American Raiders: The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets

American Raiders: The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets

American Raiders: The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets

American Raiders: The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets


At the close of World War II, Allied forces faced frightening new German secret weapons--buzz bombs, V-2's, and the first jet fighters. When Hitler's war machine began to collapse, the race was on to snatch these secrets before the Soviet Red Army found them.

The last battle of World War II, then, was not for military victory but for the technology of the Third Reich. In American Raiders: The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets, Wolfgang W. E. Samuel assembles from official Air Force records and survivors' interviews the largely untold stories of the disarmament of the once mighty Luftwaffe and of Operation Lusty--the hunt for Nazi technologies.

In April 1945 American armies were on the brink of winning their greatest military victory, yet America's technological backwardness was shocking when measured against that of the retreating enemy. Senior officers, including the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold, knew all too well the seemingly overwhelming victory was less than it appeared. There was just too much luck involved in its outcome.

Two intrepid American Army Air Forces colonels set out to regain America's technological edge. One, Harold E. Watson, went after the German jets; the other, Donald L. Putt, went after the Nazis' intellectual capital--their world-class scientists.

With the help of German and American pilots, Watson brought the jets to America; Putt persevered as well and succeeded in bringing the German scientists to the Army Air Forces' aircraft test and evaluation center at Wright Field. A young P-38 fighter pilot, Lloyd Wenzel, a Texan of German descent, then turned these enemy aliens into productive American citizens--men who built the rockets that took America to the moon, conquered the sound barrier, and laid the foundation for America's civil and military aviation of the future.

American Raiders: The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets details the contest won, a triumph that shaped America's victories in the Cold War.


American Raiders provides a glimpse of the complex story of the disarmament of the Luftwaffe after its defeat in the spring of 1945 and the exploitation of its aeronautical secrets. Disarmament and exploitation were two distinctly separate acts executed by unique organizational entities created for those specific purposes. The umbrella plan under which the disarmament of the Luftwaffe was implemented was Operation Eclipse. Eclipse took over where Overlord left off, Overlord having been the plan which provided for the invasion of Europe up to the defeat of the enemy, while Eclipse covered the disarmament and permanent military neutralization of Nazi Germany. For American airmen tasked to exploit the aeronautical secrets of the Third Reich, Operation Lusty provided the authority, direction, and concept of operation. These two groups, the disarmers and the exploiters, worked hand in glove, one feeding the other, and by doing so ensured each other’s success. Although the process as it unfolded was anything but orderly, they succeeded in their respective tasks beyond anyone’s expectations.

This army of dismemberment and discovery came from varied sources within the European theater of operations, the ETO. Combat crew replacement squadrons, no longer needed as the war neared its end and bomber losses diminished, were turned into disarmament . . .

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