When Germany lost World War I, they pretty much had no choice but to sign the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty required them to accept the responsibility for causing all the damage of the war that resulted from their aggression toward the Allied forces and that they should pay an unspecified amount of money in reparations. The treaty also limited their military forces. The problem with this was that the agreement had loopholes that they exploited, like allowing the development of sailplanes, gliders, and rockets. The result was the creation not only of rockets but rockets that could carry radioactive payloads.
Bombing New York
At the beginning of World War II, Germany appeared unstoppable. The Nazis were so confident that Hitler’s second-in-command at that time, Hermann Goering, even said one time, “If planes drop bombs on Germany, you can call me Meyer,” implying that it would never happen, as Meyer is a common German surname. So when the British bombed the city of Mönchengladbach in May 1940 and the United States entered the war in 1941, people called the air raid sirens of Germany “Meyer’s sirens.”
His credibility started to nosedive. To earn back his reputation, he started a project aimed to bomb New York City, the United States’ financial capital, and also because it was closest to Europe. Not too close enough, as Germany to New York City is about 3,500 miles away, and at that time, no aircraft in existence could travel that distance, and Goring did not want some type of Kamikaze mission, so that means they would need a plane that could travel at least a distance of 7,000 miles.
The task of creating such aircraft was assigned to Wilhelm Emil “Willy” Messerschmitt, who invented the Bf109 and Me262 fighter planes. The result was Messerschmitt Me 264, a long-range strategic bomber produced at the Lechfeld Aerodrome in Bavaria, now called the Lechfeld Air Base.
It did not end well as the Allied forces bombed the Air Base in 1943 in one of their frequent air raids. They successfully destroyed all the prototypes and those working on the project.
Amerika Bomber Projekt
Hitler was obviously not happy about the initial project being wrecked so he had the head of the Reich Ministry of Aviation, Siegfried Knemeyer, take over the project. Knemeyer invited the brightest minds and challenged them to come up with a way of bombing New York that he straightforwardly called Amerika Bomber Projekt.
Knemeyer thought of creating a plane that could carry and drop a 5,000-pound conventional bomb over New York City with radioactive silica or sand around it that would fall like snowflakes over the city and everyone in it. While they knew well that the irradiated sand would not suffice to really kill anyone, they were hoping that the radiation sickness would be enough to convince America to pull out of the war, allowing Germany to concentrate on its real foe, the Soviet Union to the East.
Three competed for the project:
First were Walter and Reimar Horten with their six turbojet-powered Ho 18A all-wing bomber, which seemed to be the cheapest to build had the Allied forces not destroyed their workshop in July 1944 as part of the Operation Lumberjack.
Next was Wernher von Braun and his manned A-9 rocket missile and its A-10 booster rocket, which was also feasible. They set the plan in motion with the (forced) help of the thousands of slaves from concentration camps. What they had not predicted, though, was the spite of these slaves who would piss on the delicate circuits of the plane, effectively eroding them. As a result, about one-third of the V-2 rockets did not function well.
Lastly was Eugen Sänger and his piloted, reusable, and suborbital rocket bomber. However, the idea did not push through as he went to France to work on the supersonic ramjet engine, although his work would inspire the idea of reusable Challenger craft.
In the end, none of the proposals, not the radioactive sand idea, ever happened.