, 1945, the first launch would not take place until March 15, 1946. Despite belief to the contrary, no flyable missiles were brought back from Germany, though complete components for such were. The missiles were assembled under the guidance of the German scientists. Each rocket test required days or weeks of preparation. Individual components were thoroughly inspected (and repaired, if needed) before assembly. The larger subassemblies were pre-tested individually before final assembly. A complete pre-launch test of all systems occurred both on the day before and the day of launch, before propellant was finally added. Even so, over the course of the next five years 32 percent of attempted V-2 flights were failures.
AS THE NEW YEAR of 1946 got underway, plans for future Soviet missile efforts were still in a state of flux...
In early 1946, with Ustinov's support, General Gaydukov managed to reach an agreement in the Party Central Committee in Moscow and in the Soviet Military Administration in Berlin for a significant expansion of operations in Germany. This had not been easy to do. A considerable portion of the Party and state apparatus involved with policy in Germany had demanded that the work in occupied Germany to restore German technology be curtailed and all Soviet specialists be called back to the Soviet Union no later than January or February 1946. Gaydukov and Ustinov, as well as Artillery Marshall Yakovlev, who supported them, did not agree -- they insisted on expanding operations. At the same time, the Institute RABE was becoming the foundation for a significantly more powerful organization.
I should mention that the aircraft industry, using the Institute RABE as a model, had gathered German aircraft specialists in the Soviet occupation zone for work in Dessau, using the facilities of the Junkers factories...
The Institute RABE had a clearly pronounced emphasis in the field of electrical control systems because the institute management (Pilyugin and I from the Russian side and Rosenplanter and later Dr. Hermann and Grottrup on the German side) consisted of specialists in electrical equipment and control. Korolev, who had taken charge of the Vystrel group; Glushko, who was directing the study and testing of engines in Lehesten; Kurilo, who was assembling missiles in Kleinbodungen; and other smaller groups were functioning more or less independently, often duplicating rather than complementing each other. Korolev accused Pilyugin and me of not paying proper attention to the general
matters of missile construction -- to its warhead and operation. Pilyugin replied harshly to Korolev.
"Sergey Pavlovich, you don't know the first thing about the control system, so go ahead and organize the work for all the other systems. Any aircraft factory in the Soviet Union will rivet the hardware for the body just as well as the Germans, but we still don't know how to make the instruments for the rocket. And even if we reproduce the instruments, we still have to learn how to control the flight so that the body and the tanks will fly where they are supposed to, instead of into the nearest garden..."
The above was in February, 1946, two months before the first "ghost rocket" reports. That March, focus turned to an entirely new endeavor...
At a large meeting of Soviet specialists, Gaydukov announced the decision to create a single organization based on the Institute RABE and all of the various and sundry functioning groups. It would be called the Institute Nordhausen.
Gaydukov was commissioned as director of the institute and Korolev was appointed his first deputy and chief designer. Next they reviewed and approved the general structure of the new institute.
Our Institute RABE became a part of the new conglomeration as an institute for control systems. Pilyugin, Ryazanskiy, Boguslavskiy, and I remained in charge, but we were advised to prepare for a large number of new specialists who would be arriving from the Soviet Union shortly. They tasked me with helping to organize the Institute Nordhausen until the new staff was formed.
We agreed that RABE would make room -- the new institute's headquarters and its management would also be located in Bleicherode. To do this we needed to commandeer some baron's private residence, which was located next door. This was no problem for the local authorities.
In addition to the Institute RABE, the following organizations became part of the Institute Nordhausen and were directly subordinate to Gaydukov and Korolev:
-- The Montania factory in the vicinity oof Nordhausen, which was used as a production base for engines and turbopump assemblies and a base for engine firing tests in Lehesten near Saalfeld. Glushko was put in charge of the general management of Montania and Lehesten, and Shabranskiy was appointed chief of Lehesten in place of Pallo, who had gone back to Moscow;
-- The production facility in Kleinbodunggen, which was officially named Factory No. 3 (Werk Drei). Kurilo was appointed director. The factory's objective was to restore the production process and assemble as many missiles as possible from everything that remained at Mittelwerk;
-- The Olympia Design Bureau for the resttoration of A-4 documentation and processing equipment that had been fabricated in Sommerda at the Rheinmetall-Borsig factory. First Budnik was the head, and then Mishin. Mishin traveled with Bereznyak to Prague in search of technical documentation and got lucky. They found and brought back a large amount of design documentation which facilitated the beginning of work in Sömmerda;
-- Sparkasse (savings bank), our term forr the computational-theoretical group in Bleicherode. The team was established at a municipal savings bank which under the new authorities had been left without any monetary deposits. Colonel Tyulin, who had transferred to us from Berlin, headed the group. It included Lavrov, Mozzhorin, Appazov, and Gerasyuta. German theoreticians from RABE were transferred to the group, and more new specialists arrived, in particular, the chief ballistics expert from the firm Krupp, Dr. Waldemar Wolff, and aerodynamics specialist, Dr. Werner Albring, the former deputy director of the aerodynamics institute in Hannover.
Grottrup's bureau became an independent subdivision of the Institute Nordhausen, but at Gaydukov's insistence I was tasked with monitoring its activity. Taking advantage of that responsibility, I instructed Grottrup to go beyond describing the history of A-4 development at Peenemunde and begin concrete work on proposals for longer-range missiles and high-precision control systems.
Ryazanskiy and Boguslavskiy participated directly in these operations in the radio-engineering sphere.
And although not described in detail by Chertok, it can be safely assumed that just the organizational demands ate up the majority of the two months left before the first "ghost rocket" was reported over Sweden. Further...
The 13 May 1946 decree of the Party Central Committee and Soviet People’s Commissariat called not only for the creation of a missile industry, but also for the creation of a special missile State Central Firing Range (GTsP) and specialized troop units. In parallel with our military-industrial organization, which encompassed the Institute Nordhausen, they created a purely military system that was tasked with mastering the field operation of rocket technology
It had taken a full year from the fall of Germany for the Soviet bureaucracy to recognize and then acknowledge the future importance of missile and rocketry efforts.
The decree had finally come nine days after the first "ghost rocket" report.
Above: The Soviet's version of Germany's V-1 rocket bomb.
ALL OF THE WORK DESCRIBED above, of course, related to rocketry. There is still the matter, then, of pulse-jet flying bombs, such as the V-1. Here too, what is known of Soviet developments is dissuasive as being involved in the "ghost rocket" phenomenon.
V-1 technology was much more rudimentary than that involved in rocketry. In fact, along with other Allied nations the Soviets had already produced their own copies, with the effort starting in 1944. In March, 1945 they had only plane-launched versions, which they tested over central Asia near Tashkent. Having produced a limited run of about 100, only a third successfully reached the target area during testing. Soviet tests on an improved version would not commence until a new limited run occurred in 1947. The program was eventually abandoned, specifically because of seemingly insoluble problems with the guidance systems.
Of all other possible alternatives, each carries with it its own limitations. A "rocket plane", for instance, had almost by definition extremely short range. And for any and all other possible alternatives, they carry with them not merely the burden of explaining the numbers in which the 'ghost rockets' were reported, but most importantly, this, as expressed in an August 26th report classified TOP SECRET sent from the U.S. Naval Attache in Stockholm...
The Russians might be launching rockets over Sweden... Arguments against this theory are that the reported ranges (1000 km) are far in excess of those for any known rocket to date for the flat trajectories described (two or three hundred meters for a cigar-shaped rocket thirty feet long over central Sweden.) This would indicate a new propellant and a far more efficient control system than the best German rockets; it is therefore doubtful that Russia would risk giving away such a secret by launching it over Sweden at altitudes low enough for it to be shot down by Swedish jet fighters...
Indeed, not only did the reported performance of the 'ghost rockets' represent advances in propellant and aerodynamic control, but also astonishing advances in remote or -- even more astounding -- autonomous navigation. But no matter the degree of advances, the question in the memo is still pertinent: why would any country risk the loss and capture of its game-changing and cutting edge top-secret advanced technology by flying it over areas out of its control? More confounding, why would it do so repeatedly?
It is a question that would hold equal validity in the decades of other reports yet to come.
Above: Search for "ghost rocket" seen crashing July 19, 1946, in Lake Kolmjarv, Sweden. Search conducted July/August 1946, by Swedish Air Force officer Karl-Gosta Bartoll (pictured). Left: 'Ghost rocket' tracks plotted on July 22nd by Swedish AMES 66 Mk III radar.
AS ALREADY MENTIONED, scattered reports would continue over the coming months after the passage of summer, 1946 from Greece, Italy and Portugal.
The last reported Swedish sighting was filed by the NY Times on March 22, 1947...
'Phantom Bomb' returns to Skies over Sweden
Another of the phantom bombs... was observed over the southern part of the country by several persons...cigar-shaped metallic body, approximately sixty feet long, traveling at slow speed and making no noise...judging from the smoke, the missile turned at a certain point and flew back eastward.
A month later, the London Evening Standard would report an object over the North Sea...
RADAR 'GHOST' MAY BE A V-1, RADIO-CONTROLLED
A "ghost" airplane, plotted on Fighter Command's radar screens flying at night over the North Sea may have been a radio-controlled machine of the flying-bomb type. If it was, it was not British. Twice the "ghost" airplane, which has still not been identified, showed on the radar screens. That was several weeks ago. Since then Fighter Command radar watchers have been on the look out but, I understand, the "ghost" airplane has not reappeared. Suggestions that smugglers were bringing contraband into Britain over the Norfolk coast at night can be discounted. The "ghost" did not cross the coastline. It stayed on the radar screens only a short time, but long enough for Fighter Command's experts to work out that the "ghost" was a peculiarly behaved machine. There were sudden erratic speed changes, I was told at the Air Ministry. The "ghost" would travel at 425 mph, suddenly drop back to 120 mph. Big variations in its height, too, were noticed, and it also had a rapid rate of climb. A pilotless aircraft, controlled by radio from the ground or from a ship, could suddenly change speed and height without the life of any pilot being risked. 'Telemetering' devices would record to the controller the machine's performance.
Were these two news reports actually the end of the 'Ghost Rockets', or were they perhaps the start of something new?
In the end, it's hard to say... for only two months later Ken Arnold would have his world-famous sighting near Mount Rainier, and the daily news reports of 'flying saucer' sightings would herald a new phenomenon all its own.
1. The translations for the May and June, 1946 articles in the Dagens Nyheter, the Morgon-Tidningen, and Aftonbladet, as well as the graphic for the radar tracks plotted on July 22nd by Swedish AMES 66 Mk III radar, comes from Joel Carpenter's Ghost Rocket Chronology at Project 1947. Translations from July through September, 1946 come from Swedish "GHOST ROCKET" Reports - 1946 at Project 1947.
2. The most complete story on the 'ghost fliers' of the 1930s was Mystery Aeroplanes of the 1930s written by John Keel for Flying Saucer Review.
3. The August 14, 1946 report of the pilot and observer at Vasteras, as well as additional information on the incident can be found at Sweden's Archives for UFO Research which is also available as a pdf file at NICAP.
4. The first three volumes of Boris Chertok's memoirs Rockets and People are available online via the NASA Program History Office.
5. An excellent overview of the course of events in post-war Germany can be found at Russian Space Web, which also offers an excellent summary of post-war Soviet initial indifference and then bureaucratic infighting over rocket and missile programs.
6. An interesting sidelight to the events of 1946 was the fact that Sweden was in limbo regarding approval of the sale of P-51 Mustang fighters from the U.S. From the August 23, 1946 edition of the Twin Falls, Idaho Telegram:
Plane Deliveries Meet Surveillance
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sweden has contracted with a state department agency for purchase of 90 surplus fighter planes but the department itself is holding up delivery pending a review of the deal, diplomatic officials disclosed Thursday night.
Government officials said Swedish representatives signed a contract last spring for the army planes, identified as late-model Mustangs, after negotiations with the foreign liquidation branch office in Paris.
Top policy making officials in the state department later were reported to have halted further action until they determine whether the transaction fits into American foreign policy.
The sale was finally approved on October 23, 1946.
7. According to researcher Jerome Clark, the Swedish "Ghost Rocket Committee" issued at least two public statements. On October 10, 1946 it stated:
Most of the observations are vague and must be treated very skeptically. In some cases, however, clear, unambiguous observations have been made which cannot be explained as natural phenomena, Swedish aircraft, or imagination on the part of the observer. Echo, radar, and other equipment registered readings but gave no clue as to the nature of the objects.
Then, according to Clark, it issued a formal report at the end of December, 1946 that said in part...
Information has been received chiefly from four sources: (a) visual observations; (b) radar trackings; (c) radio observations; (d) reports from special sources... Incidents were reported throughout the entire country with a concentration in the middle of Sweden.
On 9 July and 11 August, luminous phenomena were observed at the same time over almost all of Sweden. It is possible that these phenomena were of a celestial nature, and if they are excluded, approximately 50 percent concern luminous phenomena and the rest concern observation of "real" objects. These objects are mainly of two different types: (a) "spool-shaped" without any wings or stabilizing surfaces (42 percent), (b) "spool-shaped" and provided with wings (8 percent)...
Despite the extensive effort which has been carried out with all available means, there is not actual proof that a test of rocket projectiles has taken place over Sweden. The committee has therefore been forced to decide that the investigation has been unsuccessful and that it is useless to continue to activity in its present form and with the present limited resources. Even if the main part of the report can be referred to as celestial phenomena, the committee cannot dismiss certain facts as being merely public imagination.
8. Another interesting sidelight occurred two years later, as found in a United States Air Force document marked "Top Secret". Although the document is dated 4 Nov 1948 it apparently refers to events of 1946:
For some time we have been concerned by the recurring reports on flying saucers. They periodically continue to pop up; during the last week, one was observed hovering over Neubiberg Air Base for about thirty minutes. They have been reported by so many sources and from such a variety of places that we are convinced that they cannot be disregarded and must be explained on some basis which is perhaps slightly beyond the scope of our present intelligence thinking.
When officers of this Directorate recently visited the Swedish Air Intelligence Service. This question was put to the Swedes. Their answer was that some reliable and fully technically qualified people have reached the conclusion that "these phenomena are obviously the result of a high technical skill which cannot be credited to any presently known culture on earth." They are therefore assuming that these objects originate from some previously unknown or unidentified technology, possibly outside the earth.
One of these objects was observed by a Swedish technical expert near his home on the edge of a lake. The object crashed or landed in the lake and he carefully noted its azimuth from his point of observation. Swedish intelligence was sufficiently confident in his observation that a naval salvage team was sent to the lake. Operations were underway during the visit of USAF officers. Divers had discovered a previously uncharted crater on the floor of the lake. No further information is available, but we have been promised knowledge of the results. In their opinion, the observation was reliable, and they believe that the depression on the floor of the lake, which did not appear on current Hydrographic charts, was in fact caused by a flying saucer.
Although accepting this theory of the origin of these objects poses a whole new group of questions and puts much of our thinking in a changed light, we are inclined not to discredit entirely this somewhat spectacular theory, meantime keeping an open mind on the subject. What are your reactions?
The original document may be viewed as a pdf at NICAP. More information on the document may also be found at NICAP.
9. Though the 'official' start of the ghost rocket phenomenon is May, 1946, 17 months earlier this intriguing one-day national newswire story appeared in the January 16, 1945 edition of the Mattoon Illinois Daily Journal-Gazette:
New Type German Rocket Reported In Use
New York (INS) -- A new type of German rocket bomb has been observed at an undisclosed point south of Stockholm, Blue Network Correspondent
John Bryson reported in a broadcast from London Monday.
Bryson, quoting Swedish reports received in England, said the missile seems to change course in mid-air, presumably through radio control from the base from which it is launched.
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